Movember 2018: Day 8

Movember 2018: Day 8

Hi guys, so we’re just over a week into November and that means I’m far enough into Movember to be able to style the Mo.

Movember updates 2018:

mov20181108_105237Now some people may see growing the ‘tache for a month as a bit of fun, and admittedly it is, but there is a more serious side to this. According to Cancer Research UK:

  • There are around 2,300 new testicular cancer cases in the UK every year
  • In males in the UK, testicular cancer is the 17th most common cancer
  • There are around 60 testicular cancer deaths in the UK every year, that’s around 1 every week
  • When diagnosed at its earliest stage, all men with testicular cancer will survive their disease for five years or more, compared with around 8 in 10 men when diagnosed at the latest stage

 

  • There are around 47,700 new prostate cancer cases in the UK every year, that’s around 130 every day
  • In males in the UK, prostate cancer is the most common cancer
  • There are around 11,500 prostate cancer deaths in the UK every year, that’s 31 every day
  • Prostate cancer accounts for 13% of all cancer deaths in males in the UK
  • When diagnosed at its earliest stage, all men with prostate cancer will survive their disease for five years or more, compared with less than a third of men when diagnosed at the latest stage

Also from a variety of mental health websites:

  • In 2013, 6,233 suicides were recorded in the UK for people aged 15 and older. Of these, 78% were male and 22% were female
  • 12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders
  • In a 2016 survey of 1,112 employed men conducted by Opinion Leader for the Men’s Health Forum
    • 34% would be embarrassed or ashamed to take time off work for mental health concern such as anxiety or depression compared to 13% for a physical injury
    • 38% would be concerned that their employer would think badly of them if they took time off work for a mental health concern – compared to 26% for a physical injury

If these stats don’t show the importance of charities like the Movember Foundation, then I don’t know what will!

But this year I am raising money for Soft UK, so I also want to give you some stats about Edward’s Syndrome:

  • It occurs in about one out of every five-thousand births
  • Approximately 90-95% of children born with Edward’s Syndrome die prior to their first birthday
  • The average lifespan for half of the children born with Edward’s Syndrome is less than two months

If anyone wants to donate, our office’s fundraising page can be found here. Any donations, big or small, will be greatly appreciated!

World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year 2018: The Shortlist

World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year 2018: The Shortlist

Last week, World Rugby announced their 5-man shortlist for the World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year 2018. This year’s list surprisingly omits Tadhg Furlong (a prop has still never been nominated) and David Pocock despite impressive seasons, leaving Malcolm Marx as the only forward on the list, while Ireland’s Johnny Sexton is the only representative from the Northern Hemisphere.

So who deserves the award this year? I thought it would be interesting to have a look at the 5 nominees and see who I feel should be named Player of the Year.

Beauden Barrett

The New Zealand fly half has been the winner the last 2 years and has the opportunity to match Dan Carter and Richie McCaw as the only players to win the award 3 times, but honestly I think he has made the list this year on the strength of his previous seasons and his role as the All Blacks’ starting 10 rather than on the strength of his performances.

While he is still an above average fly half, I think that this season he has benefited from the quality of his supporting cast and I think that his goal kicking has been too unreliable. I may be in the minority here, but I would love to see Richie Mo’unga to be given the starting 10 role for a while to create a fight for the coveted position.

Barrett is undeniably a talent, but I think both David Pocock and Tadhg Furlong have done more this year to justify a spot on the list.

Faf de Klerk

The Springboks turnaround under Rassie Erasmus has been phenomenal and a big part of that has been the play of de Klerk. The Sale scrum half is probably the form 9 in World Rugby at the moment and does a wonderful job of hassling the opposition (just ask Aaron Smith during the Rugby Championship and Nathan Hughes in the June Tests). Not only that but in attack he has done a good job of keeping the ball coming to the backs quickly and has also given an extra dimension to South Africa’s play with his tactical kicking.

Though I may be an England fan, I really wish the weekend’s Test match against South Africa had been inside World Rugby’s Test window so that he and Willie le Roux could play, even though that would have likely given them the victory.

Rieko Ioane

Ioane has played in 8 matches for the All Blacks this year and amassed 11 tries, 2 assists, and 771 metres off 35 carries with 36 defenders beaten and 26 clean breaks.

