Category Archives: Articles

Enemy Within The Camp

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s tempestuous alliance came to a head during qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix last weekend, with the Brit feeling aggrieved at what he considered to be a deliberate sabotage of his final bid to prise pole-position away from his Mercedes cohort.

Kewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg

Rosberg went on to win the race, with Hamilton 2nd, meaning that the German regained top spot in the championship, having finished as runner-up to his team-mate on four consecutive occasions previously.

This isn’t the first occurrence of Nicole Scherzinger‘s bygone beau coming into conflict with an apparent ally, having locked horns with Spaniard Fernando Alonso when the two were on McLaren’s books during the 2007 F1 season.

There’s no doubt that the 28 year old’s pursuit of perfection often rubs those closest to him up the wrong way, nor that he possesses a volatile streak that is equal measures blessing and curse.

Conscious that he is the superior technician in the team, Hamilton is abundantly aware that, equipped with this season’s premier vehicle, a better opportunity will rarely, if ever, present itself to augment his single world-title haul, with 2008 providing an isolated triumph thus far.

Rosberg on the other hand is aiming for a first success and, whilst not as naturally blessed as Hamilton, is arguably the most psychologically stable competitor on the circuit.

With the German now four points clear of his sidekick, the remaining races promise to unfurl into an intense two-horse race to the title, with the uneasy union between the two Mercedes drivers only likely to get more fraught as the pressure intensifies.

One thing that is for certain is that while it’s a relief to see a team other than Red Bull dominate on the track, the same issues are still prevalent in motor sports’ premier competition, as one team has a set-up that is vastly superior to any other, guaranteeing that the only competition come courtesy of their own ranks.

On the plus side, this one promises to go down to the wire, unlike many of the glorified processions witnessed during Sebastian Vettel’s previous half a decade of supremacy.

 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Champions League Final: Five key battles

Two teams from the same Spanish City go head-to-head in Lisbon tonight, their incentive: the most prestigious trophy in European domestic club football – where will the match be won and lost? Dom Kureen looks at five of the key battles of the 2014 Champions League final.

 

Gareth Bale (RW) Vs Filipe Luis (LB)

21 goals and a hatful of assists have gone some way towards justifying Gareth Bale’s world record £85.3m transfer fee. The Welsh wing-wizard’s stunning winner against Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey final last month had even the staunchest sceptics salivating.

Filipe Luis has spent much of his career as a journeyman full-back, but his development under the tutelage of Athletico chief Diego Simeone established him as one of the most dependable components in a side that won La Liga for the first time in 18 years.

Conclusion: Bale has really hit his stride since the turn of the year and should cause the Brazilian left-back no end of problems if he becomes isolated.

Cristiano Ronaldo (LW) Vs Juanfran (RB)

In 2013 Cristiano Ronaldo secured his legacy as one of the greatest players in the history of the game. His 66 goals in 55 matches for club and country were rewarded with a second Ballon d’Or and a lucrative multi-year contract extension with his current employers.

Former Real youth player Juanfran will have his work cut out – Ronaldo’s tendency to drift towards the centre offers only superficial respite, with Los Merengues’ jet-heeled left-back Marcelo regularly overlapping to occupy the void.

Conclusion: Ronaldo has been the best player in the world over the past 18 months, keep him quiet and Athletico could hoist aloft their second trophy of a remarkable season.

Sergio Ramos (CB) Vs Diego Costa (STR)

Sergio Ramos’ Allianz Arena brace put paid to Bayern Munich’s hopes during an exhilarating exhibition of counter-attacking football in Real’s 5-0 semi-final vanquishing of the pre-tournament favourites. It is for his defensive work that he is most noted though, having matured from perceived pansy into cultured ball playing centre-half during the past decade.

He will have his hands full with Diego Costa, who has finally fulfilled his long undoubted potential with 36 goals this season. Chelsea have reportedly agreed a £32m fee for his services, so this is likely to be the Brazilian’s Athletico adieu, he’ll want to bow out at the zenith, but is nursing a muscle-injury that may prevent his participation.

Conclusion: Athletico will be hopeful of Costa passing a late fitness test. As the focal point of their attacks he can cause even the high-calibre Ramos a headache.

Asier Illarramendi (DM) Vs Koke (AM)

22-year old Koke is the string puller in Athletico’s engine room. Another player on Jose Mourinho’s Stamford Bridge wish list, his form this season has seen him earmarked as Andres Iniesta’s long-term replacement at international level for Spain.

Amongst the fanfare of Bale’s bank busting transfer to the Bernabeu last summer, the tireless Illarramendi arrived from Real Sociedad for a relatively miniscule(!) £22m. The 24 year-old schemer will slot into a defensive midfield role in the absence of suspended first choice Xavi Alonso.

Conclusion: Koke is an elegant creator, his selfless, innovative probing has the potential to unlock Real’s back line, it will be up to the athletic Illarramendi to stalk him into submission.

Carlo Ancelotti Vs Diego Simeone

Carlo Ancelotti followed up a stellar playing career with a trophy laden 14-year stint managing various Serie A sides. Subsequent spells in England and France added depth to his credentials and led to his appointment at the helm of the most decorated club side in the world.

