To celebrate the life of the late Graham Taylor, TFN editor Hugo Greenhalgh reflects on the documentary that cemented his legacy as a genuine and honest football man…
In the early 1990s, Channel 4 began filming a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary about the England football team’s qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup.
The film was unique, offering unprecedented access inside the England camp that would be almost unimaginable today. Yet it also left a comedy legacy seen in characters like David Brent, Alan Partridge and most potently, Mike Bassett. This is the story of Do I Not Like That and it is one of the most understatedly brilliant in sport.
The tragic protagonist of the film is England manager Graham Taylor. After successful spells at the helm of Watford and Aston Villa, Taylor took the job in 1990, after Sir Bobby Robson had taken the Three Lions to the semi-finals. However, England’s early exit at Euro 1992 saw press criticism mount, particularly from The Sun who gave Taylor the flattering nickname of ‘Turnip’. Continue reading
Fifteen years after David Beckham’s brilliant free-kick against Greece, James Dutton looks back at the moment that defined the England captain…
In English football there has always been a fascination with the individual. From the cult of the manager to the star player, the influence of one has often been viewed as greater than the collective.
It is why the job of England manager continues to be sold as among the biggest in world football; the idea that one man can turn around years of infrastructural complacency and negligence.
The Roy of the Rovers phenomenon that has gripped English football for over 50 years still dominates. It is why Manchester United ‘owe it’ to Wayne Rooney to fit him into the first eleven, why dropping Steven Gerrard in his final season at Liverpool became such a seismic issue.
All-action super-heroes and chest-thumping talismanic captains are what England specialise in. And yet, it is a country without a major honour in 50 years, who haven’t since defeated a major nation at the knockout stage of a tournament in normal time. Continue reading
15 years after a 5-1 win over Germany in Munich, James Dutton looks back at the greatest result in England’s recent history and the lessons that have not been learned…
‘It’s Neville to Campbell, Campbell to Rio,
Rio to Scholesy, Scholesy-Gerrard,
Gerrard to Beckham, Beckham to Heskey,
Heskey to Owen, it’s a goal, 5-1!’
It is perhaps a sign of the times that Ant and Dec soundtracked the greatest moment of the English football team in the last 15 years. Ignoring the fact the lyrics are incorrect – Michael Owen did not score the fifth goal – ‘We’re on the Ball’ reflected the fresh optimism that had been injected into the national side at the start of the Sven-Goran Eriksson era.
It was England’s official song as they travelled half-way across the world to Japan and South Korea for the 2002 World Cup, a journey that had looked a remote fantasy when Kevin Keegan resigned in the Wembley toilets after a 1-0 defeat to the Germans in October 2000. Continue reading
Joshua Faulkner wonders if footballing talent equates to excellence or mediocre versatility…
Jack Wilshere and Ross Barkley were considered two of the most prodigal talents in the country, sculpted and crafted to lead England’s assault to International acclaim. Well, that was at least the idea. Both individuals however, continue to struggle with the idea of honing and mastering a set position.
Wilshere has failed to create an identity midfield; is he a tenacious ball-winning midfielder or the more appropriately tuned English Andrea Pirlo (Jack Colback aside) that is able to tactically control the tempo of a game and spray precision passes across the field? Barkley meanwhile had claimed in the past he would be best played as a central striker, whilst his managers at both club and International level have utilized him in central midfield, the no 10. role and, on the odd occasion, out wide. Continue reading
Making his TFN debut, Harry Wallace looks at Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s struggle for the limelight at Arsenal…
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s career has been oddly inconsequential. He was uncapped when he was called up to the England squad for a major tournament. But this was Euro 2012, when Roy Hodgson had been hurriedly planted in the manager job. Everyone around the country, press and fans alike, swiftly agreed that this tournament was a free hit. There hadn’t been enough time to amass a plan, let alone a squad to fit it.
