How the USA became likeable once more at Brazil 2014

Greg Johnson ponders how the global superpower behind drone strikes and The War On Terror become one of the feel good football hits of the summer…

For all the shocks and surprises conjured up by the World Cup this summer, Brazil 2014 ultimately turned out to be a victory for the football establishment. The world’s best player won the award for being the best player and the competition’s most consistent team in recent years clinched the trophy for the fourth time in their history. In the end, the bold resistance against reputations and FIFA rankings appeared to have been futile, and yet a power shift of sorts may have taken place, if not on the field of play.

No one expected the USA to emerge as the popular choice for those seeking a second team to get behind in Brazil and yet, following the action in pubs and bars across the Atlantic, it was hard not to sense that they had become the adoptive nation of choice for (non-American) football fans.

Casting Algeria and Chile as likeable underdogs isn’t controversial but it will always seem odd to describe a nation boasting both the world’s biggest economy and largest stockpile of nuclear weapons as “plucky” in any setting. Given their population and resources, the ascendency of the USA has long lingered on the game’s horizon. They could dominate the sport if only they’d take it seriously. The mockery that greets their every misstep of incompetence in the game is in part due to fear of what they could become if they got their act together. Continue reading

Tinder – a surefire solution to the transfer window?

TFN’s Alastair Nasmyth returns with an alternative method for football transfers…

The World Cup is over and the Brazilians are sweeping up the ticker tape (and sweeping away the tiki-taki) whilst trying to overcome one hell of a hangover. After valiantly fighting off her attentions for a year with protests and riots, a few misplaced Caipirinhas and they’ve woken up next to the FIFA fat girl.  Giving in to their better instincts they took the rotund Mrs. Blatter back to their place and just as the passion mounted the mood was killed when it was suggested their German friend got involved. As the haze lifts, one can only imagine what the mixed emotions of self-loathing at their elimination and pride at actually hosting the event will feel like. Continue reading

Louis Van Gaal: The Master Tactician

In his first piece for TFN, Kammonke Obase-Wotta looks at why Louis Van Gaal is set to succeed as the new Manchester United manager…

As the World Cup comes to a thrilling end, it is time to say goodbye and turn our attentions to one of the most anticipated soap operas of the year; the English Premier league. As last season drew to a close after another drama-filled year, the news of David Moyes’ sacking came as no surprise and was greeted with sighs of relief from the Manchester United faithful.

I can remember vividly the last three games of the season and watching Manchester United’s poor performances. After one of the matches I got involved in a heated discussion about whether or not United would bounce back. I remember saying something like, “Manchester United has probably two to three years to bounce back, based on the fact that Liverpool flopped and were out of the Champions League for over four seasons.” Fast-forward three months and I am rethinking my stance. Why? It is quite simple – because of the virtuoso tactician, Louis Van Gaal. Continue reading

Podcast: The False Nine review the 2014 World Cup

Host Greg Johnson is joined by James Dutton, Hugo Greenhalgh, Simon Smith and Francis Gene-Rowe as the False Nine gang look back the best bits of Brazil 2014.

Was it a worthy final? Where does the tournament sit in World Cup history? Who were the teams and players that caught the eye?

Listen on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/tfns-brazil-2014-world-cup/id784149140?i=316356489&mt=2

Lies, Damned Lies and Heat Maps

Sanga-Heat-map

TFN’s Alastair Nasmyth is sceptical of football’s growing obsession with statistics…

Football has always been surprisingly suspicious of new technology. How long after cricket did we finally start seeing Hawkeye technology used for goal line disputes (it’s so simple and they also keep pigeons off the pitch)? Will football ever join the majority of professional sports that use television replays? Or is a can of shaving foam the only form help we’re willing to give the men trying to do the impossible job? While the authorities have treated scientific advances and their potential applications in the game in the same way that my Nan treats her mobile phone (used at arms length and with a look of worry on her face like it might explode in her hand), everyone else connected with the sport is embracing it with open arms, and no one more so than the statisticians. Continue reading

Last 16 in sight for USA after hard-fought win over rivals Ghana

Clint-Dempsey-of-the-U

TFN’s Kyle Hulme analyses USA’s 2-1 victory over Ghana…

The people of the United States are no strangers to history; they can proudly recall how they threw off the shackles of the British in 1776, name the field commanders of the Civil War and talk with intrigue and pride about the Battle of the Alamo. But after last night, perhaps they will have a new historical event to talk about around dinner tables and in classrooms up and down the country – the night soccer established itself as a part of their national identity.

Americans are no strangers to rivalries either – ask any hockey fan and they’ll explain how nothing feels better than getting one over the Russians or the Canadians – and last night another ghost was laid to rest. Ghana may seem like an unlikely rival, given that the two countries have no historic problems and they are separated by oceans and thousands of miles, but the Black Stars have been a thorn in the side of the US soccer team for years, bettering them in the group stage in 2006 and knocking them out with a goal in extra time in 2010. Ghana were a demon in long need of exorcising. But last night the US rewrote history, triumphing under a siege of Alamo proportions and moving one giant leap closer to the initially unlikely progression from their “group of death”. Continue reading

World Cup 2014: ITV Preview Belgium v Algeria

James Dutton and Greg Johnson imagine the scenes in the ITV studios as they cover Belgium’s opening game at the 2014 World Cup against Algeria…

Adrian Chiles: Goeiendag! Hallo! Welgekomen to ITV’s coverage of the Red Devils from Belgium against the Desert Foxes of Algeria. Yes, that’s right, Belgium are in town and the golden generation is ready to take the world by storm. With me, overlooking the beauty of the Copacabana Beach are Lee Dixon, Roy Kea… sorry… Patrick Vieira and Fabio Cannavaro. Continue reading