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

15/06/2018 15:13


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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