In the Euros Oxlade-Chamberlain would start the first game against France and make two late substitute appearances in the other group games, before being an unused sub against Italy. On his debut he was lively the few times he had the ball, as many young fresh-faced players are. However he was restrained by one of Hodgson’s now stigmatized formations against France, looking to protect in only his third game in charge. It was also partially due to Rooney’s suspension, and Oxlade-Chamberlain could count himself unlucky not to feature ahead of a slumping Ashley Young in later matches. But the whole tournament lacked the pressure or scrutiny that has formed such a bemoaned companion for England. Certainly it was no comparison to Wayne Rooney’s dazzling Euro 2004, or even Raheem Sterling repeatedly scaring Italian defenders in Manaus. The Ox’s official arrival on the international scene was barely even a sideshow.
A year later, England traveled to the hallowed Maracana to face Brazil. Following a characteristically tepid England first-half performance, Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Glen Johnson. He then scored a goal that was a god send to narrative-seeking writers covering the game, a stunning drive in the same stadium that his Father had played in 29 years prior. It was a magnificent moment, or at least as great as it possibly could have been. After all, it was merely an exhibition game that not many would quickly recall now. Continue reading
After the unthinkable happened and Andros Townsend scored against Italy, Joe Devine looks at 5 things that may or may not have happened…
Andros Townsend Saves England Again
In the biggest news of the week, Andros Townsend once again, single-handedly saved our proud island from those murky foreigners on the mainland. Thousands of adoring fans spoke out about their love for the young journeyman; with many praising Roy Hodgson’s staying faith in the Tottenham midfielder. Townsend himself was delighted to be the centre of attention and professed his glee that a team so mediocre existed as to allow any scraps of burgeoning spotlight to be on him and him alone. Amidst all the glory of a one-all draw with Italy, not even Townsend’s “I was here first” jive, directed at Harry Kane, was enough to dampen the spirits.
Andros Townsend Silences Critics
Tottenham midfielder Andros Townsend is being investigated in association with a string of ruthless murders. Professional football pundits Paul Merson, Phil Neville and Martin Keown were all discovered decapitated and disembowelled in their homes on Wednesday morning. Each had publicly criticised the England player and newspaper cuttings of their criticisms were found littered around the bodies. Townsend insists he did nothing and only that the men “had it coming”. He is currently being held at a police station in North London, though it is thought that he will be released this afternoon for an unorthodox, early knighting ceremony. Continue reading
Liz Heade of Thinking Woman’s Football returns to The False Nine to give 10 reasons why England’s genetic makeup means they will never win another World Cup…
The last time England won the World Cup, they believed they were the best team in the world. They also thought they were the best in the world in 1970, but they had another think coming when they came up against a Brazil team with a justifiable claim to be called the best ever, and football was never the same again. So, apart from needing to believe you are the best in order to win at any sport, want to know nine more reasons why England won’t win another World Cup?
Food: Well-nourished English children don’t play football, at least not seriously. They play rugby or cricket, or they might take up athletics. Young bones formed by poor quality supermarket food, takeaways or frozen stuff cooked in microwaves don’t generally build world-beating athletes. Maybe England don’t need to go back to the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, sausage and mash, bovril and beer diet that made Bobby Moore and his men the all-conquering specimens of the 60s, maybe they just need to get some well-nourished 21st century kids into academies, the kind with the bone density and stamina to survive the full four weeks of tournament football.
Weather: Look at the list of the seven other World Cup winners and ask yourself why there are no names there boasting a cold, wet, windy climate that discourages both summer great outdoors-ing and winter sporting equally. Fit, healthy, resilient kids need to be outside every day, playing in sunshine and snow, getting knocked about by bigger kids and learning how not to be knocked about tomorrow. Instead they grow pale and wan glued to Playstations in their bedrooms or stuck in cars on the way to an hour’s training on a plastic pitch – which is also ruining their skeletal development. Continue reading