The ethics of the terraces

“Every day, it seems, something happens in the world of football that I find objectionable. A player is arrested or sent to prison; a manager becomes involved in some financial duplicity; a club is bought by some oligarch with a questionable record on worker safety or human rights. As I read these stories, or discuss them with friends around the Norwich City matches I attend, I ask myself: what would have to happen at my club before I stopped going? That bond with a club, and with the sport itself – the obsession with fixtures and standings, player transfers and managerial changes, and the rituals of watching on television or live – is incredibly hard to break, and I’ve never managed to detach myself, no matter how bad the quality of play at Norwich, or in the tournaments I follow, has become, let alone how much the culture is warped by money and the pressure to succeed.” New Humanist


Manchester derby A-Z: Backheels, noisy neighbours & X-rated

“It’s the derby which has everything – two sides with a simmering rivalry, rich histories and, in recent years, a similar appetite for trophies. When Manchester City and Manchester United meet on the football pitch, there’s generally plenty of goals, drama and even the odd ‘Why always me’ T-shirt. The two teams clash at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, and BBC Sport has compiled an A-Z of one of English football’s biggest games.” BBC

Analysis: Bayer Leverkusen’s pressing & structure under Roger Schmidt

“Bayer Leverkusen have impressed stylistically under new recruit Roger Schmidt from Red Bull Salzburg, using a form of pressing that has wowed German, European and worldwide fans alike. Pressing is a strategy that is used against teams by staying in close proximity to the player on the ball, pressuring him into giving the ball away to a certain zone or player who can easily be taken advantage of. The main aim is to win the ball back. Counter-pressing is the immediate pressing of the ball as soon as the ball is lost.” Outside of the Boot

Mario Balotelli and the Lessons of Liverpool Past

“James Dutton looks at two lessons from Liverpool’s recent past for Mario Balotelli… Mario Balotelli is at a crossroads. In fact, Mario Balotelli is always at a crossroads. Every decision he makes, however crucial or anodyne, is analysed for its far-reaching consequences and wider meaning by somebody somewhere. Every pass, every run, every shot, every turn is scrutinised and pored over in minute detail like every dismissal suffered by Kevin Pietersen. The record-breaking batsman once famously said, ‘It’s tough being me in this dressing room’, and you imagine the Italian knows where he’s coming from.” The False Nine

Golden goal: Juninho Pernambucano for Lyon v Bayern Munich (2003)

“There was a jarring fragment of radio commentary during the Burnley v Everton game the other day. ‘Antolín Alacaraz does a Cruyff turn,’ said the man on TalkSport. It sounded wrong. But of course it was right, or at least correct. That is the gift that Cruyff gave us, a trick that nearly anyone can do but only a genius can patent. The best Panenka penalty will always be the one produced, to universal astonishment, by the Czechoslovakia captain in the 1976 European Championship final. Cruyff and Panenka are psychedelic footballers; they altered our perception of the game by expanding our imagination, leaving a permanent distortion. Juninho Pernambucano belongs in that company, except that his free-kicks remain head-wreckingly difficult to copy despite years of studious gerrymandering by boffins intent on making it easier.” Guardian

What’s in a name? Bundesliga stadiums making big money

“With Commerzbank’s current sponsorship deal with Eintracht Frankfurt over naming rights for their home ground since 1963 – formerly known as the Waldstadion – expiring at the end of the season, the practise of clubs selling parts of their identity – such as the name of their home ground – has become an important discussion of late. Understandably, all sorts of questions will be raised about any form of increased commercialism in German football; the changing relationship between money and German clubs is constantly debated and in many cases well documented.” Bundesliga Fanatic