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
TFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh thinks Wayne Rooney should be revered rather than ridiculed…
There was something reassuring about Manchester United’s comfortable 3-0 victory over Tottenham last Sunday. The ease at which United blitzed past Spurs was reminiscent of a Sir Alex Ferguson performance; the kind of game Fergie used to prepare for by telling the dressing room, “Lads, it’s Tottenham”, as Roy Keane revealed in his autobiography.
What will have been particularly pleasing for United fans was the display of Wayne Rooney. The England captain put in one of his best performances of the season, capping it off with a goal at the end of the first half. Picking up Nabil Bentaleb’s stray pass, Rooney danced past the remaining Spurs defenders and stuck it past Hugo Lloris with a nonchalance that recalled a player in his pomp.
The celebration that followed was a wonderful touch of self-awareness. There were shades of Robbie Fowler and Paul Gascoigne as Rooney showed the ability to laugh at himself – as well as the morning papers. It also served as a massive release for a player who has endured a significant amount of criticism over his career. Continue reading
TFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh previews Middlesbrough ahead of their FA Cup clash against Arsenal and explains why there is much to admire about the North East club…
Last season, Middlesbrough made the rather brave managerial appointment of Aitor Karanka. While a refreshing change from the same old names on the British managerial merry-go-round, Karanka had never managed a league game before he arrived on Teesside. His credentials were based on his time coaching the Spain U-16s and three years spent as Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Real Madrid. His Real appointment was even something of a surprise for Karanka, who had never worked with Mourinho before. The recommendation had come from former Bernabeu teammates, Luis Figo and Clarence Seedorf – high praise indeed.
One year on and Karanka is doing an excellent job at Boro. His first season was one of stabilisation and ensuring the club didn’t slip further down the table. They were in the bottom half when he joined but he guided them to a 12th place finish. This season has been a different story, however, and Karanka is beginning to put his own stamp on the club. Middlesbrough are top of the Championship following their defeat of Blackpool on Tuesday night and are now 10 games unbeaten. Continue reading
In Part 3 of TFN’s State of the Game Series, James Dutton and Hugo Greenhalgh look at the ASPIRE Academy – a model that combines top class coaching with valuable life skills…
Last month, James Ducker published an in-depth study on young footballers in The Times. The series, entitled ‘From superstars to scrapheap’, examined the emotional damage that can be caused to young players who are released, especially those who fail to earn a scholarship or professional contract. A rather bleak study conducted by the charity XPRO revealed that “96% of scholars signed by clubs in England and Wales at 16 will not play again from the age of 18 and of those who do earn professional contracts, only 2% will still be professionals past 21”. Furthermore, over half of 15-18 year olds who were released suffered from depression or anxiety, and were turning to alcohol or substance abuse.
While these figures may not be altogether surprising given the unpredictability of most careers in football, it is worrying that a support network doesn’t exist for these young men. One day they are the club’s latest prospects, the next they could be released and unemployed. The players know full well that football is a life choice that requires more hard work than most, but if and when that plan falls through, they are left with very few qualifications and sacrificed full time education in order to give it a shot.
One institution who are trying to combat this is South London’s ASPIRE Academy. The Academy, founded by Dulwich Hamlet manager Gavin Rose, began in 2002 and its mission statement is to provide a football and educational programme for 16 – 18 year old males, to pursue their dream of playing professional football whilst also furthering their education. Dulwich play in the Ryman Premier Division, the seventh tier of English football, but the academy setup is the envy of many professional clubs. Continue reading