Tips to improve your football skills from the best in the world

The ideal companion for that long coach or train trip to an away game on a dreary January day in the UK is the top selling men’s magazine FHM, there is frankly very little that can compare to it and in this months issue you might even pick up some tips on how to reach the fitness levels of a professional footballer.

Not any professional footballer mind, but the newly crowned 2010 Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Argentina fame. Tips on fitness and playing skills from the best player in the world include Unstoppable skills, Improving speed and technique and general training skills.

He also talks to FHM about being the best player in the world and how he has achieved so much at the tender age of 23, with his footballing peak still some years off. Just how much can this little maestro improve?

Messi is eternally grateful to Barcelona who brought him to Europe in 2000 from Argentina as a youngster with plenty of ability but suffering from a growth hormone deficiency. In return for signing to the club Barcelona offered and paid for the treatment required to allow the player to grow to his current 5’7″.

Still very much on the small side for a top level footballer, Messi has proven time and again that he is more than capable of mixing it with the more physical professional footballers around and has always managed to have the last laugh due to his incredible natural ball skills.

There are tips from other Sports personalities in this months issue of FHM Bionic including England’s Fly Half Toby Flood, British MMA Fighter Michael Bisping and the wonderful ‘Face of 2012 London Olympics’ Jessica Ennis.

If that doesn’t take your fancy then Lesbian Ballerina Sex just might, check out the FHM website for more info.

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Ipswich sack Roy Keane

After just 20 months as manager at Ipswich Town, Roy Keane has been sacked following a run of nine games in which his team have lost seven.

The final straw for Keane appears to have been Monday’s 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest which has left the Suffolk club in 19th position in the Championship table.

This season had started in promising fashion for Ipswich who scaled the Championship losing only one game in their first eight despite an horrendous injury list at the club.

Their luck turned for the worse and the club have slid back down the table over the last couple of months despite securing a semi final place in the Carling Cup where they will face Arsenal over two legs, the first of which takes place next week.

Ipswich are also in the FA Cup third round where they will play Chelsea this Sunday, a game that Keane would have relished for sure.

Paul Jewell is among the favourites to take over from Keane although it has to be said expectations at the club may have to be reassessed if they really feel they are good enough to reach the promotion play off places in the near future.



Carling Nations Cup announce deal with Sky Sports 3D

Carling Nations Cup logo

The Carling Nations Cup which kicks of in February 2011, will become the first International tournament to be shown in its entirety in 3D, after the Football Association of Ireland announced a deal with Sky Sports to show all six games live.

The agreement will also include simultaneous live broadcast of the Welsh matches in the Welsh language on S4C.

The opening matches of the Carling Nations Cup will take place in Aviva Stadium on February 8 (Republic of Ireland v Wales) and February 9 (Northern Ireland v Scotland). The final dates of the May matches of the Carling Nations Cup have also been revised  under a new schedule agreed between the four competing Associations and the broadcast partners as follows:

Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland                   Tue, May 24 2011             Aviva Stadium KO 7.45pm

Scotland v Wales                                                              Wed, May 25 2011           Aviva Stadium KO 7.45pm

Wales v Northern Ireland                                             Fri, May 27 2011                Aviva Stadium KO 7.45pm

Republic of Ireland v Scotland                                    Sun, May 29 2011             Aviva Stadium KO 6.30pm

Euro 2012 Preview: Scotland v Spain & Slovakia v Republic Of Ireland

Given Scotland’s appalling display against the Czech Republic, particularly in the attacking department, Castrol Performance data shows that they could do far worse that including Blackpool’s Charlie Adams in the starting line up to face Spain tonight.

While you would expect Scotland to be under the cosh from the persistent Spanish team, Charlie Adams possesses the ability to catch Spain out on the counter particularly with his long range shooting ability.

Eleven of the 15 shots mustered by the former Rangers player this season have come from outside the box, which is not surprising considering that he held the record of most long-distance goals last season in the Championship (seven).

At the other end of the pitch and in contrast to what we have come to expect from Spain, the Scottish defence may be victims of an aerial onslaught as Castrol Performance research shows that 29 year-old Aritz Aduriz, called-up as a replacement for injured Fernando Torres, has scored more headed goals than any other player in the Spanish Liga this season.

