Interview: Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite on Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait

Mogwai Barbican

Last week, Greg Johnson headed to the Barbican Centre in London to chat to Mogwai‘s Stuart Braithwaite about Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, football and his mum’s connection to Roberto Martinez…

Hi Stuart. How did the shows in Glasgow and Manchester go compared to your expectations of playing Zidane live?

We didn’t really have any expectations because we’ve never done it before and, as such, it’s quite an unusual thing for us to do. Usually we just do our own concerts and play our own songs. I suppose there were more concerns that it wouldn’t work or something like that. And it did work. The gigs have been pretty good; quite intense experiences, and the music’s pretty heavy so again, different to what we usually do. It’s worked well. People have been pretty receptive to it.

How have you found playing with the film visuals projected behind you?

Really different because people aren’t looking at us, really – people are watching the film. There’s one point where we don’t play and there’s a really great goal, and everyone cheered. [laughs] I don’t know if they’ll do it tonight, they’ll probably feel a little bit more – I don’t know – because it’s quite an arty venue. Maybe they’ll feel a bit too posh to clap. At the other shows the audience had a wee cheer when that happened, which was good.

Did that cheer when the goals was scored add to the performance at the other gigs?

Yeah, I think it adds to the surrealism of the whole thing. Continue reading

Reality Football – Lawro, Gazza and Joe Kinnear Go Fishing

Three Men In A Boat

David Wild invites you to enter the world of Reality Football…

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if Robert Huth took his family out for a day at Wacky Warehouse? How you’d feel if you saw Per Mertesacker enter a room and then forget why he’d just come in? Or what would run through your mind if you saw Emmanuel Adebayor running for a bus but just missing it?

In a new segment The False Nine explores the (completely hypothetical) possibilities of what could happen if footballers were released from their ivory towered isolation and set loose upon the real world. Welcome to Reality Football.

Situation – Three men meet just off the coast of Newcastle and set off on a morning fishing trip.

The Cast: Mark Lawrenson, Joe Kinnear. Paul Gascoigne.

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad at the BBC performance evaluation panel, Mark Lawrenson was to remember that distant afternoon when his friends took him on that fateful fishing trip.

It was a cold spring morning on Tyneside where three huddled shapes met on the beach, preparing their boat for a day’s fishing. Joe and Paul could hardly contain their excitement. Mark could. Continue reading

Did he shake his tactics at me? A word of caution on a threat to football’s magic

Tactics Pubs

Guest blogger George Roberts offers up a full and frank discussion on the dangers of football tactics writing. Pull up a seat and grab yourself a pint…

Ah, football! Ah, the joy of the Thursday night argument (‘chat’ would be far too unserious a term) with Roger – ‘bitter please, and a bag of pork scratchings’ – down at the Dog and Duck. Should they sack him? Give him time! Should they play him? No room for a lightweight like him in the side, even on the wing. Board aren’t releasing the funds we need. Where are the goals going to come from? Should they have sacked him? Should have given him time… How unending, these debates! How timeless!

Ah, the internet! Ah, the twenty-first century! Roger’s still there down at the Dog and Duck. No-one listened to him back then, but now no-one is listening to him, really. They aren’t there. They can’t afford a pint nowadays. Fear not, though, the football debate rumbles on. Tip-tapping away in the catacombs of cyberspace are a new brigade of Rogers – and they mean business. They write blogs, much like this one. They are able to spread their voice throughout the world, via the web. Hence they are seriously intelligent. They lock their e-horns beneath online newspaper side-columns. Unlike Roger, they can’t see you – and aren’t afraid to let you know how unsophisticated, how uneducated you are. How very wrong you are, QED.

These angry young web-snipers have grown up in an age where football writing has turned a welcome corner. Starting with the fanzines of the eighties, via Nick Hornby’s groundbreaking Fever Pitch and Simon Kuper’s sport-as-politics work Football Aginst the Enemy, over the last two decades football has acquired a literature more befitting of its presence in English society. At the same time, the internet has offered a platform for those seeking to explore the game through alternative angles. Continue reading

The Science of the Perfect Fantasy Football Team Name

See Also: Robbie Keane, Ledley King...

We All Dream…

Guest writer Luke Bushnell-Wye goes in search of the perfect Fantasy Football team name…

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. The sun is out, the sky is blue and pollen is waging a full-scale offensive on the nation’s airways. Transfer rumours are zipping back and forth faster than photons in the Large Hadron Collider, as football fans shun the beautiful weather to crowd around laptops praying that their “undiscovered hit” from last season hasn’t gone up in price too much. That’s right folks, the fantasy football season is upon us.

