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Rob Palmer

A former professional footballer, Rob Palmer is a commentator, presenter and reporter at Sky Sports, specialising in Spain's La Liga. He began contributing a weekly column to SUR in English in 2015. He is a pro-celebrity golfer and divides his time between the UK and the Costa del Sol.

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recent published articles

23/08/2019 13:24

Sport

Far-reaching problems

Remember those days, not so very long ago, when FC Barcelona was held up as the model for all to follow? The team was packed with graduates of the famous La Masia academy and complemented with a handful of world superstars. The club had an enviable

16/08/2019 14:12

Sport

Do your due diligence

Any multi-million business deal is dependent on a due diligence investigation, so I wonder just what on earth Real Madrid and Barcelona are playing at? Neymar is loving being the centre of attention as the two Spanish giants play tug-of-war over th

09/08/2019 14:55

Sport

From insanity to tranquility

Who would have thought that the club once considered to be the craziest in the world is now the model of normality? Jesús Gil, the president who courted controversy, cut a figure like one of the Sopranos and changed managers as often as his shirts

02/08/2019 14:30

Sport

Unanswered questions

The most frequently asked questions by fans of Spanish football are definitely: "Where can we see the game on television?" and "What day will it be played?" Rarely can I give the answer to either; it's not ignorance, it's just a downright lack of p

26/07/2019 16:26

Sport

For all the tees in China

The public game of poker between Real Madrid, Gareth Bale and Zinedine Zidane is now getting to the point where the stakes are higher than ever. The club wants to cash in on the Welshman, the manager wants to speculate the money, but the player doesn

19/07/2019 14:08

Sport

Out of the EPL comfort zone

It isn't a move that has captured headlines but there are very few transfers that tick as many boxes as Kieran Trippier to Atlético Madrid: the players are happy, the clubs are happy, and the fans should be happy. It's very rare for a British playe

12/07/2019 15:28

Sport

The usual pre-season antics

There's a whole circus surrounding football and there seems to be more time devoted to speculating than covering the actual games. Will he? Won't he? And if he does, where and when will he do it? Neymar has gone AWOL, Gareth Bale got screamed at fo

05/07/2019 13:45

Sport

The newest kids on the block

It's been the summer of a star trek for the next generation of Spanish footballing superstars. Manchester City fans are eagerly asking about Rodri, their new record signing; West Ham followers are very excited about Pablo Fornals; and the Spanish p

28/06/2019 16:26

Sport

The transfer merry-go-round

Roll up, roll up... Get ready to jump on board the most star-studded football merry-go-round in the history of football. This summer is going to be a headline writer's dream, with superstar names screaming out from the front pages of the sports dai

21/06/2019 14:42

Sport

The virtual unknown

Well, we know he's not a rap star but that's about all we really know about Robert Moreno, or 'Bobby Brown' as an online translator will tell you - the new Spain head coach. Google went into overdrive on Wednesday when it was announced that Luis En

07/06/2019 16:56

Sport

When a millionaire takes on a billionaire

So now we know who wins when a billionaire fights a multi-millionaire; it the same as when a president takes on a captain or father takes on a son. You don't get to the top of the largest construction business in Spain and run arguably the world's

31/05/2019 14:10

Sport

Winning the Cup for Valencia

At the turning point of the season a very strange thing happened in Valencia; they didn't sack their coach! In a decade-long game of stick or twist the club had always opted for twist, and the cards they chose never improved their hand. It appear

24/05/2019 16:58

Sport

Unremarkable to the end

Gareth Bale ditching the lap of appreciation was symbolic; for not just him but many in a very strange and unspectacular season in La Liga. It now seems that the circuit of the stadium at the final home game of the season is obligatory, even if it

17/05/2019 15:13

Sport

From IMAX to iPhone

Last summer it was all subtle lighting, expensive editing, moody locations and pensive posturing as Antoine Griezmann pondered publicly on 'La Decisión'. The climax was he stayed at Atlético Madrid. The sequel was a low-budget job, shot against a b

