Fifteen years after David Beckham’s brilliant free-kick against Greece, James Dutton looks back at the moment that defined the England captain…
In English football there has always been a fascination with the individual. From the cult of the manager to the star player, the influence of one has often been viewed as greater than the collective.
It is why the job of England manager continues to be sold as among the biggest in world football; the idea that one man can turn around years of infrastructural complacency and negligence.
The Roy of the Rovers phenomenon that has gripped English football for over 50 years still dominates. It is why Manchester United ‘owe it’ to Wayne Rooney to fit him into the first eleven, why dropping Steven Gerrard in his final season at Liverpool became such a seismic issue.
All-action super-heroes and chest-thumping talismanic captains are what England specialise in. And yet, it is a country without a major honour in 50 years, who haven’t since defeated a major nation at the knockout stage of a tournament in normal time. Continue reading
Jonny Singer takes an alternative look at Arsene Wenger’s 20 years at Arsenal…
Between my fifth and six birthdays, two events took place that would shape not only my childhood, but also my teenage years and much of my adult life to this point.
On October 1 1996, Arsene Wenger began his 20 years as Arsenal manager, sparking the most successful period in the club’s history.
About nine months later, just as Wenger prepared for his first full season in charge, in which a young boy would become a regular in the West Stand at Highbury and watch Dennis Bergkamp make sport into poetry on the way to a double, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published.
Two decades on, and it seems fitting to examine the legacy of Wenger at Arsenal. Several brilliant articles have been written on it, notably Joe Bernstein in the Mail and Barney Ronay in the Guardian, while John Cross’ book on the Wenger years is a pretty complete analysis.
But none of them, as far as I can tell, have touched on the key aspect of the legacy debate – the Albus Dumbledore problem (more on that later). Continue reading