Diego Simeone was an uncompromising player, whose management career commenced in his native Argentina. It is at the Vincente Calderon that he has really flourished though, having gained the role in 2011.

Sergio Ramos

Conclusion: Real 2 – 1 Athletico.

Ancelotti is an old hand of the grand stage and won’t be overawed by the occasion.
With Athletico’s growing injury list, this will probably be a game too far for this season’s surprise package. Expect Ronaldo to add to his tally of 50 club goals for the campaign.

 

Do you agree with Dom’s assessment? Let us know in the comment section below!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Van the right man for United?

Sometimes a job is just too big, as David Moyes found out during an ill-fated stint at the Manchester United helm, Louis Van Gaal was today confirmed as his replacement – Dom Kureen gives his views on the new man in charge.

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Manchester United manager: a post that can prove a poisoned chalice at the best of times, and one that was multiplied ten-fold for the brave soul replacing the iconic Sir Alex Ferguson, following his 27-year trophy laden reign in the North-West.

With David Moyes ditched four matches before the conclusion of his inaugural season in the Old Trafford hot seat, a cluster of prospective successors were linked to the vacancy.

Ryan Giggs was among the favourites, but his time is surely still to come.

Carlo Ancelotti seems content enough guiding Real Madrid, with the likes of Ronaldo, Bale, Modric and Ramos in tow.

Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho are worshipped at the grounds they currently walk on and both are tied to lengthy contracts as a consequence.

Among the sea of credible candidates, one fit the bill like a Playboy Bunny frolicking in a mansion hot tub – that man was Louis Van Gaal.

Experienced: CHECK

 

Successful: CHECK

 

Respected: CHECK

 

Confident/arrogant: CHECK, CHECK!

 

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The 62 year-old Dutchman first came to prominence when guiding a youth packed Ajax Amsterdam side to the Champions League title in 1995.

Utilising hot academy prospects such as Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids, Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars, Clarence Seedorf, Edwin Van Der Sar and the De Boer twins, Van Gaal built a squad the envy of every other club side in the world.

Stints with global giants Barcelona (twice), Bayern Munich and the Dutch national side (also twice) brought mixed results, although any doubts over the veteran’s credentials were nipped in the bud by a remarkable four year tenure at AZ Alkmaar, who he guided to the Eredvisie championship in 2008-09.

Heading to the World Cup with the Netherlands this summer, Van Gaal will begin his English adventure upon the conclusion of the tournament.

Where there was general scepticism surrounding Moyes’ appointment last year, the consensus now is that an exciting new era will be ushered in during the short-term, with newly appointed assistant, Ryan Giggs, learning from one of football’s master tacticians.

That is of course the plan, but as Moyes’ miserable reign confirmed: In football it’s dangerous to plan too far ahead.

 

Futures that look bright under Van Gaal

 

Robin Van-Persie
Excelled under Van Gaal at international level and was made Dutch captain by him last year. His partnership with Wayne Rooney should prosper as a result of the appointment.

Juan Mata
Has shown glimpses of his Chelsea form since making a £37m move to Old Trafford in January, usually at his best alongside the under-utilised Shinji Kagawa. Expect Mata to become integral to any success United enjoy next season.

Phil Jones

Hasn’t really developed as expected since a high-profile £16.5m move from Blackburn Rovers to Manchester United three years ago. Will need to step up next term, with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic departing the ‘Theatre of Dreams.’

Old Trafford Bound: Southampton should pocket £27m for teenage full-back Luke Shaw
Old Trafford Bound: Southampton will pocket £27m for teenage full-back Luke Shaw

Luke Shaw
Seems destined to inherit the left-back slot from evergreen Patrice Evra, with a £27m transfer from Southampton on the cards. The 18-year old is part of an exciting long-term vision that Van Gaal is likely to swiftly implement.

Adnan Januzaj
One of the few players at Old Trafford to enhance his reputation last season, the fleet-footed, Belgian born 19 year-old is a gem who should continue to prosper under the new boss.

Other youngsters
Expect Nick Powell, Wilfried Zaha and James Wilson to be unleashed in 2014-15, embellishing what, on paper, appears to be a remarkable pool of attacking talent.

 

 

Futures that look bleak under Van Gaal

 

Nani
Prodigiously gifted, exasperatingly inconsistent, the winger probably realises that his time in Manchester is approaching a meek conclusion. His presence now only serves to stifle the likes of Januzaj in the coming years.

Patrice Evra
With Luke Shaw inbound, the French full-back is in talks with Juventus after an eight year spell in the Premier League. Could still do a job as backup, but will feel that the move to Serie.A represents an opportunity for one last hoorah.

6.0: Ashley Young scores well for his diving, but not so much for his football skills since joining Man United.
Splash!: Ashley Young has cultivated his diving since moving to Man United.


Ashley Young

Injuries, dodgy dives and a regression of performance have hindered Young since his £16m move from Aston Villa. Once pivotal to club and country, the 28 year-old now has it all to prove.

Marouane Fellaini
Symptomatic of David Moyes’ time at Old Trafford were the ongoing tribulations of his £27.5m signing from Everton. Since then the Belgian midfielder’s value has diminished significantly and his reputation as a midfield powerhouse is in tatters.