10/05/2019 16:04

Sport

The inquest begins

At almost any club in Europe clinching the double-double would ensure you a footballing sainthood; at Barcelona it may get you the sack! It's feasible that Jürgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino could finish the season without a trophy to show for th

03/05/2019 16:27

Sport

Unstoppable

Occasionally when I was commentating on a Lionel Messi wondergoal I'd be concerned that I'd gone over the top with the hyperbole. "The best there is, the best there has ever been and the best there will ever be..." was how I verbosely summed up one

18/04/2019 20:13

Sport

Messi the Magnificent

He could well have ended Phil Jones' top-level career, Fred was frazzled, and David de Gea looked like the kid forced to go in goal because he is lanky. Manchester United were the latest victims of the greatest footballer who has ever walked this pla

12/04/2019 16:41

Sport

The Valverde Appreciation Society

The Ernesto Valverde Appreciation Society is an exclusive club, but membership should be growing rapidly. The problem is that he looks more like a bank manager than a football manager; he's careful and considered rather than controversial and drama

09/04/2019 19:47

Sport

The Aspas Arena

Sometime soon they need to rename the Celta Vigo stadium after their saviour Iago Aspas. Bear in mind that Getafe play their games at the Estadio Coliseum Alfonso Pérez (in honour of a player who was born in the area but never actually played for t

29/03/2019 16:48

Sport

The retro approach

While England took the talented teenager approach and Germany ditched their World Cup winners for the new generation, Spain decided to go all retro. Luis Enrique opted to bring back the old faces who hadn't been part of a national team picture for

15/03/2019 16:04

Sport

Guess who's back

Monday was the day a fashion statement became a football statement. Above the waist Zinedine Zidane conformed with a jacket and open-necked shirt but below, the cameras were trained from his ankle upwards. I'm no Gok Wan but I'm pretty sure that th

08/03/2019 11:51

Sport

The fire sale starts now

It's going to be like one of those furniture sales you see around Christmas time: "Billions of pounds' worth of stock must go!" Real Madrid need to ignite a fire sale; not one player can be assured of a locker at the Bernabéu next season. It's said

01/03/2019 13:39

Sport

Time to Bale out?

It may be wise for Luis Suárez and Gareth Bale to take a moment to take stock and savour Wednesday night's Clásico carnival as there's a very good chance that this will be the last for both - the sell-by date is fast approaching. Though the diminut

15/02/2019 15:28

Sport

A Real resurgence

Let's get this straight. I'm sticking by my early season prediction that Paris Saint Germain and Manchester City will contest the Champions League Final... but Real Madrid are beginning to do that thing again! I witnessed a footballing masterclass

08/02/2019 17:19

Sport

Benzema solves the mystery

We've all seen the TV detective series where the trusty lieutenant does all the leg work but disappears from the clinching scenes after the ad break. Karim Benzema is the football equivalent to the trusty sidekick who steps aside to allow the star, w

04/02/2019 16:52

Sport

Dog whistling

Are you aware just how rife 'dog whistling' is right now in European football? I'm not talking a high-pitched noise to bring your pooch to heel. Normally employed by clever political speech writers, this week I'm convinced it has been adopted in the

25/01/2019 14:32

Sport

Out and in at Camp Nou

Kevin Prince-Boateng and Denis Suárez have been fighting for the column inches in the winter transfer window. In Spain, Boateng has dominated the headlines as Barcelona's completely left-field signing. They often speak of a midfielder DNA at the Ca

18/01/2019 16:10

Sport

Flattering to deceive

The headline transfer talk in both Spain and England this January window revolves around Chelsea's Spanish striker Álvaro Morata. But is he worth all this attention? His suitor is Atlético Madrid's Diego Simeone who I can compare in many ways to th

11/01/2019 18:40

Sport

Too farfetched to predict

At the Bernabéu a soul-searching expedition has started to find out just where on earth the Real Madrid identity has gone. The club lost the defining personality when Cristiano Ronaldo jetted out of town. He left behind a group of lost souls who ar

04/01/2019 16:30

Sport

Basqueing Alavés

The Basque country is a little like the north-east of England where football very much represents and reflects the people. For Newcastle and Sunderland, read Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad. Back in the eighties, La Liga was dominated by these t

28/12/2018 13:34

Sport

Festive reflections

As the Spanish football clubs take a breather for the festive season it's time for reflection on the past year and predictions for the year ahead. If only we all had the ability of Zinedine Zidane to look into the future: while many were still rejo

21/12/2018 15:01

Sport

The natural successor?

