Podcast: Episode 4 – The Audacity of Hope

Episode 4 of The False Nine podcast is now live and available to listen to and download from Soundcloud, entitled The Audacity of Hope.

With Greg taken ill in suspicious circumstances, James and Hugo valiantly take the reins of the pod with special guests Jonny Singer and Joe Hall.

This time TFN talk England vs. Chile, the Ballon d’Or, league football and the World Cup.

Southampton’s Success Built On Solid Foundations


TFN debutant and Southampton fan Rob Orr takes a look at the Saints’ exciting return to prominence in the Premier League…

It has been quite a week for Southampton Football Club. Not only did they finish it in third place in the Premier League but a trio of their attacking stars found themselves selected in the England squad. For many outsiders, the Saints remarkable rise has come as just as much of a surprise as the call up for Jay Rodriguez, an event unpredicted even by the majority of Saints fans. To those within and around the club, however, the ascent to the top quarter of the Premier League has come as no great shock, though perhaps it has occurred a season or so earlier than most might have imagined.

Southampton’s current form should not be considered a flash in the pan. Theirs has been a rapid yet measured and continual rise from the depths of League One, augmented last year by the appointment of a truly gifted manager in Mauricio Pochettino. Yet, despite back-to-back promotions from League One and the Championship, and an impressive first season back in the Premier League, many neutrals are still ignorant of the reasons for Southampton’s resurgence.

A question that seems to come up time and again is “But aren’t Southampton bankrupt?” – the simple answer is, “No”. As of July 2009, when the Saints were bought by Swiss businessman Markus Liebherr, the club have been in fantastic financial health, hence their ability to break their transfer record several times with acquisitions including Rodriguez, Victor Wanyama and Dani Osvaldo. Continue reading

Hypothetical XI #23: Shakespeare Characters


In his latest Hypothetical XI, Jonny Singer concocts a team of Shakespearian characters…

While Shakespeare wrote too many wonderful characters to fit all the good ones into a single team (I most regret that there’s no room for Iago, Nurse, Caliban, Falstaff or Portia in the first team) I reckon this side would compete well with any other playwright XI – although I’m not entirely convinced that’s anything to brag about really.

As ever I’ve kept to one character (or group) per play in the first XI – but feel free to add any suggestions in the comments.

Continue reading

“Till Death Do Us Part”: The Fragility of Football Partnerships

Dave Wild reflects on the world of partnerships in football…
“Perfect partners don’t exist. Perfect conditions exist for a limited time in which partnerships express themselves best.” – Wayne RooneyIt’s not often that you have the chance to start an article with a quote from Croxteth’s least heralded philosopher. Yet to hear the Manchester United striker’s words turns the mind to an interesting dynamic in football. The chemistry of a good partnership; a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
The debate on the virtues of individuality versus those of teamwork was nicely summarised in October 2013’s Premier League goal of the month competition. Would it be Arsenal’s intricate clockwork machination of one touch teamwork finish rounded off by Jack Wilshere or the explosive individual brilliance of Pajtim Kasami’s wonder strike? The public overwhelmingly voted in favour of Arsenal’s irresistible metronomic goal, perhaps explaining where our idolatry of the footballing partnership lies. We love to see a team working together. Continue reading

Brasileirão Returnees Part 2 – Denilson and Andre Santos


In the second part of a special feature, Tim Stillman of Vital Arsenal and Arseblog takes a look at how some of the Seleção have fared when they returned to Brazil…

The first part of this feature looked at the fortunes of Gilberto Silva and Jô. Of a similar age to Jô is Denilson Perreira de Neves, now 25. Denilson signed for Arsenal from his hometown team São Paulo in August 2006. Having captained Brazil’s U-17, U-18 and U-20 side, he had a reputation as an up-and-coming talent. His introduction to Premier League life was gentle for much of his first two seasons, as he quietly impressed in League Cup fixtures. Then, in 2008, with Gilberto Silva, Lassana Diarra and Mathieu Flamini making a bee line out of North London, Denilson got his chance at the base of Arsenal’s midfield.

Initially he struck up a promising partnership with Alex Song and in the 2008-09 season he played over 40 games as one of Arsenal’s most consistent performers. However, he picked up a back injury during the 2009-10 season which affected his mobility. This resulted in him famously being overtaken by the referee as he meekly chased Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney en route to another United goal. Denilson was usurped by Song in the Arsenal midfield and failed to recapture his early promise. In the summers of 2011 and 2012 he signed a loan deal with his cradle club São Paulo. Continue reading

Deco: Chelsea’s Mercurial Double Winning Brazilian


Joe Tweeds of Plains of Almeria looks back at Deco’s mercurial stay at Stamford Bridge…

Deco is without question the one player who Chelsea signed too late in his career. The Brazilian-born Portuguese international had a choice between Chelsea and Barcelona after his exploits with Porto. Favouring the Catalan side, Chelsea missed out on the talents of someone who would go on to become one of Europe’s finest attacking midfielders.

Deco possessed one of the greatest first touches I have ever witnessed as a Chelsea fan. He had this ability to instantly control the ball with his studs and roll it perfectly where he wanted it to go. The move was simple, so fluid and so subtle that it barely would register as a piece of skill in the modern game. Nevertheless, it was a signature move that oozed class and hinted at his rather special talent. Continue reading

Glauber: Manchester City’s Brazilian Cult Hero

Premier League Soccer Manchester City v Bolton Wanderers MAY 24

Chris Peilow remembers Manchester City’s cult hero Glauber…

How do you appraise a man who only made one injury-time appearance against Bolton in 2009?

On paper, Gláuber Berti’s anomalous Manchester City career is as insignificant as his one tackle, handful of touches and misplaced pass were on the last day of that season.

But now playing for Columbus Crew, with scattered appearances in Romania, Germany and Brazil (as well as one solitary cap for A Seleção), it is his unremarkable stay at Manchester City which potentially holds the most resonance, earning him cult hero status among fans. Continue reading