Squad players
Expect the likes of Tom Cleverley, Alex Buttner, Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck, Darren Fletcher and Antonio Valencia to have their cards marked by the new coach.

The class of ’92
While Giggs may be untouchable, the same cannot be said for the likes of Phil Neville, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes. Van Gaal is unlikely to stand on ceremony, regardless of their achievements as players.

Is Louis Van Gaal the right man to replace David Moyes? If not who would have been better? Let us know in the comment section below!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Premier League D-Day preview

Can Norwich manage the great miracle escape at West Bromwich Albion’s expense? Can Liverpool rip the title from Manchester City’s affluent clutches with a helping hand from West Ham? Dom Kureen takes a look at the today’s decisive Premier League fixtures.

Premier League logo

Cardiff City vs Chelsea

Bluebirds fans have endured a miserable sequence of results since unpopular chairman Vincent Tan dispensed with the services of Malky Mackay and appointed the relatively unproven Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – resulting in an inevitable relegation that was confirmed last weekend.

Chelsea on the other hand would have probably won the title with a top notch goalscorer among their front line – Demba Ba, Samuel Eto’o and Fernando Torres managing a combined total of 18 league goals and only exhibiting fleeting prowess.

It begs the question: Why did they loan out the exceptional Romelu Lukaku to Everton?

 

Prediction: 1-2 – Chelsea should have too much for a Cardiff side already planning for next term.

Fulham vs Crystal Palace

Past it: Brede Hangeland is one of many 30-somethings on Fulham's books
Past it: Brede Hangeland is one of many 30-somethings on Fulham’s books

You would have got long odds on The Eagles staying up at the start of the season, with Ian Holloway deciding to quit after a handful of belief sapping drubbings.

That proved to be the catalyst for a remarkable change of fortunes, with new chief Tony Pulis transforming Palace into a rugged mid-table outfit and resurrecting floundering individual careers at will.

Fulham have employed three different full-time managers this season, in a futile attempt to retain Premier League status, although current boss Felix Magath has done a reasonable job of utilising a squad bursting with decrepit and erratic flops.

 

Prediction: 2-1 – Neither team has anything on the line, but Fulham will be desperate to give their long suffering fans a happy Summer send-off.

Hull City vs Everton

Two teams that have exceeded pre-season predictions. The Tigers could bounce from 16th to 12th with a victory, leapfrogging a cluster of sides directly above them.

Everton have used the loan system more efficiently than anyone else, securing the services of Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry, Gerard Deuolfeu and Lacina Traore over the past two transfer windows.

Finally running out in the steam in late April, the rise of English prospects such as John Stones and Ross Barkley has been another bonus and a major reason why European football will feature at Goodison Park in 2014-15.

 

Prediction: 1-3: Two sides whose form has petered out as of late, Everton should nonetheless be able to gain a convincing victory.

Liverpool vs Newcastle United

King Luis: Suarez has hit 30 league goals this term to keep Liverpool in contention
King Luis: Suarez has hit 30 league goals this term to keep Liverpool in contention

Steven Gerrard’s untimely slip against Chelsea, followed shortly after by Liverpool’s capitulation at Crystal Palace, will mean that the Reds are probably more concerned about events at the City of Manchester Stadium than what’s unfolding before their eyes.

Brendan Rodgers’ boys must win and hope that West Ham do them a solid against Manchester City, who only need to draw their home match to secure a resting place at the summit.

Newcastle’s 3-0 win against Cardiff last weekend eased the pressure on Alan Pardew somewhat, but their horrific form since selling Yohan Cabaye in January has undermined what was developing into a hugely promising campaign.

 

Prediction: 4-1 – Rodgers knows that it’s win or bust. With more than 40,000 fervent home fans roaring the home side on they’ll dispatch a troubled Toon side without too much resistance.

 

Manchester City vs West Ham United

Fans favourite: Yaya Toure has been Man City's key player
Fans favourite: Yaya Toure has been Man City’s key player

Dispensing with Roberto Mancini in favour of Manuel Pellegrini in the summer, City have added flair and guile to an already high calibre group, in the process hammering home a remarkable 100 league goals (one more than Liverpool.)

Yaya Toure has struck 20 of those from midfield, establishing himself as the English football’s most intimidating presence in the process. The Ivory Coast international’s availability will be key against a Hammers team with an at times painstakingly direct philosophy.

Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll are key to ‘big’ Sam Allardyce’s ethos and could cause major discomfort to City’s back line, most notably error-prone Argentinian Martin Demichelis.

 

Prediction: 2-2 – Big Sam will be keen to disrupt this party and increase his job security as a bi-product, this will be far from a cake walk.

Norwich City vs Arsenal

The Canaries have faltered in the final third of the season, not helped by an horrendous fixture run-in. Chris Hughton’s dismissal has failed to vastly improve matters and a brave 0-0 stalemate against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last week was too little, too late.

Norwich could still mathematically stay up… If they win 10-0 and West Bromwich Albion lose at home to Stoke by eight or more goals (or results to that effect.)

Arsenal’s recent resurgence ensured that they fended off Everton for the coveted fourth Champions League qualifying slot. With an FA Cup final to come, expect the Gunners to rest a clutch of first team regulars.

