Interview with former Ipswich and England striker, Paul Mariner


Paul Mariner is one of the finest strikers to ever play for Ipswich Town, scoring 96 goals in 260 appearances, winning the FA Cup and UEFA Cup in the process. Paul also played for the England national team 35 times, scoring 13 goals. In his professional career spanning for over 20 years, Paul made 555 appearances for Plymouth, Ipswich, Arsenal, Portsmouth and various teams in America and Australia, scoring 179 career goals. He was part of the greatest era under Sir Bobby Robson and brought major success to the Suffolk side before moving to the capital to play for Arsenal. He later went into management with Plymouth and MLS side Toronto FC. Dictate the Game were fortunate enough to interview Paul. we asked him about his time in Ipswich, his managerial career and if he had any regrets in his career.
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FM18 Regen Guide Part 1: Countries and Clubs

Many football manager players will spend countless hours searching the obscure leagues for the perfect regens and young players, as part of this guide I will be showing you how to speed up that process, find better players and look in some surprising places.


This is actually something I made back in 2015, highlighting my favourite players from that years edition, the different between the real players and regens if fairly noticeable.

For those unaware, in football manager players will naturally retire due to old age in game. To compensate for this players are brought into each clubs youth academy on certain days each season. In older versions of the game the date was fixed but in later editions the date seems to fluctuate each year, for most European clubs its around early March. The players brought in are often referred to as ‘Regens’ or ‘Newgens’ due to their computer image.

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Barcelona’s control of possession eventually nullifies Valencia’s counter-attacking trap

Ernesto Valverde has masterminded a return to form for Barcelona; they are unbeaten all season in La Liga and the Champions League, a feat which even Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have not accomplished. The fraud. Furthermore, they’ve already scored 15 more goals than any other team, and conceded ten less than everyone not named Atletico Madrid (who’ve amazingly only conceded nine all season!). In Valverde, Barcelona have a manager more well known for the quality of football the team play than yelling at the media. In nearly all aspects of play, they have clearly improved in their tactical ideas and execution of those concepts.

Although Valencia had lost five in a row in all competitions before this game, they’re still currently above Real Madrid at 3rd in the table. It was remarkable how well Barcelona managed to control the match, despite a few moments of panic.

Valencia v Barcelona 1.png

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In memoriam: Liam Miller

Friday the 9th of February, Liam Miller sadly passed away after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 36 years old.

Liam had played for a variety of teams, including Manchester United, Celtic, Sunderland and QPR.


Liam playing for Celtic

He started his career with Celtic, becoming a very important player for Celtic, after a fantastic performance against Lyon, this prompted the manager at the time Martin O’Neil wanted to offer a professional contract to Liam so he could build a team round him. Unfortunately for O’Neil, Liam chose to move to Manchester United.


Unfortunately for Liam he didn’t get much play time. He only played in only 22 games, during the 05-06 season he was loaned out to Leeds, scoring vital goals against the likes of Southampton

In the season of 06-07, he joined Sunderland a team looking to stop from dropping to league one. But we ended up winning the league and Liam was a vital member  of the team that helped us win the league that season.

He’s the type of player we’re missing now. He was vital the following season as well, scoring against Middlesbrough in the dying seconds  to get a very important point for us.


Liam Miller celebrating after scoring past Middlesbrough.

He was one of my favourite players growing up, while I do have memories of the Reid era, Roy Keane’s promotion team is probably one of the best memories I’ve had supporting Sunderland. When you had players like Liam who ran their socks off, it really made you feel proud to watch Sunderland and he gave everything.

Another thing which is sad is two players  from the same Sunderland squad have now passed away. Marton Fulop sadly died in November 2015 of cancer, and now sadly Liam has also passed away.


Rest in peace Liam. Thank  you for the memories.


Please feel free to donate to Cancer research with the link below

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Tottenham vs Manchester United: A match review.

