Grow your own watermelon…

I’m always on the look out for slightly unusual or interesting plants which I can grow, normally which are fairly inappropriate to the weather conditions in England! I haven’t got a greenhouse yet so growing anything vaguely exotic is sometimes a problem. Tomatoes just about work but at the mercy of the weather and the famous British summer.

This year, I randomly tried planting 6 watermelon seeds. I didn’t think they would germinate but 1 of them did! It took 2 weeks for the shoot to appear above the soil and was fairly slow to start, but so far it has grown well. I planted the seeds around mid-May and now, at 20th July, it has already developed maybe 7 flowers and what look like a couple of fruits!

There has also been an interesting leaf shape change from the first dicotyledon leaves, through various stages of increasing complexity. The newest leaves are quite rough and spiky with longish white hairs. The edges are crinkly and variegated and there are loads of tendrils which the plant uses to support itself.

I have just planted it out so we’ll see what happens. I’m hoping slugs and snails stay clear of it as it is only the very thin stem which is in contact with the soil, with the rest of the long plant supported above the soil using its tendrils which have wrapped around garden sticks.

squarewatermelonJapan

Image from: http://kidstimepass.com/2-uncategorised

Who knows where this will lead…?

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England’s starting Xl…?

I just came across this graphic from the Guardian which just about sums up all the good things happening at LFC right now, in relation to English players.

England Xl

Courtesy of: http://www.theguardian.com/football/who-scored-blog/2014/mar/04/roy-hodgson-england-premier-league-liga-europe

We’ve seen a huge leap forwards in consistency and quality from Liverpool this season – number 1 at Christmas and now only 3 points from the top with 10 games to go – the momentum is growing and the belief is back.

This has been achieved with the consistent inclusion of a bag of English players, including Henderson, Gerrard, Sterling, Sturridge, Johnson and Flanagan. Out of these 6 players, I would honestly include all in the England squad on the plane to Brazil for the World Cup. Of these, Henderson, Gerrard, Sturridge and Johnson are first team players and I would hope they start each game.

This has to be a good thing for the England team – 6 English players playing in the team sitting 2nd in the Premier League. I’m actually looking forward to the World Cup : )

YNWA

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Roy over Redknapp…?

A good summary provided by Eurosport’s Early Door site

‘Considering what a nice man Hodgson is, and what he has achieved in the game, the fact that the knives are so poorly concealed by the majority of the press pack is alarming.

After all, this is a dignified, statesmanlike man who Internazionale president Massimo Moratti described as “an important person in our history”. A man who recently led Fulham to a European final, where they took an Atletico Madrid side featuring Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero to extra time. A man who saw Switzerland qualify for back-to-back tournaments for the first time in more than 40 years, leaving that job in the mid-1990s with a win percentage of more than 50 per cent.

Even at his lowest ebb at Liverpool last season, when the club was going through an unseemly court battle over its ownership, he kept his counsel and maintained his dignity. Redknapp, after rowing with Portsmouth owner Milan Mandaric while at Fratton Park, jumped ship and went to the club’s biggest rivals Southampton, who he got relegated.

Hodgson has a great record with under-achieving teams, a description which fits all too comfortably when discussing the England national side. He has more than proven his ability to manage well on limited resources, when he does not have an extensive pool of transfer targets to sign. He is far more likely to manage with the long view of establishing a sound coaching set-up and would contribute to the development of the national football centre at St George’s Park. There is little to indicate that Redknapp would approach the job in such a way.

Whether or not Hodgson is a success (ie not a disaster) as England manager remains to be seen, but the default negative reaction to his potential employment says more about the state of the English football press than it does about English football.’

In terms of spending at Spurs, ‘the Transfer League’ website has the figures. £148 Million (2008-2012), with a further £134 Million in the 3 years before that! For Harry to say he hasn’t gone out and spend huge amounts of money on players is ridiculous. There is a total of roughly £282 Million spent in the last 8 years! He essentially inherited a very expensive team and made not insignificant additions to that team since he has been at Spurs.

In terms of 5-year spending, Spurs are 3rd in the Premier League. Harry has had a lot of money to spend on players, whereas Roy’s positions at Fulham and West Brom have meant low spending, but with results which have been far beyond that level.

So, by no means a shock that the FA have at least started talks with Roy but it is a shock that Harry hasn’t even been interviewed.

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LFC’s trip to the south coast…

Following The Reds trip to Brighton for the 3rd round Carling Cup match, this is looking suspiciously like a rotation policy based on Adam, Henderson and Carroll for the league games and Maxi, Kuyt and Bellamy for the ‘others’.

I really hope this isn’t the case. I don’t belive in players simply walking into a team when they arrive at a club. There has to be an element of proving themselves first. The arrival of Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson has lots of potential, but when they displace other established players the impact has to be carefully considered.

