Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: A battle with insignificance

Making his TFN debut, Harry Wallace looks at Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s struggle for the limelight at Arsenal…

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s career has been oddly inconsequential. He was uncapped when he was called up to the England squad for a major tournament. But this was Euro 2012, when Roy Hodgson had been hurriedly planted in the manager job. Everyone around the country, press and fans alike, swiftly agreed that this tournament was a free hit. There hadn’t been enough time to amass a plan, let alone a squad to fit it.

In the Euros Oxlade-Chamberlain would start the first game against France and make two late substitute appearances in the other group games, before being an unused sub against Italy. On his debut he was lively the few times he had the ball, as many young fresh-faced players are. However he was restrained by one of Hodgson’s now stigmatized formations against France, looking to protect in only his third game in charge. It was also partially due to Rooney’s suspension, and Oxlade-Chamberlain could count himself unlucky not to feature ahead of a slumping Ashley Young in later matches. But the whole tournament lacked the pressure or scrutiny that has formed such a bemoaned companion for England. Certainly it was no comparison to Wayne Rooney’s dazzling Euro 2004, or even Raheem Sterling repeatedly scaring Italian defenders in Manaus. The Ox’s official arrival on the international scene was barely even a sideshow.

A year later, England traveled to the hallowed Maracana to face Brazil. Following a characteristically tepid England first-half performance, Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Glen Johnson. He then scored a goal that was a god send to narrative-seeking writers covering the game, a stunning drive in the same stadium that his Father had played in 29 years prior. It was a magnificent moment, or at least as great as it possibly could have been. After all, it was merely an exhibition game that not many would quickly recall now. Continue reading

CFU Club Championship 2015: Group Stage Review


Nathan Carr, editor of The Home of Caribbean Football, looks back at the group stage of the CFU Club Championship…

This year’s CFU Club Championship is the 17th edition since its inception in the late 1990s. Widely regarded as the Caribbean’s premier club competition, it pits the crème of the crop against each other to determine the region’s three representatives at the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL). The Championship has a couple of entry requirements: it is open to all 31 CFU member associations’ league champions and runners-up, as long as their respective seasons finished by the end of last year. Each club must pay a fee by a set deadline, which in this year’s case was 7 January. For 2015, a total of 15 teams from nine member associations entered and were placed in four groups. Here’s how the action panned out…

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 22.25.57

Group 1:

From the outset this group had only three participants because of the uneven number of total teams. It was expected that Guyanese champions Alpha United, a team that featured in last year’s CCL, would battle with Central FC of Trinidad & Tobago for the number one spot, but it was actually the latter that came out on top and secured progress through to the semi-finals. Founded just three years ago by former Soca Warriors defender Brent Sancho, now the country’s Minister of Sport, Central boast a strong squad and are coached by Englishman Terry Fenwick. They play good football and have several stand-outs who have experience playing with the national team, like Willis Plaza, Ataullah Guerra and veteran goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams. Plaza was the star of the show against Surinamese champions Inter Moengotapoe, scoring two second half goals within the space of four minutes. The Sharks had to follow that win up with another when they faced Alpha, who had also beaten Inter two days previously. Continue reading

Interview: Ed Chamberlin – Dream Goal, Southampton and Monday Night Football


The False Nine were invited along to Budweiser’s Dream Goal event launch in Regent’s Park last week. Ed Chamberlin stopped for a chat about that, Monday Night Football and Southampton…

Tell us about Dream Goal. How did you get involved?

“My agent got a telephone call that I was delighted about to be honest. Gary was right when he said earlier, it’s amazing when you think about it that it hasn’t been done before. I was delighted, and it’s been a lot of fun. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My goodness did we giggle during that day filming it. We still don’t know how it’s going to come out, and you sure you guys are always the same on twitter you’re a bit nervous when you send that link out, and you imagine the abuse you’ll get a lot of the time for various shows. Suddenly, all that came back was how much people had enjoyed it, which for us is very unusual. It’s been great, and the thing I’ve loved is football people including us in tweets to their mates saying “Oh we need to send in Gary’s one from last week”, from village football matches to all round the country it’s been quite satisfying. None of mine have made it.

What’s the best goal you’ve ever scored?

I live in a village called Broughton, I think I’ve scored some great goals but I asked the lads which one of mine would you enter and they all looked rather confused, which was slightly disappointing actually, for a big, gallivanting centre-half who loves to come forward.

Do you play much?

Not as much as I used to. When you pass 40 the knees start to go.

So you’d say you’re more Gary Neville than Jamie Redknapp?

[Laughs] I have no idea what you mean by that! Yeah. I’m a very bad Jamie Carragher I think. I haven’t got Redknapp’s looks, midfield ability, passing ability, anything. Continue reading

Daniel Sturridge: Liverpool’s main attraction or supporting act?

