Chelsea target Luke Shaw and three other young Saints to watch

Chelsea are reportedly lining up a £4m bid for Luke Shaw

Chelsea are reportedly lining up a £4m bid for Luke Shaw

There has been no shortage of top class talent coming through the Southampton academy in recent years, with Arsenal & England wingers Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tottenham’s former PFA player of the year Gareth Bale and former Chelsea full back Wayne Bridge developing their game on the South Coast. It’s no surprise then that Champions League winners Chelsea have been strongly linked with Southampton’s latest wonderkid Luke Shaw.

The national press are linking Chelsea with a £4million bid for Shaw, and Manchester City and Arsenal have also reportedly expressed an interest, but it will take something special for Southampton to relinquish one of their brightest young talents. Manager Nigel Adkins and chairman Nicola Cortese have insisted that he is not for sale and, as one of the richest clubs in English football following a takeover by the late Swiss billionaire Markus Liebherr in 2009, there is no pressure for the club to sell – especially as they are back in the Premier League after seven years outside the top flight.

But can the 16-year-old attacking left back be the next Gareth Bale or make the same sort if impact that Alex Chamberlain did at Arsenal 12 months on? Here is a lowdown on Shaw’s star potential and three other Southampton youth players to watch out or over the next few seasons.

Luke Shaw

There is no doubt that 16-year-old Luke Shaw is the most sought-after player in Southampton’s latest generation of talented players at the moment. And, despite only making one senior appearance for Saints last season, it is clear to see why the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City want to snap him up now before he bursts on to the professional scene with a string of first team games.

He has been a regular in Jason Dodd’s Under-18 side since the age of 15, and his rapid progression through the youth ranks was rewarded with two call ups to the England Under-16’s team in 2011. He is now a regular in the Under-17’s international team, having made 8 appearances.

Shaw is an attacking full back with bundles of pace, good set piece delivery and an eye for goal, having scored three times from left back in Southampton’s successful Under-18 side, and he’s been promoted to the first team squad ahead of Saints’ comeback season in the Premier League.

He featured in the Saints squad in Cup matches against Coventry, Preston North End and Millwall last season and he will undoubtedly want to follow in the footsteps of Tottenham star Gareth Bale and former England international Wayne Bridge by making a name for himself on the left side of Southampton’s defence.

James Ward-Prowse

James Ward-Prowse

James Ward-Prowse

Arguably Southampton most impressive academy graduate of the 2011-12 campaign was 17-year-old central midfielder James Ward-Prowse, who was subsequently awarded Young Player of the Year at the club’s end of season celebrations.  Also an England Under-17 international, Ward-Prowse made two starts for the senior team and he impressed on both occasions. Despite Saints being defeated in the last 16 of the Carling Cup, thanks to two late goals from Crystal Palace, Ward-Prowse earned praise from Southampton boss Nigel Adkins for his composed performance in the middle of the park. He scored his first senior goal in a 2-1 win over Coventry in the FA Cup and featured on the bench on a few occasions.

He’s quite small I stature, but he makes up for it with great energy and a superb passing range. His composure and ability to recycle possession certainly helps him fit in to Southampton’s style of play, and he is probably the most likely academy player to break in to the first team frequently this season.

Calum Chambers

Calum Chambers

Calum Chambers

Along with Shaw, Ward-Prowse and former Plymouth youngster Jack Stephens, Calum Chambers was also promoted to the first team squad after Saints gained promotion to the Premier League in April.

He’s another exciting talent, and another player who features in the England Under-17 set up, but he still seems to have crept in to Nigel Adkins’ long-term first team plans under the radar, as he is the only academy graduate in Saints’ first team who didn’t feature in the first team last season.

He’s a tall and talented winger who offers great creativity and a quality final product going forward. He featured regularly in Southampton’s Under-18’s team that finished ahead of the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea in the FA Premier League Academy Group A and contributed seven goals from out wide. He also scored the only goal in England Under-17’s 1-0 win over Ukraine in March, and has added a further two goals in just 6 appearances for the side.

Jake Sinclair

Jake Sinclair

Jake Sinclair

Every good team needs a clinical goal scorer, and the Southampton Under-18s talisman last season was 17-year-old forward Jake Sinclair. Brother of Swansea striker Scott Sinclair, Jake banged in 25 goals in 29 appearances last term – an impressive record at any level. Much like his brother, he’s got pace to burn, he’s tricky, likes to run with the ball and is a clinical finisher. There are Premier League goals in his family already, and Jake has the potential to follow in his brother’s footsteps and score goals at a high level.