I'm so surprised that Diego Simeone's name hasn't been more prominent as Manchester United start the worldwide recruitment drive to find their next leader. The fact that he's reportedly the third best paid coach in the world suggests that he's righ

14/12/2018 15:00

Sport

Back to the drawing board

Cancel the plans to fly to Miami in January; the bold idea of playing a La Liga game in the United States has been shelved. (I say bold... in truth it was ill-conceived. It was like one of those ideas you have after a strong bottle of sangría with yo

07/12/2018 14:36

Sport

From El Tel to Gran Sam?

Athletic Bilbao is a club that is respected globally for being a constant in Spain's top league and sticking to its Basque-only player policy. It's a club with a magnificent support, an incredible modern stadium and an impressive history but the pr

01/12/2018 13:40

Sport

Mr Machín's single-minded approach

It's the only time I will start a column about Spanish football with the sentence "It was a warm August night in Oldham..." Well, that's where I first encountered Pablo Machín. Little did I realise then that this fellow could be the next Rafa Benít

23/11/2018 16:43

Sport

Pretenders to the throne

Pardon my French, but I think I've mistranslated the meaning of 'Ballon d'Or'. I always thought it meant 'Golden Ball', hence it was awarded to the footballer whose balls shone the most golden over the past 12 months? It has been reported that the

09/11/2018 15:18

Sport

The quiet revolution

In Barcelona there is a quiet restoration of a masterpiece. In Madrid it is like a jigsaw that has been strewn across the floor and needs someone to piece it back together. Maybe too much has been written about what is going wrong with Real Madrid

26/10/2018 16:24

Sport

A Clásico 'light'

It's a sign of the times when it's Clásico weekend and there won't be a parade of Galácticos. Lionel Messi will be watching from the stands, Cristiano Ronaldo via satellite in Italy and the heirs to the throne of world football are lording it in Pa

24/10/2018 14:19

Sport

Is Poch the Real deal?

What a top manager allows the fans to see and what he is actually like beyond that portrayed image are quite often two very different things. Mauricio Pochettino has many admirers in the media and has often been touted for a potential return to La

15/10/2018 17:00

Sport

Lopetegui's survival strategy

Julen Lopetegui is like a swimmer who is hanging onto a thin branch to stay afloat, but can see the rapids ahead and he's not sure if he can survive them. The international break used to be his period in the public eye, now it gives him respite fro

05/10/2018 15:53

Sport

Don't miss Messi

Have you ever tried swatting a bluebottle on a hot summer's day, in a room with very high ceilings? That's what it's like trying to catch Lionel Messi. One minute you are on a stool, the next on your knees. Now he's showcased his mesmeric powers at

28/09/2018 15:31

Sport

Gap years abroad

I've seen the future! One day the giant European teams will have nurseries set up miles away from base, taking the club to the player rather than the player to the club. As I prepared for commentary on a series of European games this week it struck

21/09/2018 12:25

Sport

A chance for new stars to shine

Who would have thought that any team could be improved by shedding one of the greatest players of all time? It's true that Cristiano Ronaldo has inspired Real Madrid to crazy heights over the past decade but the transfer of his ego and his entourag

14/09/2018 17:33

Sport

An evolution, not a revolution

One huge order of humble paella is on order for those of us who dared to question Luis Enrique's first Spain squad. The Spain national team celebrated victories against two World Cup semi-finalists as the new manager initiated his 'evolution not re

07/09/2018 14:36

Sport

A new reign in Spain

For the first time in over a decade, if you were to pick a combined 'Spanglish' eleven, the balance would probably be tipped to the English. If you'd asked me a year ago, I would have argued that the Spanish stars would dominate every department wi

31/08/2018 19:33

Sport

Pep talk

The English football system is largely failing the young players and they need to take a leaf out of the Spanish coaching books. Who told me this? None other than the guru Pep Guardiola! One of the perks of the job is that I get the undivided atten

24/08/2018 12:53

Sport

Crazy decisions in Spanish football

So often I get asked about the difference between La Liga and the English Premier League. The answer is always the same "Spain may have the most iconic players on the planet but England has the most organised and best marketed league in the world."

