Why I Love The Russian Premier League


Originally hailing from Ohio, USA, Russian Football NewsAndy Shenk isn’t your average Russian football expert. He tells all about the source of his love for the people’s game in the Eurasian “motherland”…

I made the mistake a few years back of falling in love with a foreign sports league. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the Russian Premier League, but rather that I now belong to that weird, vaguely-defined “hipster” crowd. I spend my time on Twitter talking about Shirokov, Ozbiliz, Tagirbekov, and Sapogov, Kuban’s Europa League chances and Volga’s campaign to avoid relegation. Oh, and I bought skinny jeans to look like everyone else in Moscow.

It’s bad. I’ve detached from baseball games in the summer and hoops in the winter to embrace a league that probably no more than half a dozen people from my home state of Indiana could discuss intelligibly. What’s worse, almost every Russian I’ve shared my obsession with thinks I’m either crazy or cute…anything but serious. Continue reading

Parker confirms Fulham as this season’s most exciting relegation flirts


Greg Johnson thinks Scott Parker could be the Robert De Niro to Berbatov’s Al Pacino this season as Fulham ramp up the entertainment factor in the absence of trophies or a top half finish…

It’s a shame that Mohammed Al-Fayed no longer reigns over West London. The tenuous, cliched connection between Fulham Football Club and Harrods, brought about by the Egyptian businessman’s former ownership of both has never felt more tantalisingly apt.

Dimitar Berbatov, Bryan Ruiz, Adel Taarabt, Alexander Kacaniklic, Darren Bent: as fine a collection of esoteric luxuries and tacky rich man’s playthings as you could find across the multiple stories of the Knightsbridge department store. These are the gold encrusted Kashmir underpants, sub-prime bothering super truffles and absurd monster trucks for the under fours of the football world.

As you’d expect of such an impractical array of goods, it’s difficult to know where the bog standard essentials will come from; the daily (artisan) bread if you will. There appears to be little in the way of industry or work rate in amongst the Fulham ranks. In fact, ever since the sale of Mousa Dembele to Spurs last summer, Martin Jol’s team have felt rather gutted of their most vital keystone component. Continue reading

Steve Bruce’s new look Hull can beat the drop


TFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh has faith in Steve Bruce to guide Hull to safety…

“It’s funny, my daughter & missus are coming to Chelsea today – I don’t think they’re coming to look at me”, Steve Bruce quipped before Hull’s game on Sunday. Yet the way Bruce has been acting in his interviews and on the touchline, his motives for coming to West London were exactly the same: to get up close and personal with Jose Mourinho.

It was like watching an elderly history teacher who has taken a shine to a younger and more extrovert language teacher, returning from a sabbatical in Europe and Bruce had already been lavishing praise on Mou in his pre-match press conference. “The fact that Jose is back is a ‘wow’”, he said. “I’m delighted he’s back because we need people like him. He’s quite remarkable in what he has done and not just at Chelsea; he’s gone to Italy and done it; he’s gone to Spain and done it; he started in Portugal and done it.”

In the dying moments of the first half, with Chelsea leading 2-0 and in control, the Stamford Bridge crowd were also treated to a legitimate example of goal line technology. Branislav Ivanovic’s header was indeed clawed off the line, although replays showed just how close it was. Meanwhile, Bruce strolled over to Mourinho by the dugout, laughing and holding his hands up in mock prayer. Did he actually care or was this just an opportunity for some small talk? Continue reading

The Curious Case of Darren Bent


Despite his limitations, TFN’s David Wild reckons Darren Bent is well deserving of a second chance…

“There are not many young English players who have the pedigree and finishing class that Darren has shown over a number of years in the Premier League. In the League, only Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba have scored more goals in the last five years than his 81 goals.” – Gerard Houllier,

The story of Darren Bent is one that mirrors the changes in the fabric of the English game. Gerard Houlliers description of him here came in 2011 when Bent was 27, at the peak of his powers.

