Tag Archives: The Two Unfortunates

The Current State of Football Podcasting

“On collecting the gong for best podcast at the recent Football Supporters Federation awards on behalf of The Guardian newspaper’s Football Weekly, Jonathan Wilson, founder of The Blizzard and author of numerous books including his history of football tactics, Inverting the Pyramid was seen to tweet: Podcast of the Year at the FSF Awards goes to Football Weekly. Nice to win, better to beat Judas FM. …” The Two Unfortunates


My Second Team: Rayo Vallecano

“In architectural terms primary sporting allegiances are a bit like the single sweep of the modern football stadium, while second teams are more akin to the old Dell ground at Southampton. Just as you could reconstruct much of Southampton’s history from the joyously variegated collection of oddities crowding the touchlines, so secondary allegiances reflect changes in location, interests and influences.” thetwounfortunates, thetwounfortunates – My Second Team

Book Review: When Football Came Home

“In June this year, Henry Winter will publish Fifty Years of Hurt , a volume that will use England’s 1966 World Cup victory as a springboard to examine the fortunes of the national XI over the subsequent half century. We’ll have to wait and see as to whether Winter can manage to get through the exercise without spinning a specific narrative – be it about Charles Hughes, too many league fixtures, penalties and the practising thereof, foreign players in English football or the antiquated nature of the FA – but suffice to say, it’s often easy to use vague patterns and trends to shoehorn an argument. As Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski displayed in Why England Lose, later rechristened Soccernomics , England actually punch at about the weight they should do given the raw materials they have to work with and Hartlepool United fans might argue with the use of the word ‘hurt’ to describe a period that has actually come with more than a few high points.” thetwounfortunates, amazon, Guardian – When football came home: England’s rapture against Holland at Euro 96

The Argument: Time to Stop Assuming Football Fans are all Thugs

“A few days ago, the Football Supporters’ Federation who, along with doing great campaigning work on issues like safe standing and ticket prices, have a solicitor who tries to help fans who get into trouble with the law, tweeted thanks to a legal firm ‘for successfully representing two fans in civil claim against police for false imprisonment & assault. Compensation paid.’ It was the latest in a long line of similar cases. Sometimes supporters have contravened the rules, on other occasions the problem has been caused by over-zealous stewarding. Often they are situations that should be sorted out without resorting to the courts. A brief review of how football supporters are treated by this country’s legal system, and their own clubs, reveals a catalogue of unfairness that wouldn’t be tolerated in any other context.” The Two Unfortunates

The Argument: Is There Too Much Football on TV?

“When did being a football fan start to feel like such hard work? It’s not that there’s more football in the world than there used to be. What’s changed is the availability and exposure of it all. Anybody with the right sort of television package, mobile phone contract or internet connection should never go more than 24 hours without a game to watch. Live football dominates the sports channels’ schedules throughout the weekend, from Friday evening to Sunday night and into Monday. Then the Champions League and Europa League pick up the slack between Tuesday and Thursday along with cup ties, replays, and seemingly endless midweek rounds in the Championship.” thetwounfortunates

The Argument: In 2016, Football is as Political as Ever

“‘Write a piece about something that is bugging you’ about the game. Blimey, where do you start? Footballs on plinths, rampant corruption, automatic bookings for taking your shirt off, the pointlessness of football phone-ins, York City in the mire of sub-mediocrity? The choice is endless and picking just one thing out is a thankless task. And yet… The notion that football and politics do not mix is absurd. Not just football, to be fair, but sport generally. And it’s a trope that comes around with alarming regularity. It needs to be stopped. There’s little in life that isn’t political, and football cannot escape.” thetwounfortunates

Football Cities: Exeter

“When football writers talk about provincial footballing sides and cities a few familiar names crop up, such as Nottingham and Derby. These definitely fall into the category of ‘not London’ and smaller than the UK’s other major conurbations, but are still relatively large in size and success. When you start heading out to the geographical margins, however, life as a football club is a little less illustrious and more of a battle for interest and survival. As a modestly-sized city with a team that has only occasionally threatened the third tier of English football, Exeter is firmly in the latter camp. Where a football club takes root and grows can be due a number of factors.” thetwounfortunates, W – Exeter City F.C.

