I have to admit that I shook my head earlier this week when Eddie Jones started to talk about making England the largest rugby team ever.
Grandiose statements such as those looking to a golden future can impress some of the RFU and, dare I say, many journalists and the casual fan, but for me the job of England's head coach is all about the next 80 minutes – France in Paris. Nothing else, and I mean nothing else, should be in someone's mind.
Care for the cents and the pounds will take care of themselves, as the saying goes.
England can ever be the best team in the world again, even the best rugby team ever, but what difference does it make? And it will only happen by focusing on the next game. England is about today and not tomorrow.
I have often seen this blue sky thinking and planning for the future and was guilty of it myself then as an international coach of newbies, and it is just an unconscious defense mechanism to buy more for yourself team. Jones is not a rookie coach.
It went wrong for England on RWC2015 when a few months before the tournament head coach Stuart Lancaster and RFU director of rugby Rob Andrew suddenly started talking about the potential of the side for RWC2019 and that England might not at its best, may not have the right age profile until Japan – despite four years of preparation.
It was a ridiculous explanation – it showed their inexperience at this level – and England paid a very heavy price for such flawed thinking.
SIR CLIVE & SIX TO LOOK
Stuart Hogg (Scotland): I would choose Finn Russell for his deportation from the team earlier this week, but the other stunner in the back of Scotland is the full-back of Exeter who has twice been named player of the tournament. Sublime hands, a nice series of steps and a good repertoire of drinks ahead. Howitzer boots for long penalties if needed.
Virimi Vakatawa (France): Large, very strong and fast when he needs to be, Vakatawa comes from Fiji, but moved to France ten years ago and decided to make his future there. Initially a talented but whimsical sevens player, he has wedged himself in and is perhaps the form center in Europe. Virimi v Manu will be a match-up.
Maro Itoje (England): Seems to have been around for a while but has not turned 25 long with his best years for him – and this is someone who has already been a star in a Lions series in New Zealand and at a World Cup. Great athlete, smart forward, will increasingly become a leader for England. Feel that he has to stamp his undisputed leadership qualities with this group on and off the field.
Justin Tipuric (Wales): Phenomenal flanker whose brilliance was sometimes overlooked, such as Sam Warburton and Taulupe Faletau in the Welsh rear row. So fast and good with the ball in his hand that he could no doubt play Test rugby in the middle. Would encounter any Six Nations team despite all the brilliant flankers that can be seen today.
James Ryan (Ireland): The new locks are similar to Itoje. Tall but slim and athletic, Ryan is an excellent line-out operator and a wonderful worker around the park with his carrier bags and tackles. Spiritually very heavy, at the age of 23 he is already one of the best locks in the world.
Jake Polledri (Italy): Not the biggest but slender and powerful and almost unstoppable as a ball carrier, he sometimes defied faith and it may take three or four to put him down to get. Italy must find a way to involve Polledri as much as possible. He can get them under control.
The problem with such long-term thinking is that players begin to believe that they have four years to prove themselves, that they are part of the furniture and are an integral part of England's long-term plans, while actually having to be on the team when they pull the white jersey.
Coaches as well. I want to see a much hungry attitude everywhere.
A loss against France and the Grand Slam is gone, another poor Six Nations that can all be gone.
That is the attitude all involved must adopt and enjoy. England and the English mentality excel when they are written off in a corner and fight for their lives. Especially the English are not good when we start to smell the roses.
England has to concentrate 100% on the next game, because they get a miserably bad non-execution in the World Cup Final and many questions to answer. In fact, that game is a good example of the point I am trying to make.
England was dragged heavily after defeating New Zealand so impressively that they forgot that it was worthless unless they followed it seven days later in the final.
They started to smell the roses, seemed to lose concentration and were poorly distracted in that crucial week. Eddie made a few selection errors and suddenly England gave its worst performance in years, just as bad as any game in 2015. That happens if you let your mind wander.
They were 35 minutes late for the game and looked exactly the opposite of a high-performance team at their peak. A week is long in rugby, let alone four years. & # 39; You are only as good as your last game & # 39; has never been more relevant to this English team.
Those lessons must support their approach to the French game where I make favorites of France.
They will have a strong scrum, an excellent line-out and their back row is very fast and active in the event of bad luck. That's enough to deal with before we even consider Antoine Dupont – probably & # 39; the world's best scrum half – and his half-back partner Romain Ntmack who is ready to storm the rugby stage.
