RIGHT now, Manchester City must feel that the rest of the football world is against them, that the establishment has decided the only way to stop Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering team is to use technology to depose them. And the establishment is London, Tottenham, the FA and the media. Twice VAR has upset City against Spurs and although the result didn’t prove fatal (yet), the ruled-out … Continue reading Perhaps only technology can unseat City
WE ALREADY know there will be one Brazilian team in the final of this year’s Copa Libertadores, thanks to two all-Brazil quarter-finals providing an all-Brazil semi-final. There is no danger of a repeat of last season’s domestic squabble but there are a number of big guns left in the competition, including the 2018 finalists, River Plate and Boca Juniors. The last eight includes four heavyweights … Continue reading Copa Libertadores: Last eight dominated by big two nations
IT’S good to see Leyton Orient back in the Football League after two years in the non-league game. Orient are one of London’s most humble, most down-to-earth clubs and certainly most challenged clubs – they have competition from Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham on their doorstep. Indeed, you can see the Olympic site from Leyton station. Leyton is one of the most diverse areas of … Continue reading Taking the higher road with the Orient
IRONICALLY, two of England’s most documented and discussed games happen to be defeats – Hungary’s win in 1953 and two and a half decades earlier, England 1 Scotland 5. The Scots have never forgotten how they humbled their fierce rivals at Wembley in 1928 and the defeat stands alongside other defining moments in history when the English have had their noses blooded by the tartan hordes. … Continue reading Recalling Scotland’s “Wee Blue Devils” of 1928
SPORTSWASHING, apparently, has become a trendy word. It has been applied to the practice adopted by dubious regimes, individuals or corporates in buying credibility through investing in or sponsoring big-time sport. In doing so, they attempt to change public perception or distract people from some of their less acceptable activities. Furthermore, by pouring money into football, they also look to leverage the financial power and … Continue reading Does football really have a moral code?
THE 2018-19 Premier League title race was exciting, make no mistake, but the cushion between Manchester City and Liverpool and the rest of the division was embarrassingly huge. Chelsea finished third, quite remarkable given the inconsistent season they endured, and the mixed reviews of their banker-turned-coach Maurizio Sarri, but in truth, the points difference between Liverpool and Chelsea was a fair reflection of the gulf … Continue reading Mindful of the gap: The Premier’s class problem
ONE OF the most talked-about aspects of non-league football is the wage bill. Some clubs talk their budget up while others play it down. But mostly, the playing budget is shrouded in mystery. In some countries, declaring your budget for the year is a requirement. In France, for example, it is well known what each club is paying out to its players. In non-league circles, … Continue reading Transparency and honesty – a prerequisite for all non-league clubs
A CHIN-STROKING professor, trying to explain the typical extra-curricular activities of British people, once remarked that in any group of 100 men, around 50% spent much of their free time watching “association” football. He went on to explain that for many of these people, the game of football was, to a certain degree, the replacement for some of the conventional life-defining moments that people go … Continue reading The football condition: Devotion, delusion, distraction… deserving?
CAN ANYONE end Barcelona’s recent dominance of La Liga? After a summer of big signings and the announcement of record revenues, Barca look stronger than last year and with Real Madrid enduring a miserable pre-season and Atlético Madrid in transition, it could be a third consecutive title – and nine in 12 – for the Blaugrana. Of course, Barca will be hoping for a barnstorming … Continue reading La Liga: Barcelona may be even stronger
WE’VE ALL seen the footage of George Best rounding the keeper, of Bobby Charlton weeping, of Matt Busby embracing the players, remembering the fallen of Munich, and of Eusebio congratulating Alex Stepney on a superb save. It’s an episode in the history of the game that is as vivid as the unfamiliar blue shirts that Manchester United wore on May 29, 1968. Manchester United’s European … Continue reading Manchester United 1968 – triumph before the fire went out
CHANCELLOR MERKEL lives there, it is the centre of the techno music industry and it’s a trendy city that attracts creatives and media folk alike. Berlin is a great, vibrant and dynamic city, but it has rarely been a centre of football. As unified Germany’s capital, it comes in well behind Munich, Dortmund and other cities as a hub for the beautiful game. But in … Continue reading Berliners have never had it so good as Bundesliga kicks-off
IT’S all getting a little too predictable in France, with Paris Saint-Germain winning six of the last seven Ligue 1 titles and no real sign of the dominance ending. The financial advantages the club enjoys, means PSG should win everything – hence the club’s owners have an obvious sense of expectation and occasional impatience. Should there be a genuine contender, it might just be Lyon, … Continue reading Lyon are fancied, but PSG have most of the cards