Wayne Rooney is a one off: let’s enjoy him for that

TFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh thinks Wayne Rooney should be revered rather than ridiculed…

There was something reassuring about Manchester United’s comfortable 3-0 victory over Tottenham last Sunday. The ease at which United blitzed past Spurs was reminiscent of a Sir Alex Ferguson performance; the kind of game Fergie used to prepare for by telling the dressing room, “Lads, it’s Tottenham”, as Roy Keane revealed in his autobiography.

What will have been particularly pleasing for United fans was the display of Wayne Rooney. The England captain put in one of his best performances of the season, capping it off with a goal at the end of the first half. Picking up Nabil Bentaleb’s stray pass, Rooney danced past the remaining Spurs defenders and stuck it past Hugo Lloris with a nonchalance that recalled a player in his pomp.

The celebration that followed was a wonderful touch of self-awareness. There were shades of Robbie Fowler and Paul Gascoigne as Rooney showed the ability to laugh at himself – as well as the morning papers. It also served as a massive release for a player who has endured a significant amount of criticism over his career. Continue reading

Paulinho — Spurs’ English-style Brazilian dynamo

Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Paulinho is Tottenham Hotspur’s un-Brazilian, Brazilian writes Luke Bushnell-Wye

José Paulo Bezerra Maciel Júnior—or just Paulinho to you and me—has split opinion since his move to Tottenham Hotspur from Corinthians in the summer of 2013. To some, he’s been a midfield maestro, imbued with the potential to one-day lead from the centre of the park in a similar manner to Lampard and Gerrard; players who Spurs fans have long held a silent, begrudging admiration for. To others, he’s looked to be an overrated and positionally indisciplined sort of luxury player whose performance level haven’t yet lived up to his billing or transfer fee. Continue reading

Why Jermain Defoe’s MLS move makes perfect sense


TFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh believes recent criticism aimed at Jermain Defoe is unfair…

“Live for today, plan for tomorrow, party tonight.”

Say what you like about the quality of the MLS, but the recent criticism aimed at Jermain Defoe for his move to Toronto FC seems somewhat unwarranted. The striker had been phased out at Tottenham, rarely used under Andre Villas-Boas except in the Europa League. He had fallen down the pecking order behind Roberto Soldado and more recently, a rejuvenated Emmanuel Adebayor. While a ‘little and large’ strike partnership in a 4-4-2 seems like the kind of idea that would have new manager Tim Sherwood licking his lips, it would appear that Defoe’s mind had already been made up. Money talks, as does the guarantee of first team football, but it would be crass to assume that Defoe’s move is purely avaricious.

There seems to be significant indignation that Defoe would rather play for Toronto than for another top-flight club in England. But is this ire really justified? Let’s think about which Premier League clubs Defoe would realistically start for. It’s fair to say he would be a squad player at the rest of the top ten, like he is at Spurs. In the bottom half we can assume that he could start at most, if not all. With the greatest respect to Aston Villa, Norwich, West Brom et al., what can they offer Jermain Defoe? At 31, he’s a player who probably wants a new challenge. Is the prospect of a half-season relegation battle really that desirable? Perhaps he could have been reunited with Harry Redknapp at QPR for similar money but this seems no more credible than moving to the MLS. Overall, there’s a semi-nationalistic air of pomposity that playing in the Premier League is the ‘be all and end all’, when it’s really not. Continue reading

Podcast: Episode 5 – No Country For Jol Men

Episode 5 of The False Nine podcast, No Country For Jol Men, is alive and well, and available to download now from Soundcloud.

A bit of squad rotation sees James and Hugo drop to the bench for this one as Greg returns as host with Simon and Francis. This week’s special guest is Ali Jamieson, Spurs fan and manager of London indie label Heavy Disco.

Just as the title suggests, this time the panel chat about Martin Jol’s sacking by Fulham, Andre Villas-Boas’ progress at White Hart Lane, this season’s surprise packages and how the draw for the World Cup 2014 could play out.

Sandro – England’s Best Brazilian Is At White Hart Lane


The search for the best of Brazil in England is over according to Spooky of Dear Mr Levy and The Fighting Cock podcast…

“Sandro Raniere: the greatest Brazilian to grace the Premier League.”

I’m hoping that’s what Tottenham supporters (and unbiased critics) we’ll be saying in a few seasons time, when the beastly midfielder marshals our midfield to glory. There’s nothing wrong with ambitious desire and this is no day dream. I believe it and more importantly, Sandro has the look of a man who believes it too.

He’s only twenty-three years of age (the same as Gareth Bale) and last season looked set to further elevate his stature and evolution until injury put a stop to it.

Even if he’s yet to fulfil his potential in the real world, within the virtual worlds of football video games at least the Brazilian box-to-box man has become one of the most rated players around, regarded as a potential great packed with potential greatness. Continue reading

Gilberto – Tottenham’s calamitous first Brazilian


Nick Harris, writer for Squawka and To the Lane and Back, remembers Gilberto…

Years before the hapless figure of Andre Santos graced these shores, Tottenham Hotspur can claim to have cornered the market on inept Brazilian left backs with Gilberto, a player whose brief stay at White Hart Lane was so bereft of merit it led to a re-evaluation of plenty of Spurs “Worst Ever” XIs when he departed in 2009.

Spurs signed Gilberto in the January transfer window of 2008, on the back of four relatively successful years at Hertha Berlin. They paid over £2 million for his services, which is not a lot of money in modern football, but a truly incredible amount considering what followed. Continue reading

Transfer Deadline Day: Life Imitates Football Manager

As the transfer window to end all transfer windows enters its final hours, David Wild looks at some of the recent splurges inspired by Football Manager…

Oscar Wilde once said that “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”. While he probably wasn’t directly aware of Football Manager at the time he said this, his phrase is just as poignant today when applied to the realms of the Summer transfer window and the popular management simulation game.

Only last week I set up a group LAN Football Manager game in which a friend of mine immediately set about slicing up his Man United squad in order to purchase Bale and Neymar. In many games you can happily snap up four or five of the best young up and coming players of the future, or the big stars of the here and now in one window and watch the resulting team steamroller all before it in the fashion of a rampaging George Elekobi.

But are such crusades, hell bent towards the mass accumulation of talent, bound solely to the realm of Football Manager? More and more we are seeing the real transfer window imitate our own visionary virtual planning; teams snapping up high quality in high quantity.

We can relate to the excitement of such a squad building exercise as it calls out to the Football Manager fetishist within us. We’ve known about these players and their potential for years in advance. Some of them were just 16 year old wonderkids playing in the Finnish leagues when our scouting network picked them up. Continue reading