17/08/2018 18:09

Sport

Beware of Atleti

After an incredibly close battle with Barcelona last season Diego Simeone reasoned, "Give me Messi and we'll win La Liga." A few months on, his team are much fancied by many experts to take the title in 2019. Ok, he hasn't acquired Lionel Messi but

10/08/2018 20:10

Sport

Let's talk about keepers - for once!

Forget Messi and Ronaldo... there's a new debate to split all football fans. Who is the best goalkeeper in the world? Once upon a time the value of the shot-stopper was almost discarded and the goalkeeper wasn't said to reach his peak until his thi

03/08/2018 19:08

Sport

A letter from America

It was an American voice that could sell the latest keep-fit equipment or Hollywood blockbuster. "THE greatest soccer tournament this summer," he belted out from my taxi driver's radio before lowering his voice an octave "... on American soil." E

30/07/2018 15:27

Sport

All quiet on the transfer front

"It's all gone quiet over there!" could be the shout from the other leagues in Europe as La Liga clubs continue to keep a low profile in the summer spending market. There's a trend for the big clubs to go for Brazilian players with names that would

20/07/2018 19:07

Sport

What's on the menu?

It's normal at this time of the year for Florentino Pérez to move his glasses to the end of his nose and order the finest delicacies from the menu. Whatever is in World Cup vogue is his desire. This year, it is a little trickier to fill his plate,

13/07/2018 20:45

Sport

So long, Cristiano!

The key for any great performer is to forget the encore and depart leaving the crowd wanting more. Cristiano Ronaldo bid 'adiós' to Real Madrid after nine incredible seasons at just the right time; everyone is a winner. Juventus have acquired a wor

06/07/2018 14:56

Sport

Roberto to the rescue

We suspected it on the eve of the tournament, now we know it to be true. The "poaching" of Julen Lopetegui created more disharmony in Spain than a year of political arguments. Ultimately it was like the step-father standing in to take the kids to t

29/06/2018 14:14

Sport

VAR comes of age

Years ago, when we introduced the small clock at the top of the screen for televised football matches the reaction was vitriolic. I imagine it was the same when somebody suggested that they give the referee a whistle to make himself heard. Does thi

22/06/2018 16:23

Sport

My mate the Mexico manager

Juan Carlos Osorio is currently the darling of the World Cup coaching circles after masterminding Mexico's defeat of the pre-tournament favourites Germany... and I couldn't be prouder of my old amigo. I can imagine there's a conversation where som

15/06/2018 15:13

Sport

Far from ideal

Whenever asked who I'm tipping for the World Cup my answer has always been always the same: "Spain, as long as they don't do anything crazy to implode." But forget imploding, this was a gigantic explosion on the eve of the World Cup Finals; an incr

08/06/2018 13:27

Sport

The perils of the job

Even in my job, where I keep a daily tab on comings and goings, I didn't fully comprehend just how many changes there have been in the hotseats at La Liga clubs over the past year. Only four clubs, Barcelona, Atlético, Valencia and Eibar have the s

01/06/2018 09:21

Sport

Zizou the Great

Watch the tributes flow in for Zinedine Zidane... now! As the cameras were whirring, the spotlights illuminating the squabbles of the players and the president, he just sat back as an exhausted figure who had claimed immortality by winning his thir

18/05/2018 19:12

Sport

A bastion of stability

Longest serving manager, purpose-built stadium, crazed fans and a loyal squad of players, Atlético Madrid must now be regarded as the model for all football clubs to follow. Diego Simeone has delivered his sixth major title in seven seasons and th