Like Barrett, while he obviously benefits from being in a fantastic team, Ioane is a real talent with incredible space and footwork but is also deceptively strong in contact. This year has been no fluke as he has 22 tries from 21 Tests for New Zealand in his career and I will not be surprised to see him pushing for the record of most tries in a World Cup, currently held by Brian Habana, Jonah Lomu and Julian Savea.

Malcolm Marx

The second South African on this list, I am a big fan of Marx and recently picked him in my World XV Challenge. He is a powerful ball carrier and in defence it is like having an extra flanker on the pitch. When South Africa have a lineout within 10 metres of the opponent’s line, I have just got to the point now that I expect to see Marx at the back of a driving maul going over for a try.

Unfortunately for Marx, he does have a weakness at the moment – his unreliable lineout throwing – which proved costly against England at the weekend and will probably stop him from winning this year’s award.

Johnny Sexton

What a year Ieland have had! A 6 Nations Grand Slam and a series victory against Australia in the June Tests represents on of their best ever years, and Sexton has been at the heart of this.

He may not be the most reliable kicker off the tee, but his command of his back line is incredible and even though everyone knows his classic wraparound move is coming, they still seem incapable of stopping it. Add in his willingness to play a high bomb into the opposition 22 and his supremely accurate kicking out of hand and he is arguably one of – if not the best – 10s in the world right now, especially when he can stay in one piece as he has done more so this year.

If he can earn Irleand the victory over New Zealand later this month, then he is surely a shoe-in for the award!

 

So who gets the vote? I decided to ask a couple of friends for their opinions having looked at the shortlist. Phil is a colleague from work and an England fan, while Tino is an old uni friend and former Pistol Shrimps teammate who supports England and Italy.

Phil’s vote: Faf de Klerk

Tino’s vote: Johnny Sexton

As for me? While I want to give the award to Ioane for such a prolific season, I think the run of 6 consecutive awards for Kiwis is coming to an end. De Klerk very nearly got my vote and could still get it if he can help lead South Africa to victories over France, Scotland and Wales. But for me, this year’s winner has to be Johnny Sexton, irrespective of the result against the All Blacks.

Who gets your vote?

Anarchy Semifinals

Anarchy Semifinals

The 2018 Ultimate Schmoedown is underway and as its name suggested, the Team tournament has been anarchy. For those of you who have missed a big chunk of this season (you’re missing out and really need to go back and watch what you missed), all teams were disbanded and picked from a hat, leading to 16 new teams– well technically 15 new and the Wildberries – and a number of new managers. Following the Shirewolves’ victory to earn the Team Title and a few other issues with the original selections, the 16 teams were confirmed along with the bracket and the tournament kicked off at the 3rd live event.

Rather than try to do a write-up for each match as I did for the Innergeekdom Tournament, as many of these teams may not have much of a future I have decided instead to give my overall thoughts from the round instead.

Read my thoughts on previous rounds here:

The semifinal results were:

  • The Harris Brothers beat The Odd Couple 29-26
  • Who’s The Boss beat KOrruption 28-26

“Apes together strong”

It may come as no surprise, but the way a team works together and its chemistry is so important in this tournament. On the whole, I think all 4 of these semifinalists have done a great job of working together.

mtssneidermuppet
The Insneider has been a little different since he left JTE, but his partnership with Andreyko has looked dangerous

Lon and Jonathan were always going to work well together being brothers, and I think that this has gone a long way to helping Jonathan quickly bed into the competition after an unexpected entrance following JTE’s injury. Chance may be new to the league but by being paired with Kalinowski, he is with someone who is so experienced in the Schmoedown and with plenty of experience in the division. Sneider is the most experienced (and most successful) in the teams division of all these competitors and has done a great job of adapting from working with JTE to Andreyko, while Reilly and Bateman are so invested in the league. Being a big fan of the Horsemen but also Team Action, I have listened to a couple of podcasts where Ben and Mark have discussed their team-up and talked tactics and it has been great to see how Reilly has actually modified his game off the back of these tactical discussions.

mtsteamWhen you watch the most successful teams in Round 2 or on the 5-point question in the final round, it is so rare to see a competitor just blurt out an answer these days. Even when one of the competitors clearly knows the answer straight away, you will generally see them take a moment to discuss it with their teammate just to make sure they are definitely correct. With so much talent now in the league, playing as 2 individuals will not get you a win deep in a tournament and it will be important to work together as a team in order to reach the top and win the belt.

