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

Shearer_Sutton_1995
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

Wayne Rooney’s Legacy Marches On Against His Own Will

rooney-moyes

Following another drawn-out saga, Jon Wilmore comments on the Wayne Rooney situation…

If he’s happy, he’s got a funny way of showing it. But for Wayne Rooney, happiness does not appear to be an essential quality. Its absence from his working life has done nothing to neuter his rampant return to form. It’s a curious contradiction for a man so heralded as the archetypal lover-of-the-game, but perhaps that’s just it – so great is his love for football that he is utterly ambivalent as to where he’s playing it. Continue reading

The 23 Transfer Target Strikers to watch this Summer: from Lewandowski to Andy Carroll

Falcao

With a host of top clubs on high alert for a new frontman to lead the line, David Dodds looks at the 23 strikers making up the most sought-after shopping list in world football this summer…

This summer is going to be fun. After the failure of last year’s transfer window to deliver the gross manifestations of über-affluence we’ve now come to expect, plenty of clubs will be looking to splash out this summer. One thing this window looks likely to be defined by is the lucrative movement of blockbuster strikers to the titans of contemporary football. And, as always, cash-strapped teams will also be on the prowl for a new man up top.

So here’s a look at some of the men whose painfully-protracted transfer sagas are likely to dominate media narratives this summer: players whose exorbitant transfer fees we’ll either be laughing about or lauding this time next year; cheaper options whose progress is worth keeping an eye on; a crop of youngsters so good they’ll leave you questioning how the striker could have ever been declared dead; and just a jolly good chance to acknowledge the entertainment value of speculation. Whether such media pressure lifts them to the status of icons or causes their careers to crash and burn is another story all together. Continue reading

Utility and Versatility – What’s the difference?

103426462.jpg

After his exploration of the role of the utility manDavid Wild looks to establish the difference between utility and versatility…

What makes a utility man and what makes a versatile player? At first glance it is easy to confuse the two. If we look at a utility man he is capable of playing in several different positions. So he must be versatile.

To borrow a philosophical thought experiment, let’s look at the two terms in a syllogism. Is a utility player always versatile? Yes. Can we infer therefore that all versatile players are utility men? This doesn’t seem to work as well. Continue reading

Hypothetical XI #2 – The British Commonwealth

British-Commonwealth-poster

In our second installment of the Hypothetical XIs series, Pete Starr concocts a Commonwealth side with a few surprises…

At its height the British Empire was the largest ever accumulated, encompassing almost a quarter of the earth’s total area and about 1/5 of the world’s population. We had fingers in pies in every continent on the ruddy planet and when people started to get a bit eggy about the whole thing we created a nice friendly Commonwealth. Continue reading

The Problem with Wayne Rooney

241885hp2

Scott Jenkins asks whether Wayne Rooney has fulfilled his potential as he reaches a crossroads in his career…

The issue with Wayne Rooney is simply that there isn’t one that he can solely control. It’s inherently our own problem on how we view him and subsequently what we expect.

When the boy from Croxteth burst onto the scene at Everton as a 16 year old record breaker, scoring that goal against Arsenal, something happened. Suddenly fans, players, managers and media all bolted up and took notice of him. He was the name on everyone’s lips. The player every club wanted. Instantly he was the hope of a nation too. Continue reading

The Death of the Utility Man

warhurst

David Wild explores the decline of the utility man across the footballing landscape, and the normalisation of total football…

It’s the 60th minute. You’re 1-0 up and your first choice right back has just gone off injured. What do you do? Nowadays squads are large enough and filled with enough specialist players that this is fast becoming a problem consigned to the history books. In days gone by however most clubs could call upon a fan favourite utility player in times of need, willing to play anywhere if it meant time on the pitch.

Football used to be full of them. Paul Warhurst, an old Oldham favourite, would play a decent job anywhere on the pitch. He’s probably one of the only players who was as effective as a striker as he was a defender. This is excepting, of course, the ever memorable Dion Dublin, striker, defender and percussionist all in one.

Continue reading