He’s not gained the same sort of recognition at international level as his academy team-mates Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse and Calum Chambers, but a strong season with the academy and Under-21 development squad could encourage Saints boss Adkins to call on the pacey forward for cup matches in the upcoming campaign.


Murray knocks down ‘The Wall’ to close in on Wimbledon Final

The sky's the limit: Murray's one match away from a maiden Wimbledon final

The sky’s the limit: Murray’s one match away from a maiden Wimbledon final

Pulsating drama, sublime skill, crushing winners and gutsy determination – a sell-out crowd on Centre Court was treated to the whole lot as Andy Murray edged Spaniard David Ferrer in one of the best matches of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships to put himself one match away from his first ever Wimbledon Final.

In four sets amounting to three hours of graft on the court, Murray silenced a lot of doubters of his capability to compete for Grand Slam glory and showed the whole Tennis world what we already knew. He’s a quality player, and he surely has the best chance any Briton has had to lift the Grand Slam curse that has weighed on the shoulders of Men’s Tennis in the United Kingdom since Fred Perry’s Wimbledon triumph in 1936.

This Grand Slam drought has led to fans and critics putting huge pressure on any talented Brit that has played the sport since. Many people accused Tim Henman of being a bottler after several near misses at the All England Club, which was often unfair. He had a fine career, got to four semi-finals at Wimbledon and, if the classic British weather hadn’t rained on his parade in 2001, he would have surely beaten Goran Ivanisevic with the momentum he had in their epic Wimbledon encounter to set up a Final with Australian Pat Rafter. Then, who knows, he might have gone all the way.

Andy Murray has had to deal with similar expectation and similar claims of not being able to jump the Grand Slam final hurdle. He’s got to three major finals, won 22 singles titles and got to a further eight major semis – and he’s only 25. He’s had a sensational career already and he has won major titles or come close to Grand Slam glory on all three court surfaces – all whilst competing against three of the best players to ever grace the sport in Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and current world number one Novak Djokovic.

Eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi said that Murray would be a ‘multiple Grand Slam champion’ if he was in any other generation, and Agassi himself would have ‘won much less’. This shows just how highly regarded he is in the sport, and that he thoroughly deserves to have cemented his place in the top four of the Men’s singles rankings.

The biggest problem he has had in Grand Slams of the past is the task of defeating two of the top three players in the space of two days. On his day, he can defeat Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, and he has done so to win a series of ATP 500 and Masters events in his career so far. But the three times he has managed to knock out one of them, it has been an epic clash and he has failed to repeat that sort of form and intensity in the final a day or two later. He has yet to win a set in the three Grand Slam finals he has reached – clearly not a reflection on the ability that got him to that stage in the first place.

Falling at the final hurdle: Murray watches Federer lift the US Open trophy

Falling at the final hurdle: Murray watches Federer lift the US Open trophy

In his first major final at the US Open in 2008, he succumbed to the artistry of Roger Federer in the tournament’s finale, 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. But that was a far cry from Murray’s incredible four set battle with Rafael Nadal. This was the first time Murray defeated the Spaniard, and he did it in some style. The pace, energy and power he played with was sensational, and he thoroughly deserved the victory in a masterclass of hard court tennis. But it came at a cost. The match was a rain-affected, gruelling contest that spanned over two frustrating, hard-fought days. Roger Federer, on the other hand, defeated Novak Djokovic in one hit. He came in to the final with a day’s rest, feeling refreshed and this was reflected in his performance.

Since then, he has lost two Australian Open finals, but he has grown in stature, strength and maturity. He consistently gets to the latter stages of practically every major tournament going and continues to give the ‘big three’ a run for their money despite all the final disappointments and near misses he has suffered from so far. He is well and truly part of a dominant top four in the Men’s game, and this is reflected by the amount of times that the top four seeds live up to their billing and face each other in the Grand Slam semi-finals.

At this year’s Wimbledon championships, more people than ever are starting to believe that this could be Andy Murray’s time to shine. The belief in the talented Scotsman was significantly enhanced when French Open champion Nadal was stunned by relatively unknown Lukas Rosol in one of the biggest shocks in tennis history. Nadal is normally so reliable at dispatching the underdogs and avoiding any type of upset, but Rosol’s sensational five-set win opened up the draw and gave Murray a great chance of going the distance.