On the desk

mtsquastoken

One of my favourite things about this season has been the number of new faces appearing at the announcers desk. While variations of Kristian, Ellis and Ken (with occasional cameos from Campea, Reilly and Macuga) was great, having Jenn Sterger and other competitors like Bibbiani, Rachel Cushing, Jason Inman, Jay Washignton, Sneider or – in the case of this week’s matches – Jonny Loquasto and Marc Andreyko has not just allowed us to see some more of our favourite competitors, but also allowed us to get more of a variety of styles at the desk. Jonny was a great announcer and you could tell he was experienced in this sort of role, while Marc did a great job of bringing his wit and humour to what was already going to be a wonderful match.

mtsandkriAs Season 5 draws to a climax and moving into Season 6, I hope we continue to get competitors appearing at the desk. With Ken and Alex set to battle it out for the Star Wars Title at Schmoedown Spectacular, I would love it if their rival from the last Number 1 Contender match Joseph Scrimshaw were to appear at the desk for their match and I would love an Innergeekdom competitor – Rachel, Jay and Emma all have experience at the desk – to announce Mara Knopic’s title defence against Kalinowski.

Not to be forgotten

“Shut your mouth and spin the Wheel” – Mike Kalinowski

This has arguably been the best season of the Schmoedown so this is a tough call to make, but I honestly think the match between Who’s The Boss and KOrruption could be my favourite match of the year so far!

“He’s like a loser senior that got lucky to take the hot freshman to prom” – Ben Bateman

mtswtbkor4Even taking away the cutscenes at the beginning and end due to not all matches having these, the goings-on throughout this match were just wonderful. From Finstock captaining ships and looking for icebergs in the Caribbean (not a sentence I thought I’d be writing anytime soon) to Bateman and Reilly calling Kalinwoski “a loser” and a “little ninny bitch” respectively while Kalinowski called himself “the boss”, these were some of the most amazing promos we’ve had this season. A cameo from Kal during Who’s The Boss’ entrance, Ben and Reilly refusing to shake Mike’s hand pre-match, Ken and Napzok staring each other down after Round 1, the shit-talk from everyone throughout, Reilly’s celebration throwback to when he won his title back from Rocha (a match I watched mere days before as I try to catch up on all the Schmoedown I missed before getting into the league), Ben getting drunk on winners’ juice post-match and calling Kal’s balls “winners”… this match had everything!

mtswtbpromoRound 2 may have stopped this match from being as close as many of us would have hoped, but I still found myself completely enthralled throughout and think this has just beat out Team Action v DC Movie News as my favourite match from the Team Division this season, which is itself saying something considering we had 2 title matches between Above The Line and The Patriots!

“It’s easy to become a star but hard to stay one” – Finstock

Coming to a climax

Cutscenes were back this week with a vengeance and boy were they exciting!

We start off with Finstock finding proof that Bateman really was innocent of stealing Kal and was set up by Kalinowski. Finstock has done a great job of getting Reilly and Bateman working together and if Who’s The Boss win the tournament and then defeat the Shirewolves at Spectacular, I think he could come into consideration for Manager of the Year.

Following The Harris Brothers’ win, Kalinowski paid Thadd a visit and set up Ken Napzok as the contender to face Alex Damon at Spectacular for the Star Wars belt. I’m looking forward to seeing this match (though I still think it is a shame that Sam Witwer has not been available this year, the man has to work and I think the league has done a good job working around this to the best of their ability) and it will be interesting to see how Ken acts considering this will be his first match since he left the Lion’s Den.

mtsthaddno.jpgIt turns out Brianne was outside the room eavesdropping and this was enough for Miss Movies who soon paid Thadd a visit with a list of competitors who will walk unless Thadd either resigns as Commissioner or tells Mike no. Following KOrruption’s loss, Kalinowski came in to arrange Spectacular’s Team Title match as a Triple Threat: the anarchy winners v The Shirewolves v Korruption, however Thadd found his backbone and said no. Kalinowski didn’t stay to argue, but it certainly looks like he isn’t done.

