Hari Sethi looks into a difficult season for Daniel Sturridge, and asks whether he can be relied upon to be Liverpool’s main man next season…
Wheeling away to celebrate scoring the winner against Southampton on the opening day of the season, Daniel Sturridge could’ve been forgiven for allowing himself to daydream of the year that lay ahead.
Though Anfield still bore the emotional wounds of last season’s ultimately futile title charge and the departure of the club’s talismanic number seven, for the other half of Liverpool’s prolific ‘SAS’, this was to be a season of opportunity, a season as the main man. Yet with just seven games of their Premier League campaign left and with a top four finish seeming increasingly improbable, Sturridge has made just 11 appearances for the Reds, scoring four goals in the process.
For a player who signed a five year, £150k a week contract in October and the only recognized striker who possesses the physical traits to excel within Rodgers’ desired style of play, things haven’t gone well. This has been a disastrous season for Sturridge and one that casts doubt over his role in the side going forward. Continue reading
Joe Devine returns with his weekly look at things that may or may not have happened in the Premier League…
John Carver Wins ‘Biggest Fan’ Competition
It’s been a great week for Newcastle manager John Carver. Not only did he get to wake up as Newcastle manager every day, but on Sunday, he won a competition held by the club to discover the world’s biggest Toon fan. First prize was lunch with Mike Ashley, which Carver was reportedly thrilled about, as he’d been trying to get a meeting with Ashley since taking the job. This is the second competition John Carver has won this year, the first being the one he entered to become Newcastle manager.
Tim Sherwood Maintains 100% Record Against Man United
After Saturday’s game at Old Trafford, Tim Sherwood told reporters that he was pleased to have maintained his 100% record against Manchester United, despite having lost the game. When puzzled members of the press quizzed the Aston Villa manager, Sherwood explained that the record he referred to related to a “battle of the managers” – “We might have lost on the pitch, and that’s fine, but off the pitch, between me and Louis, I won that battle. You see? I know we lost the game but in our mind battle I actually won. My tactics were correct, it’s just that it didn’t work out, BUT I am the cleverer manager, is what I’m saying. I won. Just not where you can see, but I did win. 100%. They’ll forget that though, won’t they, when the people all say I’m useless, that I’ve got a 100% record against Manchester United, they’ll forget that. My ratios are sky high. Higher than the sky. I’m 100%.” Continue reading
Kyle Hulme reports on the potential of Leeds United’s fan ownership…
As I began to write about an ambitious new initiative designed to give fans a stake in Leeds United, news of the suspension of Steve Thompson, Neil Redfearn’s assistant, began to fill my Twitter feed. It upset me; not because I had to delete the words I had already written, but because it served as a reminder that even when you think you’ve turned a corner, sometimes the madness can follow you too.
Thompson was widely acknowledged to have been a key factor of Leeds’ recent upturn in form which saw fans stop shouting about relegation and start whispering of the playoffs. His influence on the club can’t be overstated – from broader impacts such as simply easing the pressure on Redfearn to more specialised focuses like all-but resurrecting the career of Luke Murphy. Yet all of that seemingly matters for nothing as today he’s been suspended until the end of the season and the option to retain him won’t be exercised. It’s a move that has seen Neil Redfearn question his future at the club, and one of several moves that only serve to unite the fanbase against their current owners – which may be the only silver lining to come out of this decision.
In terms of mobilising supporters against the current regime, the timing couldn’t be better. Continue reading
After the unthinkable happened and Andros Townsend scored against Italy, Joe Devine looks at 5 things that may or may not have happened…
Andros Townsend Saves England Again
In the biggest news of the week, Andros Townsend once again, single-handedly saved our proud island from those murky foreigners on the mainland. Thousands of adoring fans spoke out about their love for the young journeyman; with many praising Roy Hodgson’s staying faith in the Tottenham midfielder. Townsend himself was delighted to be the centre of attention and professed his glee that a team so mediocre existed as to allow any scraps of burgeoning spotlight to be on him and him alone. Amidst all the glory of a one-all draw with Italy, not even Townsend’s “I was here first” jive, directed at Harry Kane, was enough to dampen the spirits.
