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Day: August 21, 2009

Serie A Preview: 2009/10

The Premier League started last weekend and it’s still a couple of weeks until La Liga begins in Spain but this weekend Serie A kicks off in Italy and Paul Grech has been generous enough to offer us a full run-down of the chances for the runners and riders in Italy this season. If you can’t get enough of Serie A,  feel free to drop by at Paul’s blog www.ilrecalcio.com for a detailed team by team preview including which players to watch out for. Have we got a league on? It looks like it or, rather, it is being hyped up like it. After three years of Inter’s dominance there is a degree of eagerness within Italian football for someone, anyone, to offer them a challenge, and when that someone is Juventus it doesn’t take much to get people excited. How much those hopes are real or inflated remains to be seen but the reality is that Inter remain the team to beat. Atalanta Gigi del Neri decided that he had taken the club as far as he could and decided to leave. Atalanta then followed it up by selling highly rated striker Floccari which was seen as further underlying their lack of ambition. Yet the money they received was well invested in a host of promising players – striker Roberto Acquafresca being the most prominent – that have...

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Scarborough Athletic Show Some Respect

When the Football Association launched their “Respect” campaign last year, it was met with a degree of derision on all sides. On the one hand, many felt that it didn’t go far enough and, on the other side, there are those that would quite like professional football to become more like WWF wrestling with its pantomime villains and simplistic version of right and wrong. What perhaps wasn’t pushed hard enough by the FA was the simple fact that this wasn’t something that they should need to do. The onus should be clubs, managers and players to be able to control their staff or themselves. Since it was launched, however, little has changed apart from a desultory shaking of the hands before matches. Some decisive action, however, was taken after a match last weekend in the FA Cup between Scarborough Athletic and Guisborough Town. With just over an hour of the match played and the scores tied at 1-1, Scarborough’s Jamie Waltham was booked for a rash tackle. He didn’t appear to like his decision, and earned himself a second yellow card for his comments to the referee. So far, so unfortunate, but Waltham’s behaviour subsequently, going for the referee, having to be restrained by his team-mates (what might have happened had he not been restrained doesn’t really bear thinking about) threatened to tar the name of Scarborough Athletic. You...

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Banter, Fanaticism & The Number 96

Let’s take a moment to try and see into the mind of the man that bought the Manchester United shirt in this story from The Guardian. He went to a sports store and spent fifty-five pounds on a replica shirt – fifty-five pounds! – and, instead of having the name of his favourite player or even his own name printed on the back of it, decided to have “YSB” (which stands for “You Scouse Bastards”, apparently), “96” and “Not Enough” printed on the back of it. Some of you may not wish to dwell upon the sort of neanderthal, knuckle-dragging moron that would consider this to be a good idea and the very last word in sartorial elegance but he is worth dwelling upon, because he is a symbol of a wider phenomenon that has crept into football over the last couple of decades – the culture of taking football rather too seriously. As with so many of life’s ills, we can hold Rupert Murdoch at least partially responsible for this movement. At some point in the early 1990s somebody in the media decided that football matters. Not matters in the sense of wanting our team to win and being disappointed if they don’t, but matters in the sense that we have to live, breathe and absorb the game through osmosis, if possible. The popular cliche of the football...

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