While the Commissioner storyline has not gone anything like what I once predicted, I am absolutely loving the way the KOrruption storyline has tied into this and I can’t wait to see how this continues. Kristian recently confirmed there will be 6 matches at Spectacular and we currently have 4 Title Matches and a Number 1 Contender Match for the Singles Division confirmed, which leaves just 1 match. I was initially thinking this would be another Manager Bowl, but now I am starting to think that this is going to tie into these storylines.

Predicting the final: Who’s The Boss v The Harris Brothers

This is such a hard one to call as I have twice predicted against The Harris Brother and been proved wrong, but I think I’m going to have to do it again. Reilly and Bateman are in great form both individually and as a team and both clearly want to get their hands on the belt. It’s just so hard to predict as we still have so little knowledge of Jonathan’s strengths and weaknesses (which could be an issue for Who’s The Boss should The Harris Brothers spin Opponent’s Choice in Round 2), but when I look at Ben & Reilly I struggle to find many categories I think they would really struggle with.

I would also assume that in line with other tournament finals, this will be a 5-round match. Reilly is the only one here with any experience of the longer format and as I have shown previously, experience does often appear to help in these matches. I’m pretty certain he and Dagnino – who has also competed in the initial Team Title Match against Team Schmoes and managed the Patriots for 8 5-round matches – will have taken some time to talk tactics with Bateman to give them every advantage in the final.


And finally… an exciting announcement

It’s with great pleasure and honour that I can announce that I will be one of the writers for the Schmoedown’s official website!

Though I will be writing on the website, this does not mean my Schmoedown posts on here are coming to an end as there may be some things not quite right for the site that I still want to write about, it may just be that the posts on here are a little less often and I may not be following tournaments round by round as I have with Anarchy and the Innergeekdom Tournament.

There was a time last year when I wanted to start writing about the Schmoedown because I was enjoying it so much and had nobody in my day-to-day life to discuss it with, but wasn’t sure it was right for the blog. Eventually I took the chance and now my Schmoedown posts are some of my favourite to write, so thank you very much to everyone who has not only read these but also interacted with me and given me feedback this year!

Eyes On: 2018 Autumn Internationals – Week 1

Eyes On: 2018 Autumn Internationals – Week 1

November is here and for rugby fans that means one thing: the Autumn Internationals are here. Following up on their Bledisloe Cup whitewash, the All Blacks fielded a much-changed XV against Japan to begin their journey to the Northern Hemisphere, while the Home Nations all kicked off their month, including a trip to Chicago for Ireland to face Italy.

The results from Week 1 were:

  • Japan 31-69 New Zealand
  • Wales 21-10 Scotland
  • England 12-11 South Africa
  • USA 22-59 Maori All Blacks
  • Ireland 54-7 Italy

Now unfortunately due to where certain games were televised, I was only able to watch the England and Wales games so this week I will be focusing on these 2 matches. But first a couple of other points that I felt necessary to mention…


Calendar issues

People may be surprised by the lack of international matches this weekend, but there is an important reason for this: World Rugby’s window for Test matches did not cover this weekend. For this reason, teams were not required to release players to the national teams, which is why players like Liam Williams and Dan Biggar were not involved in the Doddie Weir Cup game at the Principality Stadium and a number of influential South Africans like Willie le Roux, Faf de Klerk and Franco Mostert did not feature against England.

I do not understand for one moment why World Rugby are allowing these games to go ahead. Yes, players missing gives coaches a chance to test players on the fringe of the squad but they could do that in their other matches anyway. It’s just yet another match where players have a chance of getting injured (as happened to Tom Curry against South Africa and Ben Morgan & Manu Tuilagi in the preceding week) and in a time when many people would already argue that players play too much, this is yet another risk to those taking part.

I understand the unions need to generate revenue, but in a week where the WRU and SRU have had to be publicly shamed into donating to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, it just feels like this is another example of the greedy unions putting money before player well-being.

That tackle

Watching the England match at home with my colleague Phil was a roller coaster of emotions, and none more so than in the final moments of the game as Owen Farrell put in a huge hit on André Esterhuizen. Next to me, Phil was yelling out a slightly less polite variant of “what a hit!” and while I initially began to cheer, the moment quickly caught me as I began to wonder if the hit was legal, not helped at all when I saw that referee Angus Gardner was speaking with the TMO. My heart was in my mouth and the relief when Gardner announced he was happy with the challenge and ended the game was overwhelming.

