Claudio Ranieri and the sunk cost fallacy

TFN Editor Hugo Greenhalgh on the sad reality of Claudio Ranieri’s sacking…

A few weeks, a group of friends and I were discussing the “sunk cost fallacy”. The theory is as follows: once a cost is “sunk” (ie. it cannot be recovered), we should never make a decision based on what has already been invested. For example, there is no point persevering with a bad film if you aren’t enjoying it – better to forget the time you’ve already wasted and watch something else. This kind of thinking can also apply to our personal lives; if a relationship is no longer enjoyable and run its course, we shouldn’t let the emotions we put in in the past affect the future. Continue reading

Kylian Mbappe and the ‘Wonder of Youth’

TFN Editor Hugo Greenhalgh marvels at a prodigious striker and explains why young footballers are one of the game’s greatest charms…

Watching Wednesday night’s game between Manchester City and Monaco – a sure contender for one of the best of the season – it was hard not to enjoy a breakout performance from 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe. Within the first 10 minutes, the young Frenchman was already terrorizing the City defence and he capped off a great first half display with a goal, a cool half-volley past Willy Caballero.

This was Mbappe’s first Champions League start and there is something very special about watching a young player rise to the occasion so capably. Putting partisanship aside, the emergence of any youngster who is ready to perform on Europe’s grand stage is a sight to be reveled in. Mbappe has already had a remarkable season, becoming the youngest player to score a hat-trick in Ligue 1 earlier this month. Continue reading

‘Do I Not Like That’ – Remembering Graham Taylor

To celebrate the life of the late Graham Taylor, TFN editor Hugo Greenhalgh reflects on the documentary that cemented his legacy as a genuine and honest football man…

In the early 1990s, Channel 4 began filming a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary about the England football team’s qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup.

The film was unique, offering unprecedented access inside the England camp that would be almost unimaginable today. Yet it also left a comedy legacy seen in characters like David Brent, Alan Partridge and most potently, Mike Bassett. This is the story of Do I Not Like That and it is one of the most understatedly brilliant in sport.

The tragic protagonist of the film is England manager Graham Taylor. After successful spells at the helm of Watford and Aston Villa, Taylor took the job in 1990, after Sir Bobby Robson had taken the Three Lions to the semi-finals. However, England’s early exit at Euro 1992 saw press criticism mount, particularly from The Sun who gave Taylor the flattering nickname of ‘Turnip’. Continue reading

FLASHBACK: David Beckham vs Greece

Fifteen years after David Beckham’s brilliant free-kick against Greece, James Dutton looks back at the moment that defined the England captain…

In English football there has always been a fascination with the individual. From the cult of the manager to the star player, the influence of one has often been viewed as greater than the collective.

It is why the job of England manager continues to be sold as among the biggest in world football; the idea that one man can turn around years of infrastructural complacency and negligence.

The Roy of the Rovers phenomenon that has gripped English football for over 50 years still dominates. It is why Manchester United ‘owe it’ to Wayne Rooney to fit him into the first eleven, why dropping Steven Gerrard in his final season at Liverpool became such a seismic issue.

All-action super-heroes and chest-thumping talismanic captains are what England specialise in. And yet, it is a country without a major honour in 50 years, who haven’t since defeated a major nation at the knockout stage of a tournament in normal time. Continue reading

Harry Potter and the Manager who Changed English Football

Jonny Singer takes an alternative look at Arsene Wenger’s 20 years at Arsenal…

Between my fifth and six birthdays, two events took place that would shape not only my childhood, but also my teenage years and much of my adult life to this point.

On October 1 1996, Arsene Wenger began his 20 years as Arsenal manager, sparking the most successful period in the club’s history.

About nine months later, just as Wenger prepared for his first full season in charge, in which a young boy would become a regular in the West Stand at Highbury and watch Dennis Bergkamp make sport into poetry on the way to a double, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published.

Two decades on, and it seems fitting to examine the legacy of Wenger at Arsenal. Several brilliant articles have been written on it, notably Joe Bernstein in the Mail and Barney Ronay in the Guardian, while John Cross’ book on the Wenger years is a pretty complete analysis.

But none of them, as far as I can tell, have touched on the key aspect of the legacy debate – the Albus Dumbledore problem (more on that later). Continue reading

20 Years of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal

TFN editor Hugo Greenhalgh returns to reflect on Arsène  Wenger’s 20 years at Arsenal and share a couple of personal memories…

“Ready or not, here I come…”

So sang Lauryn Hill on The Fugees’ “Ready or Not”, the U.K. Number 1 single on September 22 1996 – the day Arsène Wenger was unveiled as Arsenal manager. English football probably wasn’t ready for Wenger, whose methods and managerial style have had an unrivalled influence on the game over the past 20 years, in a career that is unlikely to ever be repeated.

A look at some of the other Premiership managers at the time of his arrival reveals much about the football landscape. Ron Atkinson, David Pleat, Jim Smith…many of Wenger’s rivals were of the old school and he came in as an unknown outsider. Not only did his nationality mark him out as different, his last job had been at Grampus Eight in Japan, a role he’d taken to challenge himself and to experience a change of culture.  Continue reading

FLASHBACK: Germany 1-5 England

15 years after a 5-1 win over Germany in Munich, James Dutton looks back at the greatest result in England’s recent history and the lessons that have not been learned…

‘It’s Neville to Campbell, Campbell to Rio,

Rio to Scholesy, Scholesy-Gerrard,

Gerrard to Beckham, Beckham to Heskey,

Heskey to Owen, it’s a goal, 5-1!’

It is perhaps a sign of the times that Ant and Dec soundtracked the greatest moment of the English football team in the last 15 years. Ignoring the fact the lyrics are incorrect – Michael Owen did not score the fifth goal – ‘We’re on the Ball’ reflected the fresh optimism that had been injected into the national side at the start of the Sven-Goran Eriksson era.

It was England’s official song as they travelled half-way across the world to Japan and South Korea for the 2002 World Cup, a journey that had looked a remote fantasy when Kevin Keegan resigned in the Wembley toilets after a 1-0 defeat to the Germans in October 2000. Continue reading