Category: Latest

World Cup Magic – Sun, Sea, Sand & Toni Schumacher: Espana 1982

They say, of course, that the best World Cup finals is the one that was held when you were ten years old. In the summer of 1982, I was three months shy of my tenth birthday and this tournament marked the consummation of a love affair that had been growing, steadily and inexorably, for the previous three years or so, and in addition to this there was the small matter of the first involvement of the England team at this stage of the competition for the first time since two summers before I was born. At the end of a season which had finished with Enfield winning the FA Trophy and Spurs winning the FA Cup within a week and a half of each other, I was, just about, at fever pitch. My excitement levels had been sent skywards by marketing men, of course. A combination of the purchase of a Panini sticker album by my parents for the forthcoming tournament – little did they know what they were letting themselves in for there – and the gift, the previous Christmas, of the 1982 Match Of The Day annual had guaranteed this. When commentators wring their hands over such nefarious activities as in-game purchases on mobile phone apps, I’m usually reminded of the wild glint in the eye of ten year olds the length and breadth of the nation...

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The Hedge Fund & The Football Club: A Year-Round Pantomime

Every once in a while, we receive an anonymous email or two here at the 200% underground bunker. Usually it’s a gramatically incompetent stream of abuse from an über-fan because we’ve been mean about his – and let’s face it, it’s only going to come from a “him”, isn’t it? – football club, the little diddums, but this afternoon we received one from somebody looking to vent their spleen on the subject of Coventry City. So, here’s “Tallulah Oppenheimer” (if you’re going to give someone a nom de plume, do it in style, I reckon) with their take on all things Sky Blue of late. Hedge funds in football – now there’s an interesting notion. What’s extraordinary is that there are plenty of people in the football authorities themselves – Football League, Premier League in particular – who see no problem, or rather, wouldn’t want to ‘discriminate’ against the possibility that they might prove to be good owners. Funny line that: it’s somehow a matter of equality that a hedge fund should have the right to own a club. You can imagine the ‘missing’ chapter of Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ focusing on the rights of the downtrodden masses of City of London investment funds to own Rochdale if they so choose – ‘“All are created equal, black, white or banker’, I said addressing a rally of pension...

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Cardiff City – Tan vs McKay: Seconds Out… Round Two

It was, perhaps, unsurprising that barely forty-eight hours after a one-nil victory against West Bromwich Albion at the weekend ended a run of five matches without a win, storm clouds should start to circle The Cardiff City Stadium again. There has, after all, been something of a fractious atmosphere surrounding the club over the last few months or so, and even elevation into the Premier League hasn’t quite allowed us to shake off the feeling that something isn’t quite right behind the scenes at the club. This feeling of disquiet began, of course, with the rebranding of the club in red and black and the debasement of its badge, but the current feeling of unhappiness at the club has more to do with backroom politics than colours and identity. One might expect that Malky McKay, the manager who guided the club into the top division of the English league system for the first time since 1962, would be pretty much universally popular amongst the people of Cardiff at the moment. There may be an element of truth in this – although it is worth pointing out that, these days, there are very, very few managers who enjoy anything like a universality of popularity amongst supporters – but the man upon whose opinion McKay’s continuing employment at the club ultimately rests is not from Cardiff. He’s from Malaysia and, we...

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All Aboard The Managerial Merry-Go-Round… Again

It has, dare we say it, been a tetchy two or three days for the managers of England’s football clubs. Even a breed of people that live their entire lives with a metaphorical axe suspended precariously over their heads will have offered an extra shudder at the events of last three days, which have resulted in the departure of three of their brethren from their positions, and such is the instability of the manager of any club these days that those that remain in work may well even find themselves unable to offer so much as a whispered, ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ tonight. If the form book is anything to go by, there, regardless of the grace of God, they are most likely to go in something like the short to medium term. To begin, then, at the top of the football food chain. Tottenham Hotspur may not have been the champions of England since John F Kennedy was the president of the United States of America, but modern football pays little attention to long-term trends. Spurs spent their Gareth Bale transfer window before they’d even sold that player, and the sheer volume of new recruits at White Hart Lane meant that Andre Villa Boas was always likely to face an uphill struggle in order to placate both the directors and supporters of the...

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Bundesliga Week 16 Round Up: Frankfurt win at Leverkusen

Let us begin at the bottom as there have been some interesting results for Bundesliga’s struggling teams, one of which had a minor impact on the title race. Last season, Eintracht Frankfurt were promoted to the first division after a one season absence and bounced back dramatically by qualifying for the Europa League. This season they topped Group F of that competition and are in the knockout stages with a 2-0 win at APOEL on Thursday. However, their international exploits appears to have been at the detriment to their domestic form and only goal difference separated them between third from bottom Freiburg before going into the late Sunday game at second in the table Bayer Leverkusen. After the game they are still fourth bottom but there is now a three point cushion following a fantastic 1-0 away win at the previously impregnable BayArena. The goal came on the sixty first minute with a header by Marco Russ who met a whipping cross from Sebastian Jung. Leverkusen had plenty of the game but didn’t click, up front. They too had been in European action, midweek, securing passage to the second round of the Champions League at Real Sociedad. It is possible that the team were jaded and top scorer Stefan Kießling got increasingly frustrated with his supporting attackers, particularly Robbie Kruse, for not anticipating his movement. The closing minutes were...

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