Unsurprisingly, this became the most talked about moment of the weekend’s action, but I must admit I was shocked by how many fans, reporters and pundits felt that the hit was illegal, with people throwing out sanctions from just a penalty all the way to a red card! My personal feeling when I saw the replays along with the officials was that it was a legal hit.

I saw some people online comparing this to Danny Cipriani’s red against Munster and – while I didn’t agree fully with that call – I don’t see how that comparison can be made here as Cipriani clearly did make contact with the head, whereas Farrell’s shoulder made contact with the head. To me the question about legality came down to whether this was a tackle or a shoulder charge. Farrell hits with his right shoulder and I won’t argue that his right arm is down by his side, but the angle from behind Esterhuizen showed that his left arm did attempt to wrap and he in fact almost managed to rip the ball out, but the force of the hit pushed them apart.

What I have not seen many people mention online was that South Africa’s penalty to go 9-11 up came after Thomas du Toit and RG Snyman tackled George Kruis together, each with the arm they were tackling with down by their side. If you say Farrell’s was illegal then so are those hits, so the blame cannot be put on Angus Gardner or the officials for “blowing” the call at the end. Gardner has been consistent on his rulings in this match, it is now up to World Rugby to ensure this consistency continues. Farrell may have avoided a citing, but I doubt we have heard the end of this just yet.


England

Back when I was playing junior rugby, I remember being constantly coached that the first tackler should go low to stop the ball carrier, then the second man should go high. It seems that not many of the England team remembered this at the weekend. Going into the game, I was worried by how the pack would front up against the Boks and I would argue that the answer was all too often not very well. Players continually went high and it allowed players like Eben Etzebeth and Damian de Allende to continually make ground and put the Springboks on the front foot for much of the match. One of the few times that someone went low on Etzebeth, Kyle Sinckler stopped him in his tracks and dumped him on the floor. While I understand going for the ball, the important thing must always be to stop the carrier first.

Looking ahead to the next match against the All Blacks, I think Eddie Jones has to make some changes. While I thought Alec Hepburn was unfortunate to be pulled at halftime, I think Ben Moon did very well off the bench and would in fact suggest starting Moon and Williams (probably the stronger scrummagers) then having the more mobile Hepburn and Sinckler come off the bench in the second half. I have been critical of Mark Wilson’s selection previously, but I think he went about his business well and think he has earned his spot for the next match. I would also give Zach Mercer an overdue first Test start as I feel he made a really positive impact off the bench and (assuming Tom Curry is fit to face New Zealand) I would drop the largely ineffectual Brad Shields to the bench. I don’t think there should be any changes to the back line – though I do wonder if Elliot Daly’s struggles under the high ball may see a return for Mike Brown – but if Manu Tuilagi is fit then I would love to see both him and Ashton on the bench in place of George Ford as they would probably be bigger game changers, while Henry Slade can play 10 if something happens to Farrell.

South Africa

Regardless of your thoughts on Farrell’s tackle, that one moment did not lose South Africa the game. Malcolm Marx is a fantastic player – he recently made my team in my World XV Challenge – but he had a poor game at Twickenham and overthrew a number of crucial lineouts. In the 10 minutes that Maro Itoje was in the sin bin, England won 3-0 despite the Boks starting the period with a penalty 5m out from the England line. Perhaps even worse, they made the same mistake that New Zealand did against them in the Rugby Championship by not going for the drop goal. They had Handrè Pollard and Elton Jantjies both on the field and had the ball pretty central int he England 22 with just minutes left, yet neither made an attempt to get in the pocket or set up for a match-winning drop goal and instead Lood de Jager allowed Owen Farrell to rip the ball away. Had England been a little smarter with their time management and held onto the ball for just a few phases after this, that would have been the match over and the debate about Farrell’s tackle would have never begun. This South Africa team has come a long way since Rassie Erasmus took over and they wee arguably missing a number of key players due to European clubs not releasing them, but if they want to take the next step then they need to start managing the game better in the key moments.


Wales

With Warren Gatland having returned to New Zealand ahead of the Doddie Weir Cup following the passing of his father, I can’t help but feel that Shaun Edwards took charge of training in his absence. This was a vintage performance from the Welsh reminiscent of some of their most successful seasons with Gatland at the helm.