15/05/2018 17:56

Sport

You get what you pay for

My mum used to say "You get what you pay for". She should have been FC Barcelona's director of football! In the summer of 2016 the reigning champions thought they could pad out a talented squad by picking up a few bargains and the result was the la

04/05/2018 15:29

Sport

An almost mirror image

So the house keeping is all done with three rounds of La Liga to go; we know the champions, the Champions League representatives and who we won't be seeing in La Liga next season. "You wouldn't get this in the Premier League," reasoned the student

28/04/2018 17:21

Sport

Dépor of the rovers

It's so sad to see the demise of Deportivo La Coruña, now a shell of the club who were possibly the most exciting Iberian footballing enterprise of the nineties and noughties - Spain's very own Blackburn Rovers! There are so many parallels between

20/04/2018 15:51

Sport

La Masia: The famous well is running dry

Think of the iconic player of your favourite club, and the chances are it will be a local lad made good who speaks about the glory years in a distinct local accent. The Class of '92 are making a killing on the back of their togetherness at Old Traf

13/04/2018 17:26

Sport

Masterful management

If a Formula One car has no fuel in the tank then it's about as useful as a tractor with no diesel... and that just about sums up Barcelona. In La Liga they have so far proven to be the "Invincibles" with a reserve of energy, yet when it came to Eu

06/04/2018 14:57

Sport

All change up north

'Rafa Benítez for Real Sociedad' screamed the headlines back home; personally I think he's better suited to their eternal local rivals Athletic Bilbao. There are so many comparisons to football in the North East of England and the East of Northern

23/03/2018 15:42

Sport

Choosing the right moment

When it comes to weighing up a pass on a football pitch, Andrés Iniesta can make the calculated decision in a millisecond; ask him to weigh up his future and it takes a great deal more consideration. Does he listen to the roars of advice from the B

13/03/2018 19:10

Sport

Is Zizou the special one?

Ok, he doesn't have the manic charm of Jurgen Klopp, he doesn't pout quite like Jose Mourinho and doesn't offer considered wisdom like Pep Guardiola. You won't walk into his club and see his anecdotes projected onto the walls of the museum. In fact

19/02/2018 17:53

Sport

The farewell tour

This Real Madrid band is like an egotistical monster of rock - the bigger the arena or festival, the better the performance. I once saw Meatloaf; I'd been waiting for years to see the legend in the flesh. When he came to my local arena he was all o

09/02/2018 18:30

Sport

Out of the shadows

The story of Sociedad Deportivo Eibar is so different from anything else we've ever witnessed; it's like a street busker going to representing Spain in the Eurovision Song Contest. In fact the way things stand; they will be one of Spain's represent

02/02/2018 14:15

Sport

A difficult transition

It can be quite mystifying why some footballers can't transfer their skill-set from one country to another, their talents getting lost somewhere in customs. This week Sandro Ramírez and Roque Mesa fly back in the direction of the sunshine hoping th

26/01/2018 18:41

Sport

All or nothing

Springtime in Paris and St Valentine's Day evoke romantic images... unless you are Zinedine Zidane. Whether he continues as the manager of Real Madrid will boil down to two dates with the Parisians and even if they go well it's only a stay of execu

19/01/2018 14:38

Sport

Fading into significance

It's one of those phrases I never thought I'd be using as a commentator: "Ronaldo seems to be having a crash of confidence!" Let's face it, there isn't a sportsman on earth with greater self-esteem, and rightly so given his incredible achievements

05/01/2018 13:44

Sport

The Coutinho soap

Spain and the UK already share so much, and now they are ready to divvy up a footballing soap-opera, suffering a month long plot line, with Phillipe Coutinho as the star. The Coutinho saga ran all summer with an inconclusive final episode. Unlike h

29/12/2017 18:16

Sport

How the tables have turned!