Football Cities: Nottingham

“The sixth part of our Football Cities series sees long time contributor Steve Wright analyse the footballing landscape in Nottingham. As a companion piece to Steve’s post, I’d like to direct you to a recent edition of the outstanding We Are Going Up podcast in which presenters David Cameron Walker and Mark Crossley took a trip to Meadow Lane and reflect on many of the issues discussed by Steve in written form below. … Nottingham is only a small provisional city but it manages to sustain two historically significant football clubs. Maybe it would be easier for one of them if the other did not exist and the city could focus its whole footballing attention on a single point, as they do in Leeds, Newcastle and Derby, but it is because both clubs have significant individual history that it is impossible that either could secede to the other or that they could merge.” thetwounfortunates

Football Cities: Newcastle upon Tyne

“Perched on a hill, visible from all directions as you head into Newcastle, towering into the air in the centre of town – St James’ Park couldn’t really be much more symbolic. Its location befits its status as an iconic focal point, right at the heart of the city metaphorically and spiritually as well as literally. A compact, soulless, identikit new-build stadium on the outskirts, encircled by acres of car park, big-box retail units and McDonald’s drive-thrus just wouldn’t be right. Writing about football and so-called ‘failing’ towns (as labelled by the Economist) on this site two years ago, I discussed an article that appeared in local paper the Chronicle in which fans expressed what Newcastle United mean to them, and to the city as a whole.” thetwounfortunates, W – Newcastle United F.C., W – History of Newcastle United F.C., W – Newcastle upon Tyne

The Financial Underbelly: Coventry City

“Okay, okay – when it comes to Coventry City, the financial situation is less an ‘underbelly’ than a gaping open wound that has festered for several seasons now. Here, Ian Palmer sums up his personal fatigue with the whole business. Ian can be followed on twitter at @iancpalmer. … Coventry City have been losing fans. In fact, I’d bet no club has lost as many fans over the last three years as the Sky Blues. Picture the scene: a breezy August afternoon, kicking off the first ‘home’ game of the season, 35 miles away from home. We’re bottom of the league table on -10 points, yet no team has played a single game.” thetwounfortunates

Chelsea – Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)

“By the standards of most clubs, Chelsea’s 2013/14 season was pretty good, as they finished 3rd place in the Premier League and were semi-finalists in the Champions League, but it must have felt a little disappointing after capturing silverware in each of the previous two seasons: the Europa League in 2012/13 and, most memorably, the Champions League and FA Cup in 2011/12. However, this did not stop their progress off the pitch, as they reported record revenue of £320 million, up 25% on the prior year, and profit of £19 million (before tax), compared to a loss of £51 million in 2012/13. Equally importantly, given Chelsea’s history of being bankrolled by their owner Roman Abramovich, these results ensured that ‘UEFA’s break-even criteria under the Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations continue to be satisfied.’” The Swiss Ramble

Promotion Tales: The Rise of ‘Unfashionable’ Blackburn Rovers

“A supplementary treat this morning. Regular contributor Phil Lloyd enjoyed our Promotion Tales series so much that he decided to come up with this own version charting Blackburn Rovers’ re-emergence as a force in English football over two decades ago now. Best wishes to all TTU readers for 2015. Once, it seemed that Blackburn Rovers existed mainly to exemplify the word “unfashionable”. As with the TV advert that featured the “Rovers FC” sign above the old Blackburn End turnstiles, it was an icon for a bygone age. By the start of the 1990s, my early recollections of watching football were becoming increasingly hazy, as if nine seasons of Division One football and blue-and-white memories of Bryan Douglas, Ronnie Clayton and Keith Newton were no more than childhood fantasies.” thetwounfortunates

Reflecting on Relationship Between Britpop and Football

“Unless you’ve been hiding under a stone for the past month you’ll have noticed the media, and in particular the BBC, working itself into a frenzy over the 20th anniversary of ‘Britpop’. To many this level of nostalgia for a musical movement which was, if anything, merely the collection of a handful of zeitgeist wresting retrograde magpies sticks in the craw. ‘Britpop’ wasn’t a cohesive genre, less still a cultural movement, it was a confection – a label for ideas at best, a marketing tool at worst. This is right, to a degree. Britpop was a label. As Alexis Petridis noted in the Guardian last week, there’s little to sonically link the titans of the era in the way that there was with grunge, its direct precept.” thetwounfortunates

