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TFN Editor Hugo Greenhalgh tackles one of football’s uncomfortable home truths…
There was a depressing air of familiarity in some of the responses to Hector Bellerin’s recent appearance at London Fashion Week. The Arsenal defender was photographed in the front row of the event, wearing something that looked a little like a dressing gown, with a pair of Gucci slippers. Rather than simply acknowledging a young footballer might want to do something interesting in the capital on a rare evening out, some publications cut a more vicious tone.
Commenting on Bellerin’s outfit, The Sportsman tweeted, “Get him in the bin, shocking that”. Scottish site Talking Baws wrote, “his latest outing saw him arrive in WOMEN’S pyjamas” (the emphasis is theirs). Others tweeted “She’s lost the fucking plot” and “What a twat”.
What is it that the football community finds so offensive about a confident, cosmopolitan young man enjoying himself? The insinuation here is pretty obvious. In wearing clothes that are a little ostentatious and more flamboyant than the average footballer or fan’s, Bellerin is seen to have crossed the threshold of what is considered acceptable masculinity. Between the lines, they’re saying: it’s not straight, ergo he’s gay. Continue reading
This interview was originally published in April 2015 for Moresport
Robin Shroot’s career in England was stalling, and he knew it. In any profession, it’s important to keep testing yourself and improving your skills, even if that means a change in direction. Shroot was earning a comfortable salary at Stevenage but internal politics and managerial changes left him out of the side and in search of a new challenge. He found it in the most unlikely of locations: western Norway.
“I was deemed surplus to requirements at Stevenage. I think I just obviously wasn’t the manager’s cup of tea which was fair enough”, Shroot reflects. “I trained with the kids for six months”. At 26 years-old, he felt he’d reached a crossroads in his career and was desperate to play for a club with a more technical approach to the game.
Faced with several unappealing loan moves, Shroot decided instead to cancel his contract and go it alone. Having made one brave decision, he took another and cast his eye further afield in an attempt to fulfil a lifelong ambition of playing abroad. “The opportunity came up to go to Sarpsborg, Brian Deane’s club. I went there for a week and it was great”, he recalls of his first experience in Norway. Deane and his assistant Ian Burchnall, who is now at Viking Stavanger, were a huge help and he took to his new environment immediately. “It was really refreshing to experience a new football culture and I really enjoyed it.” Continue reading
TFN Editor Hugo Greenhalgh discusses his relationship with football since moving to America and (un)following Arsenal…
A humorous tweet was doing the rounds this week on Arsenal Twitter. The official account tweeted that it was only one week until domestic football resumed to which one fan responded, “Can you make it 2 I’m quite enjoying myself at the moment”.
A few days later, I found myself saying something similar. Catching up with a friend back in England, we started to talk about what we were looking forward to this summer. I replied, “the football season being over.”
Following Arsenal from any corner of the globe in 2017 has quickly turned into an abject misery. The season peaked in September with a 3-0 victory over Chelsea. The losers that day responded by changing their system and look set to clinch the title in emphatic manner; Arsenal, the winners, find themselves in familiar surroundings – out of the Champions League and clamouring to get back into the top four. The love affair with Alexis Sanchez is over; the closest I’ll likely get to a Chilean red next season will come in a glass bottle. Continue reading
TFN Editor Hugo Greenhalgh on the sad reality of Claudio Ranieri’s sacking…
A few weeks, a group of friends and I were discussing the “sunk cost fallacy”. The theory is as follows: once a cost is “sunk” (ie. it cannot be recovered), we should never make a decision based on what has already been invested. For example, there is no point persevering with a bad film if you aren’t enjoying it – better to forget the time you’ve already wasted and watch something else. This kind of thinking can also apply to our personal lives; if a relationship is no longer enjoyable and run its course, we shouldn’t let the emotions we put in in the past affect the future. Continue reading
TFN Editor Hugo Greenhalgh marvels at a prodigious striker and explains why young footballers are one of the game’s greatest charms…
Watching Wednesday night’s game between Manchester City and Monaco – a sure contender for one of the best of the season – it was hard not to enjoy a breakout performance from 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe. Within the first 10 minutes, the young Frenchman was already terrorizing the City defence and he capped off a great first half display with a goal, a cool half-volley past Willy Caballero.
This was Mbappe’s first Champions League start and there is something very special about watching a young player rise to the occasion so capably. Putting partisanship aside, the emergence of any youngster who is ready to perform on Europe’s grand stage is a sight to be reveled in. Mbappe has already had a remarkable season, becoming the youngest player to score a hat-trick in Ligue 1 earlier this month. Continue reading
To celebrate the life of the late Graham Taylor, TFN editor Hugo Greenhalgh reflects on the documentary that cemented his legacy as a genuine and honest football man…
In the early 1990s, Channel 4 began filming a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary about the England football team’s qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup.
The film was unique, offering unprecedented access inside the England camp that would be almost unimaginable today. Yet it also left a comedy legacy seen in characters like David Brent, Alan Partridge and most potently, Mike Bassett. This is the story of Do I Not Like That and it is one of the most understatedly brilliant in sport.
The tragic protagonist of the film is England manager Graham Taylor. After successful spells at the helm of Watford and Aston Villa, Taylor took the job in 1990, after Sir Bobby Robson had taken the Three Lions to the semi-finals. However, England’s early exit at Euro 1992 saw press criticism mount, particularly from The Sun who gave Taylor the flattering nickname of ‘Turnip’. Continue reading
TFN editor Hugo Greenhalgh returns to reflect on Arsène Wenger’s 20 years at Arsenal and share a couple of personal memories…
“Ready or not, here I come…”
So sang Lauryn Hill on The Fugees’ “Ready or Not”, the U.K. Number 1 single on September 22 1996 – the day Arsène Wenger was unveiled as Arsenal manager. English football probably wasn’t ready for Wenger, whose methods and managerial style have had an unrivalled influence on the game over the past 20 years, in a career that is unlikely to ever be repeated.
A look at some of the other Premiership managers at the time of his arrival reveals much about the football landscape. Ron Atkinson, David Pleat, Jim Smith…many of Wenger’s rivals were of the old school and he came in as an unknown outsider. Not only did his nationality mark him out as different, his last job had been at Grampus Eight in Japan, a role he’d taken to challenge himself and to experience a change of culture. Continue reading