Nobody was disagreeing with Gerard Piqué when he declared: "In the nine years I've been here, it's the first time I feel inferior to Madrid." This was August when Real Madrid added the Spanish Super Cup to the enviable collection of trophies won in

22/12/2017 17:42

Sport

The league's ugly ducklings

It's quite apt that I've been accompanied by Terry Gibson, an FA Cup winning hero of the Wimbledon 'Crazy Gang', when commentating on Getafe games recently. It's no great confession to admit that there are teams that make your heart sink when you a

15/12/2017 11:52

Sport

Putting the cat among the pigeons

If the gauge of what is the best league in Europe is who succeeds in the Champions League, we may have a problem convincing the unconverted that La Liga continues to rule. It's an argument that is open to personal opinion, a little like the Messi/R

11/12/2017 12:21

Sport

The managerial carousel

You must have seen the argument over in the Premier League that the same old faces are just rotating clubs on the managerial merry-go-round while the elite are signing the superstar managers? Over here in La Liga it is the complete opposite. Pep Gu

01/12/2017 12:35

Sport

Time to embrace change

The workmen need new tools. No longer is a whistle, watch and a flag enough to officiate at a multi-million pounds football event! The quote from the normally diplomatic Andrés Iniesta summed it all up: "Everybody saw it, except those who actually

24/11/2017 14:47

Sport

A different kind of plan

He's about as far away from Pep Guardiola as you can get but Ernesto Valverde deserves equal plaudits for the mini-revolution he's leading at Barcelona. Whereas Pep has taken his "man from GQ" image to the touchline of Manchester along with his sty

17/11/2017 13:56

Sport

Zidane needs a miracle

It seemed like reflective honesty at the time and few were arguing when Gerard Pique declared "In the nine years I've been [at Barca], it's the first time I feel inferior to Madrid," This was on the eve of the season when Real Madrid claimed yet an

10/11/2017 15:47

Sport

A second coming

When Julen Lopetegui announced his latest Spain squad there was a mass raising of eyebrows back on Merseyside as he'd apparently found a theme - Liverpool FC rejects. Luis Alberto and Suso have rebuilt a footballing life in Italy after their short-

03/11/2017 14:56

Sport

Calling for back up

Until last week Real Madrid had never visited Girona for a La Liga match, nor played at Wembley Stadium. How the European Champions wish they hadn't! Ahead of the trip to the iconic English stadium, they visited the humble, municipal sports ground

27/10/2017 19:15

Sport

Following in some big footsteps

I'm not one for 'second comings' and 'next new' tags but... we could be about to see Portugal's latest contribution to the very top echelons of world football. Step forward Gonçalo Guedes. He's actually stepped so far forwards defenders are finding

13/10/2017 14:40

Sport

Simeone - time to turn to a new generation

A very limited Christmas card list was the key to Sir Alex Ferguson's long-lasting success at Manchester United; now La Liga's longest serving manager must follow his master plan if he is replicate his success. The legendary Scot is close to the he

06/10/2017 17:15

Sport

The sound of silence

I've commentated on my fair share of memorable football games in the past quarter of a century but nothing will go down in history like Sunday 1 October. We'd all seen the troubled pictures from the city of Barcelona and quite frankly I couldn't im

22/09/2017 16:51

Sport

A month of change

Gareth Bale back on form, Barcelona's situation is downgraded from catastrophe to crisis, the Alavés board are the first to blink and Diego Costa will return to Atlético Madrid. That's what we've learned from our first month of La Liga! Remember Au

15/09/2017 16:06

Sport

A balancing act

Right now there's one team that's pound for pound ahead of the rest in La Liga; and it's the British pound that has been significant in the reconstruction of the team. In fact it was probably the Scottish pound that was responsible for instigating

04/09/2017 14:14

Sport

The BBC is in trouble

When you've commented on football for a quarter of a century you become blasé about the announcement of "the next big thing". I've been fortunate to commentate on Lionel Messi's arrival, Wayne Rooney's first ever top-flight goal, and the teenage Cr

11/08/2017 18:51

Sport

Checklist incomplete

Behind closed doors at the Camp Nou and the Bernabéu, they will be going through the pre-season checklist. New kit launched - tick, global trip completed -tick, schedule in hand - tick, and then we come to the tricky ones... Significant signings comp

04/08/2017 20:18

Sport

Cirque du Neymar

A significant part of the audience was aghast when I countered my esteemed colleague's gushing description of Neymar with ''...he's just not quite a legend in the making''. This was back in the summer of 2013 when the young Brazilian was about to j

28/07/2017 20:26

Sport

Stick or twist?

