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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
THE American Express Community Stadium is an excellent example of a new-style, modern venue – good sightlines, roomy, comfortable access points, welcoming atmosphere and on a sunny day, with seagulls flying overhead, there’s few more pleasant places to watch football. There is a drawback, though, and that’s the inadequate train service that serves the stadium. Brighton is not, by any means, alone in having poor … Continue reading River-Cottage-Football: Right-on, Brighton
IF LONDON’s often abysmal infrastructure had got its way, I would not have reached Craven Cottage on time for Fulham’s second Premier League home game of the season. Train delays, tube disruptions, over-crowding from the Notting Hill Carnival and to top that, incessant rain. Normally, that wouldn’t bother me, but a damaged knee made the journey all the more challenging. Hopefully, the game would compensate. … Continue reading River-Cottage-Football: Mitro’s definitely on fire
AN experiment? An indulgence? Folly? Or merely the search for something new and rewarding? The purchase of a Fulham season ticket, before – I might add – knowing if the club was going to be in the Premier League or the Championship, was a bid to regain something from my lost youth. In the past couple of years, I have been suffering a form of … Continue reading River-Cottage-Football: Sticking £ 100 million where?