Archived entries for Football Column

Cosmic Trigger Happy

What a strange club Chelsea are. Their whole history is defined by the nine-and-a-half years of their current owner, which now consists of nine managers and counting in which they have won a few trophies but few friends.

Roman Abramovich’s ambition has always been to align attractive football with European dominance. But his methods of aggressive headhunting have failed him. He brought in Peter Kenyon from Manchester United as a Chief Executive, poached Tottenham Hotspur’s Director of Football, Frank Arnesen, and later tried to buy Steven Gerrard, Thierry Henry and Rio Ferdinand, with a hostile approach that makes it highly probable he also went for Arsenal’s stadium before setting his sights on Earls Court. Continue reading…

Wonderful World of Purchase Power

Last Wednesday, the German double winners, Borussia Dortmund, came to the reigning English League champions, Manchester City, and played them off their own park. Only an excellent individual display by goalkeeper Joe Hart kept City alive before a late debatable penalty salvaged a point that kept them off the bottom of a competitive Champions League group. Though a high quality group, with City as strong as they have been in their mixed history, the match wasn’t seen by a full house, with empty sky blue seats visible to the watching millions on TV around the world.

City are not alone. Arsenal also failed to sell out their first home Champions League group game of the season last week, and Tottenham Hotspur, who have tens of thousands on their season ticket holder waiting list, had thousands of empty seats when SS Lazio visited in the Europa League last month. Meanwhile, ahead the kick-off in Tottenham’s last league game against Aston Villa on Sunday, the PA announcer told White Hart Lane all “true Spurs fans” would buy the monthly magazine in addition to a matchday programme. There’s a recession on yet the attitude of most English clubs continues to treat its fans with contempt, as a cash cow that can continually be milked. Continue reading…

It’s About Time

The decision by the Premier League to select Chris Foy as a referee for a fourth division game this weekend (League Two in new money) after he officiated in a home game Manchester United lost, is a demotion that highlights the pressure put on officials at certain grounds. Foy could arguably have given United a penalty against Spurs on Saturday for shirt pulling that was nowhere near as bad as happens in penalty boxes every week, yet that, and the failure to add enough time on for United to win the game (and considering Van Persie’s miss on the day we could still be playing now), seems to have induced a punishment the Premier League say is coincidental.

That the United Manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, was even complaining about a referee decision considering the fortuitous history his side has had in the same fixture over the last ten years in particular due to refereeing, is somewhat laughable. When Howard Webb gave a United a game-changing penalty that never was when Spurs were 2-0 up in the second half at Old Trafford in 2009 he wasn’t demoted three divisions, nor was Mark Clatternberg, either when he failed to give Spurs a deserved winner after failing to see Pedro Mendes had clearly scored in the final minute of the game in 2005, or in 2010 when he allowed a United goal when the ball seemed to be dead. Continue reading…

Movers and Shakers

As last week’s Champions League game between Real Madrid and Manchester City opened up in the last quarter, ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley exclaimed “What’s he doing there?” as substitute full-back Paulo Zabaleta found himself in the six-yard box; Tyldesley’s been doing football at the highest level for decades now, with a spell at BBC television in between his second spell at ITV, but it seems he still hasn’t come to terms with the concept of passing and movement. Continue reading…

Power in a Union

Last night Newcastle fought back to get a 2-2 draw with Everton in an entertaining game that had a brilliant opening goal from Leighton Baines after a free-flowing move, two clinical equalizers from the substitute Demba Ba and the farcical minute when the home side weren’t given a goal despite the ball being over the line before the referee stopped play instead of playing advantage as Newcastle looked to be through on goal when breaking.

As the host of Monday Night Football, Ed Chamberlin, said, it was the game of the weekend. But the main reason it will rightly be remembered was for the tribute to the victims of Hillsborough. Continue reading…

Shake Your Money

For most of Europe the annoying leak that was the summer transfer window finally stopped its constant dripping in the early hours of Saturday morning, after a final day frenzy when Sky Sports News presenters talked up a “Totalizer” as if clubs were contributing to a charity telethon target rather than often spending their way to the road to ruin where Portsmouth, Leeds United and Glasgow Rangers have already taken the first steps in previous seasons. Continue reading…

The Return

The new football season has entered quietly through the back door just seven weeks after the Final of European Championship, a tournament consuming at the time but now a distant memory in the shadow of an Olympics that brought a festival of sport to London as enjoyable as any in modern times. Every four years the Summer Olympics inspires in some-way, but sport of the highest quality played to capacity crowds in great venues with a captivated public took this summer’s Games to another level.

Following the success of Team GB is an unenviable task for the home nations’ national sides, and earlier in the week International teams played their annual August friendly games with the usual weaker squads, which as always provided little excitement. England’s pattern of play looked better in Berne in Italy than at any time so far under Roy Hodgson, with Michael Carrick, incredulously ignored in the summer, at the heart of a five-man midfield who actually looked comfortable in possession at times. Despite Hodgson’s semantics about both Carrick and tactics in his press conferences, maybe he has learnt from his mistakes.

In the first weekend of the English Premier League there was a quick glimpse of the entertainment sport as a spectacle brings as newly promoted Southampton briefly came from behind to take the lead at the Manchester City, cheering watching neutrals across the country tired of hearing City’s manager Roberto Mancini bemoaning the depth of his richly assembled squad after every game. Continue reading…

Euro 2012: Final

The progression of a game based on passing and moving has developed over the years, with the Hungary team of the 40s and 50s, and the push-and-run Tottenham team of the same era both achieving landmark successes. Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff developed Total Football in Amsterdam and Catalonia, and Cruyff’s own dream team as Barcelona Manager was an embodiment of his philosophy. But these last two years, with Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona winning the 2010/11 Champions League at Wembley, followed by Spain’s record breaking Euro 2012 triumph, have signalled a new milestone, with Sunday night’s win an anti-dote to the anti-football success of Chelsea in May. Continue reading…

Euro 2012: Semi-finals

With the complacent standard of punditry we have all become accustomed to from him, ahead of England’s quarter-final against Italy, Alan Hansen said Mario Balotelli hadn’t achieved anything in the game yet. At the age of 21 he has actually already been a member of four league title winning squads in addition to being being part of squads that have won the Champions League, the FA Cup, and the Coppa Italia. And in the first forty-five minutes of the semi-final against Germany on Thursday he did more on an International stage than Hansen did in a lifetime. Continue reading…

Euro 2012 – Quarter-Finals

There was something a bit unsettling in the build-up to England’s Quarter-Final against Italy on all the rolling news channels, with the first team being spoken about as if they had won some competition on the back of cereal packet and were just lucky to be there. Getting out of an average group was being treated as a major achievement and the attitude continued into the TV commentary of the game as the Italians took control after the first half-an-hour, going on to produce stats that gave them 68% of the ball over 120 minutes, with England having less possession than the Republic of Ireland did against the same opposition last week.

Both in perception and performance, it is a steep decline from previous England exits in penalty-shoot outs in 1990, 1996 and 1998 when excellent displays against major footballing forces, Germany and Argentina, led to far greater disappointment. Those three tournaments are a reminder that for all the faults with English football, it is entirely possible to have a first team national squad that should be able to compete at the highest level. The FIFA World Rankings have long been laughable, but England didn’t even pretend to show a positivity of a team ranked 6th in the World and 4th in Europe against an Italian team (12th in the World) that is nothing more than decent, and who now qualify for the semi-final with only one win, against Ireland, from their four matches so far. Continue reading…



Copyright © 2004–2009. All rights reserved.

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez.