Envy drives football rivalry – if only we would admit it

WHEN Liverpool won the Champions League for the sixth time, there were as many bricks thrown at the club as bouquets. Supporters of Liverpool’s closest rivals, notably Manchester United and Chelsea, begrudged the success of the Reds, using all sorts of excuses for why they had won the competition and, unable to be over negative about the team, turned to criticising the fans and their … Continue reading Envy drives football rivalry – if only we would admit it

The best bridesmaids: 10 teams that should have been champions

THE STATISTICS suggest that Liverpool 2018-19 are the best-ever nearly men in English football history. Certainly, 97 points is a phenomenal record, but the figures only tell part of the story. Liverpool’s performances, the charisma of Jürgen Klopp and the attacking power of the team will forever be remembered, and not just by Reds’ fans. Putting rivalries aside and taking an objective look at the … Continue reading The best bridesmaids: 10 teams that should have been champions

Embracing football’s new Industrial Age

FOOTBALL, as a business, grew out of the industrial revolution in Britain and certain parts of Europe. Hence, the early winners in the game were mostly from industrial cities and Europe’s infant conurbations. In England, the early growth was in the north and the midlands, two areas that really fuelled the development of the nation’s commercial prowess. As industrial Britain declined in the 70s and … Continue reading Embracing football’s new Industrial Age

Europe’s Champions: 1957-58 Real Madrid

REAL MADRID completed a hat-trick of European Cup wins in 1958, but they had to work hard for the top prize in a gruelling final with AC Milan in Brussels. In doing so, Real also completed the double of domestic league title and European Cup for the second successive season. Nevertheless, football historians have always wondered if Real would still have been crowned champions of … Continue reading Europe’s Champions: 1957-58 Real Madrid

New stadiums for old – reinventing a club

FOOTBALL fans consider the club stadium as an extension of their personal space. They go misty-eyed when they talk about the terraces they once stood on, the end of the ground they occupied and they stick very close to a long-established ritual of going to the match. The stadium is “home”, integral to the club’s image, identity and culture. Any attempt to relocate often meets … Continue reading New stadiums for old – reinventing a club

Homage to Brian Glover – my life as a coach

BRITAIN is a nation of football experts. Watch any game at, say, Anfield, Griffin Park or Stamford Bridge and there will be 35,000 football managers in the crowd. It has always been the same, but in recent times, the talent pool has got bigger due to computer games such as FIFA and Football Manager, all of which convince the addict that they can manage a … Continue reading Homage to Brian Glover – my life as a coach

The best bridesmaids: 10 teams that should have been champions

THE STATISTICS suggest that Liverpool 2018-19 are the best-ever nearly men in English football history. Certainly, 97 points is a phenomenal record, but the figures only tell part of the story. Liverpool’s performances, the charisma of Jürgen Klopp and the attacking power of the team will forever be remembered, and not just by Reds’ fans. Putting rivalries aside and taking an objective look at the … Continue reading The best bridesmaids: 10 teams that should have been champions

All hyped up: Italia ‘90

WE ALL look to the influences of our childhood or formative years as being the “best of times”. The things that informed our thinking, philosophy, social position, relationships and work ethos act as benchmarks later in life. The exception is fashion, where we all cringe at what we used to wear, mainly because what was de rigeur for a teenager will never be acceptable for … Continue reading All hyped up: Italia ‘90

Devotion, delusion, distraction… deserving?

AN English academic, 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 Devotion, delusion, distraction… deserving?

Manchester United, the religious argument

ACADEMICS somewhere in the world are probably debating right now whether football has replaced religion as a defining element of society. To some people, football is the prominent feature of their life, the opium that drags them away from the mundane. The importance of the game, to those who have little else to lift their lives, was highlighted in the press a year or so … Continue reading Manchester United, the religious argument

Crowd reaction – why English and German fans are more loyal

RELEGATION is often a big blow to clubs in Europe’s top leagues, mostly because it comes with financial implications, despite parachute payments. TV money and legacy wage bills are the biggest issue, but income at most clubs is affected by lower attendances. Or is it? Football fans are known for their undying loyalty and a major setback often brings out the best in them, particularly … Continue reading Crowd reaction – why English and German fans are more loyal

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