Podcast: Episode 12 – Beef

Greg, James and Elko welcome Alex Stewart onto the pod after a week of prime beef to talk Southampton, England’s Ajax, defensive issues at Liverpool, the trend of top clubs doubling up on goalkeepers, problems at Manchester United, defensive midfielders *AND TO FINISH OFF* the two most pressing questions in the game today.

Listen on iTunes.

Where will Diego Simeone go after Atlético Madrid?

Jonny McConnell looks at Diego Simeone’s options beyond Atlético Madrid…

It has been said over and over again, but even in management, Diego Simeone has retained the ferocity and sheer determination that made him such a formidable opponent in his playing days.

Often unpredictable on the pitch, he had enviable talent and he has impressively taken his playing qualities into his role as a manager. Since replacing Gregorio Manzano in December 2011, Simeone has showed his coaching ability to the world, helping the club escape from a period of mediocrity, moulding them into La Liga winners in the space of two and a half seasons. What next though? Can Simeone and the club improve on this, or have they finally reached their ceiling as a club. Continue reading

Dirk Kuyt and 4 of the best Utility Men

TFN’s Alistair Nasmyth remembers four of his favourite utility men…

While watching the World Cup this summer I experienced a whiplash-inducing double take. The Dutch squad was being displayed on the screen in a flashy CGI formation and there, clear as day, was the former Feyenoord striker Dirk Kuyt taking up the left back position. In this day and age of specialized training and coaching, not to mention fragile egoed players who throw tantrums when played out of position, it’s surprising to see players of the utility man sort at the highest level. So here I’m going to share with you some of my favourite all-rounders… Continue reading

Podcast: Episode 10 – Elko comes to London

The False Nine podcast is back, with new regular guest Elko Born joining Greg Johnson, James Dutton and Francis to talk England, Wayne Rooney, Netherlands after van Gaal and the transfer window.

As you may be able to tell from the “atmosphere” during the recording, the pod took place at The Candid Cafe in Angel. Be sure to swing by for some cake and a coffee next time you’re in the area.

Listen on iTunes.

From Fratton Park to Ljubljana – a love affair with Robert Prosinecki

Duncan Hart fondly recalls Robert Prosinecki’s time at Portsmouth, and beyond…

The transfer deadline countdown on Sky Sports News surely bores even the most ardent football fan.  If you care to check, then you will probably find the latest gossip being repeated ad nauseum on the hour for the rest of August, as the latest mercenary switches between one fat pay cheque to the next.

But, this wasn’t always the case.  Transfers used to take us by surprise.  The world stopped for a few seconds when the news filtered slowly filtered through that Pelé had retired from his only club in Brazil, Santos, to join New York Cosmos in 1975.  Many would have had to double check that it wasn’t April 1st when Middlesbrough signed Fabrizio Ravanelli from Juventus at the peak of his career in 1996.  Even manager Alan Pardew looked startled when Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano landed in his lap at West Ham in 2006.

Many other clubs have had surprise transfers over the years, but I would argue that perhaps none beat the shock in August 2001 when my team Portsmouth FC signed Robert Prosinecki.  Portsea Island shook itself a few further yards further from the mainland; such was the tremor of excitement that spread across the city when Pompey’s Serbian-American owner, Milan Mandaric, announced he had managed to persuade his Croatian “friend” to move to the South Coast. Continue reading

Tottenham, Inter and this week’s Europa League picks

Hugo Greenhalgh looks at the Europa League matches worth watching this week…

Due to the size of its fixture list, and the obscure nature of the teams involved, the Europa League holds a strange sort of voyeuristic appeal for non-involved fans to enjoy from afar. Sometimes derided by English fans, it can offer a wonderful and rare glimpse into the less-travelled ecosystems of European football, especially with regards to the continents’ more obscure smaller sides.

Such is the scale of this leviathan, season-long tournament, and the format of its qualifying phase, 137 teams have already taken part in this year’s competition. This number will be whittled down to 48 after the Play-Off Round that begins this Thursday.

To help you find your footing and make sense of it all, we present the four picks of the latest round of qualifiers…

Continue reading