Hari Sethi looks into a difficult season for Daniel Sturridge, and asks whether he can be relied upon to be Liverpool’s main man next season…

Wheeling away to celebrate scoring the winner against Southampton on the opening day of the season, Daniel Sturridge could’ve been forgiven for allowing himself to daydream of the year that lay ahead.

Though Anfield still bore the emotional wounds of last season’s ultimately futile title charge and the departure of the club’s talismanic number seven, for the other half of Liverpool’s prolific ‘SAS’, this was to be a season of opportunity, a season as the main man.  Yet with just seven games of their Premier League campaign left and with a top four finish seeming increasingly improbable, Sturridge has made just 11 appearances for the Reds, scoring four goals in the process.

For a player who signed a five year, £150k a week contract in October and the only recognized striker who possesses the physical traits to excel within Rodgers’ desired style of play, things haven’t gone well. This has been a disastrous season for Sturridge and one that casts doubt over his role in the side going forward. Continue reading

Premier League Gameweek 31: 5 things that (may or may not have) happened

Joe Devine returns with his weekly look at things that may or may not have happened in the Premier League…

John Carver Wins ‘Biggest Fan’ Competition

It’s been a great week for Newcastle manager John Carver. Not only did he get to wake up as Newcastle manager every day, but on Sunday, he won a competition held by the club to discover the world’s biggest Toon fan. First prize was lunch with Mike Ashley, which Carver was reportedly thrilled about, as he’d been trying to get a meeting with Ashley since taking the job. This is the second competition John Carver has won this year, the first being the one he entered to become Newcastle manager. 

Tim Sherwood Maintains 100% Record Against Man United

After Saturday’s game at Old Trafford, Tim Sherwood told reporters that he was pleased to have maintained his 100% record against Manchester United, despite having lost the game. When puzzled members of the press quizzed the Aston Villa manager, Sherwood explained that the record he referred to related to a “battle of the managers” – “We might have lost on the pitch, and that’s fine, but off the pitch, between me and Louis, I won that battle. You see? I know we lost the game but in our mind battle I actually won. My tactics were correct, it’s just that it didn’t work out, BUT I am the cleverer manager, is what I’m saying. I won. Just not where you can see, but I did win. 100%. They’ll forget that though, won’t they, when the people all say I’m useless, that I’ve got a 100% record against Manchester United, they’ll forget that. My ratios are sky high. Higher than the sky. I’m 100%.” Continue reading

Leeds United: If ever there was an advert for fan ownership, this is it

Kyle Hulme reports on the potential of Leeds United’s fan ownership…

As I began to write about an ambitious new initiative designed to give fans a stake in Leeds United, news of the suspension of Steve Thompson, Neil Redfearn’s assistant, began to fill my Twitter feed. It upset me; not because I had to delete the words I had already written, but because it served as a reminder that even when you think you’ve turned a corner, sometimes the madness can follow you too.

Thompson was widely acknowledged to have been a key factor of Leeds’ recent upturn in form which saw fans stop shouting about relegation and start whispering of the playoffs. His influence on the club can’t be overstated – from broader impacts such as simply easing the pressure on Redfearn to more specialised focuses like all-but resurrecting the career of Luke Murphy. Yet all of that seemingly matters for nothing as today he’s been suspended until the end of the season and the option to retain him won’t be exercised. It’s a move that has seen Neil Redfearn question his future at the club, and one of several moves that only serve to unite the fanbase against their current owners – which may be the only silver lining to come out of this decision.

In terms of mobilising supporters against the current regime, the timing couldn’t be better. Continue reading

Andros Townsend scores against Italy: 5 things that (may or may not have) happened

After the unthinkable happened and Andros Townsend scored against Italy, Joe Devine looks at 5 things that may or may not have happened…

Andros Townsend Saves England Again

In the biggest news of the week, Andros Townsend once again, single-handedly saved our proud island from those murky foreigners on the mainland. Thousands of adoring fans spoke out about their love for the young journeyman; with many praising Roy Hodgson’s staying faith in the Tottenham midfielder. Townsend himself was delighted to be the centre of attention and professed his glee that a team so mediocre existed as to allow any scraps of burgeoning spotlight to be on him and him alone. Amidst all the glory of a one-all draw with Italy, not even Townsend’s “I was here first” jive, directed at Harry Kane, was enough to dampen the spirits. 

Andros Townsend Silences Critics

Tottenham midfielder Andros Townsend is being investigated in association with a string of ruthless murders. Professional football pundits Paul Merson, Phil Neville and Martin Keown were all discovered decapitated and disembowelled in their homes on Wednesday morning. Each had publicly criticised the England player and newspaper cuttings of their criticisms were found littered around the bodies. Townsend insists he did nothing and only that the men “had it coming”. He is currently being held at a police station in North London, though it is thought that he will be released this afternoon for an unorthodox, early knighting ceremony. Continue reading