Andros Townsend Silences Critics
Tottenham midfielder Andros Townsend is being investigated in association with a string of ruthless murders. Professional football pundits Paul Merson, Phil Neville and Martin Keown were all discovered decapitated and disembowelled in their homes on Wednesday morning. Each had publicly criticised the England player and newspaper cuttings of their criticisms were found littered around the bodies. Townsend insists he did nothing and only that the men “had it coming”. He is currently being held at a police station in North London, though it is thought that he will be released this afternoon for an unorthodox, early knighting ceremony. Continue reading
Liz Heade of Thinking Woman’s Football returns to The False Nine to give 10 reasons why England’s genetic makeup means they will never win another World Cup…
The last time England won the World Cup, they believed they were the best team in the world. They also thought they were the best in the world in 1970, but they had another think coming when they came up against a Brazil team with a justifiable claim to be called the best ever, and football was never the same again. So, apart from needing to believe you are the best in order to win at any sport, want to know nine more reasons why England won’t win another World Cup?
Food: Well-nourished English children don’t play football, at least not seriously. They play rugby or cricket, or they might take up athletics. Young bones formed by poor quality supermarket food, takeaways or frozen stuff cooked in microwaves don’t generally build world-beating athletes. Maybe England don’t need to go back to the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, sausage and mash, bovril and beer diet that made Bobby Moore and his men the all-conquering specimens of the 60s, maybe they just need to get some well-nourished 21st century kids into academies, the kind with the bone density and stamina to survive the full four weeks of tournament football.
Weather: Look at the list of the seven other World Cup winners and ask yourself why there are no names there boasting a cold, wet, windy climate that discourages both summer great outdoors-ing and winter sporting equally. Fit, healthy, resilient kids need to be outside every day, playing in sunshine and snow, getting knocked about by bigger kids and learning how not to be knocked about tomorrow. Instead they grow pale and wan glued to Playstations in their bedrooms or stuck in cars on the way to an hour’s training on a plastic pitch – which is also ruining their skeletal development. Continue reading
TFN debutant Will Magee re-imagines the top four and the race for the Champions League…
Do you like football? Any football at all? Then the chances are you’ve read several astoundingly reprocessed ‘top-four race’ pieces in the last few weeks. These articles are the reanimated undead of the Premier League season, the phantoms that plague the minds of hungover sport writers, the ghosts at the top-flight feast; they appear every year at exactly the same time to remind us that our lives are, essentially, hauntingly repetitive – and that Arsenal will most likely finish fourth.
The prediction for this year goes like this: Chelsea in first, Manchester City in second, two of Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool in the lesser Champions League spots. It’s really no more complicated than that. A maverick journalist will throw Tottenham into the mix every once in a while in an attempt to break the cycle, but do so with the poignant knowledge that this is totally, utterly futile – a puny act of rebellion in an uncaring existential void. Likewise, somebody will always root for a rank outsider, the last hope of escaping his or her recurring top-four nightmare. This never comes off, and said somebody is quickly institutionalised.
Still, at the risk of my own mental wellbeing, I fancy making an attempt at exorcising the eerie persistence of the ‘top-four race’ article and re-imagine the entire thing. Despite our numbing collective awareness that it will never be so, what clubs would we actually like to see finish in those coveted Premier League places? And in what precise order? Let’s settle down, hold onto our minds, disregard those creepy voices telling us to do terrible violence against the ones we love – and bloody well find out. Continue reading
Valentin Boulan remembers the AS Monaco 2003-04 side who reached the 2004 Champions League Final…
None of it was supposed to happen. When AS Monaco were drawn against Deportivo La Coruna, PSV and AEK Athens in the 2003-4 Champions League Group Stages, everyone had already worked out the outcome. Monaco would come third and end up in the mediocre UEFA Cup – not even Europa League yet. At best, they might come second and go out to the first credible contenders they face. Well, not quite…
What few realised at the time was the depth of quality within Monaco’s side, and indeed how many of its members would go on to become household names of European football. Managed by then rookie Didier Deschamps, who would go on to great things with Marseille and coach the National Team, Monaco was indeed solid in all areas. Continue reading