 

Prediction: 2-3 – Norwich will hope to exploit some weaker links in Arsene Wenger’s selection, but their own flaws should once again be more deeply exposed come the final whistle.

 

Southampton vs Manchester United

Van The Man: Man United have lined up Louis Van Gaal as their next manager
Van The Man: United have lined up Louis Van Gaal as their next manager

Saints have been terrific this season, utilising their young English talent, whilst augmenting the squad with a few high calibre additions. In boss Mauricio Pochettino they also possess one of the most exciting young managers around.

Manchester United may be eight points above today’s opponents, but an alarming fall from grace necessitated David Moyes’ dismissal less than ten months into the role – leading to club legend Ryan Giggs taking over at the helm for the conclusive quartet of contests.

Expect United to promptly clear out around a dozen players who have long been living off past glories.

 

Prediction: 3-3 – Giggs and Pochettino will both be keen to attack from the off, meaning that this should be an end-to-end festival of reckless, exciting football.

 

Sunderland vs Swansea City

No team has defied logic like Sunderland over the past month. Sitting seven points from safety with a formidable set of fixtures to come, they proceeded to gain 13 points from a possible 15 to secure their seat among the elite.

Swansea have been grateful of £12m summer acquisition Wilfried Bony’s 24 goals, which have proven integral to their survival. Fellow close season arrival, Jonjo Shelvey, has pulled the strings in midfield.

With only one point separating these sides in the table, both will be relieved to have belatedly hit their stride after earlier turbulence.

 

Prediction: 3-1 – Sunderland are on a roll, expect that to continue against the Swans.

 

Tottenham Hotspur vs Aston Villa

Big Ben: Villa have struggled in Christian Benteke's absence
Big Ben: Villa have struggled in Christian Benteke’s absence

Andres Villa Boas’ Tottenham tenure was ill-fated from the start and his replacement, Tim Sherwood, was always going to be a temporary patch on a wound that eventually required major surgery.

Having sold Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for a world record fee of £85.3m in the summer, Spurs appear to have squandered the majority of that bunse on over priced flops, although Christian Eriksen has shown glimpses of his pedigree.

Villa have stagnated following a promising conclusion to 2012-13’s excursions. Much of that has been related to a trilogy of circumstances: the regular absence of star striker Christian Benteke, a clutch of dire additions in the past couple of transfer windows and fluctuating form from mediocre youngsters.

 

Prediction: 3-1 – Villa are uninspiring and despite their best form having come away from Villa Park, they are unlikely to trouble Spurs.

 

West Bromwich Albion vs Stoke City

Pepe Mel didn’t have the instant impact associated with a new manager when he replaced Steve Clarke in January, finally gaining his inaugural victory at the seventh attempt.

April successes at the expense of Norwich and West Ham put the boing back in the Baggies’ step though and, barring snookers, survival is assured, although they will hope to improve drastically next time out.

Stoke have progressed significantly under the guidance of Mark Hughes, adding facets of technical play to their long-time sturdy backbone. Potters followers will head into this summer with renewed optimism regarding the future of their club.

 

Prediction: 1-1 – WBA are a pretty ordinary outfit, with a couple of gifted midfielders, while Stoke have made good progress – score draw.

How do you expect it to unfold later today? Let us know in the comments section below.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

5 Premier League Meltdowns.

Steven Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea is seemingly already etched in footballing infamy, despite only occurring last month.

The tearful Liverpool club captain realised that the resultant 2-0 defeat had probably cost his side their first ever Premier League title, just when the winds of change appeared in their favour.

Steven Gerrard

Liverpool aren’t the first team to collapse in spectacular fashion though, here are five blasts from the past!

1. Newcastle United squander a 12-point lead (1995-96)

 

“I will love it if we beat them… Love it!”  Kevin Keegan wailed at the Sky TV cameras during his interview after a nervy 1-0 win for his Newcastle side against Leeds United.

KK’s vitriol was directed at mind game mischief maker, Alex Ferguson, boss of rival title challengers Manchester United, who had speculated that certain sides might take it easy against a popular Magpies side.

Despite leading the pack by a dozen points heading into the final third of the season, the Toon proceeded to capitulate, with heartbreaking last-gasp defeats to Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers leaving their dreams of a first major trophy for 27 years in tatters.

2. Manchester United flop as Arsenal hit the accelerator (1997-98)

Wenger Boys: 10 league wins on the spin denied Man United.
Wenger Boys: 10 league wins on the spin denied Man United.

Like Newcastle a couple of seasons earlier, the Red Devils held a 12 point lead over nearest rivals Arsenal, with some bookmakers deciding to pay out before the season had ended.

The Gooners had other ideas and proceeded to embark on a ten match winning streak that ultimately meant they won the championship with two games to spare.

It was Arsene Wenger’s first Premier League crown and the start of a bitter 16-year rivalry between the Frenchman and Ferguson, which only softened in the latter stages.

3.  Fergie’s mind games cause Benitez meltdown (2008-09)

 

Approaching the second half of the 2008-09 Premier League season, Rafa Benitez had Liverpool flying.

