Arsenal Is in Crisis, but a Signing Changes the Mood

February 4, 2018

“On Tuesday evening, Arsenal suffered another one of those indignities that tend to pockmark its seasons. This time, the humiliation came in the driving rain of South Wales and at the hands of Swansea City: facing a team at the bottom of the Premier League table, Arsenal dominated the game, monopolized possession and then went and lost anyway, 3-1. For Arsenal’s fans, these defeats have become wearily familiar in the last decade or so, as Arsène Wenger’s two-decade reign at the club has drifted into a sort of managed decline. They have turned Arsenal into a place hard-wired to treat every disappointment as an existential crisis. …” NY Times

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‘We weren’t even allowed swap jerseys!’ – when Shelbourne battled Barcelona at the Nou Camp

February 4, 2018

“A COFFIN STOOD stiff and isolated in the bowels of the Nou Camp as 11 Irishmen shuffled past in quiet disbelief. On their way through the famous corridors on a mild October evening en route to the away dressing room, the cohort of Shelbourne players passed by a museum, a dentist, a morgue and, puzzlingly, the most idyllic of chapels inside of which sat a wooden box. They were 1,300 miles away from Tolka Park, situated snug in-between endless rows of brick houses on Richmond Road in Drumcondra, but it felt so much more. This was a different planet altogether. …” the42


Geoff Cameron’s Car-Pool Confessional

February 4, 2018


“STOKE-ON-TRENT, England — Rain predictably pelted the windshield on the nearly 40-mile journey down the dark motorway back to his home on the outskirts of Manchester, but Geoff Cameron wasn’t about to let a soaking interrupt him. Not after all these years here. Even after playing a full 90 minutes for the second time in three days, and even after the most damaging league defeat in his six seasons as a Stoke City player, Cameron had plenty to say. Over the course of the next hour, after some expletive-laden venting in the wake of a costly 1-0 home loss to Newcastle United, he invited questions on a number of subjects: Stoke’s increasingly dire predicament in the Premier League, his brush with political controversy last year and the challenges of life as an American abroad. …” NY Times


Racing to the bottom – RC Paris and the failed quest for glory

February 4, 2018

“Fast cars, fast planes and deadly weapons all led one French business magnate to football, and his dream of elevating a small club to the pinnacle of the sport, as MARK GODFREY explains. As egotistical multimillionaire French businessmen with an interest in sport go, Bernard Tapie pretty much broke the mould. The former owner of Olympique Marseille, famous for buying the club unprecedented glamour and success in the early nineties – including the 1993 Champions League – saw it all come crashing down around him after the match-fixing scandal which resulted in OM being relegated from Ligue 1 as punishment. …” Football Pink


Different Class: Football, fashion and funk – the story of Laurie Cunningham

February 4, 2018

“English football history is not short of players who never fulfilled their potential – but few careers were so starkly affected by the world around them as Laurie Cunningham’s. Different Class opens with Enoch Powell’s infamous 1968 ‘rivers of blood’ speech decrying Commonwealth immigration – and you get much deeper political analysis than in most footballer biographies. Dermot Kavanagh, the sports picture editor at the Sunday Times, is even more interested in the north London fashion and music trends of the time – so there are eight pages dedicated to the ‘Gatsby Look’ (as modelled on the cover), and we learn the best place to buy speakers in late 1970s Islington. …” WSC, amazon


At African Soccer Event, Games of Cat and Mouse

January 30, 2018


“CASABLANCA, Morocco — Standing just inside the lobby of Casablanca’s Novotel, Koly Koivogui was hard to miss. Dressed in a bright red zip-up track top bearing the insignia of the Guinean national soccer team, Koivogui, a large, barrel-chested coach, stood guard. He was making sure that uninvited player agents or scouts did not harass members of his team on the eve of the 16-team African Nations Championship, a competition for national teams with rosters made up solely of players who play club games in their birth countries. …” NY Times


Kevin-Prince Boateng the catalyst for Eintracht Frankfurt’s ‘one-night stand’

January 30, 2018

“It was short, but oh so sweet. For 19 hours following their 2-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach on Friday, Eintracht Frankfurt were second in the Bundesliga, with just Bayern Munich ahead of them. It wouldn’t last, of course, with Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke and the other riders in a sub-champion field still to play, but Die Adler were determined to make the most of their ‘one-night stand’, as sporting director Fredi Bobic put it after. …” Guardian (Video)