Benteke: Why Arsenal or Spurs would be ideal for Villa’s want-away star


Guest writer Chris Francis weighs up the options for Christian Benteke, and sees North London as an ideal home for Villa’s want-away hitman…

It hardly came as a surprise when Christian Benteke handed in a transfer request earlier this week. In his debut season, he was comfortably the best player in an Aston Villa team that narrowly, although confidently, avoided relegation, putting to bed any questions as to why Paul Lamber had made the Belgian his focal point rather than Darren Bent.

Benteke scored 19 goals in the Premier League last season – 23 in all competitions – bullying defences at both ends of the league, and showing himself to be a dauntless force of goals and attacking composure, taking on the load of heaving Villa to safety across his young yet broad shoulders. Though he is still only 22 Benteke lead from the front like a hardened veteran with years of experience, driving on Villa’s other youngsters to follow his example.

Having shown the league what he can do with limited support, he now wants to play in bigger competitions in a side able to challenge for trophies in the immediate future. Unfortunately for Lambert and those on the Holte End, their’s is a project that will still take time despite the considerable improvement made by Villa’s potential packed squad as last season’s campaign matured.

This week’s transfer request indicates an understanding of the realities of his ambitions and needs, but there are of course a number of asterisk over his name that any potential suitor would need to consider before seeking to snatch him from Villa Park. Continue reading

Football’s Iron Throne: Game of Thrones meets the Premier League


As the third series of Game of Thrones draws to a close, James Dutton and David Wild imagine the parallels between the worlds of Westeros and the Premier League…

As the Premier League continues to enthral millions across the world, so HBO’s serialisation of George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ has captivated a loyal, steadfast and ever-growing audience. Here, The False Nine draws analogies between the two worlds; from the intimidating Britannia Stadium to the formidable Iron Islands, no stone is left unturned. Who will win in the Premier League Game of Thrones?

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Premier League 2012-13: A Season of Sorrow, Part 2 – Unequivocal Misery


In part two of his dissection of this season’s Premier League woes, James Dutton looks at the bottom half of the final table…

If the top-of-the-table is defined by a mixture of disappointment and regret, then the bottom-half can be viewed simply in terms of unequivocal misery.

All teams below 10th finished with under 44 points, which is an extraordinarily low figure. It doesn’t signify a feisty, competitive mini-league, but rather a large pool of potential relegation fodder.

It remains a great shame that only three of them could go down. Continue reading

The Death of the Utility Man


David Wild explores the decline of the utility man across the footballing landscape, and the normalisation of total football…

It’s the 60th minute. You’re 1-0 up and your first choice right back has just gone off injured. What do you do? Nowadays squads are large enough and filled with enough specialist players that this is fast becoming a problem consigned to the history books. In days gone by however most clubs could call upon a fan favourite utility player in times of need, willing to play anywhere if it meant time on the pitch.

Football used to be full of them. Paul Warhurst, an old Oldham favourite, would play a decent job anywhere on the pitch. He’s probably one of the only players who was as effective as a striker as he was a defender. This is excepting, of course, the ever memorable Dion Dublin, striker, defender and percussionist all in one.

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“Brantastic!” – Guy Branston Interview Part 2


In the second and final part of The False Nine’s exclusive interview with on-loan Bristol Rovers defender, Guy Branston, editor, Andrew Belt, gives space to Guy’s thoughts on a number of aspects of the modern game…

Around a fortnight ago, I spoke on the phone to Guy Branston for TFN’s first exclusive interview. Anticipating a limited time with the footballer and All About Ballerz businessman, I was instead afforded close to an hour and a half with Branston and found the chat entertaining and revealing from a football point of view.

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Long Live Boxing Day Football


As the popular adage goes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. False Nine debutant writer, Joe Power looks at the history behind this most English of footballing traditions…

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to see [insert team here] win away. Hey! Continue reading

In Defence of Emile Heskey

Emile Heskey – wrongly maligned?

Last week The False Nine brought you an assessment of the ‘false nine’ role in football. This week editor James Dutton looks at one of the most-maligned proponents of the old-school centre-forward…

Have you heard the one about Emile Heskey? Continue reading