He’s not disappointed so far, and he has not had it easy. Banana skins in the shape of former world number three Nikolay Davydenko, big serving Croats Ivo Karlovic and Marin Cilic have been avoided and Murray managed to put his French Open quarter-final loss to Ferrer behind him in a fine display on Centre Court.

Could this be his year? Murray looks in good form

Could this be his year? Murray looks in good form

The big favourite though is reigning champion Novak Djokovic, who has looked imperious in his title defence so far. His win in last year’s tournament cemented his status as the man to beat, and impressive US Open and Australian Open victories followed. Should Murray get past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his semi-final, and should Djokovic defeat six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer on the other side of the draw, he will certainly be the underdog in the final.

But with the home crowd on his side, you just never know. Murray will have to be at the very top of his game to win his next two matches and win his maiden Grand Slam, but he certainly is capable of doing so. A semi-final against Tsonga will surely be less draining physically and mentally than a clash with Nadal – a superhuman athlete with a superhuman will to win on the big stage. Should he get to the final on Sunday, he may well be the most prepared and in the best shape he has ever been going in to a Grand Slam final. And a whole kingdom of united nations will be hoping that a different British name is finally etched above Fred Perry in the history books.

End of a new beginning? Why this season is vital for the English Iniesta

Jack Wilshere: A future England captain according to Cesc Fabregas

Jack Wilshere: A future England captain according to Cesc Fabregas

This time last year, England fans were whetting their appetite of the prospect of the having an intricate artist of Tiki-Taka football emerging on their shores. He made a huge impact for a title-challenging side and produced a man-of-the-match display as his side stunned the pass-masters Barcelona in the Champions League.

Wind the clock twelve months forward though, and Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere hasn’t played a competitive game in over a year, and all that promise and magnificent talent seems all too distant at the moment. An ankle injury forced him to watch the entire 2011-2012 season from the sidelines, and a knee injury flared up to provide a further setback to his recovery.

He is now a doubt to start the 2012/13 campaign, and many Arsenal and England supporters will be hoping for a return to the level that saw him labelled as England’s next big star.

Wilshere was always touted for a successful career during his academy days, starring in reserve games, scoring fantastic goals and orchestrating play in the middle of the park. After a successful loan spell at Bolton Wanderers in the 2009/10 campaign, he toughened up and showed his outstanding ability to control games as a box-to-box midfielder and playmaker.

What followed would wow lovers of the English game and give them a new ray of hope amongst a great deal of criticism that followed a dismal 2010 World Cup campaign. Wilshere made more senior appearances than any other Arsenal midfielder in the 2010/11 season, earned the PFA Young Player of the Year award and proved instrumental in a Gunners side that looked to be challenging for three trophies until a bitterly disappointing Carling Cup Final defeat at the hands of Birmingham City.

His ability to retain the ball under intense pressure, find killer passes and make play flow with clever one-twos and slide rule passes was the closest many had seen to a replacement for former England international Paul Scholes, and perhaps the closest England had to a Xavi or Andres Iniesta-like player who can dominate games with the famous Spanish brand of ‘Tiki-Taka’ football.

Wilshere broke in to the English international team, making five appearances and looking fit to wear the shirt, but the real acid test came against Barcelona, where he played alongside soon-to-be Catalan player Cesc Fabregas in midfield, and was under massive pressure to stand his own against the most dominant midfield in world football.

Thinking big: Wilshere broke in to the England team last year

Thinking big: Wilshere broke in to the England team last year

Just 19 at the time and playing in his first Champions League knockout phase, you could forgive the prodigious talent for feeling the nerves of the occasion. But, despite Barcelona taking the early initiative and going 1-0 up with a David Villa strike, WIlshere wasn’t just going to lie down. He took the game by the scruff of the neck and, even though he had a World Cup winning playmaker alongside him, it was Wilshere himself who took the game to Barcelona, proved pivotal in Arsenal turning the match around and turned the most heads in a fine 2-1 victory at the Emirates. If there wasn’t any doubt already, a star was born.

If he does get back to his best this season, he will surely get even better and develop into a future England captain – a man who can inspire this transitional crop of England internationals to try and challenge for top honours and compete with the world’s big boys.