England has to join their strong scrummaging pack, which means there is an argument to start Joe Marler for Mako Vunipola, although Mako looks back on full fitness.
Luke Cowan-Dickie is on fire and may be a stronger scrummager than Jamie George, so there is also an argument to start with him and ask George to use his pace and dynamics of the bank. Harry Williams is by far the best in England and has to start. Unbelievable that he was not in Japan.
Kyle Sinckler and Ellis Genge should always be included in the comparison. They are fantastic players, but there will be games when the need for absolute maximum scrummaging power means that they might not start.
In the second row, England needs the power and line-out of George Cross alongside Maro Itoje, with Courtney Lawes offering the banking option. Regarding the back row, I see the absence of Billy Vunipola as an opportunity for Ben Earl on No8.
I would start with the Kamikaze Kids, Tom Curry and Sam Underhill, but I have seen that Eddie is considering introducing a more traditional six and a stronger carrying option, perhaps moving Itoje or Lawes to six. I don't recommend it, these are specialist positions and Maro out of six didn't really work in the past.
SIR CLIVE & SIX TO SURPRISE
Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester and Wales): Born and raised in Wales, but Hartpury College and Gloucester have contributed to the development of this brilliant 19-year-old speedster. Serious wheels but much more, some nice off-loads to admire and mature after his years.
Ben Earl (Saracens and England): Athletic powerhouse back-rower from the same England U20 team as the Currys. That must have been a line-up. This season really stepped on the board when the World Cup stars of Saracens were gone. With Billy Vunipola injured again it could get considerable playing time.
Alexandre Fischer (Clermont and France): Was a new name for me until I saw him for Clermont in the European Cup against Ulster and Quins when he was absolutely in control of the division and four or five sales per game. It was like seeing David Pocock at its peak. Great body positions, could be an important find.
Ollie Thorley (Gloucester and England): A good old-fashioned eye-catcher, gas wing that does everything at 100 km / h and keeps its opposite number honest. Relax a second when you mark it and it will make you pay. Seldom says an impact in a game. Will keep Jonny May and Anthony Watson sharp
Caelan Doris (Leinster and Ireland): Rangy young back-rower who has been the highlight of the U20 in the past two seasons. In his first year or so he made a big impression in the powerful line-up of Leinster together with another brilliant prospect in Max Deegan, who also has Ireland in their team.
Giovanni Pettinelli (Benetton and Italy): Italy is not suffering from a lack of quality rowers and they have discovered another promising player in Pettinelli, who impressed me during their European cup competitions. Very good at the breakdown, perhaps the only major weakness in the Italian back row. He could shine if he got a run.
Regarding the backs, especially for this competition, I would like Owen Farrell back at ten o'clock. It was hard for Eddie to choose George Ford on No10 as crucial in the World Cup final defeat – because it was essentially Eddie's fault – but there is some truth to his observation. England currently needs Farrell at ten o'clock.
The back three of Elliot Daly, Jonny May and Anthony Watson is probably safe, although Ollie Thorley will hit the wing hard and it is a pity that Joe Cokanasiga was wounded
Midfield is another cause for concern when Henry Slade gets injured and, in my team at least, Farrell going to ten. The candidates seem to be Jonathan Joseph who looks good, Manu Tuilagi who has not broken trees since Japan, Ollie Devotee who does well for Exeter and Fraser Dingwall in Saints.
The most important thing is to start defeating France – scrums, lineouts and restart. They are the here and now. Frankly, it's not the best team ever.
Along the Corniche, workers were busy preparing the national holiday of Qatar. flower displays were planted in the colors of the nation, maroon and white. It was 6.30 am
On Wednesday, the area will be closed to traffic for a giant parade for the royal family . Air and sea shows will be concluded with a large firework display scheduled at 8 p.m.
With Liverpool starts 30 minutes later against Monterrey in the Khalifa international stadium. FIFA & # 39; s Club World Cup is not even the biggest deal in the country where it takes place. Yet that, as is often the case, destroys competition, particularly in England.
Late to the World Cup, late for the European Cup, it is no surprise that the Club World Cup is considered despicable by some at home. Jurgen Klopp asked several questions about priorities on Tuesday, from foreign journalists who have picked up fans' negativity and the English media.
