Manchester United, the religious argument

ACADEMICS somewhere in the world are probably debating right now whether football has replaced religion as a defining element of society. To some people, football is the prominent feature of their life, the opium that drags them away from the mundane. The importance of the game, to those who have little else to lift their lives, was highlighted in the press a year or so … Continue reading Manchester United, the religious argument

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

Bury may be the first sad domino to fall

FOOTBALL in Bury now depends on the creation of a so-called “Phoenix Club” after the club was expelled from the English Football League. Bury is a relatively tiny club (average crowd 2018-19: 4,044), one that sprung-up when industrial Britain was creating the roots for the people’s game. Football enthusiasts have always known the basic keynote facts about a club that has struggled in the shadow of … Continue reading Bury may be the first sad domino to fall

Manchester United, the religious argument

ACADEMICS somewhere in the world are probably debating right now whether football has replaced religion as a defining element of society. To some people, football is the prominent feature of their life, the opium that drags them away from the mundane. The importance of the game, to those who have little else to lift their lives, was highlighted in the press a year or so … Continue reading Manchester United, the religious argument

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

The best bridesmaids: 10 teams that should have been champions

THE STATISTICS suggest that Liverpool 2018-19 are the best-ever nearly men in English football history. Certainly, 97 points is a phenomenal record, but the figures only tell part of the story. Liverpool’s performances, the charisma of Jürgen Klopp and the attacking power of the team will forever be remembered, and not just by Reds’ fans. Putting rivalries aside and taking an objective look at the … Continue reading The best bridesmaids: 10 teams that should have been champions

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

The Non-League 100: Wealdstone 1984-85, the first double winners

IN an age when former Football League clubs proliferate the top division of non-league, it is often forgotten that the first non-league team to perform the hallowed “double” of National League and FA Trophy was a relatively humble outfit from the Middlesex conurbation, Wealdstone. Wealdstone, the club that nurtured the talents of players like Stuart Pearce and Vinnie Jones, were beneficiaries of a novel points … Continue reading The Non-League 100: Wealdstone 1984-85, the first double winners

The best bridesmaids: 10 teams that should have been champions

THE STATISTICS suggest that Liverpool 2018-19 are the best-ever nearly men in English football history. Certainly, 97 points is a phenomenal record, but the figures only tell part of the story. Liverpool’s performances, the charisma of Jürgen Klopp and the attacking power of the team will forever be remembered, and not just by Reds’ fans. Putting rivalries aside and taking an objective look at the … Continue reading The best bridesmaids: 10 teams that should have been champions

UEFA Champions League: King Klopp or Crown Prince Mauricio?

THIS year’s UEFA Champions League is not just about two teams battling for the right to stand astride the European game, it is also about a clash of ideals and a journey of affirmation. Liverpool, of course, have been here before, all too often if you ask the fans of clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea, but the premier European trophy has defined the club … Continue reading UEFA Champions League: King Klopp or Crown Prince Mauricio?

State of Play: Derby County – Yearning for Past Glory

TWICE League champions in the 1970s, Derby County are often considered to be a Premier League club in the waiting. But it has been more than a decade since the Rams were last in the top flight, despite going close to winning promotion on a number of occasions. The club has spent big to try and bridge the gap, but the current situation is unsustainable … Continue reading State of Play: Derby County – Yearning for Past Glory

Why the Championship is more interesting

ALMOST EVERY week, the Championship provides an enticing clash that commands the attention of the media, committed fans and neutrals. Last weekend, it was Leeds United v Sheffield United, a game that paired the second and third-placed teams in the division. When the Championship resumes on March 30, Middlesbrough play Norwich City and Sheffield United meet Bristol City. The Premier rarely gives us a completely … Continue reading Why the Championship is more interesting