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Live football ITV1, 7.30pm ONCE upon a time, 'mind games' used to refer to intellectually rigorous pastimes such as Cluedo and Boggle, writes James Milton.

Now, the phrase is wheeled out whenever a football manager says anything at a press conference, even if it is "Could I have a different brand of sparkling water before we get going, please?" That sly fox Slaven Bilic has been attempting to undermine the morale of the nation by claiming that our national team has "lost its Englishness".

He's quite right, of course.

Under Fabio Capello's regime we no longer regard Wes Brown as a flair player and our midfielders occasionally pass the ball to each other now - on the ground!

No, I don't like it either - next we'll be winning penalty shootouts and then who's going to star in the next generation of Pizza Hut adverts? Ever thought of that, Fabio? Capello responded to Bilic's comments in true David Brent-style - "Thank you, Mr Bilic. It is the best. I have no need to motivate my players after this. It's fantastic assistance" - before going on to badmouth the Swindon branch.

However, the most interesting quotes of the week have been Matthew Upson's thoughts about the Wembley pitch.

"The ball is like a bar of soap at times," the West Ham defender claims.

If only Phil Neville was still in the England side - tonight could be his one chance of making a clean tackle.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 9, 2009
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