A deal he couldn’t wheel

August 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

First published on ESPN, 14 June 2012

It wasn’t meant to be like this.

Had everything gone to plan, Harry Redknapp would currently be relaxing at the end of another day’s training with the England squad, full of good spirit and looking forward to Friday’s game against Sweden. Instead, he’s clearing his desk, saying his goodbyes, and pulling out of his White Hart Lane parking space for the last time. Perhaps we’ll be given one last interview out of the car window, for old times’ sake, before he’s off to spend more time with Jamie and the Wii. It has been, even by the vertiginous standards of modern football, one hell of a fall.  « Read the rest of this entry »

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John Terry: Public Enemy #1

August 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

First published on SB NATION, 7 June 2012

Euro 2012 is coming, and along with it looms another England failure. Optimism is at an all-time low, and the usual hype-fuelling simpletons have had to resort to suggesting, a touch desperately, that lowered expectations might — just might! — catapult England further than anybody dare hope. While this isn’t totally illogical — if we accept that over-burdening a team with expectation can depress their chances, then not doing so should avoid the same — no amount of modesty is going to make England’s squad anything other than what it is: thin, and liberally garnished with mediocrity. But, while the specifics of this inevitable failure are for the future to reveal, one thing is certain. John Terry will be getting a fair chunk of the blame. « Read the rest of this entry »

Chelsea: On Defending, Winning, and Buses

August 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

First published on SB NATION, 25 May 2012

In the interests of full disclosure, let me begin by saying that I have absolutely no personal experience to support the point I’m about to make. I’ve never tried it, never even really thought about trying it, and so could be completely wrong.

But it strikes me that parking a bus might be quite difficult. Buses are big, unwieldy things, and while perhaps gliding one to a stop into an empty car park wouldn’t pose too much of a problem, as soon as any amount of intricate manoeuvring is required — beep, beep, beep — then it appears to be a task well beyond the ken of most drivers. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Curious Terror Of Arjen Robben

August 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

First published on SB NATION, 18 May 2012

As football fans living in the future, we are assailed on all sides by numbers. Pass completion percentages, successful dribble tottage, chance creation ratios, interceptions per moon phase … if it exists, it can be measured, and compared, and used for all manner of things: to provide illumination to analysis, to pad out an opinion piece, or even to justify a frankly baffling purchase strategy. « Read the rest of this entry »

Manchester City: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

August 10, 2012 § 1 Comment

First published on SB NATION, 15 May 2012

After the victory, the carping. If it was inevitable that Manchester City were going to win the title before too long, and it was, then it was equally inevitable that their victory would be followed by a susurrus of voices casting doubt upon the validity of their triumph. Those of you that hoped we’d got all of this out of the way withChelsea, or maybe even with Blackburn before them, are going to have to resign yourselves to another tilt around the carousel of snark and counter-snark:

MUFC fan: “You bought the title.”

MCFC fan: “Yeah, but you did it first.”

MUFC fan: “Yeah, but you had the title bought for you.” « Read the rest of this entry »

England Must Have A Big Man; The Universe Demands It

August 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

First published on SB NATION, 9 May 2012

They don’t tell you about the dreams.

Becoming manager of England? It’s a lot to take in. They stick you in front of the press and expect you to answer questions about why you’re not somebody else. They walk you round the vast underground hangar that holds generations of official England kit in every shape and size, including the rejected Euro ’96 goalkeeping kits, and the range of St George’s Cross rain ponchos that Steve McClaren never got the chance to approve. They take you round Wembley: this is — well, was — where Kevin Keegan resigned in tears. It was a toilet then. It’s a slightly newer toilet now. That isn’t a metaphor. « Read the rest of this entry »

Have a Hart, Roy

August 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

First published on ESPN, 8 May 2012

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an England football team in possession of a new manager must be in want of a captain. If there was one consistent theme to Fabio Capello’s time in charge of the Three Lions, it was the endless hemming and hawing over The Armband; ultimately, the FA’s decision that John Terry’s forthcoming trial precluded him leading the team provoked Capello’s resignation, which in turn set the stage for Harry Redknapp, except of course it didn’t. « Read the rest of this entry »