Dressing up in costumes, playing silly games: The football experience

WE ALL like to think that football is more than just 22-28 young men kicking an object around an oblong field – if only because it elevates our interest beyond obsession to something that is more deep and meaningful! Journalists fantasise, marketing and advertising folk commercialise, romantics eulogise and academics intellectualise the importance of the game. Most of all, the people running, playing and promoting … Continue reading Dressing up in costumes, playing silly games: The football experience

CV-risky jobs: Managing an elite club

MANCHESTER UNITED are going through what amounts to something of an identity crisis. The astonishingly high standards set during the Ferguson era meant that whatever followed him would be an anti-climax, but the club has made a series of poor judgement calls, partly in desperation to return to winning ways – and that means league titles – and partly because of the need to maintain … Continue reading CV-risky jobs: Managing an elite club

Is it unfair to ask football to entertain and be held to task?

WE LIVE in interesting times. This is often a phrase used to disguise crisis, restrain panic and, invariably, to paint a picture that, despite the rising tide of discontent, “everything’s ok”. Translated, “interesting” means “we are in the deep do-do”. It’s a sentence we’ve heard many times since 2008 and is frequently used in the world of politics, economics and, of course, football. “Interesting times” … Continue reading Is it unfair to ask football to entertain and be held to task?

Mexico ‘70: Peter Bonetti and England’s capitulation

CHELSEA’S Peter Bonetti was a fine goalkeeper: agile, occasionally flashy, brave and consistent. But for World Cup winner Gordon Banks, he would have won more than his seven England caps – and this was in an age when decent English-born custodians came off the production line like Ford Cortinas. Unfortunately for Bonetti, he will be remembered by fans from most clubs for one career-defining and … Continue reading Mexico ‘70: Peter Bonetti and England’s capitulation

1989 – what it really meant

EVERY football club has its moment in time that is always a point of reference: Manchester United have Munich 1958, Wembley 1968, Barcelona 1989; Liverpool have Shankly, Rome 1977, Wembley 1965; Chelsea have Old Trafford 1970; Tottenham will always remember 1961. For Arsenal, it could easily be the 1930s, but for their fans weaned on “1-0 to the Arsenal” and Tony Adams’s raised arm, 1989 … Continue reading 1989 – what it really meant

European attendances – symptomatic of a superficial age

FREE MOVEMENT of people is one of the basic rights across the European Union, allowing cross-border travel and employment opportunities. It has many benefits, some of which will become apparent to the United Kingdom’s population when the country does stumble uncomfortably out of the EU. While this has opened-up the world, or at least part of it, to young football fans and businesses, it has … Continue reading European attendances – symptomatic of a superficial age

Reflecting the times – World Cup posters

THE 2018 World Cup was notable for a number of reasons: the competition was of a high quality and therefore, enjoyable; there was harmony off the pitch; and Russia, with one eye on Soviet-style graphic design, produced an excellent poster representing the event. The image of Lev Yashin was modern, but also nostalgic – it could easily have been an album cover for Kraftwerk, a … Continue reading Reflecting the times – World Cup posters

Commentary Box: Why we grudgingly tolerate international breaks

NO MATTER how well Gareth Southgate’s team performs and how much good progress was made in the 2018 World Cup, many football fans still find international break weekends tedious and an unwelcome distraction. Southgate and his immediate predecessors got what England managers, going way back as far as Sir Alf Ramsey and Don Revie, wanted – a decent preparation period for important international matches. I … Continue reading Commentary Box: Why we grudgingly tolerate international breaks

72 Classic: Lessons from Europe for English football

AT the start of 1971-72, England’s football fraternity was still clinging to the idea that the nation was a major power in the game. The 1970 World Cup defeat at the hands of West Germany was mostly seen as an aberration and partly attributable to the rustiness of poor old Peter Bonetti, the outstanding Chelsea goalkeeper. There was little suggestion that perhaps the English method … Continue reading 72 Classic: Lessons from Europe for English football

Let’s see how effective academies really are

NON-LEAGUE teams are full of players who have academy experience. Some might say that there are too many academy products and that the traditional non-league game was a mixture of former pros and youngsters. Today, many teams appear to be very young, genuine former pros (not “experience with the xxxx academy”) are in short number and players move on with even more regularity than in … Continue reading Let’s see how effective academies really are

12 games that shaped a football club: Chelsea

CERTAIN games can mould the history of a club. Chelsea have had many high points in recent years, but it is not just success that influences the culture of a club. These 12 games have all played their role in shaping the Blues. Of course, the list will prompt debate, but these have been selected for their overall importance to the club’s development, from the … Continue reading 12 games that shaped a football club: Chelsea

League title winners – passing the baton on

HOW OFTEN have you heard someone explain away a poor title defence with a comment like, “They needed to turn things over….they needed to rebuild”? It is true that nothing lasts forever in football and sometimes, a title winning team burns itself out in lifting the big prize. A manager gets the best out of a group of players and then they’re done. The fact … Continue reading League title winners – passing the baton on