“Till Death Do Us Part”: The Fragility of Football Partnerships

Dave Wild reflects on the world of partnerships in football…
“Perfect partners don’t exist. Perfect conditions exist for a limited time in which partnerships express themselves best.” – Wayne RooneyIt’s not often that you have the chance to start an article with a quote from Croxteth’s least heralded philosopher. Yet to hear the Manchester United striker’s words turns the mind to an interesting dynamic in football. The chemistry of a good partnership; a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
The debate on the virtues of individuality versus those of teamwork was nicely summarised in October 2013’s Premier League goal of the month competition. Would it be Arsenal’s intricate clockwork machination of one touch teamwork finish rounded off by Jack Wilshere or the explosive individual brilliance of Pajtim Kasami’s wonder strike? The public overwhelmingly voted in favour of Arsenal’s irresistible metronomic goal, perhaps explaining where our idolatry of the footballing partnership lies. We love to see a team working together. Continue reading

Rafael Schmitz – A Brazilian at Birmingham City


Daniel Ivery, the man behind Often Partisan, takes a look at the highly unmemorable Rafael Schmitz…

Rafael Schmitz signed on loan for Birmingham City for the 2007/08 season from French club Lille. You’d think having a Brazilian in a Blues side would make him stand out but of all our centre-backs from that season I remember him least – which isn’t that surprising if you think that the other players Blues had that year at centre-back were Liam Ridgewell (bless his cotton socks), Johann Djourou (on loan from Arsenal), Martin Taylor (who made that tackle on Eduardo in February 2008) and Tunisian man-mountain Radhi Jaidi.

Schmitz was everything you’d expect from a Brazilian; a good passer, technically proficient but not much of a defender. However, it’s harsh to say that he wasn’t good enough – he’d have prospered with a good partner in the heart of defence but having to play with the likes of the very raw Djourou or the then fairly poor Liam Ridgewell meant that Schmitz wasn’t afforded the luxury of being able to bed in as Blues fought for their Premier League life. Continue reading

The Shape of Things to Come?


False Nine editor, Andrew Belt, looks at the recent sackings at Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest, and laments the diminished role of managers and greater emphasis on owners in the modern game…

Were you at London Road on 17th November? Continue reading

The Strange Case of Mathieu Flamini

False Nine editor Hugo Greenhalgh considers the career of one of his favourite players, Mathieu Flamini, and what the long-term implications of his departure meant for Arsenal…

How does one measure such an abject fall from grace?

In 2008, Mathieu Flamini was arguably one of the best central midfielders in the Premiership and a key member of an Arsenal side that should have won the title that season. Two years previously, he had demonstrated his versatility by filling in at left-back in a Champions League campaign that took Arsenal to the final. Yet just this summer, Flamini became a free agent and was forced to take a significant wage cut to re-join AC Milan. His is a cautionary tale that the grass isn’t always greener. 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