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
It’s a Steven Gerrard themed 5 things from Joe Devine’s much celebrated weekly TFN column…
1. Gerrard Ups Anti
In a desperate attempt to be noticed, Steven Gerrard languidly trod on the leg of Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera during Sunday’s game between Liverpool and Manchester United. Gerrard had reportedly threatened to defecate on the touchline if Brendan Rogers refused to put him in the team at half time, so given no choice, the Liverpool manager conceded. After being sent off, Gerrard watched the remainder of the game in the dressing room, screaming “look at me!” at the television, before ignoring his team mates and going immediately to give a post-match interview with the nice TV people, his only real friends.
2. This Does Not Stomp.
Joined by his wife Alex, Steven visited the Ambassadors theatre in London’s West End last weekend to watch the fabulous performance of Stomp. The couple enjoyed themselves marvellously, though recent reports suggest that the Liverpool midfielder may have both entirely misunderstood the performance, and taken the wrong message. Continue reading
TFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh thinks Wayne Rooney should be revered rather than ridiculed…
There was something reassuring about Manchester United’s comfortable 3-0 victory over Tottenham last Sunday. The ease at which United blitzed past Spurs was reminiscent of a Sir Alex Ferguson performance; the kind of game Fergie used to prepare for by telling the dressing room, “Lads, it’s Tottenham”, as Roy Keane revealed in his autobiography.
What will have been particularly pleasing for United fans was the display of Wayne Rooney. The England captain put in one of his best performances of the season, capping it off with a goal at the end of the first half. Picking up Nabil Bentaleb’s stray pass, Rooney danced past the remaining Spurs defenders and stuck it past Hugo Lloris with a nonchalance that recalled a player in his pomp.
The celebration that followed was a wonderful touch of self-awareness. There were shades of Robbie Fowler and Paul Gascoigne as Rooney showed the ability to laugh at himself – as well as the morning papers. It also served as a massive release for a player who has endured a significant amount of criticism over his career. Continue reading
In a new series on our favourite teams, Ben Sibley fondly recalls the Bundesliga-winning Wolfsburg side of 2008-09…
Published in 2008, page 88 of the fifth edition of Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting states that “A fire naturally occurs when the elements [heat, fuel and oxygen] are present and combined in the right mixture”.
In August of the same year, Zvjezdan Misimović joined fellow Bosnian Edin Džeko and the Brazilian Grafite at Wolfsburg – managed by Felix Magath. Magath, shocked by the decision of Wolfsburg’s outrageously-talented but homesick Marcelinho to return to Brazil, believed Misimović was the ideal replacement – he was signed for just under £4m and tied down to a four-year deal.
Misimović was a wonderfully gifted attacking midfielder and had enjoyed an eye-catching 07/08 season in a Nurnberg team that lost half of its league games and couldn’t escape relegation to 2. Bundesliga. He had the technique that ensured his vision and reading of the game was utilised regularly and ruthlessly. All he needed was a player on a similar wavelength – he ended up with two. Continue reading
Joe Devine’s 5 things in the Premier League this weekend include Gus Poyet’s lucrative new contract and an uncharacteristic slip of the tongue from Nice Guy Nigel Pearson…
Gus Poyet Handed Long Term Contract
After a fabulous season at the helm of big Premier League giants Sunderland, boss-man and all round good guy Gus Poyet has been awarded a new long term contract, with a greatly improved salary. The contract was announced whilst Poyet was live on BBC television, and the delighted Uruguayan basked in the glory of success. Apparently the contract is for 18 years, and included was a hand-written card, signed by all the board members, thanking Poyet personally for his amazing job this year.
Van Gaal Goes Mad for Rats
Manchester United manager, Louis Van Gaal, spent the week telling anyone who would listen that they were in “a rat race”. The Dutchman apparently discovered the 2001 Jerry Zucker film “Rat Race” in which Cuba Gooding Jr, Whoopi Goldberg and Rowan Atkinson rush through a troublesome and boring race for the money (the film was about racing too). Upon seeing the film, Van Gaal quickly adopted the “you’re in a rat race” catchphrase, and has since been unable to stop saying it. Luckily, Wayne Rooney delivered a powerful, emotive speech to his team mates, who subsequently decided to stop pissing around and play a good game of football. Continue reading