Even Cesc Fabregas claimed that Wilshere was a future England captain, and this was something that slightly softened the blow of his departure from the North Londoners last summer.

He’s a unique player, as far as English football goes. While the current England team are grinding out results and proving doubters wrong in this summer’s Euro 2012, Roy Hodgson’s side do seem to miss a player who can control the ball in midfield, boost possession and take the game to opponents frequently. Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker have been fantastic in this year’s European Championships, but they are both over 30 and players like Jack Wilshere will be called upon in the near future.

For the sake of the beautiful game, and the English game, it will be a huge shame if Wilshere suffers further setbacks and doesn’t fully recover from a blip in what has been an extremely promising start of his career. On the flipside, if he gets back to match fitness, he will be mentally stronger for this experience, and he could yet be England’s next Andres Iniesta. Sure, it’s unlikely that England will ever emulate Spain’s incredible wealth of talent or style of play, but a fully fit Jack Wilshere could be just the man to take this country forward.

This piece was written for the Own Goal Podcast. Click here for the link.

It’s also been published by online magazine Sabotage Times. Click here to read more.

Tri-Pole Trouble: Dortmund lease of life for Euro 2012 hosts

Pole Position: Dortmund star Robert Lewandowski leads the line for Poland

Pole Position: Dortmund star Robert Lewandowski leads the line for Poland

Nothing quite compares to the euphoria and the excitement that gathers as a nation unites in patriotic pride when a major football tournament comes around. Often, this can be the birthing pool of national heroes that make a name for themselves, and often it can be the scene of a great underdog story as the hosts exceed all expectations – punching above their weight against the heavyweight champions fighting for the title on their home turf.

This summer, Poland and Ukraine go toe-to-toe with Europe’s elite in their own respective backyards as joint-hosts of Euro 2012. Despite the disappointment for co-hosts Austria and Switzerland four years earlier, the home teams generally have a strong record of progressing to the knockout stages – and it could be the Poles who axe some of the favourites this time round.

Poland are only competing in their second European championship – a surprise considering a golden era in the 70s and 80s for the country, which resulted in third place finishes at the 1974 and 1982 World Cups respectively  – so they’re enjoying their best years as a footballing nation for a couple of decades. They have made it to three of the last four major tournaments, including this summer’s European Championships, but this will be their best chance of progression to the knockout stages yet.

The nucleus of Poland’s squad has developed considerably since failing to make it past the group stages four years ago. With the safe-hands of Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny and a trio of Bundesliga-winning Borussia Dortmund players, Franciszek Smuda’s men have the ability to cause a surprise or two. A recent 0-0 draw against Portugal and a win over Latvia suggest that they come in to the tournament with a bit of form as well.

Number One: Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny has been in fine form this term

Number One: Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny has been in fine form this term

While Szczęsny and Polish compatriot and second choice keeper Łukasz Fabiański have plied their trade in the Premier League for a few seasons now, it is their Bundesliga-based trio who have made the biggest stir this season.

Dortmund, under the guidance of charismatic boss Jürgen Klopp, pipped Champions League finalists Bayern Munich to the league title for the second consecutive season and defeated Bayern 5-2 in the German Cup Final to round off a great season. Much of their success has been down to the influence of their Polish contingent, despite plenty of top German talent at their disposal.

Robert Lewandowski, who is being linked with a big money move to Manchester United this summer, scored 30 goals to fire Dortmund to glory, and he could well be an outside contender for the Euro 2012 Golden boot. Poland’s captain, Jakub Błaszczykowski, made two assists in the German Cup final and has been a regular in the side since 2007 and Łukasz Piszczek, has been a key part of the Dortmund defence this term.

Not only are they top class players, but they come in with crucial confidence that could reflect in strong performances on the pitch. German giants Dortmund had been dormant for the best part of a decade before their 2011 title success, and it is testament to the quality of the three Polish players that they won the league again – despite star midfielder Nuri Sahin leaving for Real Madrid and German wonderkid Mario Götze being ruled out with a hip injury for a large period of the season.

Lewandowski is the hosts’ star man, and undoubtedly they will be expecting great things of him, but the whole squad will have a passionate home crowd on their side and that could inspire them to progression from their group. Poland have been drawn against Czech Republic, Greece and Russia in arguably the weakest group of the tournament and – as we saw when Ghana had the whole of Africa on their side at the 2010 World Cup, home favourites are capable of building up a real head of steam and performing well above their expectations.