Such a goal scoring record, in line with the main front men at the two clubs competing for the Premier League title, should surely have made the striker a commodity hungered after by all of the top clubs in England, if not Europe. Instead at the time he was being transferred from Sunderland in 6th to Aston Villa in 17th in the Premier League Continue reading

The False Nine take on the BBC Premier League predictor


The Premier League kicks off tomorrow, and in preparation for the new season the TFN crew have taken to the BBC Premier League predictor to try guesstimate how the league table will look come May 2014…

With each entry completed by a different writer, with different methods and bias galore, we’re hoping the wisdom of the crowds will help us out to divine a more balanced final conclusion, even if our sample size is against us.

After reading through the tables and reasoning (or apologies) of each writer, scroll down to the end of the piece for a meta-table created using the average points collected by each club based on our individual predictions.

Our results may not be entirely accurate, or even intentional in some cases, but we at least hope they’re entertaining, and if you fancy having a go on the BBC predictor, feel free to send over your table to thefalsenine@yahoo.co.uk to help inform our final results!

Without further ado, let the anomalies and prediction catastrophes commence…  Continue reading

How loving England made me hate England


TFN’s resident Dutchman Elko Born tries to shed some light on England, Stevie G and possibly the English psyche from a continental perspective…

Whenever England play, be it in a major tournament or a friendly match, two things seem certain. First:  if the opposition is any good, England will be likely to lose, and second:  in the run up to the match, people are likely to talk about the fact that England are likely to lose.

If the English garden party I attended last week is anything to go by, this talk about the likeliness of England losing is done in good fun. The jokes are made with a healthy dose of light hearted cynicism. People will snigger at Roy Hodgson and poke fun at his prehistoric, stubbornly English view of the game – subtly ignoring the fact that the FA’s European experiments with Sven and Fabio failed miserably. They’ll laugh at Wayne Rooney and his hair, Steven Gerrard and his boyish, rather naive looking enthusiasm, and, not to forget, whoever John Terry and/or Ashley Cole might be sleeping with at the moment.

‘I used to love England as a boy,’ someone confided in me at the garden party, both hands clutching a Pimms. ‘But now I’ve given up on them. I think WC ’98 was the last tournament I genuinely enjoyed, when it comes to England.’

I chuckled, of course, only stopping to sip my gin and tonic. I was having a good time there in the garden, with the perfectly cut grass and beautiful flowers surrounding me, feeling very, very English. I too had given up on England, and I too don’t really enjoy watching them play anymore. I was having a much better time poking fun at the build-up and dissections in the days before and after matches. Continue reading

Hooper & Griffiths: SPL strikers moving south


Chris Francis considers the arrivals of Gary Hooper and Leigh Griffiths in the Premier League and League One respectively…

With the sale of Celtic’s Gary Hooper to Norwich and Leigh Griffiths’ return to Wolves after another season out on loan with Hibernian, two of the most prolific and exciting attacking talents in the Scottish Premier League have fled south.

Having amassed some impressive goal tallies up North, the new season will be an intriguing opportunity for both strikers, and the SPL itself, to highlight the quality of Scottish football, as well as the potential gaps that exist with the English game.

The two forwards have wildly different roles to play this season. Hooper has moved to one of the five big European leagues for the first time in his career, while Griffiths has moved to a big club in trouble. The former Celtic striker will be charged with improving a poor goal tally for Norwich (only Stoke and QPR scored fewer last year) alongside the more urbane Ricky van Wolfswinkel, as well as replacing the directness of Grant Holt who has left for Wigan. Griffiths will be expected to fire Wolves them back up to the Championship at the first attempt after his prolific feats in the SPL last year. As players they are very different. Hooper likes to play on the shoulder of the defender, take minimal touches, and go for goal at any angle. Griffiths is more likely to get involved in the build up, but is also a good finisher. Continue reading