I was invited to this game  by a mate of mine who supports Spurs. I was thinking of going to the Birmingham vs Sunderland game but staying over in Birmingham after watching a probable Sunderland collapse (I was right in the end with that) plus the cost of travel it really wasn’t much of a contest

Tottenham have had a tough fixture list recently. Playing Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal in the big derby, if they  are going to cement their places in the top four they should be looking at at least two wins and a draw to keep their chances

I was expecting a fairly close game, maybe one  goal to separate the teams. Instead I watched utd have one of worst games of their season.


It only took 11 seconds for spurs to score their first

The game kicked  off Vertonghen booted the ball to Kane, who passed it to Alli. A quick pass to Eriksen and he slotted it past De Gea. It only took 11 seconds for United to concede. No discredit to spurs but united were absolutely awful. Occasionally they threatened but it really didn’t concern the  Tottenham defence too much. Lukaku had  a chance to level, but it was easily  saved by Lloris.

Tottenham really should have been ahead  by 2 or 3. At times instead  of shooting they’d try and be a bit clever and tried to dribble it around the defenders. Now normally I like it when strikers frustrate the opposition, but I think Spurs really needed to kill  the game off.

Eventually though Spurs got their  second goal, Trippier crossed the ball in, hoping it reached Kane. Instead the ball found Phill Jones who accidentally booted the ball into his own net.


Spurs celebrating their second goal

United really didn’t  look like scoring, they had a few chances leading up  to half-time, but apart from that, they weren’t much of a threat.


During the first fifteen  minutes of the second half, United were playing better, they had a few chances that looked threatening, and for a while Spurs looked a bit shaky. Eventually however, spurs  regained control of the game, and they came very close to scoring another goal.


It really summed up uniteds evening, when Fellaini came on for Pogba, seven minutes after coming on himself. United were absolutely shocking, don’t get me wrong, spurs played brilliantly, defensively Tottenham were brilliant. Getting stuck in, making sure United didn’t get any proper chance of scoring.


Spurs pushing for a third

If United really  want to compete for the league  title they really need to do better  than this. Defensively they were all over the place, and they shiush have been better up front

All in all a fantastic display  from Spurs, they’re really are starting to look like a consistent top four  side

Brilliant Brighton Season 1 Part 4: I Believe in Miracles!

So last time out we we’re knocked out of the cup by Chelsea, but things were on the up! Ever since I’ve been doing really well, some fantastic results against Everton and Man City! The Man City game was actually incredible, I jumped out of my seat and did a victory lap around my room. Obviously some other results which didn’t quite go my way, notably the West Brom and Leicester games which I feel we could have picked up points in. Also the inclusion of TV Revenue is really helping the clubs finances and I’m hoping that it will give me a nice transfer budget for the summer.

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The Dilemma of VAR

Last week, Kelechi Iheanacho was denied his second goal of the game in an FA Cup third-round replay against Fleetwood, up until Jonathan Moss puts his hand to his ear and speaks to the Video Assistant Referee. Sixty-seconds later, Moss signalled the first ever goal to be rewarded from VAR. This received mixed reviews from football fans across the country, Fleetwood manager Uwe Rösler stating that he “didn’t like it”, whilst Leicester manager, Claude Peul welcomed video refereeing into the game. This new system has split everybody’s opinion, including mine too. Instead of rambling on twitter like I usually do, I thought I’d write an article on the situation, it’s advantages, it’s problems and what will its future be in the game.


How does the VAR work?

Video Assistant Referee is used in four situations, goals, penalties, mistaken identity and straight red cards. There are two different ways an issue can go to the referee, the first is direct communication from the VAR to the referee on the field – like we saw in the Leicester game. The second option is the VAR deciding itself, which hasn’t happened in any of the trial matches so far. The VAR alerts the on-field referee to review an event that’s just taken place and can even make the decision themselves.


