Big clubs devalue the FA Cup, because they can

AS USUAL, the FA Cup third round brought with it heated debate about the way Premier League clubs abuse the competition. If we are truly honest with ourselves, the FA Cup used to be so important because of a number of reasons, but these have largely become null and void in the modern game. Firstly, the FA Cup was the only game that the majority … Continue reading Big clubs devalue the FA Cup, because they can

Everton and Carlo Ancelotti – now the hard work begins

CARLO ANCELOTTI knew he wasn’t taking over a bulge bracket club when he agreed to join Everton, making him one of the most celebrated managers ever to walk into the Goodison Park hot-seat. At Anfield, in his first Merseyside side, the constantly raised eyebrow told you everything you needed to know: the three-times Champions League winner has a major task on his hands at Everton. … Continue reading Everton and Carlo Ancelotti – now the hard work begins

Transparency and honesty – a prerequisite for all non-league clubs

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

Liverpool are actually the best in the world

REGARDLESS of their recent FIFA World Club Cup triumph in Qatar, Liverpool have every right to claim they are the best team in the world at the moment. It may be a subjective title given the halfway stage of 2019-20 has only just been reached, but 2019 will go down as the year of Liverpool’s resurgence and come May, the project will surely be anointed … Continue reading Liverpool are actually the best in the world

Chelsea complete a north London double, but the window has to be used wisely

WITH seven minutes remaining at the Emirates stadium, Chelsea must have been getting their chequebook ready for action, but two goals later, the shortcomings of the first hour of the game were brushed aside. Recent Chelsea performances have shown that they are very short of experienced talent. The energy and enthusiasm of their young players has carried them through the first half of the campaign, … Continue reading Chelsea complete a north London double, but the window has to be used wisely

So Leeds were in town

THE mounted Police were out in force. “I think they use horses to calm the fans down,” said one Fulham fan walking through Bishops Park as a large, Shire-esque creature plodded through the waterlogged pathway. “This is how they control football crowds in England,” he added to his foreign guest. A police horse has never introduced a calming effect on football fans, far from it. … Continue reading So Leeds were in town

Yuletide football, as idealised as a white Christmas

IT was the day after the day after Christmas Day and Chelsea were playing West Ham United at Stamford Bridge. 40 years ago. Chelsea had won 2-1 and the West Ham fans had been kept in the ground, the usual post-match ritual. This was, after all, the heyday of football hooliganism, tribal battles and non-stop taunting and posturing in London derbies. At Earls Court that … Continue reading Yuletide football, as idealised as a white Christmas

Mishi Morath, a reminder that non-league relies on unsung heroes

DULWICH HAMLET, one of non-league football’s most celebrated names with a rich and colourful history, unusual strip and a modern social movement that has seen crowds soar from a very lowly position, will be weeping this weekend. The club’s most devoted fan, Mishi Morath, died this week after enduring ill-health for much of 2019. A larger-than-life character, Mishi was a great lover of non-league football … Continue reading Mishi Morath, a reminder that non-league relies on unsung heroes

Arteta’s background makes his appointment exciting

SOME Arsenal fans may be a touch disappointed that their club has not hired a marque manager, a black-suited, designer-stubbled touchline acrobat with heaps of attitude. Such people feel that an elite club needs to have an elite manager to match. But the top-name coaches, who go from club to club in a game of musical chairs, are few and far between, and what’s more, … Continue reading Arteta’s background makes his appointment exciting

Crewe Alexandra and football’s class divide

EVERYBODY has changed at Crewe at some point in their lives, or at least, that’s the popular myth. It was once one of the key railway hubs of Britain, the point where train lines intersected. At one stage, the railways employed thousands of people, more than 10% of the local population. It’s no real surprise that Crewe Alexandra’s Gresty Road stadium is among the closest … Continue reading Crewe Alexandra and football’s class divide

Arsenal – a great club in urgent need of direction

ARSENAL is a football institution suffering from bad karma and a deep malaise that includes dissatisfaction with ownership, poor team performances, disillusion with the manager, vocalised anger at some players and now, a disappointing set of financials. Nothing seems to be going right for the Gunners. Arsenal’s football club finances showed a loss for the 2018-19 season of some £ 23.5 million. This is hardly … Continue reading Arsenal – a great club in urgent need of direction

Tottenham’s frustration forces a change of ethos

TOTTENHAM Hotspur were supposed to be different, a club that didn’t follow the zeitgeist of football as a rich-man’s plaything. Spurs were committed to developing players, providing the hub of the Southgate project, and they resisted the temptation of throwing money around. They had also kept faith with a coveted manager that was popular, played football in keeping with the club’s rich heritage of purist … Continue reading Tottenham’s frustration forces a change of ethos

Will Leeds be the next member of the uber-rich?

IF ALL goes to plan, Leeds United should soon be benefitting from a big cash injection from Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), the people who have made Paris Saint-Germain one of Europe’s wealthiest and high-profile clubs. The news has had a mixed reception, Qatar’s human rights record has been pointed out, along with the morality of inflated investment in football as a tool to enhance reputations, … Continue reading Will Leeds be the next member of the uber-rich?