Goodison Park – where games for the people are still played

CLOTH CAP nostalgia is a popular pastime among football folk as inner cities continue to be purged of their old football stadiums, replaced by smart, antiseptic structures of white steel and plastic. Horse manure no longer squelches underfoot as fans tramp through the streets and past red brick houses, the mildly eccentric fan with a transistor radio clamped to his ear has long gone. Like … Continue reading Goodison Park – where games for the people are still played

The sins of Wenger and Pochettino, strangely similar

ARSENAL and Tottenham Hotspur may have something in common other than a shared geography – they have hosted influential and extremely gifted managers who operate on an autocratic basis. Arsène Wenger was well known to be his own man, stubborn and convinced of his own methods and reluctant to change. In the end, Arsenal had to wait for Wenger to decide when it was time to … Continue reading The sins of Wenger and Pochettino, strangely similar

Manchester United still have post-Ferguson hangover – six years on

MANCHESTER UNITED’S latest setback, losing to an unremarkable West Ham United team, has triggered a sense of mild panic and hand-wringing among some Old Trafford regulars. The decision to install Ole Gunnar Solskjær as permanent manager in March 2019 now looks like a hasty, ill-informed decision, but is the blame for United’s continuing frustration really the fault of the popular Norwegian? To many onlookers, Solskjær … Continue reading Manchester United still have post-Ferguson hangover – six years on

The script has been drafted – Liverpool will [probably] win the title

FIVE POINTS is a substantial gap after five games, in fact it is, apparently, a record margin at this fledgling stage of the season. Such was the miniscule gap between Manchester City and Liverpool last season, Norwich City’s 3-2 win over Pep Guardiola’s treble winners that it may well be considered as one of the decisive moments of the title race. In an age when … Continue reading The script has been drafted – Liverpool will [probably] win the title

Everton’s chance to regain status

THIRTY years ago, if you named the top six clubs in England, Everton would have been among them, despite the era belonging to their neighbours Liverpool. Traditionally, Everton were one of the blue riband institutions, but in the Premier League era, they have been unable to compete for major honours. In fact, the last piece of silverware won by the Goodison Park-based club was in … Continue reading Everton’s chance to regain status

This Tottenham may have peaked

WE’VE been waiting for Tottenham to win something for quite some time, in fact, it’s been a decade or more. For all the praise, all the admiring glances and appreciation of Tottenham’s style, commitment to younger players and English swagger, Leicester City, Wigan Athletic and Swansea have won more since the Spurs last went marching on to their trophy cabinet. Some managers have been sacked … Continue reading This Tottenham may have peaked

How important are “big six” clashes?

LIVERPOOL’S 3-1 win against Arsenal was a reminder that Unai Emery’s team is a long way from being contenders, but it also underlined the importance of victories against the big challengers early in the campaign. So  far this season, there have been three games between clubs considered to the the “big six”. Fixtures between the elite half dozen – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester … Continue reading How important are “big six” clashes?

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

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

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

Mindful of the gap: The Premier’s class problem

THE 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 between … Continue reading Mindful of the gap: The Premier’s class problem

River-Cottage-Football: Fog on the Thames

NEWCASTLE UNITED’s fans are incredible. Just consider the club’s honours list: last trophy of any significance, 1969; most recent FA Cup triumph, 1955; last league title, 1927. They haven’t had much to cheer about, but they are intensely loyal, passionate and mostly, very well behaved considering that the river Tyne, in football terms, has been very foggy for years. At Fulham, they were signing their … Continue reading River-Cottage-Football: Fog on the Thames