Why I like TMO…

I love Rugby, I play the game myself and I’ve started to watch it on television a lot more. I’ve been to Twickenham were TMO (Television Match Official) has been used, and the uncertainty and replays on the big screen genuinely build a lot of tension. When you w the game on TV, you always hear what the referee is saying throughout the game including what is discussed between the on-field referee and the video referee. They are always clear and decisive in the situations I’ve watched, whilst in football, even though there is no microphone, you can tell there’s confusion between the referees.

TMO has been used since 2001, and has been involved in making some huge decisions in rugby throughout that time. Sonny Bill Williams is one of the best rugby players on the planet and was involved in a huge incident in the second test of the Lions Tour vs the All Blacks. Williams received a red card after TMO reviewed the clash back in slow-motion (when you watch it at full speed, it’s more 50/50 than you think – this can apply to penalty decisions in football).


The Television Match Official has grown into a big part of the game of rugby and overall has made the professional game a lot safer and cleaner as a result. One of the big cases for VAR to never be seen again is, “Football is nothing without it’s controversies.” In my opinion, this statement is false in every way, shape or form. What makes football is what the players are putting onto the pitch. The reason I’ve stopped watching Everton for a period isn’t because of the decisions are going against us… it’s because the football is diabolical. Football doesn’t need controversies to stay relevant!



The Dilemma…

There are several reasons why the VAR isn’t working at this moment in time. The big talking point is timing. Here is an example of the problem in Genoa’s match vs Juventus. Cuadrado pulls the ball back into the penalty area. As the ball flicks up, Mandzukic tries to shoot but the ball deflects of Lazovic’s arm. Not only does both the referee and linesman signal a corner, but it takes the official a full two minutes to decide to run over to side-line 40 yards back.

Both commentators are completely puzzled by what is going on, the referee sprints back and awards a penalty, three minutes after the incident happens. Paulo Dybala stepped up and scored for the final part of the half. The discussion between both officials should’ve been much, much quicker. It must’ve been totally bizarre being in the crowd and just watching the players stand around not knowing what’s going on themselves. There are plenty of other incidents that have happened liked this where it has taken far too long for officials to make their mind up.


Despite this, according to the BBC, the VAR introduction to Italian football has appeared to be more positive. Italian football expert, James Horncastle, stated “They said that of 1,078 VAR decisions made in the first half of the season, 60 corrections were made by the VAR with 49 of those being the right decision. So only 11 mistakes were made using VAR, which equates to 1%.”


Serie A has still seen it’s issues however, with referee Daniel Doveri sending off Torino manager Sinisa Mihajlovic for his protests during their Coppa Italia defeat to Juventus. Mihajlovic was saved the next day, whilst Doveri was suspended for two games due to the incident.


Another issue is the standard of refereeing, especially in English football. This can be more of a solution than an issue, but I cannot see the likes of Mike Dean or Martin Atkinson give a fair and correct decision even with the VAR guiding them. The standard of officiating in Rugby is levels above Football, of course you can still get bias refs in every sport, but how many times have you seen the headlines about poor refereeing in rugby? In football, it literally is every week. I don’t watch Match of the Day as much as I used too, but I can guarantee they talk about a “poor” decision once throughout the programme.

VAR isn’t the only part of football that needs to be improved for it to fully work, there are plenty of other cogs in the clockwork that need fixing first. For me, one thing that won’t change will be the patience of football fans as a whole. Every football fan wants the game to flow, we all get increasingly annoyed when fouls are given left, right and centre. I don’t think we will maintain the same level of patience as fans in other sport maintain, and maybe that’s the hurdle VAR will never cross to become a complete success.


I know that this article may seem a bit bias towards pro-VAR, but I do see pros & cons in both. If the FA wants to make VAR a permanent part of its game, then it must consider improving other parts of the game to make it work perfectly, including the fans experience in the ground and what they see on the big screen. Video officiating can clean the game up from its cheating, diving and dodgy decisions… but it still has a very long way to go before being a success.