Category: Latest

Mark Sampson, The FA & A Tale of Two Media

On 19th September, I watched England’s women players descending en masse towards their then-manager Mark Sampson after their opening goal in a World Cup qualifying victory over Russia. “**** off,” I cried. Harsh. But I can explain. The neatly-worked goal was neither hugely special against a hapless defence, nor vital to England’s qualification hopes…five more followed before the night was through. So, the dugout invasion was less a goal celebration than a show of solidarity with the under-pressure Sampson. BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce revealed what was happening (seconds before it happened…which we’ll leave for now). And he proclaimed, correctly (though...

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The Perverse Joy of Small Attendances

Perhaps this marks me out as the worst sort of rubber-necker, but there is something that I find strangely enjoyable about looking out for low attendances at football matches. Coming across one can invoke very strange feelings of surprise, concern, and very occasionally a smile dripping with schadenfreude. In modern times, this usually means looking to evening matches in the lower divisions. If you’re a non-league club who ground-shares and has an inconsequential cup match against a team with a small support on a Champions League night, you may well pass across my radar. It’s usually only fleeting, but...

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Under Pressure: On Stress & Football Management

If there’s one thing that we know about modern football above just about anything else, it’s that modern football matters. It’s a message that is relentlessly pushed at us, and the reasons for it are many and varied. The amount of money involved is most commonly cited as the root cause for this. Back in the days when many – if not most – financial transactions within the game came in the order of thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of pounds, there was less at stake. The supporters of the 1960s and 1970s simply didn’t discuss...

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Design Classics: The Adidas Tango

With the start of another football season comes another rash of new ball designs by various sporting manufacturers. Adhering to the apparent viewpoint that all publicity actually is good publicity, Nike have elected this season to go for a rather unlovely design called the Ordem V, which they have wrapped in different colours for La Liga, Serie A and the Premier League, with La Liga’s being in orange and yellow, Serie A’s in orange and purple, and the Premier League’s being at least an improvement upon last season’s quite monumentally dreadful luminous yellow, blue, purple and white, although it...

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Chaos Theory & Indirect Free-Kicks

I’ve been watching football for pushing forty years, now, and in spite of numerous serious challengers, there remains one question above all others to which I’ve never received a truly satisfying answer. It’s a question that touches upon refereeing consistency, my own personal baseness, and even the fundamental, existential matter of whether sport is, can, or even should be considered just another branch of the light entertainment industry, or whether it’s something other, that exists entirely within its own cultural bubble. And it’s a very simple question, as well: so, why aren’t more indirect free-kicks ever awarded inside the...

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