Dilemmas of Football Ownership: Marching on, Direction Unknown

“As we move into Day Three of our Football Ownership series, Gary Hartley tries in vain to make some sense of what, exactly, Massimo Cellino is up to at his beloved Leeds United. It’s not particularly new, this football clubs subsumed by rich men’s egos thing. It’s just that in the presumed halcyon days, the egos were more the Rotary Club, cigar on Sunday type of affair – vaguely but not entirely unapproachable, with no offspring on Twitter. Things are different now; we’ve supported or allowed the cult of moneyed personality, accepting that since it’s all ultimately a game, we can in turn allow our game to be gamed. Sigh. But hey, down at Elland Road, at least our rich man has a personality. Right? You with me? Right?” thetwounfortunates

TTU Go Predicting: a Club-by-Club Premier League Preview 2014-5

“Our divisional previews of a year ago were so well received that we decided to go one better and offer a full set for 2014-5 even if bloggers enjoy the luxury of not being obliged to cover irrelevances such as the Community Shield. TTU staffer Ben Woolhead has a little extra time on his hands now after the masterful Newcastle United blog Black & White & Read All Over finally closed its doors after a decade. Here, Ben gives a club-by-club lowdown on the top echelon of English football.” thetwounfortunates

TTU Go Predicting: a Club-by-Club Championship Preview 2014-5

“Following on from John McGee’s freeform assessment of League 1 yesterday, here is a somewhat more plodding assessment of the level above. That, however, is no reflection on the ins and outs of this season’s Championship – a competition where extortionate transfer fees, underqualified managers and frankly terrifying owners hold sway, where parachute payments warp the competition and everyone is indulging in the filthy scramble for Premier League riches – apart from Blackpool. If the written word isn’t enough, all three of our previewers can be heard expounding in person on the same issues on three special editions of the We Are Going Up! podcast this week. Anyway, without further ado…” thetwounfortunates

TTU Go Predicting: a Club-by-Club League 2 Preview

“In the first of four divisional previews we focus today on who’s who in League 2, which once again looks set to be tight. The bookies are backing Bury, Luton, Portsmouth and Shrewbury – we think that they’ll each do well, but suggest that they’ll have plenty of competition, not least from Southend and York.” TTU

Graham Westley and Stevenage Are Not Disappearing Yet

“I in a fascinating article in the most recent issue of The Blizzard , one which largely debunks the idea that football has any real likeness to the game of chess, Scott Oliver bemoans ‘the obsessive measurement of atomised players’ individual contributions’ measured by way of ‘output’, suitable perhaps ‘for ‘the neoliberal market’ but not for ‘the socialist midfield’. Graham Westley, that lower league bogey man, might concur. In Westley’s world view, the individual is ruthlessly subjugated for the wider good of the team and while that seems to be no reflection at all of the man’s personal and political views – his Machiavellian ditching of Farnborough Town is evidence of that – on the pitch at least, all notions of creativity are suppressed in favour of the collective.” thetwounfortunates

Blackburn Rovers have Unearthed a Gem in Gary Bowyer

“When I last wrote of Blackburn Rovers in the autumn, my verdict was overwhelmingly harsh. After all, the imposters who currently own the club are still in place, the wage bill is exalted and the consequences of year upon year of over spending and declining attendances are beginning to bite hard. If there is a club whom Blackburn resemble in their current trajectory, it’s Coventry City, a team that patented the concept of slow decline before their demise became a head on rush into oblivion these past 12 months.” thetwounfortunates

Back in the Ex-USSR: Former Soviet Nationals in the Football League

“Amid the relentless cacophony of last Friday’s transfer deadline day, Radio Five Live’s needlessly exhaustive coverage did include an interesting discussion on the whys and wherefores of signing players from the former Soviet Union in the light of Liverpool’s failed bid to take Yevhen Konoplyanka to the club from Dnipro. Examples were given of underperformers from the one time Russian orbit with Martin Keown contrasting Oleh Luzhnyi’s ‘OK’ performances in an Arsenal shirt to that of the beast of a player who had had Marc Overmars running backwards during a Champions League tie against Dynamo Kyiv and the mystifying failure of Andriy Shevchenko to perform anything like his best for Chelsea – for the record, I think the Ukrainian national hero might be my choice as the most disappointing player I have seen play across three seasons of live Premier League football since 2006.” thetwounfortunates

