Hypothetical XI #20: Literary Theorists

sartre-omelettesMaking his first appearance on The False Nine, Alex Stewart from Put Niels In Goal suggests a Hypothetical XI of literary theorists…

Football is a game constantly analysed and debated, abounding with different schools of thought or even ideologies about how the game should be played. As bloggers and journalists are to football, so this lot are to the equally complex world of literature. But what if they were taken out of their natural habitat and thrust into ours?

While I realise the impossibility of them ever happily coexisting for long enough to play 90 minutes, this is my suggestion for an XI of Literary Theorists.

A note on style: while significant emphasis would be placed on set plays, the team has also worked hard on novel approaches. Both creative players like to drift between the lines, and the central midfield’s reading of the game is crucial. The team press hard as a whole and cover metre after metre. All players are expected to be good with their feet. Defeat is never glossed over. And, of course, they’re all encouraged to get booked. 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

Hypothetical XI #18: Buyers Remorse – When New Signings Become Expensive Loans

The Hypothetical XI series returns as David Wild looks at expensive transfers which became glorified loan moves…

Football likes to reflect our social habits in a microcosm. Maybe it was that particuarly jazzy t-shirt you thought you’d buy one breezy summer’s day. Maybe it was that Guitar you bought, promising yourself that you’d know more than Purple Rain by next month. Or maybe it was that revolutionary shiatsu massage machine you got for yourself thinking it was the thing that was going to change your life forever.

The common theme running throughout all of these purchases is that we spent a lot of money, expected a great deal, and were left empty, disappointed and unfulfilled. Eventually all too soon we cast aside the objects of our desires. Out of disinterest, out of embarassment out of disgust. Feelings of deep regret prevented us from looking at them; sometimes we’d even just forgotten they were there.

Suitably football has seen to recreate this phenomenon in its own way. Year on year we’re greeted with the big signings who are seen by executives, managers and fans as the best thing since sliced bread. Year on year we see them inexplicably skirt around the fringes of the club before being swiftly ushered out of the door again. Essentially they may as well not have been owned by the club they were there for that short a time; they become football’s tribute to Wonga, an incredibly expensive loan. Here are some of the best: Continue reading

Hypothetical XI #17: The Best of Wigan Athletic in the Premier League

Wigan Team

So long Wigan Athletic, and thanks for all the fish end of season memories. As Roberto Martinez’s men slip into the Championship, with an unlikely FA Cup under their arm for their efforts, Simon Smith salutes their greatest hits with a hypothetical squad list of players who have excelled at the DW over the last eight years…

After eight years in the Premier League that nobody could have predicted back in 2005, Wigan Athletic will depart the glitz and glamour of the top flight leaving us with the memories of so many exciting but fundamentally flawed teams. I’m not sure which is harder, choosing the creative players to omit or the defenders to include… Nonetheless, here’s an ultimate Wigan XI from the last eight years that reflects the nature of the team: a controversial and uncompromising 3-2-5 to have the purist salivating and the Italian fan crying with rage, sheer rage at the audacity to play so open! Continue reading

Hypothetical XI #16 – Reality TV Footballers

Danny Mills Masterchef

No longer restricted to the sofa filled studios of post-match punditry, football players have begun to mount an invasion on the all-conquering primetime formats of reality TV.

Rich Nelson, founder of the UK’s premier (and only) website on Finnish football, Escape To Suomi, offers up a hypothetical XI of stars who’ve swapped the pitch for the celebrity broadcast circuit.

GK Hope Solo (Dancing with the Stars)

A controversial selection to start with, but one for equality. The USA women’s team goalkeeper, winner of two Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012, appeared on the American version of Strictly Come Dancing in 2011 where she reached the semi-finals. Such fine dance moves will help her keep a clean sheet in the Hypothetical goal.

RB Danny Mills (Masterchef)

England’s 2002 World Cup right-back made his reality TV bow in the 2012 edition of Celebrity Masterchef – showing he’s not just Gary Neville’s understudy. But losing to a bit-part actor in Jonathan Creek will hurt, and he’s now hamming it up on BBC radio, no doubt hoping for a chance to return to television. Continue reading

Hypothetical XI #15: Persian Empire


In our latest historically charged hypothetical XI, Bantr‘s Ben Davies compiles a team to represent the length and breadth of the ancient empires of Persia…

The Persians certainly know how to knock an empire together. First kicked off around 600 BC by King Cyrus, no relation to Miley, the somewhat ambitious dominion became the biggest empire the world had ever seen. Before Alexander The Great rolled into town in 330 AD, their dominance at one point spanned from Egypt to India and pretty much every piece of land in-between.

Last time we personally checked in with the Persians was at the cinema in 2006 AD when their momentous army got their backsides handed to them by 300 greased up body builders. In a desperate bid to display bouncebackability, we’ve composed a Persian XI to win back the respect of Gerard Butler and the masses.

Our side consists of 11 players born and bred in land once governed by the Persians and now defined by modern day nations. From Pakistan to Armenia, Kuwait to Israel, our selection policy has mainly comprised of Ancient border research that Indiana Jones would be proud of.

The result is quite the cosmopolitan crew and includes personnel familiar, undiscovered and on the brink of making it big. Continue reading

Hypothetical XI #14 – NATO v Warsaw Pact


In the most ambitious Hypothetical XI to date, James Dutton imagines a historical parallel football battleground, between the old lines of east and west…

Let’s indulge in a bit of parallel modern history. What if the Cold War had continued on into the present day, stuck in the rut of its 1950s origins?

Based around the opposing ideologies and world doctrines of the time, NATO and the Warsaw Pact were the literal manifestation of the polarized split of world politics in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was assembled in 1949 as a trans-atlantic alliance against the rising tide of Communist agitation in the East of Europe and Asia.

The Warsaw Pact was, likewise, a mutual defense treaty but agreed between the eight Communist states of Eastern Europe and signed as a reaction to the integration of West Germany into NATO in 1955.

In this alternative reality fantasy, NATO and the Warsaw Pact’s founding member states have lowered their nuclear deterrents for the sake of humanity, preferring to shift their opposing political struggle to the less deadly but no less serious theatre of Cold War conflict: the football pitch. Continue reading