Big city clubs remain dominant

LEICESTER CITY’s 2015-16 Premier League victory was remarkable in many ways, it was a rare moment in time when the status quo in English football was challenged and the most surprising title win since Nottingham Forest won the old first division in 1978. It also reminded football fans there is still some romance left in the game, that high finance does not govern absolutely everything … Continue reading Big city clubs remain dominant

Italy needs someone to challenge Juventus – maybe Inter

INTER MILAN’s dogged pursuit of Romelu Lukaku underlines the determination of the “nerazzuri” to try and break the Juventus stranglehold in Italy, an era of domination that includes eight consecutive Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia wins and two UEFA Champions League finals. Inter, the last Italian club to win the Champions League (2010), have not won a single piece of silverware since 2011 when … Continue reading Italy needs someone to challenge Juventus – maybe Inter

Great Reputations: Grande Inter – a harsh legacy?

  THERE WAS an air of menace about them: Black and blue stripes; dark, matinee idol looks; oiled hair; and a dictatorial manager who had a slightly sinister appearance. And they were “foreign”. English football managers, among other folk in Britain, were deeply suspicious of Italian football teams. They were, after all, ultra-defensive, sly, tricky and “dirty” – that was the narrative if you believed … Continue reading Great Reputations: Grande Inter – a harsh legacy?

Great Reputations: Hellas Verona 1985 – a romantic tale to rival Shakespeare

MODERN football has made it nigh on impossible for provincial teams to win major prizes. As the game’s chief beneficiaries are mostly metropolitan clubs from large cities, the possibility of an unexpected championship triumph becomes beyond rare. In Italy, Juventus from Turin and the Milanese clubs have invariably dominated Serie A, but very rarely, a smaller club has come to the fore. But if you … Continue reading Great Reputations: Hellas Verona 1985 – a romantic tale to rival Shakespeare

Great Reputations: When Sampdoria shocked the system

THINK of Italian football and you come up with Juventus, Milan and Internazionale, in that order. Then add to that Roma and Napoli, perhaps Lazio. Today, you need to scratch deeper to bring names like Sampdoria to the fore. Sampdoria, from Genoa…pesto, minestrone, Pandoce Alto and, of course, football. But it is Genoa 1893, the oldest football club in Italy and, with nine Serie A … Continue reading Great Reputations: When Sampdoria shocked the system

Naples and Maradona, a dream that won’t end

NAPLES provokes great debate. At first glance, it is dirty, unruly, scary and ugly. It is a sprawl, Italy’s most densely populated urban area, overlooked by Vesuvius, Europe’s most dangerous mainland active volcano. A 30 minute walk around Naples may bring you to the conclusion that this city of 3.5 million people is dancing, both literally and metaphorically, on a volcano. Poverty runs through Naples … Continue reading Naples and Maradona, a dream that won’t end

Football needs more from Milan

THERE WAS a time when English football glanced enviously across Europe to Italy, viewing its league as the epitome of glamour, cosmopolitanism and affluence. Italy had the world’s leading players, the most passionate and colourful supporters and the financial clout to attract top talent. Furthermore, its clubs, AC Milan, Internazionale and Juventus, among others, represented the European elite. That was in the 1980s and 1990s, … Continue reading Football needs more from Milan

Is European football really on the crest of a wave?

ACCORDING to UEFA, attendances in European football are at their highest since [their] records began. Certainly, in the UK, English football has not had as people going through the turnstiles since 1949, when the gates averaged 38,792 in the top flight. The current average in the Premier in 2018-19 is 37,967 which is around 1% lower than 2017-18’s figures. UEFA reported that attendances across Europe … Continue reading Is European football really on the crest of a wave?

Football Read Review: What did happen to Serie A?

STEVEN MANDIS wrote a revealing book on Real Madrid a couple of years back and he’s returned – with his colleagues – with an appraisal of the history, current status and future prospects of Italy’s Serie A. The most recent golden age of Serie A , the 1980s and early 1990s saw Italy become a magnet for every major football star. Serie A attracted the … Continue reading Football Read Review: What did happen to Serie A?

Instant gratification rules in the big-time

AS if we didn’t know it, recent analysis by CIES Football Observatory has revealed that major football clubs are geared towards short-termism. Across 31 European leagues under consideration, the percentage of club-trained players fell from 23.2% in 2009 to 16.9% in 2018. Southern Europe (12.8%) and Western Europe (15.7%) show the lowest number of players developed at home, while Northern Europe (21.9%) is at the … Continue reading Instant gratification rules in the big-time

A question of balance

THE 2018-19 season is only a few weeks old and the scene is all-too familiar: Manchester City, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona all on top in their respective domestic leagues, while Bayern Munich are currently in second place. The UEFA Champions League is underway and the groups create a sense of déjà vu. Business as usual, as they say. On October 2, Bayern Munich meet … Continue reading A question of balance

Untapped potential – the importance of Asia to European football

IN this summer’s narrow pre-season break, Ligue 1, Serie A and La Liga all played their super cup matches in overseas territory. The French took their game to Guandong in China, the Italians went to Saudi Arabia and La Liga played their super cup in Tangier. This was all about exporting their competitions to new territories and reaching out to potential new fans. A few … Continue reading Untapped potential – the importance of Asia to European football