A parachute helps Fulham and smothers Millwall

ANYONE who watched Fulham’s calamitous 2018-19 season probably felt there was no way the team constructed by the club’s owner and his son was “too good to go down”. Certainly, even if the players bought in the summer of 2018 – an example of scatter gun team construction – underperformed because of a lack of cohesion, Fulham’s record was still poor and relegation was on … Continue reading A parachute helps Fulham and smothers Millwall

Taking the higher road with the Orient

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

Mindful of the gap: The Premier’s class problem

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

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

Has non-league sold its soul?

IN RECENT years, non-league football has promoted itself as “real” and the game for local communities. Some clubs have embraced causes, have lent their hand to political movements and have championed inclusiveness. In particular, the drive to build the next generation of fans – a vitally important element given the audience of this level of the game – has rightly placed emphasis on youth development, … Continue reading Has non-league sold its soul?

Fulham show calm regrouping pays off

ONE YEAR after newly-promoted Fulham were throwing money around and buying players for fun, the Cottagers found themselves back in the more humble surroundings of the Championship. The moneyball experiment, if that’s the right word for the way the club accumulated quantity over quality, was over and some of the higher profile names, notably some under-performing Ligue 1 captures, had been sent out on loan … Continue reading Fulham show calm regrouping pays off

The Premier League reflects the modern soccer syndrome

LIVERPOOL kicked-off the Premier League season in emphatic style, underlining their own credentials and also reminding everyone of the competitive imbalance that exists in the top flight. While it looked like business as usual for the Reds, Norwich City, for all their enterprise in the early stages of the game, now know that life may be harder than expected in the next nine months. Even … Continue reading The Premier League reflects the modern soccer syndrome

Forest Green Rovers and another way

FOOTBALL IS, in many ways, a one dimensional game – its simplicity, its demographic and its popular appeal make it ideal for the masses. Regardless of the number of causes the industry attaches itself to, the essence of football remains entertainment for the people, the creation of loyalty and allegiance and, ultimately, forlorn expectation. Traditionally, we have associated the game with grimy back streets, smoking … Continue reading Forest Green Rovers and another way

With Lampard, it may be different

REMEMBER when Chelsea went left-field and hired André Villas-Boas, the 35 year-old Porto head coach? It was meant to be bold, innovative and – with absence making the heart grow fonder for the man who brought two league titles to the club – a Mourinho-lite appointment. It all turned sour and inexperience, over-expectation and tactical confusion led to AVB out of work in mid-February 2012. … Continue reading With Lampard, it may be different

2019-20: Look to the Midlands for the element of surprise

SINCE the second world war, the Midlands have provided the Football League/Premier League champions six times, the last occasion being Leicester’s triumph in 2016. From 1992-93, when the Premier was launched, only 11 times has the region had a top six club. Last season, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City finished seventh and ninth respectively, decent placings but still way behind the top six. However, if … Continue reading 2019-20: Look to the Midlands for the element of surprise

Has non-league sold its soul?

IN RECENT years, non-league football has promoted itself as “real” and the game for local communities. Some clubs have embraced causes, have lent their hand to political movements and have championed inclusiveness. In particular, the drive to build the next generation of fans – a vitally important element given the audience of this level of the game – has rightly placed emphasis on youth development, … Continue reading Has non-league sold its soul?