Hypothetical XI #27: England’s one-cap Wonders

Ahead of England’s Euro 2016 Qualifier against Slovenia and Wayne Rooney’s 100th cap, Dave Hughes brings us a hypothetical XI of England’s one-cap wonders…

Ah, the one-cap wonder. It comes in many forms.

There is the in-form man, who deceives the nation with a clutch of eye-catching club displays before having their shortcomings mercilessly exposed on the international stage. The stop-gap, summoned to national duty during a desperate injury crisis. There are those who display genuine promise before tragedy curtails their careers or, in some tragic cases, their lives.

And, of course, there is Seth Johnson.

In the spirit of optimism (or kindness in the case of David Nugent), players who have currently won one cap but may, with a fair wind, regain their place been omitted. Hence the absence of the likes of Jack Butland, Jake Livermore and Steve Caulker. The inclusion of Kevin Davies is based on the premise that the three goals he has scored in 46 appearances for Preston North End are unlikely to earn the 37-year-old an 11th-hour recall. Although you never know. Continue reading

Hypothetical XI #26: The Avengers Age Of Ultron Clasico

TFN debutant and La Liga expert, Muhammad aka MochineGun, goes all Nick Fury on us as he tries to put together a super-powered team to take down Cristiano Ronaldo this weekend…

Yesterday, the internet awoke to something pretty special. After a nefarious leak, Marvel decided to bless us with an early release of the full HD teaser trailer for next summer’s blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The trailer itself was pretty great, but there was something striking about the opening line from Ultron: “I’m gonna show you something beautiful. Everyone screaming, for mercy.” Musa Okwonga was the first to make the link.

Yes! Those scenes of mass destruction at the hands of a super being: that was Anfield on Wednesday night. It was Cristiano Ronaldo who led the way in Real Madrid’s 3-0 decimation of Liverpool with a beautiful goal that, well, had the Kop screaming for mercy before they applauded him from the field.

Cristiano is ruthless right now, destroying opponent after opponent. In fact in many ways he is just like Ultron; angry at the world for not appreciating him enough, thus he’s out to remind them all how brutally brilliant he is. In the film, The Avengers will try and stop Ultron, but who can stop Cristiano Ronaldo here in real-life? What’s that, El Clasico is on Saturday? A star-studded showdown where Cristiano’s Real Madrid take on Barcelona; a team of superheroes that just a few years ago delighted and thrilled us much like The Avengers? Well there’s only one thing for this then: a Hypothetical Age Of Ultron XI! Continue reading

Hypothetical XI #25: The Ryder Cup

Jonny Singer imagines a Ryder Cup hypothetical XI of the US and European teams…

Whether you’re a regular golf follower or a casual observer once every two years, the Ryder Cup seems to capture the imagination of sports fans everywhere each time it comes around.

For three days, as a sporting community, we’ve put putts first, prioritised foursomes over four-four-two, and generally made matchplay golf the centre of our world.

But football is now well and truly back. A week packed with Champions League showdowns and Europa League snore-fests, followed by a Premier League programme with nothing to distract from it. No more applauding good play from either side. No more will a polite question of tactics be seen as a crisis. We return to blissful, tribal, perpetually ‘crisis’-ridden football. Continue reading

Hypothetical XI #24: Italian Renaissance Artists


In her first piece for TFN, Liz Heade of The Thinking Woman’s Football Blog gives us a team of Italian Renaissance Artists…

1-4-3-2 Formation – Being an Italian side, nothing short of a traditional catenaccio system can be contemplated.  It will employ a withdrawn Libero (the terrifying CARAVAGGIO) and fast wing-backs (the swashbuckling youngster PARMIGIANINO and the lithe and powerful VERONESE) capable of getting the ball forward quickly to the ultimate Trequartista (LEONARDO da VINCI) and the flair No 9 (the exquisite finisher MICHELANGELO).  The side will be managed by the great Florentine architect, goldsmith and mathematician Filippo BRUNELLESCHI, the Enzo Bearzot of the 15th century. 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 #22: Roald Dahl Characters


The False Nine’s Dave Hughes imagines an XI comprised of Roald Dahl characters…

Roald Dahl created some of the most imaginative, eccentric and well-loved characters ever seen in children’s literature.

Here’s would have happened if he had opted to remove his creations from the fantastical worlds of his novels and thrust them into the harsh landscape of professional football…

Manager – Roald Dahl

Dahl was a complex and conflicted character, which is reflected in his books, which constantly veer between the whimsical and the vicious. However, this split personality could prove ideal, given the task he faces reconciling the various characters and species within his line-up.

His superb sense of humour and genuine love of children would certainly help him to coax the best out of players such as James Trotter and Matilda. However, he could be a vicious, short-tempered bully to those who crossed him – The Independent once (hilariously!) referred to him as “Big Unfriendly Bastard”. This uncompromising, hairdryer approach would surely keep disruptive influences such as Mr Twit and The Grand High Witch in check.

He has frequently been accused of anti-Semitism, and eventually had to remove racist undertones from early editions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which depicted Oompa-Loompas as a tribe of black pygmies. It therefore seems likely that Dahl would adopt a narrow (-minded) formation, with a compact midfield diamond. 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