We can discount Messi as he's signed a new deal at Barcelona, Ronaldo's posturing lasted a couple of weeks until Real Madrid appeared to call his bluff. So where do the media turn next to overdose on speculation? Will Neymar head to Paris? Is Kylia

21/07/2017 19:23

Sport

A new stadium, a new mentality

A gun-toting security guard less than politely telling me to stop diving around the goal-mouth of one of Spain's most famous football pitches, overruled by the man sitting in the leather clad president's seat up in the stands... It sounds like a scramb

17/07/2017 19:14

Sport

Crossing the divide

If I had a euro for every time an Evertonian asked me about the talents of Sandro Ramírez, I'd probably have enough to spring his incredibly low buy-out clause. The Malaga supporters reading this know what a steal it has been for the Premier League

14/07/2017 14:01

Sport

All quiet on the signings front!

So far, so quiet in LaLiga! There hasn't been a grand unveiling of a world superstar for an astronomical transfer fee with the fireworks to match - yet. Back in the day we would have to leave a gap in the diary for a record-breaking presentation. C

03/07/2017 17:34

Sport

The heir apparent

The answer has been right under our noses! The question for quite a while now has been how can Andrés Iniesta possibly be replaced? Iniesta has brought authority, poise and drive to the midfield of both Spain and Barcelona for a decade and the co

23/06/2017 16:06

Sport

A summer in the sun

Mark your diary. In twelve months' time there will be an inquest to why England failed at yet another major football tournament while Spain, Germany and all of the major rivals have flourished. The reason for all this is unfolding right now! Spain

16/06/2017 18:22

Sport

Slowly but surely

How I chuckled when those who follow the Premier League whinged when they saw the fixture list! Here in Spain, we don't even know for certain when La Liga will reconvene nor the identity of all the promoted teams just yet. The two clubs who have ma

09/06/2017 18:48

Sport

Top-drawer targets

I can only imagine the scenes as the Real Madrid president and coach sit down to plan for next season - it must be like a game of poker. "I see your De Gea and raise you an Mbappé." Florentino Pérez will be pushing for a new "Galáctico" as Zinedi

01/06/2017 15:16

Sport

The hard work begins now

The worst kept secret in Spanish football became a reality when Ernesto Valverde was confirmed as the new manager of Barcelona this week and the commendations have flowed in. He's been described as a deep-thinking, footballing philosopher returnin

26/05/2017 13:24

Sport

Calm and class

In the end it was the "Quiet Man" getting tossed up into the night air like a rag doll and later doused in champagne as he addressed the press. Zinedine Zidane has swung the balance so dramatically in his short tenure that Barcelona may have to tea

19/05/2017 19:44

Sport

An ode to Isco

The boy from Benalmádena returns home this week as a man. Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez to his family, Isco to the rest of us, is proving to be the X-Factor that drives Real Madrid to possibly their greatest of their many great achievements. Ev

12/05/2017 13:23

Sport

Plenty in reserve

Zinedine Zidane's legacy at the Bernabeu may yet be the 'Americanization' of Real Madrid. As Johan Cruyff revolutionised the way Barcelona played, Zizou may well have revolutionised how teams approach marathon football seasons. Let me explain...

05/05/2017 16:39

Sport

A storm's brewing

Prepare yourselves: an almighty storm is coming and Malaga will be the epicentre! The forecast is that it will hit La Rosaleda on Saturday 20 or Sunday 21 May at a time yet to be confirmed (by the Spanish FA). It is a man-made cyclone caused by a

28/04/2017 17:01

Sport

Better than all the rest

My TV mentor insisted early in my career that commentary should come from the heart and not a script. So, when the 92nd minute of El Clásico came around, I was following his advice. "The best there is, the best there has ever been, the best there p

21/04/2017 14:15

Sport

The tables have turned

I'm not quite sure how one era ends and another one starts but I'm pretty sure we are in the middle of a transitional time where Real Madrid take the balance of power and Barcelona go away and have a significant period of soul-searching. The short-

17/04/2017 16:34

Sport

What's next for Ronaldo?

