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Built on Sand: The House of Lancaster

Posted on | November 19, 2015 | No Comments

Stuart Lancaster had integrity, passion and excellent PR skills. But he never possessed what mattered most.

If a man is charming, likable and says all the right things, he’ll always start a new job on the front foot. Employers can be fooled. If a candidate impresses at interview, and seems easy to work with, it’s easy to get carried away and overlook things like qualifications and experience.

That’s exactly what happened when the RFU were charmed by Stuart Lancaster back in 2012. The like the cut of his jib, and his relaxed patriotism, and the cultural fit seemed too good to fail. They believed he’d learn on the job, and become a success, because they wanted to believe he would.

Easy option?

The RFU could have appointed a heavyweight like Jake White or Nick Mallett, but these characters were likely to be demanding – a bit like Sir Clive Woodward. The RFU didn’t want another headache, albeit a World Cup winning one, on their hands.

It wasn’t just the RFU who were impressed by Lancaster. The media were equally culpable. He seemed like a breath of fresh air after the snarling Martin Johnson. But nobody stopped to think. Who is this Stuart Lancaster? What has he achieved in the game?

The harsh reality was ignored. Before being handed the England reins, the grand sum of Lancaster’s achievements were thus: one season in premiership in which his side won just two games. Lancaster had never won a trophy; he had achieved nothing in Europe; he had a CV too thin for most premiership clubs let alone the national team.

Instead the RFU pretended that Lancaster’s vision – which basically amounted to pride in the shirt, discipline and hard work – was somehow revolutionary. There was just one problem: all national sports teams work hard and show pride. It’s the minimum requirement. What actually separates the men from the boys is tactical acumen, clear thinking and man management.

Inexperience shows

Lancaster lacked in all these key areas. He never understood how he wanted England to play. Selection was rarely consistent. Injuries didn’t help but Lancaster never, at any point, knew what his best side was. He went into the World Cup pool match as narrow favourites against Wales, with a 10, 12 and 13 combination that had never set foot on a rugby field together before.

England’s coach also panicked under pressure. In a year when George Ford excelled at fly-half, and expanded England’s game, Owen Farrell was inexplicably recalled at crunch time. What’s more, his substitutions always often seemed premeditated and nonsensical.

Lancaster’s man management was also found wanting. After rejecting calls to select Steffon Armitage and Nick Abendanon, ostensibly because choosing outsiders at the last minute would unsettle the squad, he inexplicably called up Sam Burgess at the eleventh hour at the expense of the deserving Luther Burrell.

Meanwhile, Lancaster shunned the brilliant but somewhat disruptive personalities England needed. Part of a coach’s brief is to manage difficult but talented individuals. By excluding the likes of Dylan Hartley and Manu Tuilagi on disciplinary grounds, Lancaster avoided this challenge altogether.

Overall, Lancaster’s tenure was one of muddled thinking both on and off the pitch. Progress was either fleeting or non-existent. Four consecutive 2nd place finishes in the Six Nations reveals its own story. England always blew it with the big prize in sight.

While England probably didn’t have the playing talent to win the 2015 World Cup, the semi-finals should not have been beyond them. England are the richest rugby nation, with the biggest pool of players, in the world. Lancaster never had the pedigree to make the most of the resources available. He was charming to the last, but charisma can only take a team so far.


Salford City-Manchester United: Surely it can’t happen, can it?

Posted on | November 10, 2015 | No Comments

Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville – names synonymous with the FA Cup.

With 16 winners medals between them, and arguably the finest goal to have ever graced the competition – here’s looking at you Mr Giggs – the former Manchester United quintet are among the most decorated performers in English football.

In fact, the Red Devils have failed to lift the trophy since all five were involved in a 3-0 victory over Millwall at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium back in 2004 – shortly before Butt departed for Newcastle United and 12 months prior to Phil Neville’s switch to Everton.

Their association with the grandest of knockout tournaments has, however, been rekindled this year, even with their respective playing days having come to an end.

No longer can they directly influence proceedings out on the field, but they are looking to make something of a splash off it.

In 2014, it was announced that United’s famous Class of ’92 – minus one David Beckham – had agreed a deal to purchase Salford City, along with billionaire businessman Peter Lim.

As local lads made good, this could have been considered a fleeting fancy, an idea which made sense at the time, allowing them to get involved with a community close to that which made them superstars, but ultimately one that would fall by the wayside as media and coaching commitments took priority.

Anyone who tuned in to catch the recent BBC documentary featuring the famous five and their efforts with Salford thus far will, however, have realised that this is no gimmick, that Neville and co are fully committed to their duties and as passionate about their football club as they ever were with United, England and Wales.

They want this venture to be a success and will be doing all they can, without meddling in the finer points of coaching and team selection, to ensure that the right tools are offered to those charged with generating results.

It has been a tale of so far, so good on that front – with promotion secured in 2014/15 and welcome publicity generated during a memorable cup run this term.

In front of the television cameras on November 6, the Northern Premier League Premier Division part-timers stunned League Two opponents Notts County 2-0 – a side ranked 59 places above them in the League ladder.