The Scottish forwards were unable to get on the front foot, such was the physicality of the Welsh defending, and this then allowed the defence to hassle Adam Hastings and make it all but impossible to get the back line working effectively on a regular basis. I was surprised and disappointed when I saw Dan Lydiate had been named in the starting XV as I was really looking forward to seeing Ellis Jenkins get a shot in the team but the Ospreys flanker rolled back the clock with a wonderful performance and with so many back rows currently unavailable he may have just put himself back in contention for the World Cup squad.

Scotland

Despite the dominance of the Welsh defence, Scotland still had some great chances and could potentially have come away with victory. George Horne (who did a wonderful job off the bench) put in a lovely little chip into the Welsh in-goal area for his brother Peter, but the centre just couldn’t quite get hold of the ball and dot it down. Jonny Gray did actually dot the ball down over the line but the try was rightfully disallowed and a penalty given against the lock for a double movement.

While the Horne drop was unfortunate, it was by no means an easy catch to make, but to me the Gray penalty was so stupid as he knows that he is making a double movement (I have been in a similar position before where I have started reaching for the line and realised that I will be short, so instead presented the ball to my team) and his support is clearly there. It is not a matter of reach for the line or get turned over, if he presents the ball back, Scotland keep the pressure on and potentially score a couple of phases later. Instead, a penalty allows the Welsh to not just clear their line but also get possession back. This was a costly mistake from one of the most experienced players in the squad.


 

October 2018 in the Premier League

October 2018 in the Premier League

Just the 3 rounds of football in October as the international break took place after the first week of matches. Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea continue their unbeaten starts to the season with 2 wins and a draw each. City’s results were probably the most impressive of the 3 as they drew with Liverpool (who remain level on points) and won against Burnley and at Spurs. Arsenal matches the results of the teams ahead of them, as did Manchester United – who were denied a win at Stamford Bridge courtesy of a late Ross Barkley goal – and Bournemouth, who continue to surpass expectations and hold onto a spot in the top 6. The only team to win all their games in October was Brighton, who managed 3 consecutive 1-0 victories, while Fulham were the only team not to pick up a single point this month.


The best of football

Football fans don’t always get painted in the best light – often for good reason – but there were some instances this month that really caught my eye and thought were worthy of praise.

The biggest of these has come in circumstances that we wish had not happened, but centres around the reaction to the helicopter crash following Leicester’s 1-1 draw with West Ham that saw 5 people including Leicester owner and chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. Football fans have not always been the best at showing respect for other clubs’ previous tragedies, but the way that the entire football community has responded to the incident is highly commendable.

On a lighter note, the other moments of class have been related to former players returning to their old home ground with new teams. I remember the shock when Juan Mata was sold to United. Mata was a fan-favourite at Stamford Bridge and has understandably become one at Old Trafford too, so it was wonderful to see both home and away fans give him a standing ovation as he left the pitch during United’s 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. Similarly, it was great to see Manchester City fans give keeper Joe Hart such a warm welcome on his return to the Etihad with Burnley. He was such a big piece of the club through their early years of success and it never felt right with me the way he was so easily discarded by Pep Guardiola, so it was great to see the fans give him the respect he deserved. It’s just a shame that he was left picking the ball out the back of his net 5 times, especially given a couple of huge decisions from the officials really went in City’s favour during the game.


Kick it out

From some of the best of football to some of the worst.

We quickly find ourselves back at Stamford Bridge and in the final moments of the match as Ross Barkley salvaged a point for Chelsea. While I can understand that emotions would run high at a moment like that, there was no excuse for Chelsea coach Marco Ianni to come running out of the dugout and celebrate not just in front of the United bench, but also to direct his celebration towards them. There is no need whatsoever, it is taunting plain and simple and I have to comment José and the United bench for not reacting the first time. But because they didn’t react, Ianni decided to do it again, sparking ugly scenes at the tunnel. It’s great to see that Sarri apologised and that the FA reacted to the incidents, but a £6,000 fine is pathetically small. This is the Premier League, one of the biggest – if not the biggest – and most popular leagues in the world. Children will be watching Ianni’s actions and thinking that’s acceptable. It isn’t! It was a disgusting and blatant act of disrespect towards Mourinho and the United team and the punishment should have been much more severe.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t it this month as the diving epidemic continued in October. Now first things first, credit to the referees who are coming down hard on the players, with Laurent Depoitre, Aboubakar Kamara and Willian all booked this month for blatant dives, while Alvaro Morata was also cautioned for going down easily during a face-off with a couple of Burnley defenders. Diving is disgusting and needs eliminating from the game. The only problem is that as the referee has picked up on these instances of simulation and given the punishment they can (a yellow card is the maximum punishment on the pitch), the FA cannot give any further punishment. This needs to change if the FA are serious about stamping out diving. If a player knows that they will face a 3-match ban for diving regardless of whether or not they deceive the officials (or better yet get a longer ban if their deception is successful) then after a while players will not want to take the risk as they will know they are putting themselves at risk.