Of course there are a lot of very strong European teams that Poland will have to face if they are to upset the odds and progress to the latter stages of the tournament, but there is always a possibility of a dark horse in a major tournament like this. Ghana were agonisingly close to the World Cup semi-finals two years ago, and Poland’s Group A opposition Greece shocked everyone by going all the way in Euro 2004. Who knows, maybe this could be another one of those special years when the form guide goes well and truly out of the window.

Howe to become a legend: Eddie leaves Bournemouth as a hero

Eddie Howe became a fans' favourite after his Bournemouth heroics

Eddie Howe became a fans’ favourite after his Bournemouth heroics

At first the AFC Bournemouth fans will have felt angry and bemused as to why Eddie Howe departed days after he temporarily committed his future to the club, but there is no need for an apology as Howe masterminded an incredible first taste of management that nobody could have envisaged.

Howe arrived on the managerial scene in January 2009 after an injury-plagued playing career where he earned the tag as a fans’ favourite on the south coast. The future looked bleak for the Cherries. Ongoing financial woes led to administration, a total of 27 points deducted in two seasons and the distinct possibility of relegation from the football league looming large.

Fast forward to January 2011, and he leaves as a hero – reflecting on a wonderful two years that restored hope and pride as they maintained their football league status.

Not only that, Howe’s boys gained promotion from League Two in 2010 with a threadbare squad, and continued to defy the critics again as he left the Cherries breathing down the necks of League One leaders Brighton this season.

The only way has been up for Eddie Howe and assistant boss Jason Tindall. Their achievements have been nothing short of incredible. Since Howe took over the reigns, Bournemouth have won 50 out of 100 games, and have done this without being able to field a full substitutes bench for much of the process.

Veteran striker Steve Fletcher, who now takes over Tindall’s duties as assistant manager, has enjoyed a resurgence of form under Howe’s stewardship, and scored the last goal of his tenure before two late goals denied Howe a fitting send off against Colchester.

Howe and Tindall rescued Bournemouth from the brink of League Two relegation

Howe and Tindall rescued Bournemouth from the brink of League Two relegation

Danny Hollands, dogged with knee problems in recent years, fought through the pain barrier to play a key role in the promotion season in League Two and has continued his progress. Clever acquisitions like winger Marc Pugh, Tottenham loanee Adam Smith and former Norwich full back Rhoys Wiggins have been masterstrokes – and those are the type of masterstrokes that Howe continued to pull off in a three-year spell dogged by financial obstacles.

But now he and Tindall have gained their deserved chance at Championship big boys Burnley, and they have every chance of succeeding and making their excellent man-management rub off on the new set of players. Even though the pair are six years younger than Burnley’s oldest workhorse Graham Alexander, they will certainly have the dressing room’s backing, and their previous record shows no reason why they can’t inspire promotion to the Premier League.

Of course, management duo Howe and Tindall have spent the majority of their playing days at Bournemouth, so making the step up to a new division and a new team will have its challenges. Chairmen are more fickle than ever in the modern game, and time to settle is a rare luxury, so the pair will need to adjust to life in the Championship quickly and have a solid six months to secure their futures. But the man management, the desire and the application is something that won’t go away, and if they have every tool in their armoury to produce the goods and be the youngest Managerial duo in the Premier League.

Bournemouth manager Eddie ready for great things

AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe

AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe

Modern football is at a stage where the money-grabbing bosses of English football clubs jump on the bandwagon to sack their latest manager the moment things start to take a downturn on or off the pitch. But one 32-year-old has established himself as one of the exciting young managers in the game after an incredible start to management that saw him take cash-strapped AFC Bournemouth from the brink of relegation from the football league and financial implosion to the promotion places of League One in the space of two and a half years. And that man is Eddie Howe.

Howe arrived on the managerial scene in January 2008, when Bournemouth were ten points adrift from safety in League Two and under the restraints of a transfer embargo, after the club fell into administration.

It seemed that it was a matter of time until the Cherries suffered relegation to the Blue Square Premier and the grim reality of further financial setbacks and not knowing where the next pay cheque is going to come from. But Howe, who spent the majority of his playing career at Bournemouth before injury problems forced him to hang up his boots in 2007, turned it around and won 12 out of the final 20 league matches to secure survival.