A spot in the second round of the FA Cup was secured on the back of that triumph, meaning they are now 90 minutes away from a potentially money-spinning clash with one of the Premier League elite.


Standing in their way are Hartlepool United – a team currently five points and four places behind Notts County in the fourth tier standings, suggesting that anything is possible when cup competition returns to the humble surrounds of Moor Lane.

It is safe to assume that FA Cup betting markets, experts and followers will be fully behind their cause, with a remarkable footballing fairytale unfolding in Greater Manchester.

Who knows, were they to edge their way past Hartlepool, Giggs, Butt, Scholes and the Nevilles may find themselves paired with familiar faces over at Old Trafford.

Anything, we are often told, is possible in the FA Cup, so who is to say that the fabled magic of the competition cannot deliver a Salford City versus Manchester United clash at the third round stage to capture the imagination and have us all daring to dream?

Caulfield Cup to again provide pointer to Melbourne Cup

Posted on | October 15, 2015 | No Comments

As is the case nearly every year, the bookmakers’ odds for the 2015 Melbourne Cup will change significantly after the running of this years’ Caulfield Cup.  The 2400m Caulfield Cup is the traditional lead up for the two-mile Melbourne Cup.

The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s richest and most famous horse race. It is run over 3200m on the first Tuesday in November every year. In recent years, the race has become a truly international event, with runners from Europe, France, Ireland and Japan running in and winning the great race. Even the international raiders realise that is important to have at least one lead up run in Australia, for most ideally, this is the Caulfield Cup. Only one foreign galloper has won the race without having a start in Australia, and that was Vintage Crop way back in 1993.
Like the Melbourne Cup, the Caulfield Cup is a handicap event. The pre race favourite for this years’ Caulfield Cup is the New Zealand trained Mongolian Khan ($4.40), winner of the New Zealand and Australian Derbies. Also in the market are: Hauraki ($9), Snow Sky ($11) and Fame Game ($11) – odds supplied by

Fame Game is also the current $7 favourite for the Melbourne Cup. If the Japanese stayer were to run well at Caulfield, his odds would be even shorter come Cup week. Of the top 6 fancies for the Melbourne Cup, four are running in the 2400m Caulfield Cup, underlying the importance of the race.

Australians take their sport and their horse racing seriously. The Melbourne Cup is a public holiday for all Melbournians, but the race has a far greater impact than that. It’s billed as the race that stops a nation and it’s true; it even has stops most New Zealanders in their tracks too.
The Melbourne Cup supersedes all other events when it comes to betting in Australia. Nearly $200 million dollars are wagered on the race alone. According to Bookie Guide editor Brendan Guild, the race represents the zenith of the bookmaking year. “Every year we see betting activity for the all of the bookmakers increase significantly in the lead up to the Melbourne Cup. The Caulfield Cup generally marks the start of the build up towards the Cup, when the favoured runners have had their final hit out.”

The 2040m weight-for-age Cox Plate is also a feature lead up race for Cup hopefuls. In recent times the regional Geelong Cup has also proved to be a vital pointer to Melbourne Cup betting. Three international raiders have come through the race and gone on to win the Cup, they being: Dunaden, Americain and Media Puzzle. But for many, the Caulfield Cup still remains the key lead up race and form guide for the Melbourne Cup.

Pippa Funnell Lives up to Her Towering Reputation at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials

Posted on | September 25, 2015 | No Comments

The three time Olympic medallist guided her horse to a dressage score of 43.0 and eighth place on day one of the horse trails, putting her in a strong position heading into Saturday’s competitions with Germany’s Michael Jung. Funnell, who can be booked through the celebrity talent agency MN2S, took silver for the team event at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games, and said she couldn’t have asked for a better horse to have under her on Saturday on the world-famous Burghley cross-country course.

“The course is seriously hilly. The first three minutes is all pull up so we’ve got to be careful how we ride the first half of the course. It’s a big course but Redesigned has excellent scope,” said Funnell. “The biggest challenge will be controlling his enthusiasm. It’s no secret that he’s a big horse for me, but you couldn’t be sat on a nicer one, really.”

Burghley is one of just six, four-star rated events in the world each year, and prides itself on its tough cross-country course and world-class field. The multi-award winning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (LRBHT) has been established as a major international equestrian and social event in the Autumn Sporting Calendar for over 50 years.

Other than her success at LRBHT, Funnell has had a busy summer, riding for the August NAF Five Star Hartpury International Horse Trials, producing two excellent dressage tests to occupy both first and second place on the leaderboard ahead of the remaining competitors. Funnell hit the summit with 40.6 on Billy the Biz and also took second place riding rising star, Sandman7, with whom she topped the podium in the 3* at Chatsworth, with a score of 42.2.

Funnell was born in Crowborough, East Sussex, beginning her prosperous career at the age of 16, when she persuaded her parents to allow her to leave school to pursue the sport. She began training with Ruth McMullin, establishing one of the sport’s most renowned training partnerships.

