Johan Cruyff: The man who made Total Football reality

March 28, 2016

johan-cruyff
“Johan Cruyff, who has died at the age of 68, was one of football’s greatest and most significant figures. The proof lies in two phrases with which he will always be synonymous. One is ‘Total Football’ – the style epitomised by the Netherlands team, with Cruyff as the centrepiece, who reached the 1974 World Cup final under Rinus Michels before losing to West Germany. It was a philosophy based on the theory that any outfield player could play in any other position on the pitch with comfort. Under his mentor Michels, Cruyff was the embodiment of the supremely skilled, multi-purpose footballer.” BBC (Video)

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Explore the changing tides of European footballing power

March 28, 2016

“England’s Premier League is enjoying one of its most competitive seasons for years, but at the same time the league is without a club in Europe’s top 10 for the first time in 20 years. The interplay between competitive balance and outright quality of football is a complex one, and depending on who you talk to, different levels of importance are placed on each when it comes to talk of which league is the best.” FT Data


Is the integrity of international football under threat?

March 28, 2016

“Mid-March is upon us and the business end of the football season has arrived where we start to get an idea of the future destination of all the big prizes in both domestic and European football. As Sir Alex Ferguson famously remarked ‘It’s squeaky-bum time’. It also sees the arrival of the calendar year’s first worldwide international break where top level football across Europe takes a week’s break for a round of international matches. With 2016 being an even-numbered year and in addition a European Championships year for UEFA’s members, this batch of friendly matches has more of an edge to it than your traditional drab and half-hearted friendly international fixture that takes place prior to the start of the European league season in early August.” Outside of the Boot


FC Start – Footballers, heroes, tools of the state

March 28, 2016

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“The story is an improbable one that is typical of the industry that retold and reshaped it; a group of war prisoners who take on their captors on a football pitch and surprisingly manage to defy the odds (and instructions) to end the game in a draw. There is an American hero in the form of a rookie goalkeeper who makes a string of saves as well as the obligatory happy ending with the players managing to escape after being swept away by a jubilant crowd. That is the script of Escape to Victory a movie that, more than three decades since its release, remains arguably the finest fictional portrayal of the game of football. It works not because the match action is particularly good (although it is done better than most) but mostly as the story draws on the powerful emotions that sport can foster. The plot itself might not be overly credible yet the idea that sport can deliver hope and instil faith where there seems to be none is totally believable.” Football Pink


Peru’s Achilles heel threatens to derail their World Cup path

March 28, 2016

“I was just turning five in the build up to the 1970 World Cup – too young to really understand what all the fuss was about. I do recall, though, some older kids nearby collecting the sticker album, and I can still remember going through a pile of their swaps. The first one I saw was a Peruvian – memory plays tricks but it might well have been Ramon Mifflin. Everything about the photo looked impossibly exotic – the Andean features and, especially, that red sash on the white shirt! In my young mind it all conjured up mystery and adventure.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)


Is British football ‘winded’?

March 28, 2016

“Excuse the pun, but it’s a pun worth pursuing so please bear with me… I remember reading an excellent book by Gabrielle Marcotti and Gianluca Vialli a couple of years ago entitled ‘The Italian Job’, it was an insightful and intelligent read, very different to the usual football literature I had accumulated over the years. One thing from that book that has stuck with me all this time was the idea that the weather in the UK was detrimental to the development of great technical players, and playing great football.” Outside of the Boot


Aston Villa – This House Is A Circus

March 28, 2016

Micah Richards
“There seems to be no end to the misery that Aston Villa put their supporters through. The famous Midlands club, one of a select few to have won the European Cup, is stuck at the bottom of the Premier League table and look destined for a seemingly inevitable relegation, which would be the first time they had dropped from the top flight since 1987. Manager Rémi Garde described securing safety as ‘an impossible mission that we have to make possible’, though it would not be a major shock if the Frenchman were to be given his marching orders any time soon, given their impotent form. In truth, it always seemed a strange decision to entrust Villa’s fate to a man with no management experience in the Premier League.” The Swiss Ramble