#BestOfTFN: The best of our 1st year in satire and humour articles

Surreal football

Our final list of our best articles from our first year rounds up TFN’s attempts to take a lighter look at the world of football. Piss takes, satire, pastiche and more await you below!

Check our other Best Of TFN lists here.

Let us know your favourite TFN articles, and any that we’ve missed from our lists, on Twitter using the hash tag #BestOfTFN. Continue reading

#BestOfTFN: The best of our 1st year in football writing


The False Nine is one year old today! To celebrate, we’ve compiled three best of lists featuring contributions from across our array of contributors.

This first list is a selection of our best analysis and commentary pieces, from MyFootballClub and globe trotting goalkeepers to Iniesta’s legacy and Emile Heskey.

Check our other Best Of TFN lists here.

Let us know your favourite TFN articles, and any that we’ve missed from our lists, on Twitter using the hash tag #BestOfTFN. Continue reading

Ross Barkley: The next victim of English football’s conflicted interests?


Chris Francis discusses Ross Barkley’s premature call-up to the senior England squad and the structural schisms in the national game…

The call-up of Ross Barkley to the England senior set-up is not indicative of why England lag so far behind European teams. This is what I heard some commentators say today. There are deeper, structural issues that exist in the English game that hold the national team back. These will not be fixed quickly.

The call up of a young player who is playing well is not a surprise; this happens everywhere. Barkley has been known amongst the football world as a special midfielder for a long time. Only a serious injury two seasons ago stopped him appearing in David Moyes plans more regularly. Fully recovered, via a successful loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday, he has now played exceptionally in both of Roberto Martinez’s first two games in charge of the Toffees. Any country who has a youngster bossing games in their top division would promote him early, especially as he has played and excelled for every age-group along the way. Two games is early I admit, but still, this is meant to be a very special player. Continue reading

Norwich City: Ricky van Wolfswinkel ain’t afraid of no ghosts

Ghostbuster Winkel

Elko Born takes a closer look at Norwich’s record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel. Where did he come from, and will he make it in the Premier League?

It must be difficult to be one of the Eredivisie’s top goalscorers. Especially if you’re dreaming of a move to the Premier League. Imagine this: You go to bed, stare at the ceiling, you think about the cheering crowds and getting goal of the month on Match Of The Day. Then, after finally falling asleep, you suddenly wake up, shocked and drenched in sweat. After a minute of pure confusion, you discern a greyish, translucent figure hovering over you.

It’s the ghost of Afonso Alves. He’s coming to haunt your dreams.

‘What have you ever accomplished?’ he shouts, as the hapless front man tries to hide under the duvet and think about Ruud van Nistelrooy. ‘The Eredivisie is ridiculously bad. It’s easy to score goals there!’

Yet despite all this, a move to the Premier League is everything most young, Dutch footballers want –  strikers especially – because England is close by, the language barrier is easy to overcome, but first and foremost because, according to myth, goals scored in England are the best goals there are.

In England, the crowds cheer louder when the ball hits the net, young Dutch boys think. And besides that, a goal scored in England is by definition spectacular. In England, strikers score insane backwards headers and 40 yard belters. They don’t have to drop back to midfield and pass all too often, the defenders will just hoof the ball to you wherever you are. Continue reading

West Brom: The erratic excellence of Somen Tchoyi – a complete one-off


Nathan Carr chronicles Somen Tchoyi’s time at West Bromwich Albion…

It’s the summer of 2010 and West Brom are embarking on a brand new season in the Premier League. Having won promotion from the second tier, Roberto Di Matteo is in charge and the transfer window is in the full swing. Albion had been linked with several names across Europe, but one that kept on popping up was Somen Tchoyi. An unknown quantity, playing his football in Austria with Red Bull Salzburg, it was widely reported that Di Matteo was very keen on bringing the playmaker to England.

Following weeks of negotiation, lengthy preparation work and the bureaucracy of the UK work permit system, the club finally sealed the deal. Tchoyi arrived on a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee. At the time no one – and I mean no one – knew who the heck this bloke was.

As a surge in clicks from the West Midlands descended upon Tchoyi’s Wikipedia page it soon became clear that the 27-year-old, 6 ft 3 Cameroonian had no previous experience in British football.  A gamble? Just a bit, but one that Di Matteo had done his homework on. Time would tell whether his decision would pay dividends for the Baggies – then the quintessential year on, year off Premier League to Championship yo-yo team.

It didn’t take long for the new man to grab his first goal, making an instant impact after coming on against Manchester United in a historic 2-2 draw at Old Trafford in October 2010. Having reacted quickest to a calamitous piece of goalkeeping by Edwin Van der Saar, Tchoyi tapped his finish home. This was his proper introduction to the supporters: having been at the game myself, I was immediately fascinated by him. Continue reading

Is this the worst group of newly promoted teams ever in the Premier League?


Chris Francis assesses the fortunes of the Premier League’s three newly arrived teams and asks whether this is the worst promoted trio the league has ever seen…

The identity of the Premier League’s worst ever team is in no doubt.

Derby County were promoted to the Premier League in 2007 and then relegated in March 2008 – the fastest demotion since the restructuring of the English league structure. They ended the season on a paltry 11 points having mustered up one solitary win (at home to Newcastle 1-0 since you ask), and picking up just 8 draws. The fact that they lost 29 games in a season indicated that Billy Davies’ team were way out of their depth, although Davies himself had predicted as much. Having guided Derby to the promised land he demanded the board back him or watch as the club was humiliated and sent back down in flame. Warnings unheeded, Davies was sacked after his team’s inevitable meltdown with the appointment of Paul Jewell as successor having little, if any, effect besides destroying his reputation – a set back his career is yet to recover from.

Since Derby’s demise, in recent years we’ve become accustomed to seeing promoted sides making a name for themselves rather than reverting to playing the role of whipping boys to the more established sides. The gap between the Championship and the Premier League is a massive chasm to bridge, but with good management, a collective spirit and the right players a club can establish itself as a serious fixture in the league, quickly. Last year, Southampton and West Ham played with similar squads to those that got them promoted in the first place and were, on the whole, rather comfortable rubbing shoulders with the mid-table regulars. Norwich and Swansea did the same the season before, with the latter achieving a 9th place finish as well as winning the League Cup last year. Stoke, West Brom, and Newcastle have also each shown that promotion can be more than just a “one year tourist visa”, a remark made by Danny Baker over the weekend as he watched Crystal Palace versus Spurs.

While he was wrong to say that promotion has been nothing more than a short-stay stamp in a club’s shiny new passport, he may well have a point this season. Continue reading