The Outsiders, Part 1: Berwick Rangers

November 30, 2015

“As you approach from the south, staring wistfully out at the slate grey North Sea reflecting the equally slate grey sky over the sand dunes of Cheswick and Goswick, the quaint walled-town of Berwick-upon-Tweed – perched neatly atop the sloping banks of the famous River Tweed – slowly and neatly begins to frame this picturesque view of northernmost Northumberland. As the train lurches across the Robert Stephenson-designed Royal Border Bridge, leaving the villages of Tweedmouth and East Ord in its slipstream, one could easily be fooled into thinking you were entering another country. The shimmering, twinkling surface of the Tweed – that most renowned of salmon grounds – gives one a sense of a natural dividing line between England and Scotland. Indeed, throughout the centuries and the turbulent history between the two neighbours, it often has. However, since 1482, at the height of the Anglo-Scottish wars, Berwick has remained firmly under English control.” Football Pink

The Outsiders, Part 2: FC Büsingen
“Surrounded by the Swiss: not something you hear very often, is it? In this case, we’re not referring to a rare military skirmish (those multi-functional Army knives can be very threatening under certain circumstances), rather the tiny German enclave of Büsingen am Hochrhein which is, as inferred, totally contained within the conventional borders of Switzerland. The town has been separated from the Motherland (or should that be Fatherland?) since 1805 and the time of the Napoleonic Wars when it switched from Austrian control to that of Württemberg, which itself became a part of the German Empire a year later before eventually becoming part of the modern Bundesrepublik Land of Badem-Württemberg we see today. The ties to Germany remain unbroken despite the result of a referendum in the town after the First World War, in which the inhabitants voted to become part of Switzerland, was ignored due mainly to the Swiss being unable to offer anything substantial in return.” Football Pink

The Outsiders, Part 3: Derry City
“Derry, of all places in Britain and Ireland, seems ready made for the language of football, with a history that’s very much composed of two halves. You’ve those who see themselves as Irish on one side of the pitch, and those who see themselves as British on the other. Out of this strange, enforced marriage comes a place that’s cut from different cloth to anywhere else on both sides of the Irish Sea. Home of shirt factories and receptacle of the shared history between two islands, this is a city that has suffered, as described in Phil Coulter’s famous song ‘The Town I Love So Well.’ But, as in the poems of Seamus Heaney and the upbeat rhythms of The Undertones, the character of Derry is based on triumph over suffering, and in finding a voice and a position unique to itself.” Football Pink

The Outsiders, Part 4: FC Vaduz
“William Cook, writing in the weekly conservative magazine The Spectator, describes Liechtenstein as ‘utterly ridiculous’. It is a tax haven that has more registered companies than people, In August 2009, the British government department HM Revenue & Customs agreed with Liechtenstein to start exchanging information. It is believed that up to 5,000 British investors have roughly £3billion deposited in accounts and trusts in the country. To put the size of the country into a British context, its population is similar to Milton Keynes. You’ll find something familiar with their national anthem, it is sung to the same tune as ‘God Save The Queen’. The capital of Liechtenstein is the sleepy town of Vaduz – the home of FC Vaduz.” Football Pink

The Army Men on Tour – CDKA Moscow in Yugoslavia 1945

November 30, 2015

“Today we travel back to 1945, when Croats and Russians played the first football match against each other. Since the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Western world perceived communism as a common enemy and thus that space of the world seemed far away from rest of Europe. At this time, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a part of the Western side, with whom they shared values and beliefs, thus they had not recognized the Soviet Union, and so the interwar period was marked by alienation between the two countries. During the Second World War, the Independent State of Croatia was one of Nazi Germany’s last standing allies, and unlike in the Soviet Union the beautiful game was still played in Zagreb in those dark years.” Russian Football (Video)

The Resurrection of Moussa Dembele

November 30, 2015

“After eighteen months in charge, Mauricio Pochettino’s plan appears close to completion. Last sunday’s 4-1 win against West Ham, coupled with excellence at the Emirates, the multi-goal hammerings of Bournemouth and Manchester City, have only added to the growing belief that Tottenham can finally clear that final hurdle. After all, Champions League qualification, after five fifth place finishes in a decade, has proved notoriously elusive. Displaying energy, efficiency, inherent interchanging combined with an outstanding collective awareness, Tottenham’s early-season excellence shows no signs of slowing. A far cry from the fragile, eternally transitional shambles of recent years, Pochettino has interspersed the bulldog spirit of Harry Redknapp and Tim Sherwood with a continental strategy a la Juande Ramos and Andre Villas Boas.” Outside of the Boot

7 reasons why nobody wants to play against Liverpool right now

November 30, 2015

“Liverpool enhanced their sharp upturn in form under Jurgen Klopp further with a narrow 1-0 victory over Swansea City on Sunday. The Reds have lost just one game since the German took over the Anfield reins last month and their win against Swansea at the weekend was their third straight triumph in all competitions.” Squawka

Should Swansea Sack Garry Monk?

November 30, 2015

“Losing at Anfield is hardly going to increase the pressure on Garry Monk as much as losing to Norwich did. However the two games had an identical feature; on each occasion Swansea managed eight shots, none of which required the opposition keeper to make a save. With a key function of creating goals being an ability to invite the keeper to stop the ball, these numbers make grim reading and are a low watermark in what increasingly looks like an attacking drought. Swansea flew out of the blocks this year with good results and performances against teams that, with hindsight, had vulnerabilities: Chelsea, Sunderland and Newcastle, then a sneaky traditional win against Man Utd. Since then though, they have only once exceeded a league average shot total (14 against Stoke) and haven’t managed to exceed the same for shots on target (4.4) at all.” Stats Bomb

The UEFA Champions League anthem is more than a song, which is why booing it makes sense

November 30, 2015

“During the last round of the UEFA Champions League group stage, Manchester City fans booed the competition’s anthem. Again. And, once more, UEFA threatened to fine the team for what it considers ‘inappropriate behavior’ from its fans for their repeated jeering of the competition’s official song. Ultimately, UEFA dropped its case. When UEFA initially announced the probe on City fans, Twitter specialists and others on social media quickly turned to ridicule, understandably. It seems hard to understand why the booing of an apparently neutral ritual might be labeled as ‘inappropriate.’ Instead, it raised the question of why UEFA is spending such seemingly unnecessary amounts of energy pursuing this nuisance, while other big problems – like racist chanting at matches, or having its president, former French international Michel Platini, suspended for 90 days under corruption allegations – loom over it.” Fusion