TALKING SPORT - Why I’m ignoring history lessons again

Phil Wilkinson

Phil Wilkinson

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HISTORY has taught us to tread carefully. To rein in our optimism, to shackle our expectations.

But then. But then ...

Every time an international tournament comes around, that same hope flickers back into life.

I’m telling myself not to get too carried away, but the evidence is hard to deny.

I’ve said before, the weak link in the England side isn’t on the pitch, but in the coaching seat. So many people are opposed to Steve McNamara keeping the role on the basis that he lives and works in Sydney.

I opposed the appointment because he’s Steve McNamara, and his track record didn’t deserve another crack – not when so many British coaches are strong candidates.

But now is the time for unity and support, even from afar, and on the basis of the squads alone, England have a great chance.

Many of our players would be good enough to get into the Kiwi and Kangaroos squads.

NRL fans love James Graham, George Burgess and Gareth Widdop – and we all know how good the likes of Chris Hill, Ryan Hall, Josh Charnley and Sean O’Loughlin are.

Lockers should be fit to face the Aussies next week – by which point, hopefully, England will have one win under their belt.

THE new Super League fixtures have been revealed. Or at least, the first two-thirds of the season have been – the last seven games won’t be known until the end of July because of the new ‘super 8s’ system (and good luck to those who need to schedule games, arrange travel, sell hospitality and the rest).

Under the new structure, the 12 Super League clubs play 23 games before the top eight break away, while the bottom four merge with the top four Championship clubs to fight for places in the following year’s top-flight.

Some don’t like it because it’s too complicated. For me, this whole ‘every minute matters’ slogan doesn’t wash with me.

Maybe it matters for fans of Leigh and London, Widnes and Wakefield. But a top club could play 30 regular season games, finish top – and the only advantage over the team finishing 4th is home advantage in one play-off game.

We’ll see how that pans out. Hopefully it will be the tonic needed to refresh what had become an admittedly stale Super League.

In the meantime, the first 23 fixtures will include Wigan playing on Thursday night six times. Many fans aren’t happy, for obvious reasons.

But sadly, the reality is, if you get into bed with Sky Sports, well ... sometimes they will steal all the covers.

THE “I feel awkward” award of the week goes to whoever controls West Brom’s Twitter feed. At half-time the other night, he wrote: “Fellaini has now taken his tracksuit off, fortunately he has a Man Utd strip on underneath.”

Two minutes later, Fellaini scored. Oops!

IT hasn’t been the best start to the season for Latics, but the quality in the squad remains as good as there is in the Championship.

James McClean says it’s time the players stood up to be counted, and give the fans something to cheer about.

And so say all of us.