Liverpool, it was claimed, should have played their best team in the League Cup at Aston Villa, leaving the irrelevance of the World Cup Club to his youth and reserves. This would mean that the chance of being crowned world champion is less important than the quarterfinals of a match that started with a draw at a Morrisons supermarket in Colindale. If you think you're merciful, don't worry, you're not the only one.
Everything about the Club World Cup suggests that it will continue to grow in prestige and judging by the call of blue chip sponsors, well worth it. It used to be a challenge competition between the champions of Europe and South America. Then FIFA opened it up to all continental winners.
By 2021, it will be a 24-team tournament taking place in China for three weeks. There will be eight teams from Europe, consisting of winners of the Champions League and Europa League, with a maximum of two per country. As it looks now, Liverpool and Chelsea will both be present.
Just as the European Cup in its infancy became a competition that was close to a European super league, and the World Cup was expanded to 48 countries in 2026, so FIFA & # 39; s plans for the Club World Cup indicate that it will one day be one of the most important titles in football. And Liverpool never won, in three attempts.
There are not too many holes on the honors board in Anfield, but the Club World Cup is one. Manchester United has ruled the world twice and stands alone between English clubs. Beaten by the Flemish in 1981, by Independiente in 1984 and by Sao Paulo in 2005, Liverpool are three times losers and the memories of former players suggest that the club was just as guilty as any criticism of not giving up the competition.
Drinks on the plane and oddities on the ground are their different trips. Bob Paisley held the 1981 team in Japan in English time, meaning that breakfast was taken at 6 p.m. and dinner at 10 p.m. The South American clubs seemed to want it more then. They would arrive weeks early, while European qualifications would play by the weekend and then fly. Their fans also gave more. Even now, Flemish people are expected to have much more here than Liverpool. There was a pandemonium in Rio de Janeiro when the team coach left for the airport, manic benches of supporters deep on both sides 10.
So respect is due. Not least because the success of Liverpool under Klopp is based on the efforts of players from the continents who are lightly discredited. If the Liverpool hierarchy had given priority to the Carabao Cup competition, what message would it send to Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita; or Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino? That your football, your countries, your clubs don't matter. That the world is outside of parochial England and Europe among us
International, Fluminense, Horoya AC, Figueirense, Al Mokawloon – these are the clubs that have helped shape the players who have driven Liverpool to the peak. How arrogant would it be to behave if their football didn't matter?
Of course there are problems. It is becoming increasingly difficult to overthrow the top European clubs. Liverpool should have too much on Wednesday for Monterrey, champions of the CONCACAF region.
Still to hear veteran defender Nicolas Sanchez speak before the game was to capture a taste of what it means for players who rarely receive exposure outside their home country. Sanchez, an Argentinian, was never capped, but was named player of the tournament in the CONCACAF Champions League 2019.
& # 39; It really is a unique feeling & # 39 ;, he said. & # 39; I never dreamed of playing in a competition like this at the age of 33 against a team like Liverpool. This is a competition of great distinction, an opportunity that you will attach throughout your life. We have the opportunity to deliver a great performance. & # 39;
You feel that the Liverpool team is finally feeling the same. As the importance of the competition increases, earlier players begin to realize what they have missed – Jamie Carragher describes losses in 2005 as one of the biggest regrets of his career – and Klopp rightly considers flying 3000 miles with waste of time unless his team willing to give everything. His problem, consistently expressed, is more with the timing.
& # 39; If you asked me if there was a Club World Cup halfway through our season, I would say no, & # 39; Klopp insisted. & # 39; We are there, for us, it is the most important competition in the world. But can it be bigger? I don't know FIFA is planning a World Cup team in the summer, but that's the same summer when the African league is playing and so are others.
& # 39; It's nice that we are getting closer, but organizers have to come around the table and talk, because otherwise FIFA says we have a tournament, and UEFA will do that, and then South America. And they all think their tournament is the most important thing. So it's not that simple. In the summer, yes, it's fun. But you can't have all other tournaments. They won't like this, but it's my opinion – and I think about football all day. & # 39;
And deeper than FIFA and the confederations, by the sounds of it. The extended Club World Cup 2021 is currently scheduled for June 17 to July 4. The Africa Cup of Nations 2021 is scheduled for June 11 to July 9; CONCACAF & # 39; s Gold Cup from July 2 to July 25; and UEFA are also planning to play the final of their Nations League in June, dates still to be confirmed.