With an eight point cushion at the summit and virtually injury free squad, the Spaniard seemed to have turned the Reds into genuine title contenders for the first time in nearly 20 years.

As with Keegan in 1996, Ferguson decided to engage his rival in a spot of psychological warfare. Benitez took the bait and there was only ever going to be one winner.

Liverpool ended up securing their highest ever Premier League points haul (86) to secure the runners-up spot, but Manchester United managed 90 to win it.

4. Birmingham City hit the beach too early (2010-11)

League Cup Glory: But Brum eased off too soon.
League Cup Glory: But McLeish’s side plummeted thereafter.

For Blues fans the 2010-11 campaign appeared destined to go down as one of the most enjoyable in recent memory.

Having won the League Cup with a shock 2-1 victory over Arsenal at Wembley, the team sat a comfortable seven points above the relegation zone with only half a dozen games remaining.

Their mind’s evidently elsewhere, Alex McLeish’s side picked up just a single point from their run in, dropping into the bottom three with a final day 2-1 defeat at Tottenham.

5. Wolverhampton Wanderers appoint Terry Connor (2011-12)

One in, one out: Terry Connor was out of his depth as a manager.
One in, one out: Terry Connor was out of his depth as a manager.

Mick McCarthy’s five and a half year association with Wolves ended after 25 games of the 2011-12 Premier League season, with a disappointing yield of 21 points in those matches the catalyst for his termination.

Inexplicably, rather than appoint a tried and trusted relegation specialist to save the day, club CEO Jez Moxey opted to promote clipboard wielding lackey, Terry Connor.

The results were predictable, with zero wins and a pitiful four points from those conclusive 13 fixtures. Connor was mercifully placed back on cone duty by the start of the following summer.

There are plenty of other dishonourable mentions, feel free to add your two cents to the comment section below!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

6 feats sports fans are hoping to see

Neil Robertson became the first professional snooker player to make a century of century breaks in a single season last weekend, when the world number one vanquished Judd Trump in his quarter-final match at this year’s World Championships.

Dom Kureen takes a look at half a dozen other feats sports fans are hoping to see in the near-future.

1. Ryan Giggs reaches 1000 first-team matches for Manchester United (currently: 963)

Ryan Giggs 2
Since snubbing Manchester City for rivals United in 1987 aged 13-year old, Ryan Giggs has gone on to become one of the club’s greatest players of all time, notching up 963 first-team appearances, to easily leave Sir Bobby Charlton’s previous record of 758 trailing in his wake.

Amazingly, at an age when most players have long since hung up their boots, the Welsh maestro remains capable of inspiring his team to unlikely victories, albeit mainly against the lesser lights of Premier League and European football.

How likely is it?
Aged almost 41 years old and with an uncertain future at Old Trafford, Giggsy would seem destined to fall agonisingly shy of the remarkable four figures. Additionally, his current rate of around 20 matches per season would require him to play on until close to 43 to get there.
3/10

2. Serena Williams passes Margaret Court’s 24 women’s singles Grand Slams (currently: 17)
Serena Williams

Bursting onto the professional tennis scene as a teenager, the younger Williams sister soon surpassed the achievements of her legendary sibling, Venus.

The singles slam success began with a 1999 US Open victory at the tender age of 17, followed by a consistent trophy haul until the mid-2000’s, when injuries began to blight her progress. Happily in 2012 she returned to her forceful best, allowing fans to believe that she might be able to overhaul Court’s intimidating collection of majors.

How likely is it?
As with Giggs, Williams Jr has age against her, a relative tennis O.A.P at 32. With eight more slams needed, she will probably require 3-4 years minimum to get there, but knowing Serena and the dearth of credible opponents currently in the female game, she might just do it.
5/10

3. Ronnie O’Sullivan rockets past Stephen Hendry’s 775 century breaks (currently: 747)
Ronnie O'Sullivan

While Neil Robertson’s 100 centuries in a season is a miraculous effort that will probably never be equalled, O’Sullivan has been consistently churning out the tons for decades.

An unpredictable temperament means that ‘The Rocket’ could sulk into retirement at any given moment, but he seems to have belatedly straightened out those issues between the ears and at 38 years of age is playing just about as well as ever.

How likely is it?
Ronnie should get there, probably next season – then he can set his sights on 1000 centuries and eight world titles!
9/10

4. Floyd Mayweather Jr makes it 50 wins in a row to K.O Rocky Marciano’s long standing record of 49-0 (currently: 46-0)

Floyd Mayweather

The current WBA and WBC Welterweight champion is a phenomenon who has fought in five different weight categories over the past two decades.

There will always be dispute amongst some fight fans over where he stands in the all-time list, after ‘Money’ seemingly ducked a bout against Manny Pacquiao in 2010 – The fight everyone wanted to see.

That shouldn’t take the shine off a career that has witnessed the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosely’s defeated and British hopeful, Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton, taught a lesson in the art of pugilism.

