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

The football condition: Devotion, delusion, distraction… deserving?

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?

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

The agitation game – why players throw tantrums to get that move

THIS has been something of an unsatisfactory summer for the reputation of footballers and their commitment to their contracts. A string of major players have made themselves the proverbial “pain in the arse” in order to push for a transfer, mostly when they are in mid-contract. The most recent example appears to be David Luiz, who moved from Chelsea to Arsenal in the closing minutes … Continue reading The agitation game – why players throw tantrums to get that move

Big city clubs remain dominant

LEICESTER CITY’s 2015-16 Premier League victory was remarkable in many ways, it was a rare moment in time when the status quo in English football was challenged and the most surprising title win since Nottingham Forest won the old first division in 1978. It also reminded football fans there is still some romance left in the game, that high finance does not govern absolutely everything … Continue reading Big city clubs remain dominant

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