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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nPower Championship: Who Wants It More?

Considering the opportunities – both professional and financial – that winning the Championship could provide teams and players, the responses to the change in leadership at the beginning of the month could hardly have been more different.

Temporary leaders Cardiff lost the South Wales derby by a goal from on loan striker Marvin Emnes (who – unsurprisingly – was recalled to Middlesbrough this week) and had to come from behind to draw with Reading: at the end of May it’s possible that the phrase ‘late Jay Bothroyd goal’ might sum up Cardiff’s season. QPR beat Reading but only a very late Tommy Smith penalty preserved their unbeaten record at Portsmouth. The top of the table could still turn into a two horse race: Cardiff’s trip to Scunthorpe looks like an away win, although with Dave Jones winning the Manager of The Month award for October, The Iron might fancy their chances of a rare win at Glanford Park on Saturday.

QPR’s visit to Nottingham Forest is the game of the weekend and is an interesting match statistically. Rangers are still unbeaten but have never won at the City Ground, where Forest are unbeaten this season: if Forest can win (and it’s a big if given their deserved reputation as draw specialists) then they could be in a position to mount an assault on the automatic promotion positions.

The week’s big winners were Derby and Middlesbrough, who both picked up maximum points from their two games. The increasingly impressive Rams beat Ipswich and Portsmouth without conceding a goal; Tony Mowbray’s Middlesbrough defeated fellow strugglers Crystal Palace on Saturday and then beat Scunthorpe for their first away win of the season.

Despite conceding a ridiculously early goal at home against Preston on Saturday, Bristol City fought back to gain a point thanks to an own goal from Billy Jones and then pulled off one of the bigger shocks in this season’s competition on Tuesday night. An early goal from former Ipswich striker John Stead ended Swansea’s unbeaten record on Wednesday night: the surprise win at the Liberty Stadium must have been particularly galling for Crystal Palace who had beaten Watford the evening before. However despite the Edgar Davids era ending after only seven appearances, Palace’s plight is not as bad as it could be – Sheffield United, Hull and Preston could only pick up one point from the six six available to them.

This week’s losers – literally – were Coventry. Despite occupying the last play off spot going into this weekend’s games, the Sky Blues lost twice this week, which is hardly the ideal preparation for travelling to Palace this weekend.

The weekend programme gets under way later today when two of the three clubs in the relegation zone play each other.  There may be a few goals at Deepdale as Preston’s defence is the worst in the Championship but as Hull have drawn their last three away games and have only won twice in their last ten visits to Preston then a draw can’t be ruled out. The game kicks off at 7:45pm and is live on Sky Sports 1.

As mentioned earlier, Nottingham Forest v QPR is game of the day but Burnley v Watford and Reading v Norwich (Sky Sports 2, 5:20 kick off) are worth keeping an eye on as all four clubs involved will be looking to either consolidate or move into play off positions.

Due to the Wales v South Africa test match on Saturday evening, Swansea’s game against Middlesbrough has been moved to Sunday afternoon. At first glance this game looks like a Swansea win but having said that, on paper the hosts shouldn’t have lost to Bristol City either and Middlesbrough won 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium last season in the first league game between these two since April 1984. Boro have also won three of their last five visits to west Wales but Marvin Emnes won’t be playing against Swansea as his loan period finishes on Monday.

Championship football news round up

Newcastle United midfielder Kevin Nolan has been voted the Championship Fans Player of the Month in November, hanging on to the award for the second month in succession.

The former Bolton player has been in impressive form for the Magpies scoring nine goals so far this season. While the 29 year old is chuffed with the award he says his main goal is returning to the Premier League with Newcastle at first time of trying.

He said he would be happier for Newcastle to win every remaining game without scoring himself, to get back to the Premiership.

Stern John, who joined Ipswich from Crystal Palace on loan until the end of the year, says he would be up for making the deal permanent if he is wanted by the Suffolk club.

John made his debut for the Tractor Boys in last weekends 2-1 win over Cardiff and said he is keen to leave Selhurst Park and will see what happens in January.

He is contracted with Palace until next summer, with a possible one year extension, but admits that the chances of remaining with Palace are slim with the current financial difficulties at the club.

