Day: October 8, 2010

International Match of the Week: Czech Republic 1-0 Scotland

For the first 100 years or so of football’s history, there were very few tactics, and most of these revolved around the 2-3-5 formation. In the 1950s, the success of the Marvellous Magyars from Hungary, followed by the 1960s success of Alf Ramsay’s wingless wonders at club and country level saw a revolution in tactical formations. Since then we have had 4-4-2, 4-2-4, 4-3-3, 4-5-1, 4-1-2-1-2, 3-5-2, 5-3-2, Christmas Tree formations, sweeper systems, men in ‘the hole’ behind the forward(s) or ahead of the defence, but tonight in Prague saw the unveiling of what may be the world’s first strikeless formation, as Scotland manager Craig Levein unleashed his 5-5-0 strategy on the world. For those that did not watch, Scotland line up with Allan McGregor in goal, Alan Hutton, Stephen McManus, David Weir, Gary Caldwell and Steven Whittaker in defence, and James Morrison, Graham Dorrans, Darren Fletcher, Steven Naismith and Jamie Mackie in midfield. Although Fletcher is playing so deep, it might as well be 6-4-0. This might have been an adequate tactic for one of the international minnows, against a nation with a great strikeforce, but the Czech Republic’s squad does not contain Milan Baros, who has two goals a game for the home side, nor Jan Koller, who has retired from the international scene. Instead, the forwards in their squad have just seven international goals in twenty...

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A Points Deduction For Liverpool: Theoretically Possible, But Almost Certainly No

The lead story on the BBC Football website this afternoon may have given Liverpool supporters (who, it has to be said, are now getting close enough to feelings of perpetual panic to be able to warrant the soubriquet “long-suffering”) further palpitations. After the confirmation that a sale of the the club to John W Henry’s New England Sports Ventures had been agreed, the BBC is now reporting that the ongoing legal wrangles that have inevitably followed the confirmation of the sale agreement may yet force the club into administration and that this may mean that the club incurs a nine point deduction. Nothing in this analysis of what could happen is untrue, however the key word here is “may”, and if the situation that could theoretically push the club into administration does come to pass, all eyes will fall upon the Premier League, because there are no guarantees that such a situation would automatically mean that the club would be docked points. If the sale of Liverpool Football Club is not completed by the 15th of October, it has been widely accepted that the Royal Bank of Scotland will step in to take over the running of the club. Their intention is force the sale of the club come hell or high water. One of the key questions that remains definitively unanswered, however, is whether this constitutes the club...

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The Premier League First Eleven

On Monday, Ian King wrote on this very site that Liverpool’s current problems had “gone far enough to stop even being amusing to the neutral”.  Whilst there are aspects of that which, as a devotedly cruel sociopathic iconoclast, I cannot necessarily agree with, there is one facet to the club’s current malaise which does concern me: their league position. I started to follow football when I was eight.  My first season was 1988/89, which has ceased to be quite recent within the past few years.  Last Sunday, whilst watching some football or other, I decided for shits and giggles to write down a list of twenty teams who, if I had my way, would be locked off into a permanent top flight.  What happened next was uncanny: 22 years down the line and without reference, 19 of my twenty selections were clubs who made up the First Division in my first season as a football fan. In finishing order, the 1988/89 season’s cast of characters were: Arsenal, Liverpool, Nottingham Forest, Norwich City, Derby County,Tottenham Hotspur, Coventry City, Everton, Queens Park Rangers, Millwall, Manchester United, Wimbledon, Southampton, Charlton Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday, Luton Town, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, West Ham United and Newcastle United.  For reference, the one team who didn’t make my cut were West Ham, replaced in my selection by one of the teams who replaced them in the following...

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