Piers Barber defends the League Cup and reminds us of the competition’s best ever games…
The poor old League Cup. Everyone’s least favourite English football competition has been on the receiving end of all sorts of abuse in recent years, consistently blamed for causing pesky fixture congestion and derided for only featuring the reserve squads of the nation’s leading teams.
Yet the tournament, which was founded (for some reason or another) in 1960, has far more to offer than this conventional ‘narrative’ tends to suggest. In fact, in recent years it has arguable staged far more entertaining and attacking fixtures than much of what the FA Cup, it’s older and more respected sibling, has had to offer. It’s also repeatedly proved vital to kick-starting a manager’s tenure or getting one out of a barren spell – just ask Jose Mourinho or Sir Alex Ferguson. And, as Birmingham City and Swansea City have proved in recent years, it can bring glory to supporters normally unaccustomed to winning anything.
So in honour of this weird and wonderful trophy, here are some of the best games the competition has hosted in recent years. Warning: very bad defending features throughout. Continue reading →
Tom Victor looks back with fondness at the 2000-1 Champions League season…
Over the last few years the Champions League has – in amongst the tired predictability of shit-on-a-stick derbies and Messi and Ronaldo hat-tricks – had moments of bona fide craziness so ridiculous you wonder whether they actually happened.
Classic examples include Monaco’s 8-3 win over Deportivo La Coruña in 2003 and Lyon getting the win by five clear goals to qualify from their group in 2011, but nothing matches the 2000-01 competition for moments that make you look back and think “what, really”? Continue reading →
Elko Born looks at the impact Belgian footballers have had on the historical, cultural rivalry between Belgium and The Netherlands…
‘It still gives me a stomach ache,’ FC Twente’s chairman Joop Munsterman recently told Elf Voetbal, reminiscing about the 15th of May 2011: the day Ajax beat Twente 3-1 in a thrilling, last day of the season title decider.
How different it must have been for Ajax’s fans and players. By beating Twente 3-1, Ajax didn’t just win the title, they won their first title in seven years, a nightmare inducing low haul for Ajax’s high (and according to many, arrogant) standards. Low especially because throughout all those years, Ajax needed just one more title in order to place a long sought after ‘third star’ on their red and white jerseys.
The Ajax fans wanted that third star. They were prepared to go to war that third star. To kill for it even.
By clinching that thirtieth title (you get a star for every ten championships), Belgian international Jan Vertonghen, who had been an Ajax player since the age of 16, finally fulfilled the role everyone had long expected of him and his highly rated young teammates. If Vertonghen had a stomach ache, he would have had it before the match, not after it. Continue reading →
With the dawn of a new era breaking over Old Trafford, Greg Johnson looks back to some of football’s most famous (and infamous) hand overs of power between dynasties, empires and icons…
On July 1, David Moyes will enter the manager’s office at Manchester United’s Carrington training complex for first time, not as a visitor but as its reigning incumbent following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
The club’s selection of successor to follow in the footsteps of their outgoing leader has been widely discussed online and off. Is Moyes capable of lifting the team to the precarious heights many argue Jose Moruinho would have been certain to deliver? Why was the capture of Jurgen Klopp, with his exciting, direct football and evangelism of youth talent, not priotitsed? How important will Moyes’ domestic experience and strict management of Everton be in ensuring transition at the top runs smooth?
Having recommended Moyes for the post himself, Sir Alex clearly believes the Scotsman to be capable of building on his work, but are such handovers of power, with their ceremonial baton passes, effective at protecting a footballing empire?
Below are five examples of successions from football’s past for United fans to mull over. Continue reading →
With the world’s richest teams looking to buy-in whole chunks of Borussia Dortmund rather than their individual stars, Greg Johnson looks at 10 examples of clubs who purchased more than just the opposition’s players…
Having put four goals past Real Madrid in the first leg of Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League tie last week, Robert Lewandowski will step out onto the grass of the Bernabeu tonight as the game’s most talked about danger man. Over the past seven days the Pole has filled the column inches of the football press like expanding sealant foam, even eclipsing the box office media clout of Cristiano Ronaldo thanks to his impact last Wednesday.
Now perhaps the most fashionable striker in Europe, Lewandowski has made it known that he wishes to leave Dortmund at the end of this season, setting the continent’s most monied clubs on high alert to capture his signature. Continue reading →
In his first article for The False Nine, Joshua Jalal looks at the development of Major League Soccer…
Back in 1988 FIFA awarded the fifteenth edition of the World Cup to the United States on the condition the USA established a new league following the collapse of the NASL. In 1996 the MLS was established. Despite its eighteen year existence, it was only in 2006 that the league was globally recognized by fans and other football organisations. Continue reading →
2013 marks the tenth anniversary of the January Transfer Window, Freddie Mickshik looks at some of the transfers that have become part of football folklore…
It’s the start of 2013, which aside from futile resolutions and intense hangovers means the opening of the January transfer window, as it celebrates its 10th anniversary. This mid-season shopping window gives managers the chance to add to their squad and potentially find those extra few goals or tighten a shaky back four enough to secure a title or beat the drop. The shortness and timing of it, however, means the new year sees many a panic buy (Savio anyone? Thought not.)