Cristiano Ronaldo will still continue to jump out at us from the pages of glossy magazines and grace us with his social media presence but I fear this is the final straight for one of the most dominant footballers on the planet. For a decade he has

17/04/2017 15:17

Sport

Adams lands in Granada

As I write, there will be sportswriters checking out the availability of budget flights to Granada to see first-hand what Tony Adams is letting himself in for. There are similarities to the appointment of another England stalwart, Gary Neville, who

31/03/2017 16:31

Sport

A glimpse into the future

This week's friendly game between France and Spain, which was equally as meaningful as meaningless, gave us a glimpse into the future. You'll have to get used to the term VAR; very soon it will be part of the football lexicon and he (or she) will be

24/03/2017 15:56

Sport

An embarrassment of riches

As Gareth Southgate struggles to pull together a squad of players currently worthy of an international call-up, his Spanish counterpart has an embarrassment of riches. I'd argue that the players Julen Lopetegui can't find a place for in this round

17/03/2017 15:20

Sport

The ultimate 'go-to' man

On the phone of all club chairmen of top flight clubs that operate on a limited budget, there is button that says "dial in case of emergencies". In England this puts you through to the agent of Tony Pulis or Sam Allardyce, depending on who is between

14/03/2017 18:37

Sport

An unexpected turn for the better

It is like someone has turned on all of the lights at the funfair!There was a point a few weeks ago when I wondered to myself whether some of the life had gone out of La Liga. Real Madrid were walking the league, Barcelona looked spent, Atlético were

03/03/2017 14:26

Sport

Out with a flourish

The first time I encountered Luis Enrique was by the pool of the Barcelona team hotel as he sunned himself just hours before a major game. "Just look at him" said Bobby Robson, "he looks like he's just off his yacht." As a player he was nonchalan

24/02/2017 17:53

Sport

It's game on!

There's a great phrase in Spain to describe the last few footballing days: "¡Hay liga!". In other words, "Game on!" This could well be a decisive week in deciding where the title ends up. It was almost the last rites of the Catalans' claims as Real

17/02/2017 17:22

Sport

Something's got to give

The knee-jerk reaction to Barcelona's embarrassing Champions League humiliation in Paris was to blame the coach. This isn't a sudden collapse and it isn't the coach alone who should be shouldering the blame; this is the result of poor signings and

20/01/2017 15:57

Sport

Quite the turnaround

There's a Liverpool fan who somehow finds me, often at a congested train station, who delights in yelling at me: "What about that Iago Aspas, eh? What a waste of money!" He refers to an interview I conducted with his club TV station when I inferred

17/01/2017 10:31

Sport

All in a day's work

When Luis Enrique first took his seat in the Barcelona dug-out he looked like he'd just sailed into town on his yacht from Puerto Banús - all sunglasses, jeans, trainers - the picture of mid-life relaxation. That was the image, and he managed the s

17/01/2017 10:12

Opinion

The Law of Lopetegui

I very much doubt that the Spain coach ever heard the famous "you won't win anything with kids" analysis, but Julen Lopetegui, nonetheless, adheres to it. Look very closely at the squads of Spain and England this week and you will discover the dist

06/01/2017 13:57

Sport

A taxing inheritance

What a good idea to have a mid-season rest; we all come back refreshed, replenished and ready for the second half of the season. Well, almost all of us! Valencia and Malaga used the break to make a break and others may soon follow. Valencia remai

30/12/2016 10:04

Sport

The story so far

As the Liga season takes a break, it's a time for reflection and a look at who has caught the eye in the first half of the season. It says plenty about the competiveness of the Spanish league when I can cast from most clubs to make up my team of t

30/12/2016 10:04

Opinion

The story so far

As the Liga season takes a break, it's a time for reflection and a look at who has caught the eye in the first half of the season. It says plenty about the competiveness of the Spanish league when I can cast from most clubs to make up my team of t