TFN debutant Will Magee re-imagines the top four and the race for the Champions League…
Do you like football? Any football at all? Then the chances are you’ve read several astoundingly reprocessed ‘top-four race’ pieces in the last few weeks. These articles are the reanimated undead of the Premier League season, the phantoms that plague the minds of hungover sport writers, the ghosts at the top-flight feast; they appear every year at exactly the same time to remind us that our lives are, essentially, hauntingly repetitive – and that Arsenal will most likely finish fourth.
The prediction for this year goes like this: Chelsea in first, Manchester City in second, two of Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool in the lesser Champions League spots. It’s really no more complicated than that. A maverick journalist will throw Tottenham into the mix every once in a while in an attempt to break the cycle, but do so with the poignant knowledge that this is totally, utterly futile – a puny act of rebellion in an uncaring existential void. Likewise, somebody will always root for a rank outsider, the last hope of escaping his or her recurring top-four nightmare. This never comes off, and said somebody is quickly institutionalised.
Still, at the risk of my own mental wellbeing, I fancy making an attempt at exorcising the eerie persistence of the ‘top-four race’ article and re-imagine the entire thing. Despite our numbing collective awareness that it will never be so, what clubs would we actually like to see finish in those coveted Premier League places? And in what precise order? Let’s settle down, hold onto our minds, disregard those creepy voices telling us to do terrible violence against the ones we love – and bloody well find out. Continue reading →
This week’s Editor’s Column from James Dutton looks at the state of play in the Premier League, Dulwich Hamlet in the Ryman Isthmian League and the top five smoking footballers…
Seven games into the Premier League season and with the second international break upon us, the table is beginning to take shape.
At this stage of the 2012-13 season Chelsea sat above the two Manchester clubs at the summit, with Everton, Spurs, West Brom and Arsenal clinging on to their coat tails.
At the bottom sat Queens Park Rangers, whilst Norwich, Reading, Southampton, Aston Villa, Wigan and Liverpool perched precariously above them; all with less points than games played.
This year only Crystal Palace and Sunderland have less points than games played; Norwich have seven off seven and yet occupy the remaining slot in the relegation places – a year ago they’d have sat in 13th.
Chris Francis assesses the fortunes of the Premier League’s three newly arrived teams and asks whether this is the worst promoted trio the league has ever seen…
The identity of the Premier League’s worst ever team is in no doubt.
Derby County were promoted to the Premier League in 2007 and then relegated in March 2008 – the fastest demotion since the restructuring of the English league structure. They ended the season on a paltry 11 points having mustered up one solitary win (at home to Newcastle 1-0 since you ask), and picking up just 8 draws. The fact that they lost 29 games in a season indicated that Billy Davies’ team were way out of their depth, although Davies himself had predicted as much. Having guided Derby to the promised land he demanded the board back him or watch as the club was humiliated and sent back down in flame. Warnings unheeded, Davies was sacked after his team’s inevitable meltdown with the appointment of Paul Jewell as successor having little, if any, effect besides destroying his reputation – a set back his career is yet to recover from.
Since Derby’s demise, in recent years we’ve become accustomed to seeing promoted sides making a name for themselves rather than reverting to playing the role of whipping boys to the more established sides. The gap between the Championship and the Premier League is a massive chasm to bridge, but with good management, a collective spirit and the right players a club can establish itself as a serious fixture in the league, quickly. Last year, Southampton and West Ham played with similar squads to those that got them promoted in the first place and were, on the whole, rather comfortable rubbing shoulders with the mid-table regulars. Norwich and Swansea did the same the season before, with the latter achieving a 9th place finish as well as winning the League Cup last year. Stoke, West Brom, and Newcastle have also each shown that promotion can be more than just a “one year tourist visa”, a remark made by Danny Baker over the weekend as he watched Crystal Palace versus Spurs.
While he was wrong to say that promotion has been nothing more than a short-stay stamp in a club’s shiny new passport, he may well have a point this season. Continue reading →
The Valley – home of Charlton Athletic since 1919, despite a short hiatus between 1985-92
Making his False Nine debut, Fergus McWalters looks at the culture of ground-sharing and its implications across the football landscape…
Last weekend, my club Charlton Athletic celebrated the 20th anniversary of ending its exile from The Valley. Charlton played against Brighton and Hove Albion in a thrilling game that ended 2-2. Other than a mutual rivalry with Crystal Palace, Charlton and Brighton both share another thing in common; in their recent history, they had to leave their respective home grounds and share with other clubs. I am too young to remember Charlton’s exile, but the fact that it’s such an important part of the club’s history meant that I’ve learned all about it ever since I started watching Charlton all the way back in 1996. Continue reading →
False Nine editor, Andrew Belt assesses the excitement building over Crystal Palace star, Wilfried Zaha, and looks at a few recent examples of hyped English players to wonder where the future lays for the Ivory Coast-born winger and others likely to attract the attention of youth-hungry Premier League clubs…
£27 million. The cost of two of the players in the England Under-21 team that beat Northern Ireland U-21s on Tuesday night. Continue reading →
Another series of managerial movements in the Football League has prompted False Nine editor James Dutton to suggest some changes…
It’s that time of year again. The clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in, the dust has settled from Halloween, the night sky is adorned by fireworks and the high street stores are gearing their sales towards the biggest consumerist event known to mankind. In the football world media discourse is again dominated by sub-standard refereeing and a ludicrous obsession with diving. It is also that time of the year when the managerial landscape of the Football League is once again metamorphosing before our eyes. Continue reading →