How likely is it?
A lot depends of Mayweather’s desire to reach that target. He’s saved his money, earns tens of millions per annum in endorsements and has hinted at a full-time transition into promotion. If he wants to get to 50-0 he probably can, particularly with overrated fodder like Amir Khan waiting in the wings.
7/10

5.  Simona de Silvestro becomes the first woman to make the F1 podium.

Simona de Silvestro

Having witnessed de Silvestro record a podium finish in the IndyCar 2013 Grand Prix of Houston, Formula One team Sauber took a punt on the young Swiss driver, snapping her up to a long-term contract, with the aim of getting her into the car for the 2015 season.

Her efforts in testing have been steadily improving and after a successful motor sports career at other levels, there seems little reason why she shouldn’t be able to prosper when facing off against the elite of her profession.

How likely is it?
It remains a long shot. Despite promising results behind the scenes, de Silvestro remains far from the finished article. With time, application and a decent car it’s not impossible.
3/10

6. Usain Bolt runs under 9.5 seconds for the 100m and under 19 seconds for the 200m (Current records: 9.58s and 19.19s)

Usain Bolt

Nobody has ever exhilarated the sprints quite like Usain Bolt, with his zealous celebrations 10 metres before the finish line and exuberant persona.

In 2009 the Jamaican set the current world records at 100 and 200 metres, since then he’s remained the dominant force in both events, without really threatening to shave a millisecond off the quickest times.

How likely is it?
Not likely. Bolt is gradually slowing down (a little bit!) and there’s nobody in the wings who can legally run within a tenth of a second of him at his best. Expect the two current world records to remain untroubled for the foreseeable future.
1/10

What sporting records and feats would you like to witness? Let us know in the comments section below!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

The Number 23

England’s footballers head to Brazil this summer for the World Cup, with manager Roy Hodgson tasked with selecting his final 23-man squad at the start of June.

Here, Dom Kureen gives his verdict on who should make the cut and why.

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GOALKEEPERS
Joe Hart (26 years old, Man City, 39 Caps)
Remains his country’s undisputed number one, despite some indifferent club displays resulting in a prolonged spell on the sidelines for Manchester City earlier this season. Recent return to top form is timely, expect him to be a key figure if England are to progress beyond their group.

Fraser Forster (26, Celtic, 1 Cap)
With no serious contender to Hart’s throne, the Scottish Premier League’s elite stopper is the ‘best of the rest’, although his kicking and overall distribution remain worryingly suspect.

Ben Foster (31, West Bromwich Albion, 6 Caps)
The star turn in a poor Baggies team this season, Foster has the experience and confidence to prosper in South America and wouldn’t let the side down (a’ la Robert Green) should he be required to step up at any point.

 

DEFENDERS
Kyle Walker (23, Spurs, 10 Caps)
The former Sheffield United trainee hasn’t been at his dynamic best this term, but is still a fundamental component in his country’s blueprint for future and present success.

Glen Johnson (29, Liverpool, 50 Caps/1 Goal)
Although Johnson can be a liability in the defensive third, his powerful forward raids offer much-needed width to England’s narrow formation. That offensive ability, coupled with half a century of caps, should ensure that he edges ahead of the promising Nathaniel Clyne this time.

Leighton Baines (29, Everton, 22 Caps/1 Goal)
After spending almost a decade as Ashley Cole’s understudy, Baines is now the undisputed first choice left back at international level – one of Hodgson’s easiest selections.

Ashley Cole (33, Chelsea, 107 Caps)
A toss of a coin, with Southampton’s ‘wunderkind’, Luke Shaw, destined to displace Baines and Cole in the near future. The aura and reputation of England’s greatest ever left back should allow him one final tilt at the Jules Rimet trophy, before he gracefully steps aside at the conclusion of the tournament.

Phil Jagielka (31, Everton, 24 Caps/1 Goal)
In the absence of the internationally retired John Terry, the Toffees’ skipper is the Three Lions’ premier available centre half. As such, he will be expected to marshal the back line and should provide consistent, wholehearted displays against all-comers.

Gary Cahill (28, Chelsea, 22 Caps/1 Goal)
Prone to lapses in concentration, Cahill has at times found it difficult to step into the colossal boots of Messrs Ferdinand and Terry. For now he remains the appropriate choice to partner Jagielka in the heart of England’s back four.

Steven Caulker (22, Cardiff City, 1 Cap/1 Goal)
A £7m summer move from Tottenham Hotspur to Cardiff City enabled Caulker to play regular top-flight football, an opportunity that he’s since grabbed with both hands. Deserves to be rewarded for consistent excellence in a struggling Bluebirds team.

Phil Jones (22, Manchester United, 9 Caps)
Yet to fulfill his immense potential courtesy of various injuries, Jones’ value to his club side is nevertheless set to increase following the imminent departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Based on talent alone, he should have nailed down a starting place in the national side by now.

 

MIDFIELDERS
Steven Gerrard (Captain: 33, Liverpool, 109 Caps/21 Goals)
England’s captain may be past his talismanic best, but he is still a vital cog in the side’s engine room. Has adapted his game to compensate for a loss of pace and verve in recent seasons, ensuring that he remains indispensable for club and country as he approaches his 34th birthday.

Jack Wilshire (22, Arsenal, 15 Caps)
A creative tour de force at his best, Wilshire needs to add goals to his slick technical prowess in order to become the great player he’s capable of developing into. Has been in decent nick for the Gunners this term and should make the starting eleven at the World Cup if fit.

