In the second part of a new TFN series,James Dutton talks to a coach and a footballer about the state of coaching and the infrastructure of British football..
“I get stray cats recommended to come to me, anywhere from the age of 16 to 19. My side has an average age of 20, which is unheard of in semi-professional football. That’s the problem.”
Sean Rogers is a different breed of football coach. The Mold Alexandra manager has performed miracles on a shoestring budget, winning promotion to the Cymru Alliance – the second tier of Welsh football – after winning the Welsh National League in 2013-14 with a squad whose average age was 20.
His young side is now more than holding its own, sitting 11th in a 16 team league. Remarkable given his assertion in a recent interview with the Daily Post that “based on our budget we should finish bottom three based on expenditure”. Even more remarkable when you take into account that there is “an 88% likelihood that you will finish one place within where you are on the league’s budget list.”
Mold Alexandra play attacking, attractive football under their progressive young Liverpudlian coach, which makes their success even more astonishing when you consider the factors against them. Continue reading →
Hugo Greenhalgh looks at the Europa League matches worth watching this week…
Due to the size of its fixture list, and the obscure nature of the teams involved, the Europa League holds a strange sort of voyeuristic appeal for non-involved fans to enjoy from afar. Sometimes derided by English fans, it can offer a wonderful and rare glimpse into the less-travelled ecosystems of European football, especially with regards to the continents’ more obscure smaller sides.
Such is the scale of this leviathan, season-long tournament, and the format of its qualifying phase, 137 teams have already taken part in this year’s competition. This number will be whittled down to 48 after the Play-Off Round that begins this Thursday.
To help you find your footing and make sense of it all, we present the four picks of the latest round of qualifiers…
As the Premier League enters annual sacking season. Jacob Mignano rails against the departures of Steve Clarke and Andre Villas-Boas…
Another weekend of Premier League football has come and gone. And another two managers have found themselves casualties of English football’s brutal win-now-and-at-all-costs nature.
I have never been a fan of knee-jerk firings. Tottenham’s decision to part ways with one of the world’s brightest young managers, following closely behind Steve Clarke’s sacking, reek of the term.
I can’t think of a manager in the past two or three years that has been quite as unlucky as Andre Villas-Boas. He could have been the right man at Chelsea, had he been given the time. As it turned out he was the wrong appointment, as Roman Abramovich searched for a quick-fix for his multi-billion-pound vanity-project.
At Tottenham it seemed Villas-Boas had found a much better fit, but despite having his side one-point better off than they were at the same stage last season – and in the midst of a far more competitive, and unpredictable, league season – he has paid for two humiliating defeats at the hands of Manchester City and Liverpool. Continue reading →
Chris Miller of WindyCOYS profiles Heurelho Gomes’ time at Spurs…
Heurelho Gomes was brought to Tottenham by Juande Ramos in 2008 – he was familiar to Spurs fans already, of course, having saved a Jermaine Jenas’ penalty to halt Spurs’ progression in the 2007/8 UEFA Cup. Indeed, reading the BBC’s match report from that day could have told Spurs fans all they needed to know: “Gomes had an erratic game, frequently keeping his side in the game, only to then endanger his team with a rush of blood to the head.” Those rushes of blood have, seemingly, ended his Spurs career.
Gomes often got what was, in my opinion, unfair criticism in the press and amongst football fans in general for another area of his game – punching. Gomes is a pro-active goalkeeper, something that English football fans are not too used to seeing. His natural inclination is to come for every cross, punch everything away, dominate his penalty box.
In Europe and South America, this style of goalkeeping is widely-lauded; it is seen as a positive for crosses to be punched to safety, punching being lower-risk than catching the ball, as there is less chance of spilling it. Goalkeepers are, therefore, trained to punch crosses rather than catch crosses when competing with other bodies in a crowded penalty area. Continue reading →
Simon Smith’s latest tactics column looks at North London’s Number Eights, who are currently trumping their rivals’ split teams…
An Arsenal fan recently told me he hoped Tottenham would finish second in the league this season. It turned out to be a tongue in cheek setup for a joke about how Arsenal always finish higher. While I laughed, I’m sure Spurs fans will struggle to see the humour through the cruelty: recruiting a new manager, changing the playing squad, extracting every last penny from the Madrid coffers to reinvest this season – literally every meticulous thing Daniel Levy has been able to do to improve Tottenham’s standing has been done. Meanwhile the red half of North London have somehow managed, at times, to appear languid and lazy while staying one step ahead.
Whether or not that will be the case by May remains to be seen, but certainly this increasingly divergent ethos of each team has been on display already this season. It’s not so much a style of play as much as a method in achieving this style: I couldn’t help but notice the very Tottenham and Arsenal ways that their new number eights have been unearthed and harnessed this season. I’m talking about the more attack-minded holding player, the function midfielder as opposed to the defensive specialist. Both have made a conscious decision to change the individual charged with this role, both have improved their fluidity as a result, but both have achieved this in a different manner. Continue reading →
Scott Jenkinsassesses the impact of Cristiano Ronaldo on Gareth Bale…
Every aspiring footballer idolises that one special player who is headlining the domestic league or leading their own team to glory and in turn tries to replicate their latest highlight reel moment on the local park and pitches. For my era when growing up and playing junior league football every time a free kick was won or lost, a familiar sequence would play out. Continue reading →
Chelsea fan and False Nine debutant, Stu McKain, takes issue with Sir Alex Ferguson’s command of the media and the FA’s leniency in the past when his words have gone overboard…
“I am disappointed with him – we have not had a good record with him.”
These remarks came from Sir Alex Ferguson following Manchester United’s disappointing draw with Tottenham Hotspur on January 20 2013, concerning assistant referee Simon Beck. Arguably, this spiel could have been cherry-picked from any losing match report since the Old Trafford club won their first Premier League title – under his stewardship – in 1993 though. Continue reading →