Archived entries for Football

European Football Round Up – 28th Feb 2012

It’s not even March yet and already the coach of The Greatest Team Ever™ has admitted that his side won’t win the title this season. There may be 14 rounds of matches still to be played in La Liga, but Pep Guardiola has said that he can’t see his Barcelona side overhauling Real Madrid’s 10 point lead at the top. Barcelona went to Madrid’s city rivals Atletico and took on a side that have been revitalised under new coach and ex-Atletico player, Diego Simeone. A clever free-kick from Leo Messi sealed the points for Barca and consigned Simeone to his first defeat as coach of his new team. Dani Alves had opened the scoring only for £35m striker Radamel Falcao to equalise for Atletico. Into the 81st minute and it was time for Messi to step up. Atletico keeper, Thibaut Courtouis – on loan from Chelsea – was still lining up his wall when Messi curled the ball over the Belgian’s head for his 28th league goal of the season. Continue reading…

Different Class

Yaya Toure’s return from the African Nations Tournament back into the Manchester City side has coincided with them getting back into the attacking form they showed at the start of the season. Although it is not a coincidence. A leader in the middle of the park, and the ability to play in either an attacking or defensive role, he gives them an extra confidence, and must be a leading contender for Player of the Season.

However, yesterday, it was the Player of the Premier League who may have made the most important contribution in the League this weekend. Ryan Giggs’ late winner at Carrrow Road yesterday kept Manchester United in title contention, with a total of 61 points, two points of the top, and with a seemingly greater total than the sum of their parts. When they have needed to, United have ground out results this season, going into the weekend with the most clean sheets in the division, and as Giggs showed yesterday, they still have class in the final third to win tight games. Continue reading…

Niall Quinn

As Niall Quinn stepped down from his position at Sunderland this week, North-East based blogger, Tom Bodell, profiles him.

The term ‘legend’ is banded about without true care and thought over its use nowadays – particularly within the world of football. Football figures can often prove quite divisive when they are being categorized by punters, but Niall Quinn is the exception to both those statements.  Even rarer is it that someone earns said status for their contribution in more than one field. Yet again, Quinn smashes that theory out the window. Continue reading…

Nothing to Lose

In a blow to the press, a 24/7 sports news channel, website aggragators and talk radio, Harry Redknapp said at the weekend he will no longer talk about the England job until there are any further substantial developments. Redknapp is a good speaker, whether telling an anecdote from his rich history in the game or just expressing a range of thoughts out loud. It can be hard at times for supporters of his club, as well as his employers, when he is sometimes too open – unwisely publically critical of his own players, defensive (and sometimes offensive) about his own club’s fans, and just giving out sound bites to hacks at feeding time – but he is usually entertaining to listen to, with constant analysis of a number aspects of football in a conversational and thoughtful style, more captivating than his regular quips. Continue reading…

GB Football Team: Context

Tom Bodell kicks off the first in his series looking at the GB Football Team, 2012.

The Olympics and football don’t exactly go hand in hand; you only need to look at the farcical way in which the Olympic Stadium row has been handled so far or the fact the football is the only discipline not to be sold out. However, there will be a team GB representing us at the Games for the first time since 1972 when the International Olympic Committee relaxed the rules, allowing professionals to compete at the tournament. Continue reading…

Next Exit

Last night footballing minnows Zambia deservedly won the African Nations Cup, winning a thrilling penalty shoot-out, and upsetting overwhelming favorites Ivory Coast. The Cote ‘Ivoire, with a team built on superstars, exited the tournament, despite not conceding a goal – like a famous African version of Switzerland.

As with many a major final it was a cagey affair, which the underdogs had the better of. Unlike many a Word Cup though, the final was played in good spirits, with Didier Drogba showing compassion to an injured opponent early in the game, and fair play throughout.

No African team has of course yet made the last four of a World Cup Finals yet, Gazza and Gary Linekar combining to overcome Cameroon in 1990, while Ghana were cruelly robbed of a place in the last four by a last-minute handball on the line by Luis Suarez. It was a handball that any professional may have been tempted to commit, but his celebrations, still at the side of the pitch despite being sent-off as the subsequent penalty was missed, were less than dignified, and that, coupled with his own club disciplinary record (he was serving a suspension for Ajax after biting an opposing player when he signed for Liverpool) may have given his new club some doubts about him when he was signed last January. Continue reading…

Where did it all go wrong, Fabio?

After four years in charge of England, Fabio Capello was driven away from Wembley Stadium late yesterday afternoon having no doubt reached a Compromise Agreement with the FA in which, as his son later said, he would stop criticising his now ex-employers. It is unlikely he will be leaving totally empty handed either, but for all the money he has pocketed from the FA in four years, the question has to be, where did it all go wrong? Continue reading…

‘Urry up Harry?

Travelling England fan and co-founder of www.philosophyfootball.com Mark Perryman speculates on what next for England

Last week I argued on this website that via model of indecisive action the FA were creating an unholy mess for themselves and the England team. But even I in my worst nightmares never thought it would come to this. Continue reading…

Danny Blanchflower

Author Martin Cloake, with an extract from his book, accompanied by an exclusive illustration by artist Lilly Allen for The  Substantive.

The legend of a great footballer inevitably tends to fade with the passing of the years. The legend of Danny Blanchflower continues not only to shine brightly, but to illuminate aspects of a modern game which is perhaps more convinced of its own importance than it should be. Blanchflower was in his prime 50 years ago. That’s before most people had a television. He died in 1993. That’s before most people had broadband internet. And yet despite existing in a less connected world he was one of the first football superstars of the modern age, one of the first to become a star entertainer in the public’s mind rather than simply someone who was very good at what was, despite being watched by masses, still a minority interest. What made him not only a great player in his day, but a legend in a much-changed world over half a century later? Continue reading…

Time for Heroes

The two times England have reached the semi-finals of major tournaments since winning the World Cup in 1966, the Captain has not been greatly significant, as both teams were full of leaders.

In 1990, a squad that included Peter Shilton, Terry Butcher, Stuart Pearce, Steve McMahon and a young David Platt, was partly memorable for the amount of senior players, including Bryan Robson and Gary Linekar, who were involved in the change of tactical shape and selection after the first game in the tournament. The Euro ’96 squad selected by Terry Venables also included Pearce and Platt, as well as Gary Neville, Gareth Southgate, Tony Adams, Paul Ince, Teddy Sheringham and Alan Shearer – strong characters on the field and in the dressing room. Continue reading…



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