A passionate plea for more passion in football

Elko Born considers the apparent need for more passion from certain football managers…

As someone who grew up outside of Britain, some of the convictions and norms of a lot of Premier League spectators simultaneously amuse and confuse me.

Take your average British fan’s tendency to automatically question the qualities of any footballer who has ever played in the Dutch Eredivisie. Because Afonso Alves was bad when he played for Middlesbrough, the reasoning seems to go, every former Eredivisie footballer ever will always fail in the Premier League.

Recently, some Manchester United fans have started taking offence to manager Louis van Gaal’s touchline antics, or lack thereof. If Twitter is to be believed, anyway.

Van Gaal needs to get off his arse, these critics make known. How can he expect to be a good manager when he’s sitting in the dugout all the time? He needs to go and stand near the touchline so he can effectively shout at the footballers.  Continue reading

Podcast: Episode 12 – Beef

Greg, James and Elko welcome Alex Stewart onto the pod after a week of prime beef to talk Southampton, England’s Ajax, defensive issues at Liverpool, the trend of top clubs doubling up on goalkeepers, problems at Manchester United, defensive midfielders *AND TO FINISH OFF* the two most pressing questions in the game today.

Listen on iTunes.

Podcast: Episode 10 – Elko comes to London

The False Nine podcast is back, with new regular guest Elko Born joining Greg Johnson, James Dutton and Francis to talk England, Wayne Rooney, Netherlands after van Gaal and the transfer window.

As you may be able to tell from the “atmosphere” during the recording, the pod took place at The Candid Cafe in Angel. Be sure to swing by for some cake and a coffee next time you’re in the area.

Listen on iTunes.

Andy van der Meyde: Zlatan’s partner in crime


TFN regular Elko Born remembers the infamous Andy van der Meyde…

Most of the boys in the Ajax academy are from Amsterdam or the area surrounding the Dutch capital. Boys from other parts of the country usually get picked up by other clubs. PSV Eindhoven, for example, rules the South of the country. Clubs like Heerenveen and FC Groningen rule the North.

Andy van der Meyde was born and bred in Arnhem, a medium sized town in the centre of the Netherlands. Yet it wasn’t Vitesse, his home town side, or any of the other clubs in the Arnhem area who spotted his talent when he was a boy. By some twist of faith, it was an Ajax scout.  Continue reading

Clarence Seedorf: Rebel with a cause


TFN’s resident Dutch football expert, Elko Born, looks at Clarence Seedorf’s appointment as the new AC Milan manager…

Clarence Seedorf made his Ajax-debut at the age of 16. Along with fellow Godenzonen like Frank de Boer, Edgar Davids and Patrick Kluivert, he won the Champions League a couple of years later.

Soon after, he embarked on a world tour, playing for Sampdoria, Real Madrid, Inter, A.C. Milan and Botafogo. He won the Champions League a total of four times, making him the only player ever to win the prestigious cup with three different clubs.

Last week, he retired from football to become A.C. Milan’s new manager at the age of 37.

In many ways, the appointment makes sense. Seedorf has a very friendly relationship with A.C. Milan’s owner Silvio Berlusconi, and what’s more, the fans in Italy adore him. Incongruently wise for his age, it’s always been obvious he possesses certain leadership qualities – Simon Kuper once described his personality as ‘an extreme version of the responsible eldest son’. Continue reading

Football, globalization, and the Dutchman from Japan


Elko Born explores some recent trends in the globalization of football, including the interesting case of Mike Havenaar…

Some scholars argue that the process of ‘globalization’ (broadly defined as the global integration of various aspects of culture) started in the 16th Century, when maritime empires such as Portugal and the Dutch Republic started colonizing parts of Asia and the Americas, setting up trade routes and kickstarting modern capitalism along the way.

Others argue that it wasn’t Columbus who ‘discovered’ the Americas, that the ancient Greeks and the Romans used the so-called ‘Silk Route’ to trade with China, and that the process of ‘globalization’ started when humans first started interacting with others of their kind.

Nonetheless, it’s fair to state that in recent decades, the process of globalization – whenever it may have started – reached a new phase: the phase of automatization and the gradual diminishing of the relevance of national borders. Just think of the Internet, the EU, and of eating Kettle crisps whilst crossing the border between France and Belgium without showing anyone your passport.

The birth of modern football, of course, largely coincided with this new phase in globalization. During the 1960s, when politicians were negotiating the supranational perimeters of the European Union (dubbed by some as the modern day Habsburg Empire), football produced its first superstars.

The fame of footballers like Pelé reached far beyond Brazil, and across the world, people took time off to sit in front of their black and white television sets to watch the South American legend play. Indeed, when Pelé jokingly put himself ahead of Jesus Christ by telling a reporter that “there are parts of the world where Jesus Christ is not so well known”, he wasn’t even being absurd. Continue reading

Why football fans should all watch Downton Abbey

Downton Football

Anglophile and Downton Abbey fanatic Elko Born looks at the parallels between the most popular weekly pantomime on TV and Julian Fellows’ ratings winner…

You might have a wife or mum who forces you to watch it. You might have a girlfriend who uses it as a commodity (‘We watch this together and then you can watch Match of the Day 2 while I brush my teeth’). You might simply have a sensitive heart that finds solace in idyllic depictions of post-Edwardian Britain on rainy Sundays (I’m not talking about myself, I’m not talking about myself…).

Whatever the case, you must have heard of ITV’s hit series Downton Abbey, the Sunday night historic soap opera set in a fantasy world where class divisions might exist but—oh how heartwarming—don’t matter in the end.

You might not have realised, but there isn’t much difference between fans of Downton Abbey and the average football enthusiast. In the end, viewers of the popular costume drama and fanatic followers of the Premier League are after the same things: stories about love, life, fear and death. Not convinced? Then let the following list of examples serve as a case in point. Continue reading