Michael Carrick (32, Manchester United, 31 Caps)
The veteran Geordie has had a subdued domestic season, missing almost half of Manchester United’s matches through injury. He remains a valuable squad player for England and a useful alternative to the inexperienced prospects vying with him for selection.

Ross Barkley (20, Everton, 3 Caps)
One of a host of talented English midfield players to emerge in the past few years, Barkley has more than a hint of Paul Gascoigne about his play, hopefully sans the off-field exertions. Has flourished at Goodison Park since Marouane Fellaini departed last summer.

Adam Lallana (25, Southampton, 3 Caps)
After working his way through the lower leagues with the Saints, Lallana has become a bona fide Premier League star, with the capacity to be moulded into Steven Gerrard’s long-term successor.

James Milner (28, Manchester City, 45 Caps/1 Goal)
A willing workhorse with the versatility to play anywhere across the middle of the park, or even as a full back, former Leeds United starlet Milner is a reliable if unspectacular footballer, as well as a model professional.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (20, Arsenal 14 Caps/3 Goals)
In his third Premier League campaign, ‘Ox’ has yet to fully convince that he’s ready for a World Cup, although there have been flashes of the artistry associated with him throughout his youth team days at Southampton. In the absence of club teammate Theo Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain could find himself fast-tracked into England’s starting lineup.

Raheem Sterling (19, Liverpool, 2 Caps)
Flourishing alongside the visionary elegance of club colleagues Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho, the Jamaican born winger-cum-striker has made monumental strides in the past nine months, notching more than half a dozen goals in all competitions and wreaking havoc upon opposition backlines with his searing acceleration.

 

STRIKERS
Wayne Rooney (28, Manchester United, 89 Caps/38 Goals)
The key man for England, Rooney’s record at major international tourneys has left much to be desired since he lit up Euro 2004 as a belligerent teenager. This summer will surely define whether he goes down as one of the finest players of his generation, or merely a very good one who floundered on the big stage.

Daniel Sturridge (24, Liverpool, 10 Caps/3 Goals)
After years of treading water at Man City and Chelsea, Sturridge’s £12m move to Anfield 15 months ago has seen him mature into one of the most clinical, potent front men in Europe. If his partnership with Rooney can develop into something akin to the one he enjoys with Suarez for the Reds, England will have something special on their hands.

Andy Carroll (25, West Ham United, 9 Caps/2 Goals)
A massive flop over the past three and a half seasons, Carroll has commanded over £52m in transfer fees, despite netting a meagre 14 league goals during that period. His inclusion would at least provide an interesting alternative from the bench and his presence can assist the talented midfield runners in the side.

Danny Welbeck (23, Manchester United, 21 Caps/8 Goals)
Has discreetly prospered at club level this season, netting nine league goals at a rate of almost one every two matches. Like a select few before him (notably Darius Vassell), Welbeck appears to be a player who performs better for country than club and is a valuable member of the Three Lions’ squad.

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 Who do the fans want?

Five fans also chose their 23 to represent England at the World Cup, their selections made for some interesting reading!


Harry Groves (Portsmouth/England fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Forster, Ruddy.

Defence
G.Johnson, Walker, A.Cole, Baines, Jagielka, Cahill, Smalling, Jones.

Midfield
Gerrard (capt), Wilshire, Carrick, Milner, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana, Sterling.

Attack
Rooney, Sturridge, Carroll, Welbeck.

Did you know: Harry’s squad effectively ends Frank Lampard’s England career, with the 35 year old’s omission surely putting the legend out to pasture.

 

Jonathan O’Shea (Aston Villa/Ireland fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Foster, Forster.

Defence
G.Johnson, Shaw, Baines, Jagielka, Smalling, Lescott, Cahill.

Midfield
Gerrard (capt), Wilshire, Lampard, Milner, Lallana, Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain, A.Johnson, Sterling.

Attack
Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck

Did you know: Jonathan’s squad selection is the only one of the six with Joleon Lescott and Adam Johnson’s names among the 23.

 

Sarah Kingston (Southampton/England fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Foster, Ruddy

Defence
Baines, A.Cole, G.Johnson, Jones, Cahill, Jagielka, Shaw, Smalling.

Midfield
Barry, Lallana, Lampard, Lennon, Milner, Rodwell, Shelvey, Wilshire.

Attack
Rooney (capt), Sturridge, Lambert, Welbeck.

Did you know: Sarah opts to leave Steven Gerrard at home and makes Wayne Rooney the captain instead.

 

Just Mike (England fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Ruddy, Foster.

Defence
Baines, Cahill, Jagielka, Jones, Smalling, Shaw, Gibbs, Walker.

Midfield
Gerrard (capt), Lampard, Carrick, Lallana, Townsend, Sterling, Wilshire, Barkley.

Attack
Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck, Lambert.

Did you know: Mike is able to name three specialist left backs by utilising Chris Smalling and Phil Jones as backup to first choice right back Glen Johnson.


DJ Rees (Tottenham/England fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Forster, Butland.

Defence
Baines, Shaw, C.Davies. Cahill, Jagielka, Clyne, Caulker, G.Johnson.