So Klopp is right. Conversation is required. Yet that makes the Club World Cup irrelevant, or even the bad relationship. When Liverpool trained Tuesday night, Marco van Basten posted an Instagram photo of his AC Milan team, world champion in 1989.
& # 39; Thirty years ago today … & # 39; read the proud caption. It is clear that nobody told him that he could have played the League Cup quarterfinals in Villa Park instead.
& # 39; It's best that I've seen them … but you can't lose games like this & # 39 ;: Ashley Cole greets the display of Chelsea against Liverpool but insists that winning games are all that
Ashley Cole greeted Chelsea for their performance in defeat against Liverpool
Mohamed Salah meant that the Blues had nothing to show because of their efforts. Chelsea, who lacked consistency under Maurizio Sarri, showed some encouraging signals to Anfield but goals from Sadio Mane. Former Chelsea defender Cole believes that this is Chelsea's best collective performance under Sarri, but wanted to point out that there is still room for improvement. Ashley Cole praised the performance of Chelsea, but insisted on winning is the only thing that counts
Mohamed Salah meant that the Blues had nothing to show because of their efforts. Chelsea, who lacked consistency under Maurizio Sarri, showed some encouraging signals to Anfield but goals from Sadio Mane.
Former Chelsea defender Cole believes that this is Chelsea's best collective performance under Sarri, but wanted to point out that there is still room for improvement.
Ashley Cole praised the performance of Chelsea, but insisted on winning is the only thing that counts
When he said at Sky Sports, Cole said: & # 39; I think it should feel different for them. It is best that I have seen them together as a team. They kept the ball well, they created opportunities and Jorginho played very well in the first half – he eliminated players, made important tackles and freed Willian behind him.
& # 39; In a club like Chelsea, it wouldn't really matter how well you play, you have to be winning games. You can't lose big games like this. For the following season, they must finish at four. & # 39;
Cole was especially impressed with the performance of Jorginho in the first half
The result means that Eden Hazard's side was still heavy re fights to reach a top four
After this result, Chelsea remain in the top four but they have played a game more than Manchester United and two more than Arsenal.
Sarri & # 39; s side took a 1-0 win away to Slavia Prague in the first leg of their quarter-fine draw.
Chelsea has four Premier League games remaining this season.
First, they will receive Burnley before traveling to Manchester United. They then play Watford at home before concluding their campaign with a trip to Leicester.
& # 39; Three points is the most important & # 39 ;: Mohamed Salah played a key role when Toby Alderweireld scored his own goal
He is looking for history since 9 February – the chance to become Liverpool's fastest striker to reach 50 league matches – and, if you keep a close eye on him, you can see he is busy with his prey. A man who always had an extra second last season seems to be his lines
You saw it at the beginning of this month on Everton ; then again at Fulham two weeks ago. The Egyptian seems to blink as he races towards the goal, taking photos that he would not normally take and better placed teammates.
Mohamed Salah played a key role when Toby Alderweireld scored his own goal late in the evening
During much of the second half against Tottenham, the tension seemed to touch Salah.
Even later Liverpool went on again and Salah grabbed his arm. [Bewerken] [lijst toevoegen] Parts of 20 meters His shot flew into the Head and Mane stood nearby and looked up at the sky Shortly afterwards, Tottenham equalized and asked you wondering if Salah would be sacrificed.
However, Jurgen Klopp remained loyal and in the last moments he sat there in the box of six yard.
His head was soft and only the most generous person tried to give him the goal, but the contribution to what might be a colossal 2-1 win was impossible to oversee.
When the pandemonium faded away, Klopp took it off and took off Anfield, bellowing their song that he was the Egyptian king. If this victory could have huge ramifications for the team, the moment Salah was central to could be just as positive for him
Salah insists that he doesn't care if he scores as long the Liverpool succeed in winning games
I don't score for a few games and there are players with the same number of goals as me and they say they are the have the best seasons of their lives, & Salah told former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports
& # 39; I don't care if I don't reach the goal – three points is the most important. If they don't give it to me, I won't win. I'm happy. You stay in the race, all you have to do is win – find a way to win. Southampton is fighting for their lives, they also want the points, so we have to win every game. & # 39;
& # 39; When you see the crowd (when we scored), it was crazy. They just want to win the Premier League and we will do everything we can to get it done. "