The new band of faces at the club is great to see, as is the commitment to investing in the club, but you rarely see more than a couple of new players being thrown into teams put out by successful clubs. It feels like a testing out period for the club. The midfield area certainly hasn’t been cemented yet and the various relationships and link ups have yet to be formed.

The most glaring example of this is how on earth do you get anything from Andy Carroll? He lacks the pace and quickness of Bellamy and unless the service into him improves, Kenny will have to find another way of using him. Joey Barton used to drive diagonal balls into him at Newcastle.

Against Brighton, the link ups between Kuyt, Bellamy, Suarez and Maxi were quick, accurate with lots of movement – pass and move.

Just looking at the three games between Spurs, Brighton and Wolves, there were some big differences. Dalglish had problems at Spurs with the Adam, Henderson and Carroll combo but when he shifted to the Bellamy, Kuyt and Maxi option at Brighton, is just worked. Another swap back at Wolves and there was also a lack of creativity and natural movement.

Bellamy seems a far more dangerous player than Carroll and his movement is miles better.

Skrtel at right back is not an ideal fit, with Kelly or Johnson the 1st two choices – good for England but one of them needs to be playing regular football and staying clear of injury.

Henderson needs to get used to the Anfield environment for a bit longer and would benefit from some Reserve and Cup games. There’s no reason to look at this as a negative and the Reserves are there for this purpose.

Selling Aqualini to AC Milan has meant we are down another creative midfielder. When the combination of Downing and Henderson doesn’t seem to be working to provide service from the wings, there has to be a plan B from central midfield. This seems to be where a lot of the creative potential comes from. At the very least, the midfield has to be able to control that area and then provide accurate passing to the wings and centre forwards, if not the ‘wonder passes’. Benayoun has recently departed, as has Meireles to Chelsea – two obviously technical and creative players.

Overall it’s been a fairly good start, with 10 points from 6 games in the league and with lots of new players getting used to each other and the club. Gerrard is now back in contention and both Kelly and Johnson are fit for the right back position, meaning Skrtel goes back to central defence.

Two very tricky games now against Everton then at home to Man United! YNWA.

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Fact Check: student fees in England highest in world…?

Interesting article on the comparisons between tuition fee levels in England vs the States.

http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck-student-fees-in-england-highest-in-world/5275

Tuition fees fact check

Well worth a read.

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Football technology…

England are out of the World Cup…

…to Germany…

…AGAIN!

Ok, almost the most inevitable event of yesterday (after the Earth continuing to spin and Roger Federer getting into the 2nd week of Wimbledon).

The interesting things which came up in both games yesterday were the errors made by the officials (ref and his assistants) + the use of technology in the game.

The first shambles was the Frank Lampard no-goal in the Germany game, even though it was at least a foot over the line. The linesman didn’t see it because he was further up the line (and there may have been a post in the way!) and the ref didn’t see it as he was in the middle of the field and being blocked by maybe 3 other players bodies.

This would have levelled the game at 2-2 and at least had an impact on the rest of the game, even if Germany probably would have spanked us in the end!

In the Atgentina v Mexico game in the evening, Carlos Tevez ‘scored’ a goal which was half a metre offside, but it was given – even though they made the wrong decision AND the replay was shown on the big screens inside the stadium and EVERYONE knew it was a bad decision!

The ref actually had visual confirmation straight away that he had made a mistake but he couldn’t use that replay to aid his decision as it is against the rules.

So, two decisions that changed the course of 2 very important games. FIFA will have to look at this again me thinks. But, there have already been a number of unequivocal statements by FIFA that there will be no introduction of goal-line (or any other) cameras to help the officials.

So far, I have heard Gary Linekar (of all people) suggesting the use of a limited number of ‘appeals’ during a game. This would be like tennis, where players can challenge a call, but they have only 3 per set. Also like Cricket where the ‘3rd umpire’ (using a very fast video replay) is used to aid the decision of the officials. This really doesn’t have a negative impact on either game and actually increases the tension and excitment!

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Engerrrrland…

Well, Beckham can now be added to the long list of reasons why England will not be ‘successful’ in SA at the World Cup.

Add to this Ashley Cole’s injury, ‘Terry Gate’ (which also knocked out Wayne Bridge), Rio and Glen Johnson being injured for long periods and suffering major loss of form.

The English tabloid media will also inevitably add their strange form of anti-national nationalism,whereby they find any piece of grotty information on any player which undermines their confidence, leading to dressing-room unrest and a manager who’s fast realising why the England Job is one of the toughest jobs out there.

Add to this the standard massive pressure on our team to win the World Cup, even though we’re ranked 8th in the world and a Quarter-final is actually a decent result (based on our ACTUAL level of quality).

I’m still looking forward to it, given this time we’re in similar time zone (they are 2 hours forward) and that if Wayne Rooney stays fit, we may actually have a chance of WINNING THE WORLD CUP!!!!! hehe.

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