Veteran striker Steve Fletcher sealed the survival, a man who’s six years older than his boss, on a memorable penultimate day of the 2008/09 season against Grimbsy – the day that Howe described as the best of his managerial career.

“That really stands out for me, staying up in League Two when it looked like it was at one stage going to be beyond us. It was so important that we remained in the league. If the club had dropped into the Conference I don’t know if the club would still be here.

Howe went on to take Bournemouth to League Two promotion in the very next season, with a transfer embargo still slapped on the club and an injury-crisis that meant the Cherries manager couldn’t field a full subs bench for the majority of the campaign. That season also saw assistant manager Jason Tindall come out of retirement in the club’s hour of need, as well as the instrumental role of midfielder Danny Hollands – who was rushed back to fitness following knee surgery that summer.

And Howe, a modest but incredibly determined character off the pitch, admitted that his magnificent start to football management exceeded his expectations.

“It was quite a turnaround. In taking the job the only focus was trying to stay in the league, the success last season was a little bit unexpected but certainly welcome and we’ve carried it on this season and started pretty well,” he added. “It’s been a really good and enjoyable ride. There’s been some ups and downs on the way, but that’s football management for you.”

That ‘pretty’ good start to this season has seen Bournemouth defy the critics yet again – losing just once at home so far and rising to as high as second in League One. The Cherries are seventh in table, two points off the automatic promotion places, and unsurprisingly Howe has earned glowing praise from the media and rival clubs alike.

The long-awaited alleviation of the embargo, which finally allowed Howe to sign players permanently as of March this year, saw him bring in the likes of former Hereford winger Marc Pugh and Michael Symes from Accrington Stanley – and they have shone under Howe’s management. The club has even coped with the loss of talismanic striker Brett Pitman, who scored 26 goals last season, to Championship outfit Bristol City. And an impressive 45 victories in an 89-match managerial career has got people begging the question of just how far Howe can go.

Revelling in the limelight: Josh McCoid's enjoyed good form since Pitman's departure

Revelling in the limelight: Josh McCoid’s enjoyed good form since Pitman’s departure

Over the last 12 months, Howe has rejected the approach of Peterborough, while they were in the Championship, and wealthy League One rivals Southampton. And assistant Tindall was full of praise for the boss.

Tindall said: “He’s an excellent manager. The attention to detail is first class, his preparation is first class and he lives, sleeps and breathes football. He will get even better with more experience under his belt, but I think his record speaks for itself and I don’t think there’s another person that could have stepped into the football club at the time that he did and achieved what he has done so far.”

That situation is one that would even have had Sir Alex Ferguson chewing his gum more furiously than ever. And considering he is nearly 40 years younger than the Manchester United manager, it is surely a matter of time until Eddie Howe makes a step into the big time.

Film Review: United 93

Certificate: 15

Cast: Meghan Heffern, Jamie Harding, Trish Gates, Omar Berdouni, J.J. Johnson, Polly Adams, David Basche

Director: Paul Greengrass
Running Time: 111 minutes

Two planes hit the World Trade Centre, one hit the Pentagon. United 93 remembers the forgotten heroes that saved the fourth flight from even more disaster.

A compelling, finely constructed re-enactment that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
ON SEPTEMBER 11th 2001, tragedy struck the United States of America when two planes crashed into the World Trade Centre and another hitting the Pentagon. United 93 tells the story of the forgotten heroes that saved a fourth plane from inflicting even more disaster.
The gripping drama follows the events behind the scenes on that tragic day, where three of the four hijacked planes caused damage that will be remembered forever by people all over the world. On the fourth plane, the United Airline 93 flight, four terrorists suspiciously board the plane before taking over the cockpit, holding passengers and air stewardesses at hostage and stabbing innocent victims as they target Washington D.C in a mass terrorist mission.
Unlike on the other three flights, the passengers fight back and do all they can to stopthe terrorists and risk their lives in order to save the country from another disaster.
The film follows the dramatic series of events uncovered in air traffic control centres in New York, Washington and Boston, as they lose contact with the four hijacked planes and the centres turn into mayhem as they do all they can to divert the terrorist attacks.
Paul Greengrass, Director of The Bourne Supremacy and Bloody Sunday, masters u the edgy and powerful story that leaves you wandering if the passengers on that flight could save the day right until the last minute. Even though the ending is a foregone conclusion, United 93 will leave you thinking…are the terrorists going to do it?!
The docudrama brings to life the sheer pandemonium behind the scenes on that dreadful day. The urgent and claustrophobic style Greengrass brings to the film, combined with the stirring images of the World Trade Centre in smoke as everyone in the air traffic control centres stand still, gives a real sense of emotion and fear behind the scenes.
It is filmed in a quick, frantic style for much of the film, which contrasts to the slow, tense build up as the Muslim terrorists’ board the flight. The film is finely edited and accompanied by excellent acting from a relatively unknown cast, with former Law and Order pair Polly Adams and David Basche, and Trish Gates, who has starred in My Name is Earl, being the most notable among the cast. United 93 was always going to be a film firmly in the spotlight. But any critics would have been silenced by an encapsulating and gripping representation of a day that will be remembered for ever.