Say goodbye to your summer. Who has time to stock up on vitamin B when there’s player stats and data to absorb? It’s back into the routine: studying re-runs of Match of the Day in search of this season’s unrated ultra-performer and tinkering into the wee hours to divine the best value midfield pairing possible. Some managers, less hardy humans than us, will fall by the wayside as their once in-form players turn into pub league plodders. Continue reading

Iniesta the Great: Crowded Out of History by Zidane and Laudrup?


The False Nine’s Greg Johnson, Rob Brown and John Guillem take a look at the brilliance of Andrés Iniesta, Michael Laudrup and Zinedine Zidane, and ask who is the greatest…

Football today is a package deal of quasi-mythological narratives, disseminated and consumed by the widest possible array of people. Hipsters, tweeters and bloggers all have as much of a vested interest1 as former internationals with limited vocabularys. We see so much attention going to the playing careers of former greats such as Michael Laudrup, often by those who never witnessed his football first hand or even second hand, from the reportage of the day.

This is not to say that players now experienced third-hand through the distance of time and history – Di Stefano, Puskas, Schiaffino, Masopust and their ilk – weren’t as utterly magical as their legends suggest. Due to our age, we lack the personally acquired experiences and evidence required to know for sure, but from reading the accounts of published witnesses, listening to the memories and thoughts of senior fans and pundits, and watching the various selectively edited YouTube montages and videos now available, it seems that those purported to be worthy of a place in football’s cultural canon were indeed sublime. In a sense, we’ll never really know, because one of the main selling-points that contemporary football has is the personal aspect of its narratives.

Introverted yet influential, with an unfussy technical excellence and an ever-growing list of honours and feats accumulating upon his mantelpiece, Andrés Iniesta is now something of a living football saint to both the self-appointed connoisseurs of the game and well-grounded, matter-of-fact spectators alike. The Spaniard seems shrouded by an almost unknowable mystique of significance which pervades his every action, from the elegance of his touch up to his trophy winning goals and assists. Continue reading

Benteke: Why Arsenal or Spurs would be ideal for Villa’s want-away star


Guest writer Chris Francis weighs up the options for Christian Benteke, and sees North London as an ideal home for Villa’s want-away hitman…

It hardly came as a surprise when Christian Benteke handed in a transfer request earlier this week. In his debut season, he was comfortably the best player in an Aston Villa team that narrowly, although confidently, avoided relegation, putting to bed any questions as to why Paul Lamber had made the Belgian his focal point rather than Darren Bent.

Benteke scored 19 goals in the Premier League last season – 23 in all competitions – bullying defences at both ends of the league, and showing himself to be a dauntless force of goals and attacking composure, taking on the load of heaving Villa to safety across his young yet broad shoulders. Though he is still only 22 Benteke lead from the front like a hardened veteran with years of experience, driving on Villa’s other youngsters to follow his example.

Having shown the league what he can do with limited support, he now wants to play in bigger competitions in a side able to challenge for trophies in the immediate future. Unfortunately for Lambert and those on the Holte End, their’s is a project that will still take time despite the considerable improvement made by Villa’s potential packed squad as last season’s campaign matured.

This week’s transfer request indicates an understanding of the realities of his ambitions and needs, but there are of course a number of asterisk over his name that any potential suitor would need to consider before seeking to snatch him from Villa Park. Continue reading

Tactical Trends of 2012-13


Simon Smith reflects on some of the tactical trends from last season…

The summer of speculation is fully underway as gossip, exclusives, breaking nonsense and rumours replace the reflections team of the year lists and player reviews. It can only mean one thing: enough time has passed for us to properly look at the last year from a few steps back and assess a season that wasn’t quite.

In entertainment terms that is. In tactical terms, quietly and under the radar, there were some big changes taking place. Perhaps the biggest season in four or five years in terms of the changes to playing style at the highest level, 2012-13 won’t be remembered as a classic but certainly will be remembered as the year tiki taka lost its sheen. The event of the season for the purist must surely be Bayern Munich’s demolition of the much heralded Barcelona in the Champion’s League, an outcome some had predicted but executed in so brutal and total a manner as to surprise world football in general.  The death of tiki taka was the talk of the internet, but it was clearly premature.  What we can say with more clarity is that the dominance of tiki taka is over, and even if nothing as coherent and successful has come along to replace it, the one system hegemony of the Xaviesta era is probably over now. Continue reading