In 1999 she became European Champion at Luhmühlen, riding Supreme Rock, and again on the same horse in 2001 at Pau (“Les Etoiles de Pau”). She was a member of the British teams that won silver at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, bronze at the World Equestrian Games in 2002, and silver again at the 2004 Athens Olympics. In addition, Funnell won the individual bronze medal at Athens.

To add to her myriad of achievements, in 2003 she became the first rider ever to complete the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. Adding the Burghley title to her victories earlier in the year at Lexington and Badminton, Funnell earned a $250,000 bonus from Rolex and a place in the history books. As a result of her accomplishments she was voted Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year 2003 and was in the top five of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards.

Funnell’s accomplishments also include winning the Badminton Horse Trials three times, in 2002, 2003 and 2005. She has won both the Blenheim venue and Windsor Horse Trials four times as well and is the only rider yet to do so.

Other than her sporting endeavours, Funnell has made a successful move into the media world via gaming and writing. Ubisoft has released a number of horse videogames starring Pippa Funnell since 2005, including the Pippa Funnell: Stable Adventure on Game Boy Advance, and most recently, Pippa Funnell: Ranch Rescue, released in 2007 on PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii. Funnell has been featured on DVDs produced by Equestrian Vision, including Pippa Funnell, Road to the Top and The Funnell Factor.

Pippa Funnell is also the author of the popular series of children’s books called Tilly’s Pony Tails, published in the UK by Orion Children’s Books.

Pippa also finds time to appear as a guest speaker for many events throughout the country. If you would like to book Pippa as a celebrity for your event, please contact one of MN2S’s agents.

New three wheel slot machine game

Posted on | September 9, 2015 | No Comments

It seems to be the season of those three reel slots, as Realtime Gaming has launched a feature just after Rival Gaming, making their job harder and making players choose between one of these two. Rich and fun filled three reel slots are what Realtime Gaming can offer by the title of Jumping Beans, a game that’s created by them in the Mexican theme, for the beans in Mexico.

It is all of this thanks to and it is available there.

The first thing that you should know for the Jumping Beans is that all five lines have to be enabled for the game to be played. Bet per line is available, for the five lines as we previously mentioned, from $0.1 to $1.0. There are five symbols in the Mexican theme which are rose, guitar, cactus, cabana, sun, maracas and Bandido Bean. The Tacos symbol is there appearing in single double and triple tacos as it acts as the bar symbol.

Just as any classical games, they pay when they appear three in line, but there are exceptions, and some symbols pay for two in a line. Mr. Bean is the wild symbol, making the game even funnier and interesting.

There is a new feature called the Nudge in the Jumping Beans slot game, where after normalpayouts are awarded the Auto Nudge feature comes and shakes the screen, getting down all the symbols from above the rail to the rail or lines, for them to be played on. Mr. Bean and Mrs. Bean appear above or below, helping and boosting the game after a win has been awarded. If the player is lucky enough to be paid after the Auto Nudge, he will receive payment in the same spit, and win 10 free spins if three Mr. Bean symbols appear anywhere on the rails, not on just one rail. Now those 10 free spins are special, as if any Mr. Bean, Mrs. Bean or Bandido Beam appear anywhere on the rails, that counts as the Bonus Beans tally, and an award follows for the player. Depending on the number of beans in the 10 free spins, the player receives the award after them.

The game has six levels. Depending on your luck 3, 4 or 5 beans take the player to the first level and award 5 times the bet. The second level is with 6, 7 or 8 beans on the second level with 10 times the bet. 9, 10 and 11 on the third with 15 times the bet. Fourth level is 12, 13 or 14 beans with 25 times the bet. On the fifth level there are 15, 16 or 17 with 60 times chance of the triggering bet and 18 beans take on the last level with 100 times the triggeringbet. The free spins can appear only one per person, that means next free spin will be after the machine hits 0 points. Don’t forget to check the online sports betting and win the jackpot.


Should Fifa introduce video replay?

Posted on | August 18, 2010 | No Comments

The video replay one of the most discussed topic in football in the recent years.

Everyone expects from the referees to be perfect, or at least to reduce the mistakes during the games but it looks that this is a very hard task to do. So everyone tries to find solutions, and Fifa is pressed from all sides to come with an alternative.

In the first phase Fifa tried the system with 6 referees, tested it in Europa League, but even this solution doesn’t seem to be better. There were also speculations that the ball should contain a chip to signal when the ball passes the line of the goal but the solutions is not well seen by the specialists.

So at the moment it looks like the only viable solution is the video replay.Regarding the video replay the opinions are divided with a plus for it. Fifa is pressed to take a decision especially after the World Cup mistakes, when some of them proved to be crucial.

So after rugby, basketball, tennis or american football we might have video replays also in football. This decision would bring advantages but not only.

At advantages we can mention fewer mistakes that can decide games and fewer scandals. On the other side the spirit and the charm of the game would suffer.  Imagine for example a game show with a similar setup – a Who Wants To Be Millionaire Online Game for example would take so long and become boring. Also the game could have more than 10 minutes of additional time which could determine the players to lose their patience  awaiting for the verdict, the fluidity of the game could also suffer.

The final decision will be taken in November but there are chances for a positive answer.

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