Midfield
Gerrard (capt), Lallana, Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Huddlestone, Carrick, Wilshire, Henderson, Sterling.

Attack
Rooney, Sturridge, Lambert.

Did you know: DJ decides to reward form rather than reputation, nominating Curtis Davies, Jack Butland, Nathaniel Clyne and Tom Huddlestone after the quartet enjoyed productive domestic campaigns.

Tom Huddlestone has impressed DJ Rees since joining Hull City.
Tom Huddlestone has impressed DJ Rees since joining Hull City.

So, that’s what we think, how about you? Comment below to let us know which players you’d give the nod and why!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Festival season: Who’s playing where this summer?

With the UK music festival season rapidly approaching, there are now more choices than ever before for the weekend raver. Dom Kureen takes a look at some of the most notable events and how they’re shaping up so far.

June

RHCP: Will bring unpredictable attire and tons of energy to the Isle of Wight Festival.
RHCP: Will bring unpredictable attire and tons of energy to the Isle of Wight Festival.


Isle of Wight Festival

Venue: Seaclose Park, Isle of Wight.
Dates: 12-15 June
Weekend camping price: £190

Headline acts
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kings of Leon, Biffy Clyro, Calvin Harris, The Specials, Suede.

Isle of Wight Festival website

Download Festival

Venue: Donnington Park, Leicestershire.
Dates: 13-15 June
Weekend camping price: £215

Headline acts
Aerosmith, Linkin Park, Avenged Sevenfold, Fall Out Boy, Rob Zombie.

Download Festival website

Glastonbury Festival

Venue: Worthy Farm, Pilton.
Dates: 25-29 June.
Weekend camping price: £215.

Headline acts
Metallica, Arcade Fire, Kasabian, Elbow, The Black Keys, Lana Del Rey.

Glastonbury website

 July

He might be a bit of a douche sometimes, but Kanye West is an A+ headliner for Wireless.
He might be a bit of a douche sometimes, but Kanye West is a marquee headliner for Wireless.

Wireless Festival

Venue(s): Finsbury Park, London & Perry Park, Birmingham.
Dates: 4-6 July.
Weekend camping price: £170-£220

Headline acts
Kanye West, Pharell Williams, Drake, Bruno Mars, Ellie Goulding, Robin Thicke.

Wireless Festival website 

T In The Park

Venue: Balado, Kinross-shire, Scotland.
Dates: 11-13 July.
Weekend camping price: £194

Headline acts
Biffy Clyro, Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris, Paolo Nutini, Arctic Monkeys, Pharrell Williams.

T in The Park website

Latitude

Venue: Henham Park, Suffolk.
Dates: 17-20 July.
Weekend camping price: £195.50

Headline acts
Music: Two Door Cinema Club, Damon Albarn, The Black Keys, Lykke Li.
Comedy: Dara O’Briain, Simon Amstell, Milton Jones, Al Murray.

Latitude website

Love Box

Venue: Victoria Park, London.
Dates: 18-19 July
Weekend camping price: TBA

Headline acts
Chase and Status, M.I.A, Nas, Bonobo, Woodkid, Soul II Soul.

Love Box Website

Global Gathering

Venue: Long Marston Airfield, Stratford Upon Avon.
Dates: 25-26 July
Weekend camping price: £120 +booking fee.

Headline acts
David Guetta, Prodigy, Chase and Status, Tinie Tempah, Alesso.

Global Gathering website

August

The vest of V-Fest: Justin Timberlake headlines a stellar lineup at V Festival.
The vest of V-Fest: Justin Timberlake headlines a stellar lineup at V Festival.

V Festival

Venue: Hylands Park, Chelmsford & Weston Park, Staffordshire.
Dates: 16-17 August.
Weekend camping price: £199.95.

Headline acts
Justin Timberlake, Elbow, Killers, Example, Lily Allen, Paolo Nutini.

V Festival Website

 –

Reading Festival

Venue: Richfield Avenue, Reading.
Dates: 22-24 August.
Weekend camping price: £213.

Headline acts
Queens of Stone Age, Paramore, Disclosure, Arctic Monkeys, Blink 182.

Reading Festival website

Leeds Festival

Venue: Bramham Park, Leeds.
Dates: 22-24 August.
Weekend camping price: £213.

Headline acts
Queens of Stone Age, Paramore, Disclosure, Arctic Monkeys, Blink 182.

Leeds Festival website

Creamfields

Venue: Daresbury, Cheshire.
Dates: 22-24 August.
Weekend camping price: £155 +booking fee.

Headline acts
Sub Focus, Deadmau5, Armin Van Buuren, Annie Mac, Eric Prydz, Pete Tong.

Creamfields website

September

Busta Rhymes: Bestival bound.
Busta Rhymes: Bestival bound.

Bestival

Venue: Robin Hill, Isle of Wight.
Dates: 4-7 September.
Weekend camping price: £195.

Headline acts
Busta Rhymes, Outkast, Chic feat. Nile Rodgers, Beck, Paloma Faith, Foals.

Bestival website

So there you have it, a baker’s dozen of this summer’s biggest UK music extravaganzas! Let us know in the comments if you’re planning to head to any of the gigs and who you’re looking forward to seeing.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.