The former Mallorca player has scored four goals in all competitions this term with his new club Valencia: all headers (three in La Liga and one in the Champions League). The Basque player has scored, on average, every 140 minutes this term in the league, a rate that none of his direct competitors can currently match. Fellow Spain striker Fernando Llorente may have been the match-winner against Lithuania with a brace on Friday, but Aduriz’ ability in the air makes him a potent alternative up front, especially against teams who defend in numbers and make short-passing in the final third of the pitch a difficult task.

Castrol Verdict:
Scotland win: 9%
Spain win: 71%
Draw: 20%

Slovakia v Republic Of Ireland

Castrol Performance research shows that Republic of Ireland winger Aiden McGeady has been in impressive form in the Russian Premier League since making the move to Spartak Moscow in the summer, with the tricky wideman embarking on the highest number of dribbles per game (on average) in Russia’s top tier this season.

The 24 year-old attacker moved to Spartak Moscow after having spent his entire career at Celtic and hit the ground running. Indeed, McGeady has already been involved in three goals after just four appearances in the Russian top flight (one goal and two assists), displaying an impressive 100% shooting accuracy and completing 85% of his passes.

The skillful Irish international has also attempted a league-high 6.5 dribbles per game. In the 3-2 defeat at the hands of Russia in Dublin on Friday, McGeady was one of the home side’s better performers, firing in a game-high three shots on target, with one of those attempts leading to Shane Long’s goal for the Irish. The former Celtic man will also be central to the Republic’s chance of success against Slovakia, in a game which now has increased significance following the defeat at the Aviva Stadium.

Although Slovakia captain Marek Hamsik failed to shine in a more defensive position at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, his form at club level – three goals and one assist in the opening six Serie A match days – suggests he performs best when operating higher up the pitch.

The playmaker failed to score in South Africa, registering just seven touches of the ball in the opposition penalty area and managing to test the opposition goalkeeper with just 20% of his attempts. His current Serie A statistics, however, are far superior.

Indeed, he has racked up 31 touches in the opposition box (5.2 on average), and posted a 60% shooting accuracy. Overall in his 113 Serie A appearances, Hamsik has scored 33 goals, showing his potency when he gets into the box. In Slovakia’s shock 3-1 defeat by Armenia on Friday, Hamsik was still his side’s best performer, providing an assist and a game-high four goal-scoring chances in total. Slovak boss Vladimir Weiss will now be hoping his captain can inspire his side to victory against the Irish on the 12th, and get their campaign to reach Poland and Ukraine back on track.

Castrol Verdict:
Slovakia win: 45%
Republic of Ireland win: 27%
Draw: 28%

England start search for five-a-side team to take on Germany in November re-match

Following the South Africa 2010 World Cup disappointment of England losing out to Germany, former England goalkeeping legend Peter Shilton is fronting a launch to find an amateur five a side team to take on a similar German team in a football rematch.

Following the devastating 4-1 defeat in Bloemfontein, South Africa, in June, Shilton has teamed up with Holiday Inn to mark the relaunch of its hotels and give its guests and loyal football fans the opportunity to show the Germans that England does indeed have what it takes to claim the trophy.

Holiday Inn and Shilton are searching for an English amateur five-a-side team with a real passion for the game, to represent their country against Germany’s own football marvel, Horst Hrubesch, and his equivalent German team in the ultimate rematch.  This event will take place on Monday 8 November 2010 in London.

Shilton comments: “This is our big chance to show Germany what we’re made of and I’m taking this as a personal mission to bring the glory back to England. I’m looking for teams with stamina, skill and real belief that they can do this. I need a team who wants to win as much as I do and is willing to give 100%. In return, I’ll train and manage them and make sure they’re well prepared for the big day.”

Both teams and the referee will be recruited via a dedicated Facebook competition page and entries will be open to a public vote. Each nation’s three favourite team entries will be passed to their respective football legends to pick the winners, who will each receive a day on the pitch with their legend, including a training session and management at the rematch itself, plus exclusive signed football kit.

Without goal line technology, and ‘that’ controversial incident in South Africa, it is imperative the rematch is judged fairly, so Holiday Inn is also recruiting an equally passionate amateur accredited referee from anywhere in the UK and Ireland – except for England – to keep a close eye on the 40-minute proceedings.

The competition is now open. To enter your five-a-side team or to enter as a referee, visit the Facebook/Holiday Inn page. You can also use this link to vote for your favourite team or referee and help them stand the best chance of winning. The competition closes on 28 October 2010, however early entries are encouraged in order to get as many votes as possible, maximising the chances of winning.