About Jonny Singer

Jonny is a freelance sports journalist for Mail Online, ESPN and The Sunday Times. Not that long ago he was lucky enough to write his undergraduate dissertation about the history of football tactics. He has now ventured away from university to find, to his very great surprise, that there are very few places this knowledge is transferable.

Arsenal: Beware the Arshavinication of Mesut Özil


Footbalternative‘s Jonny Singer warns of how a certain German sophisticate could go the way of his Russian predecessor if Arsenal fans don’t learn to love his languid style of play…

If you’ve only followed Arsenal in the press this season you may be under the impression that Mesut Özil’s arrival is the sole reason for their current success.

Of course you’d be wildly wrong. There are at least five Gunners who have performed better than the German playmaker this season: Aaron Ramsey, Per Mertersacker, Kieran Gibbs, Olivier Giroud, and Mathieu Flamini have all been excellent. Bacary Sagna, Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny also hold decent claims to have been better than the former Real Madrid star throughout the Autumn and early Winter..

In fact, Özil has been ok. He’s drifted in and out of games, given the ball away far too often, and, as in last night’s 2-0 defeat of Marseille, missed chances, but that’s fine.

What we’re seeing is a player adapting to a league, playing at only around 70-80% of his potential. In six months or a year’s time he may well be the best player in the Arsenal team, or even the league, but that can’t be expected straight away. Continue reading

Hypothetical XI #23: Shakespeare Characters


In his latest Hypothetical XI, Jonny Singer concocts a team of Shakespearian characters…

While Shakespeare wrote too many wonderful characters to fit all the good ones into a single team (I most regret that there’s no room for Iago, Nurse, Caliban, Falstaff or Portia in the first team) I reckon this side would compete well with any other playwright XI – although I’m not entirely convinced that’s anything to brag about really.

As ever I’ve kept to one character (or group) per play in the first XI – but feel free to add any suggestions in the comments.

Continue reading

Hypothetical XI #21: British Prime Ministers


Footbalternative founder Jonny Singer compiles a Hypothetical XI of former British Prime Ministers…

The modern politician has plenty to say about football. Thatcher had her negativity towards it, Blair his famous pseudo-support, and the present-day House of Commons regularly feels the need to discuss the national sport.

But what would a team of British political leaders look like? Here’s my Prime Minister’s XI: Continue reading

Hypothetical XI #19: Political Philosophy XI


The Hypothetical XI Series returns with Jonny Singer imagining a team composed of political theorists…

Combining philosophy and football is nothing new. From Camus to Joey Barton, the philosopher-footballer has always attracted a certain mystique.

But what about that subset of the philosophical game, the political philosophers? Less abstract than their marginally useless counterparts, less practical than a genuine politician. What would a team of political thinkers look like, based on their works and writings?

Here’s my XI: Continue reading

Forget Özil – There’s Another German behind Arsenal’s Resurgence


In his first article for The False Nine, and in the aftermath of Arsenal’s clinical Champions League performance against Napoli, Jonny Singer eulogises about another German international, instrumental to Arsenal’s recent form…

Last night, Arsenal were brilliant. Not just quite good, not good in patches, but brilliant. Napoli, supposedly one of the best teams in Italy, barely got a foothold in the contest, limited to a fraction of the possession and a few optimistic long shots.

For the Gunners, just a few weeks ago the crisis club of England, the future looks bright. The signing of Mesut Özil has quietened the dissidents, inspired the players, and added much needed quality. They’ll probably go and win everything now – or so the mainstream media would have you believe.

But the progress Arsenal have made does not date from September 2nd, when the German superstar signed for a club-record £42m. They may have won 9 games in a row since he signed, but that’s part of a longer sequence that has seen the club pick up 19 wins, 2 draws and just a single defeat since March 13th 2013.

That was the night Arsenal beat Bayern Munich 2-0 in Germany, not enough to keep them in the Champions League, but the turning point in this squad’s story. And it has not been down to the ‘wizard of Özil’ but rather built on the shoulders of another German – Per Mertesacker. Continue reading