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

Remake/remodel – United’s task in hand

MANCHESTER did not have a good Champions League this past week, with both City and United tumbling out of the competition. While City’s exit was harsh in many ways, United got no more than they deserved against a Barcelona team that was far too good for Ole Gunar Solksjaer’s charges. The gulf in class was huge, making Solksjaer’s comment, “there’s work to be done” one … Continue reading Remake/remodel – United’s task in hand

River-Cottage-Football: Where it all went horribly wrong

MY year at Craven Cottage didn’t work out as planned on two counts. First of all, I was taken ill in Japan in November and my trips to Craven Cottage were curtailed for a couple of months while I recovered, and then after a setback in early March, I was again prevented from returning to my seat in the Hammersmith End. Secondly, after eagerly awaiting … Continue reading River-Cottage-Football: Where it all went horribly wrong

Just how strong is the Premier?

THERE may be four English teams in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, but judging by the first few months of the 2018-19 season, the concept of a “league within a league” is well and truly embedded in the Premier. This might just be the season that the Premier picks up the Champions League, especially as Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona are … Continue reading Just how strong is the Premier?

River-Cottage-Football: In defence of Fulham

OK, SO THE Premier League is tougher than expected. One hundred million pounds may have been spent, but most of it went on players that nobody had really heard of, and it is taking time to come up with a settled, competitive team. Alright…it is going to be a tough winter. There, it has been said. After a string of defeats and a leaking defence … Continue reading River-Cottage-Football: In defence of Fulham

River-Cottage-Football: When wealth is all relative

JUST imagine, if Chelsea’s founding family, the Mears, had got their way, there might not have been a Craven Cottage and the football world would have been deprived of one of the real pleasures of watching the game in London. Is there a more pleasant experience than walking from Hammersmith, past the Odeon (the theatre where, in 1973, David Bowie killed-off his alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust), … Continue reading River-Cottage-Football: When wealth is all relative

The Etihad experience

NOT everyone appreciates the modern football model – the excess, the hubris, the invasive marketing and the extraordinarily high wages. It’s easy to find fault with it and dismiss the achievements of clubs propped up by the cash of oilmen or oligarchs as an inevitable consequence of inflated investment. Manchester City are one such example, a club that is now part of the City Football … Continue reading The Etihad experience