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banner Friday, 12 October, 2001, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Football Focus forum
Football Focus and Final Score presenter Ray Stubbs was joined by Mark Lawrenson to discuss your e-mails after Saturday's show.

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    After a thrilling weekend of World Cup qualifiers Ray and the team were on hand to round up all of the action and look ahead to a full Premiership programme.

    As ever the Focus team were poised to answer all your comments and queries.

    Don't forget to log-on next week to comment on the programme, the weekend's matches - or simply pass on your thoughts on the week's footballing issues.

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    F Alabi, London

    Well, we made it - just. England will now be on a high going to the world cup and should have a good tournament too. Do you think that this young team is capable of lifting the trophy in Japan and Korea, or will it not reach its peak until 2006?

    ML: I don't think England can win it, and the reason is not so much the players, as the heat and humidity. If you've never played in those conditions it's extremely difficult. My favourites would be one of the South Americans - perhaps Argentina or Brazil.

    Imran, London

    David Beckham has once again proved how vital he is to England's cause. Had he not been on the pitch on Saturday, England would be facing a trip to Ukraine. The decision to give him the captain's armband was inspired, and in my opinion he is well on the way to becoming a legendary England captain.

    ML: David Beckham and the rest of the England team were very poor for 65 minutes against Greece. In the last 20 minutes he was brilliant, and lifted everybody by the bootlaces. But that was arguably the poorest England performance since the happy Swede got the job - I think they even played better when they got beaten by Holland. But that's not a worry, because it was the last game and they were so close to the finish line, and when you look at Scholes and Gerrard, they had a poor day collectively, but it doesn't matter, because they qualified.

    RS: David Beckham's emergence, and his stature as a captain, has surprised a great many people.

    ML: I was in the British Airways lounge on Friday and he was in there with his lad, Brooklyn. Beckham's such a shy lad, but it was amazing, because everyone stopped and watched him come in. Even the business types who work in the City and have probably got no interest in football stopped what they were doing.

    Ian Fawcett, England

    It's great to be in the World Cup finals, but I feel that a poor England performance overshadowed another Premiership player's great feat - that of Niall Quinn becoming Ireland's all-time record goal scorer. This surely deserved more coverage than it received.

    ML: Quinny's been trying to break the record for 16 months, and when it came it was a classic far post header. It's unfortunate that the coverage was dominated by England, but nonetheless it's been a great performance by Mick McCarthy. To get 24 points from 10 games, and still come second, is unlucky, but Niall's very much been a part of that.

    RS: He's been doing all sorts of work to keep himself fit. I think he was doing Pilates or something like that.

    ML: That's right. He's very bright and intelligent, and he's realised that if you really do look after yourself as you get older, you might get another season out of it. He'll go to the World Cup with Ireland, should they qualify.

    Phillip, Brighton

    God help us! No doubt in the past Dave Bassett had the talent to keep teams up, but I think this is a job too far for Dave. The board should have done anything to keep Martin O'Neill and we wouldn't be in this position!

    RS: I find that unbelievable. Leicester were never going to keep Martin O'Neill. Bassett's hardly even got to the ground, he hasn't done so much as a team talk, and already people are writing him off.

    ML: One of the reasons that Leicester went for him is that he's been in the position before. But it will be difficult for him in so far as he hasn't got any money, and I don't think with the current squad that they're good enough to stay up at the moment. They need one or two additions, and that may been selling a couple of players. They're building a new stadium just down the road, and the priority has to be Premiership football.

    RS: But they've bough in Micky Adams as well, and that goes along with the idea of having continuity for the future. So whatever happens now, Adams is part of that future.

    Frank G, London

    Well done Leicester City for breaking with their tradition of taking on 'up- and-coming' mangers and bringing in someone with a vast experience of relegation battles. I've read all the criticism of Dave Bassett's appointment, but he thrives in the type of situation that the Foxes are currently in. Leicester need a quick fix, and Bassett is the man to provide it.

    ML: Micky Adams has done a very good job at Fulham and Brighton. He's not managed at the highest level, and this is the nearest thing he'll get until that opportunity comes along; so I think it's a good appointment. Football supporters make me laugh sometimes, because they think that because it's their football club, everybody will want to take the job. Harry Redknapp said no, and I think George Graham was waiting because he thinks he may get what he regards as a better job.

    Neil C, England

    It is very sad that Jim Smith has left the club after all the hard work he has put in over the last six years. Unfortunately for a club like us, it is an achievement simply to stay in the division. Hopefully Colin Todd can repeat and improve upon Jim's record. He should start by trying to get rid of sub standard players such as Powell, Burton, Carbonari and Blatsis.

    ML: Jim's done a super job, when you consider that they moved to the new stadium, and where they finished in the Premiership. They struggled last season, but before that they were middle of the table. What he's also done extremely well for them is to make them a lot of money from players he's bought in rather cheaply and then sold on. It would appear at the moment that they'll have to sell another player in the next two weeks. You only sell your good players because you get next to nothing for your bad ones, so I think one of the likes of Johnson, Riggot or Christie may have to be sold on.

    Jeff, London

    I heard Martin Keown on football focus predicting a successful season for Arsenal this year and I think his comments were spot on. With so many new faces over the summer, we were always going to have an unsteady start to the season, but with Campbell on the way back and Bergkamp saying he wants to stay, things seem fairly harmonious at Highbury. This should be our year.

    ML: I didn't think that Campbell looked 100% match fit when he was playing. He looked a bit heavy to me, as though he'd bulked up in the summer. Even playing for England, he didn't play particularly well.

    RS: You could say that he was maybe trying too hard.

    ML: Yes you could. And as well as that there is the fact that he moved from Tottenham to Arsenal - the spotlight is on him even more. Hopefully when he comes back he'll start to play well, and get himself back in the England team again.

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