About Greg Johnson

Formerly co-editor of The False Nine, Greg has now left to become Features Editor for Squawka. He is also a contributor to The Blizzard, FourFourTwo and other football publications. Read his archive of TFN articles by clicking the link below or follow him on Twitter.

False nines, Fugazi and false idols

TFN editor Greg Johnson reckons there’s something false about how football fans have come to use that very word…

People get very upset about others wanting to try and be clever or more ambitious with their language. It’s not fear. Too often when people whine, complain and criticise it’s put down to some sense of terror or jealousy, but that’s not the case. Instead, there exists a strange desire to manage how other people use the words we know, use and perhaps, in our heads at least, own to some extent. Seeing someone else misuse or mangle our special words, or try to bring in new terms into a semantic field we’ve already decided is settled, can conjure up great feelings of anger and entitled from those who object.

Take the talk of “false nines”. For some, it’s enough to set the old eyes rolling back and trigger dismissive scoffs of derision about people of a certain pretension, or whom are attempting to gain a level of knowledge or insight that their critic believes is above their station. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea of a “false” No. 9. In fact, once those embittered antagonists get over their own spite and consider the label, it makes sense. 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.

How the USA became likeable once more at Brazil 2014

Greg Johnson ponders how the global superpower behind drone strikes and The War On Terror become one of the feel good football hits of the summer…

For all the shocks and surprises conjured up by the World Cup this summer, Brazil 2014 ultimately turned out to be a victory for the football establishment. The world’s best player won the award for being the best player and the competition’s most consistent team in recent years clinched the trophy for the fourth time in their history. In the end, the bold resistance against reputations and FIFA rankings appeared to have been futile, and yet a power shift of sorts may have taken place, if not on the field of play.

No one expected the USA to emerge as the popular choice for those seeking a second team to get behind in Brazil and yet, following the action in pubs and bars across the Atlantic, it was hard not to sense that they had become the adoptive nation of choice for (non-American) football fans.

Casting Algeria and Chile as likeable underdogs isn’t controversial but it will always seem odd to describe a nation boasting both the world’s biggest economy and largest stockpile of nuclear weapons as “plucky” in any setting. Given their population and resources, the ascendency of the USA has long lingered on the game’s horizon. They could dominate the sport if only they’d take it seriously. The mockery that greets their every misstep of incompetence in the game is in part due to fear of what they could become if they got their act together. Continue reading

World Cup 2014: ITV Preview Belgium v Algeria

James Dutton and Greg Johnson imagine the scenes in the ITV studios as they cover Belgium’s opening game at the 2014 World Cup against Algeria…

Adrian Chiles: Goeiendag! Hallo! Welgekomen to ITV’s coverage of the Red Devils from Belgium against the Desert Foxes of Algeria. Yes, that’s right, Belgium are in town and the golden generation is ready to take the world by storm. With me, overlooking the beauty of the Copacabana Beach are Lee Dixon, Roy Kea… sorry… Patrick Vieira and Fabio Cannavaro. Continue reading