Derby County are keen to terminate the contract of Australian midfielder Ruben Zadkovich, who was brought to the club by previous manager Paul Jewell, but has spent 10 months out injured and has yet to feature in the first team under current boss Nigel Clough.

Zadkovich has been offered a termination agreement to cover the remaining six months of his contract at Derby and Clough said they are waiting for a response from the player’s agent. The Australian has made seven appearances for Derby since joining the club in April 2008.

Nigel Clough says he is keen to re-sign Everton striker James Vaughan on loan in January. The 21 year old was injured soon after arriving at Pride Park on a previous loan agreement in September.

Vaughan has recovered from surgery on the injured knee and is back in training with Everton and Clough said he is hoping to get him down to the midlands to train with Derby in an effort to re-sign the player on loan in the January window.

The Rams face losing the services of Paul Dickov and DJ Campbell in the New Year, both players are on loan from Leicester City until the end of the year.

Sunday League player picks up Carling One-All Award

large_oneallawards_sqr1A Sunday League player in Watford has picked up the prestigious award of Player of the Year in the Carling One-All Awards 2009.

Robert Meyer was chosen as a winner in this category for his dedication to Hertfordshire Harriers FC. Robert has been a rock in the defensive line, and was nominated by club Chairman, Lee Stiles.

He said: “In a shocking debut season for the club, conceding over 75 goals, Rob worked hard and gave blood, sweat and tears for the cause. His performances were always glittering as he dived in for last-ditch challenges and his work-rate never stopped, even at 6-0 down.
He is well respected throughout the club, and a fantastic character to have in any club, or friendship circle. I honestly feel that he deserves this award more than any other player in any team throughout the country.”

Meyer was delighted to receive his award: “The team had a tough season, we didn’t get many points, but we kept at it. I play centre back so I had a very busy season, we didn’t keep one clean sheet!”

The full list of award categories and winners for 2009 are as follows, though I wouldn’t be too happy about picking up an award for the Dodgiest kit!

Player of the Year
Robert Meyer, Hertfordshire Harriers FC

Manager of the Year
Paul Millward, Fox and Hounds FC, Wadsworth

11-a-side Team of the Year
Chantry Rangers, Ipswich

5-a-side Team of the Year
Sporting Linslade, Leighton Buzzard

Administrator of the Year
Tony Suggett, Gosport

Referee of the Year
John Parker, Warrington

Supporter of the Year
Jeannette Addison, Lakes United, Redcar

One-All Website of the Year
Motor Racing Club Ewell, Epsom

Dodgiest Kit Award
St Boniface FC, Birmingham

Team Spirit Award
Lakes United, Redcar

One-All Legend Award
Steve Jane, Harbertonford FC, Devon

One–All is the online community for players, managers, coaches and fans of the beautiful game. Over 5700 teams have already signed up, and the One-All community provides registered users with a free website for their team or league, profile pages and competitions to win top prizes.

Sylvan Ebanks Blake cleans up at Football League Awards

Wolves striker Sylvan Ebanks Blake was celebrating over the weekend as he picked up two of the most significant Football League Awards for his efforts this season.

Sylvan Ebanks Blake was named Championship player of the year, beating Reading’s Kevin Doyle and team-mate Michael Kightly to the top prize. It comes on the back of scoring 24 league goals for top of the table Wolves.

The 23-year-old also picked up the award for Football League goal of the year for his solo effort against Charlton in March last year. Overall, he had a very successful evening and will be proud of what he has achieved since joining Wolves.

The biggest prize for the former Plymouth man could still be yet to come though – promotion to the Premiership. Mick McCarthy’s men are currently five points clear at the top of the Championship with six games to play.

Automatic promotion is more important than winning the league though and as far as that is concerned, they are nine points clear of 3rd place Reading. The Royals do have a game in hand though.

Given the current situation, it seems very unlikely that Wolves will mess things up now. They would have to lose at least two of their remaining games and considering they have won four out of their last five games, this would mean a drastic drop in form.

As for the other Championship players or clubs that were awarded, Crystal Palace’s Sean Scannell picked up the Championship apprentice award, Charlton were winners of the Community club of the year and Wolves were recognised as the family club of the year.

The main winner was Sylvan Ebanks Blake though and he will be hoping that he is able to celebrate again in six games’ time having helped Wolves secure promotion to the Premier League.