Battling Burnley put the Blades to the sword

Wade Elliott fires Burnley in to the Premier League

Wade Elliott fires Burnley in to the Premier League

BURNLEY entered Premier League dreamland as a stunning Wade Elliot strike beat Sheffield United in the Championship Play-Off Final at Wembley to secure a return to the top flight after 33 years.

Elliot charged with the ball from inside his own half and curled home from 30 yards after a break down in play to give his side the lead after thirteen minutes. And the Clarets could have been home and dry as Joey Gudjohnsson, Robbie Blake and Martin Paterson went close in the second half.

Owen Coyle’s men survived late pressure from United, who had two penalty appeals turned down before Jamie Ward was sent off after a deliberate handball, but nothing could stop Burnley from taking a deserved 1-0 win.

In their sixtieth game of the season, Burnley, who have fewer resources than most in the Championship, defied the odds to overturn the in-form Blades, who made a late charge for automatic promotion before narrowly falling short.

Burnley were the livelier for much of the Wembley Final, and held off any late pressure with a heroic performance from centre-back pairing Clarke Carlisle and captain Steven Caldwell.

Coyle has only used 23 players all season, the fewest out of any Championship team, and reached the Carling Cup semi-final in a remarkable campaign for the Lancashire Club, who defeated a quarter of the Premier League elite this term.

Fulham, Chelsea and Arsenal were all defeated by the Clarets, who were within touching distance of the Carling Cup Final as they cancelled out a three goal deficit against Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor to force extra time.

Two late knockout blows from Roman Pavlychenko and Jermaine Defoe ensured they wouldn’t make another Wembley appearance.

But despite the fixture congestion Burnley finished fifth in the league and, through two spectacular efforts from Paterson and Steven Thompson, sealed a 2-0 second leg win and a 3-0 aggregate Play-Off semi-final victory over Reading.

Their exploits in the cup competitions gave the team the confidence and belief that they could do it again on the big stage, and they duly completed their biggest triumph of an eventful season this afternoon.

Even with the third lowest average attendance in the Championship minimal resources, Coyle has made astute signings and masterminded a campaign that few Burnley fans would have dreamed of.

Coyle will, of course, need to strengthen the squad and his managerial qualities will be tested to the full as the club will be favourites for a quick return to the second tier of English Football.

But Turf Moor is sure to be packed week in, week out, as the Lancashire minnows will entertain the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea as they fulfill their dreams of playing in the big time.

MPs in the Brown stuff at taxpayers’ expense

NOT A single member of parliament apologised for the unforgivable figures leaked from expense reciepts in a revelation that has plummeted the Government’s reputation to an all-time low.

Bang and the dirt is gone: Gordon Brown claimed £6,500 for a cleaner

Bang and the dirt is gone: Gordon Brown claimed £6,500 for a cleaner

With Parliamentary trust heavily tarnished and Gordon Brown’s reign as Prime minister on a knife-edge, statistics uncovered by the national press detailed MP expenditure that verged upon a farce.

Among a host of embarrassing revelations, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears had claimed for three properties in a single year and consequently attracted heavy pressure to resign from her post. Chancellor Alistair Darling switched his designated “second home” four times in as many years to maximise his claiming power. Foreign secretary David Miliband used taxpayers’ money on gardening at his constituency and a host of other bizarre MP claims, including horse manure, a super mop and a packet of maltesers were revealed as many MPs claimed up to £150,000 of their allowance last year.