Keith Hill and the ‘never go back’ maxim

“These quiet mid-January weeks used to be devoted to anticipation while we waited between rounds 3 and 4 of the FA Cup and if many will have you believe that matters Premier League and transfer window are the only ones worth thinking about as Burns Night approaches, quite a few of us still hark back to the old days. Not least Rochdale, who along with thoughts of the world’s greatest knockout competition, are also relishing a promotion battle in League 2. Here, Stuart Howard-Cofield, curator of the Grumpy Old Fan website and contributor to The Football Pink, runs the rule over ‘Dale – you can follow Stuart on twitter here. A quiet revolution in the hills.” thetwounfortunates

Review: The Football Pink Issue 1

“Self-propelled football writing on the internet has been up and running for some time now and while a number of sites have now established themselves as reliable go-to sources of articles, a recent phalanx of writers has emerged in their wake. Enter The Football Pink, stewarded by Mark Godfrey. The publication has attempted to tackle head on the issue of how to make money in a field assailed by the slings and arrows of open access by requiring its readers to stump up a modest amount of money for each of its issues – hence, each offering is available on Kindle for 99p and Joomag for $1.50. It’s an intriguing experiment and The Football Pink is already on to its second issue, with no shortage of promising writers queuing up to offer their thoughts on a range of subjects.” thetwounfortunates

“The Football Pink is a group of football obsessed writers and bloggers who bring their opinions, musings, observations and stories from all over the world to fans of ‘The Beautiful Game’. We also produce a quarterly e-magazine which can be downloaded to Kindle or Kindle apps.” The Fooball Pink

Decline and Fall?: Football and “Failing” Towns

“Last month The Economist hit the headlines for publishing a distinctly unflattering portrait of several British towns including Wolverhampton, Hull, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough. As the stats – for unemployment in particular, but also educational standards, welfare cuts and numbers of empty retail units – made clear, the towns and cities in question are undeniably enduring tough times. But the emotive choice of title for the article (‘Rustbelt Britain’) and such sentences as ‘In Hull, teenagers in baseball caps and tracksuits wander aimlessly’ betrayed a sneering, superior attitude encountered most frequently in the pages of the Daily Mail. A graph showing the unemployment figures was almost inevitably captioned ‘Grim up north, and in the Midlands’. Even more controversial, however, was the editorial leader that the article prompted. While the original piece at least maintained the pretence of being an objective description of a depressing reality, the leader – which added Burnley to the mix – was nakedly and unequivocally prescriptive. Its core message to policy makers?” thetwounfortunates

Football and the Benefits of Immigration

“The eminent economist Jonathan Portes, Director of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, likes to cite two examples in attempting to convince audiences of the merits of free movement of labour. The first is his own field – economics – where collaboration between academics trained within country traditions has produced the field’s most innovative work, and seen real international powerhouses established in the UK, the USA and Canada. His second example is the world of post-Bosman professional football. This is, thinks Portes, an infinitely better place for the impact of that landmark, shackle-loosening judgement in the mid-90s. The cross-breeding of nationalities in European leagues has encouraged them to flourish, and seen a heightened competition both within and across borders and, crucially, an overall improvement in both the quality and saleability of the product.” thetwounfortunates

Paolo Di Canio is not welcome back at Sheffield Wednesday

“Today, we welcome back Sheffield Wednesday fan John Leigh, co-author of The Football Lexicon and author of Voltaire’s Sense of History. Here, John reacts to the rumours that are linking Paolo Di Canio with a return to Hillsborough. … My brother was at THAT infamous England vs Croatia game at Wembley. Remember the one: the Euro qualifier, the one we lost 3-2, the game in which Scott Carson blundered. But it would be easier simply to commemorate it as the game at which Steve McClaren stood under the umbrella and mutated into ‘the wally with the brolly’. When I spoke with my brother after the game, it was apparent that he did not know what I was talking about, when I expressed some sympathy for McClaren’s failure to show a common touch (apparently unlike Louis Philippe who got deliberately wet when meeting his subjects on tour in France). Funnily enough, he had not been looking at the manager on the touchline. It was apparent that we had rather different experiences of that match: He watched the game; I watched the television.” thetwounfortunates

My Favorite Player of All time: An Italian icon, the Ultimate Bianconeri , a gentleman and a player the will always be missed in Turin – Alessandro Del Piero