He needs to go!

At almost £90m Paul Pogba was always going to be considered an expensive signing, but I would also call him a costly one. The player has often felt like a distraction in the changing room this season, and if it comes to a matter of someone having to leave Old Trafford and the board picking between Pogba or Mourinho, then I am firmly behind keeping Mourinho.

Pogba has been frustrating on the pitch this season. He has some wonderful moments where he plays beautiful passes, but then he also has plenty of other moments where at best he is anonymous and at worse a liability. He lost his man Antonio Rüdiger far too easy at a corner to allow the German to open the scoring and his showboating lost the ball against Everton, leading to the foul by Chris Smalling that earned a penalty.

And then there’s the penalties. The most pathetic thing I have ever seen on a football pitch. forgoing a run-up for over 20 tiny steps, leaving no power in the shot and making him look stupid if he doesn’t score (he was lucky against Everton that Pickford’s save sent the ball back to him to score on the rebound). With the players in the United squad, there must be someone who can take a proper penalty and if United can get some decent players in January then I will have no problem with them selling Pogba for what will likely be a loss financially.


Attitudes need to change

It was good to see that Glenn Murray made such a quick recovery following Brighton’s win at Newcastle. Murray and Magpies defender Federico Fernández clashed heads competing for an aerial ball and as Murray landed, his body folded and his arms did not protect his fall, leading to his head hitting the floor with sickening force.

Full credit to the players and officials for stopping the game immediately and the medics for their quick actions to stop things from getting worse, but watching Match of the Day, I was shocked to hear commentator Guy Mowbray describe the incident as “something and nothing” as the replays showed Murray’s head hitting the ground. Concussion is a serious worry and this is unfortunately not the first time that the actions of people involved in the Premier League have made it look as if they are not so focused on it. I really hope they prove me wrong.


Top 6 prediction

  1. Manchester City
  2. Liverpool
  3. Chelsea
  4. Arsenal
  5. Tottenham Hotspur
  6. Manchester United

 

Movember 2018: Day 1

Movember 2018: Day 1

Hey guys, Halloween is now over and we are into one of my favourite times of the year: Movember. Movember is a charity event that is close to my heart and I have been taking part in it for about 7 years now (the header picture on this page is from the Pistol Shrimps’ Movember social the first year that I took part).

For those who don’t know what Movember is, it is when men around the globe start November clean shaven and spend the month growing and cultivating a moustache, raising money for charity and awareness for men’s health. For more details on what Movember is and why it is so important to me take a look at my overview page, as this post is going to be more of a Mo-gression update.

20181101_102838So… Day 1. As someone who usually has a beard, it’s safe to say my face has been pretty cold today!

 

Now usually I would be raising money for the Movember foundation, but this year I am doing things a little different. While I will still be raising awareness towards men’s health, this year I am instead asking for donations to Soft UK as part of our fundraising at work.

We are fundraising for Soft UK as they supported one of our colleagues and his wife after their unborn daughter was diagnosed with Edwards Syndrome.

Edwards Syndome (Trisomy 18) is a Chromosome disorder diagnosed before a baby is born. Parents who receive a diagnosis for their baby are faced with making complex and difficult decisions. Sadly, the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth is high but of the babies who do survive pregnancy, almost 1 in 10 live to celebrate their 1st birthday.

 

If anyone wants to donate, our office’s fundraising page can be found here. Any donations, big or small, will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks for reading guys, keep an eye out for my Mo-gression updates throughout the month!