Mr Brown’s chances of retaining his post as Prime minister also took a severe blow, after details of his use of £6,500 to pay for he and his brother to have a cleaner for 26 months were unveiled.

Just last week he had made an attempt to amend the beleaguered MP expenses system, yet after the latest damage was shown, Mr Brown blamed the system and not the MPs that have been abusing it, a strange excuse considering he had “reviewed” it just last week.

The newest of an array of MP errors highlighted the Parliamentary sleaze culture that has left Britain’s tax payers reeling. The leaks, added to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s claims for adult movies on behalf of her husband, highlighted the debacle that has ensued over the past few months in Westminster – leading to the lack of trust many Britons have with Brown’s Labour Government.

All the Government seems to be doing these days is apologising for their mistakes. Former Chancellor Brown has overseen an alarming slide, resulting in recession, sky-high unemployment levels and the falling value of the pound. While spending your way out of trouble can be a reasonable idea, as it has the potential to stimulate the economy, Brown has poured in borrowed money for quick solutions, but little seems to have changed as Darling’s optimistic Budget forecast looks to be unlikely.

Numerous MPs have milked the system and gone to the limit of their expense allowance. While it is legal, and allowed by Parliamentary bosses, this week’s statistics have crossed a moral line with hardworking voters littered across it.

The Cabinet, in particular, represent the nation and have the responsibility to be model professionals and exemplary British citizens. Damien McBride’s smear emails towards Conservative MPs led to his resignation and brought embarrassment to the Labour Party.

In a pickle: Tory MP Eric Pickles sparked controversy on question time

In a pickle: Tory MP Eric Pickles sparked controversy on question time

From the Tory end of the spectrum, Eric Pickles second home allowance claim sparked controversy and fellow MPs, as well as the British public, hit out at his expense claims on an edition of Question Time. His comment that commuting for a month was “tough” also sparked uproar and undermined many people who face the situation week in, week out.

But this parliamentary sleaze and claiming culture is far from the truth for the majority of the parliament members. The sleaze and expense claims that have covered national newspapers has damaged the reputation of hardworking MPs who act as role models, do all they can for the benefit of their constituency and act within moral and legal limits.

These latest figures are just a selection from the catalogue of errors that has brought the Government into serious danger of being toppled by David Cameron’s Conservative Party.

Surely, with the UK in a torrid financial state, MPs should be concentrating on the salvation of the economy during Britain’s hour of need, rather than refurbishing their conservatories.

Rafa’s Rampant Reds charge back into the title race

Gerrard scores a penalty on the way to a superb hat-trick vs Aston Villa

Gerrard scores a penalty on the way to a superb hat-trick vs Aston Villa

A STEVEN Gerrard hat-trick inspired Liverpool to an emphatic 5-0 victory over Aston Villa to seal a perfect fortnight for Rafael Benitez’s men.

The Red’s cruised past an off form Villa side to take full advantage of Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of Fulham yesterday. Dirk Kuyt opened the scoring inside the first ten minutes before Albert Riera fired home off the underside of the bar after latching on to a long kick from Reds keeper Pepe Reina.

The game was out of the visitors’ sight six minutes later, when Gerrard slotted home a controversial penalty after Riera was fouled by Nigel Reo Coker. The Liverpool captain then beat Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel with a fine freekick shortly after the break, and stepped up to complete his hat-trick and his second penalty of the game on the 65 minute mark, when Friedel was harshly dismissed after bringing down Fernando Torres inside the box.

The demolition leaves Liverpool one point behind the leaders, having played a game more. In what could be a pivotal weekend in the destination of the Premier League title, Man United had Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes sent off while Dimitar Berbatov hobbled off with an injury and Chelsea lost 1-0 to a resurgent Tottenham Hotspur.

Benitez’s men, on the other hand, have steamrolled to thirteen goals in a difficult three game period. They comfortably put four past Real Madrid at Anfield before coming from a goal down to complete a sensational 4-1 victory over the League leaders at Old Trafford. Aston Villa came in search for a crucial win to keep their Champions League ambitions alive before being hit for five by the rampant Reds.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s men are still in the driving seat despite two consecutive league defeats and have the quality and the experience to deliver. But any more slip ups and the Anfield faithful will believe that the search for their first ever Premier League title could come to an end.