TFN’s Alex Stewart returns with a column on football’s dreaded “narrative”…
Football is confusing, isn’t it? I mean, take Arsenal. Arsenal are shit, aren’t they? We all know that. They’ve a porous defence, weak full-backs who can’t head the ball, injury problems galore, and Arsene Wenger is so confused about who to buy he’s actually taking suggestions by text. Sure, they’re probably top six this season, but only because everyone else is so woeful. And Manchester City are fantastic, right? They’ve qualified for the next round of the Champions League at long last, they’ve got the best striker in the Premier League and they’ve just bought another really, really good one. Vincent Kompany is more than a footballer, he’s a heroic saviour of all that is good and decent in this world, as well as being an elegant, handsome man to boot.
And then Arsenal go and beat City at home and suddenly, aren’t City shit? The Vincent Kompany rare error is becoming the Pepe Reina rare error, according to someone on Twitter. Forget the strikers: City are a one-man team who always lose when Yaya is away on duty with his national side. They have no plan B and no way of rousing themselves from their indolent, slightly apathetic superiority complex and when pushed, often fall over. And aren’t Arsenal amazing? I mean, Alexis Sanchez is the best player in the league, and Wenger was absolutely right to stick with Francis Coquelin and Olivier Giroud and bring in David Ospina; the man is a genius. And Santi’s Cazorla’s not lazy; he’s just been saving himself for the big occasions. Continue reading
Alex Stewart continues his look into language and football, and what the sport as a whole can learn from the USMNT…
The World Cup was a humdinger, wasn’t it? The James turn and volley, the beautifully unexpected performances of teams like Costa Rica and Algeria, that five one shellacking of the indolent Spanish, the heroics of hirsute Tim Howard. That last performance, which inflamed the hearts of American fans neutrals and alike, as he almost single-handedly kept the considerably-less-marauding-than-they-ought-to-have-been Belgians at bay (ok, as a keeper he used both hands and, indeed, his feet, but you know what I mean), similarly scorched Twitter: memes were born and heroics celebrated.
And many with the following appended: #USMNT — the United States Men’s National Team. A touch cumbersome, as social signposting goes, though, for the blood-and-thunder sports fans of the US, comfortingly pugnacious, even bellicose, more Special Forces unit designation than handy football acronym. And the abbreviation is a lot more interesting (and important) than simply be an easy way to navigate oneself towards another Howard stopping a meteorite Photoshop job. Continue reading
Alex Stewart ponders the true meaning of the international break…
Break, n. among other things:
6. An interruption or a disruption in continuity or regularity: television programming without commercial breaks.
7. A pause or interval, as from work: a coffee break.
8. A sudden or marked change: a break in the weather.
(From the free dictionary on the internet)
The international break, as a thing, provokes a variety of responses. A quick and in no way scientific survey conducted on social media earlier by yours truly revealed an array of responses which ran from the wholly positive to the suicidally inclined (injuries, etc etc). A quick trawl of internet-based relevant content shows a predisposition for mordant articles on the impact of said break, the opportunities it creates for club/country schism, luxated joints, and general fatigue (With football itself, even? Is there too much of a good thing?).
Actual fans, not thrallish hacks, seem to run contra-narrative and quite enjoy the change, though some express a genuine and understandable lack of interest based on: aforementioned ‘too much of a good thing’; partisan loyalty to club outweighing country; England not being as good to watch as [insert team of your choice here]. Without doubt, though, the ‘international break’ provokes a myriad of responses and a range of conflicting emotions/thoughts (is emotion too strong a word for this? Not if you’re Brendan Rodgers).
The origins of the phrase ‘international break’ are themselves murky. Wikipedia merely states that it is a “period of time set aside by FIFA for scheduled international matches per their International Match Calendar. Continue reading
Making his first appearance on The False Nine, Alex Stewart from Put Niels In Goal suggests a Hypothetical XI of literary theorists…
Football is a game constantly analysed and debated, abounding with different schools of thought or even ideologies about how the game should be played. As bloggers and journalists are to football, so this lot are to the equally complex world of literature. But what if they were taken out of their natural habitat and thrust into ours?
While I realise the impossibility of them ever happily coexisting for long enough to play 90 minutes, this is my suggestion for an XI of Literary Theorists.
A note on style: while significant emphasis would be placed on set plays, the team has also worked hard on novel approaches. Both creative players like to drift between the lines, and the central midfield’s reading of the game is crucial. The team press hard as a whole and cover metre after metre. All players are expected to be good with their feet. Defeat is never glossed over. And, of course, they’re all encouraged to get booked. Continue reading