“Growing up a Juventino in the city of Turin there was only one name you needed to know Alessandro Del Piero. You entered the stadium every Sunday hearing 40,000 fans screaming ‘C’e un capitano, C’e solo un capitano, Alex Del Piero,’ (there is a captain, only one captain), it was riveting, exciting and a joy to behold for a player that only represented one club for 19 years of competitive football. It wasn’t just his ability to pass through defenders like a magician with an invisible ball at his feet, or his ability to score when his team needed him, it was also the class he represented off the field. Unlike the Totti’s, or Cassano’s or Balotelli’s of our generation, Del Piero lived a simple life of an man who exhibits the characteristics the game needs today. He was a fighter, a leader and an incredible player to watch.” Soccer Politics

Great Football League Teams 45: Hull City 1982-3

“We are delighted to welcome back Matthew Rudd for the latest post in our Great Football League Teams series; Matthew having previously penned a popular post on Hull City’s 1965-6 side. Now, he casts his mind back to the early eighties. … It’s amazing what being skint can do for a football club. In 1982, Hull City were certain to go out of business, probably before the season had actually finished. In 1983, not only were they solvent again, but playing some delightful, devastating football and achieving what still ranks as one of the truly great promotions in the club’s history.” thetwounfortunates

Book Review: Real Madrid & Barcelona: The Making of a Rivalry

“Rivalry is that most beloved topic of the footballing internet with keyboard warriors across the globe queuing up to proclaim their particular enmity as the fiercest. I’ll admit to a degree of ennui when followers of giants clubs indulge in such debates given the increasing propensity of Arsenal v Tottenham or Liverpool v Manchester United to resemble the contest between multinational firms to increase market share. No, I don’t especially care whether Apple or Google win out, so why should I be bothered to check in on events at St. James’ Park or the Stadium of Light?” thetwounfortunates

TTU Go Predicting: Teams to Watch

“After a 25-year absence, Newport County returned to the Football League in May with an extraordinary play-off final win over Wrexham. For a club who were wound up, reformed and exiled to Gloucestershire in the intervening years, it is a phenomenal and heart-warming achievement. What’s more, they actually look half-decent, and we certainly wouldn’t bet against them to carry last season’s winning form into League 2 and trouble the top 10.” thetwounfortunates

A Plea for a Scottish Football Pyramid

“For now, we should be grateful, in spite of the ravages brought about by parachute payments, that movement up and down the divisions in England is a relatively fluid process and generally based on achievement on the pitch. Not so North of the Border. Here, Niall Slater, a man who previously exposed the far right leanings of Paolo Di Canio a full two years before anyone in the mainstream media became interested and serves as front man of emerging beat combo and stars of the upcoming Truck Music Festival Dallas Don’t puts pen to paper having tired of bending people’s earholes in person on the subject of the Scottish pyramid – or lack of. And he doesn’t support Celtic or Rangers…” twounfortunates

What next for Kenny Jackett and Millwall?

“While the rest of the country was distracted by events at Old Trafford, a corner of south-east London focused on the departure of another long-serving gaffer. Though Kenny Jackett’s departure as Millwall manager probably cause any palpitations on Wall Street, it was no less a surprise to supporters than Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement was to Manchester United. A mere six years in charge doesn’t even come close to matching the reign of Govan’s most famous son. Such is the nature of English professional football, however, that by the time of his exit, Jackett had been in post longer than all but five of his peers.” thetwounfortunates

Book Review: IBWM: The First Two Years

“Put simply, In Bed with Maradona has defined football blogging in recent years. Founded in 2010, the site isn’t the longest lived on the scene, but it rivals the Frick Collection itself in its sheer eclecticism. Acting as a welcoming platform to a host of impressive writers as well as the occasional mediocre one, the good humoured openness of Jeff Livingstone and his team has provided a rallying point for those interested in the less travelled byways of the game, while a thin layer of streetwise cool has prevented the site from sliding full scale into geekdom.” thetwounfortunates

Football vividly captured, illustrated and written in gold.
“In Bed With Maradona (IBWM), is certainly not your average football site, nor are they only obsessed about ‘El Pibe’ or the Brazilian midfield maestro Sócrates. They’re leaders in a growing direction of a football writing that transcends time, which we often like to call ‘philosofooty’. IBWM explores the cultural heart of the game, extracting stories that are unlikely to be found anywhere else.” A Football Report

The First Two Years Jeff Livingstone
“Growing up in North East England in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, football was a trip to St James’ Park to see my local team, Newcastle United. While it was cheap for my dad to take me, the standard of football in the old English Second Division wasn’t the greatest. Uninspiring? Maybe, but it didn’t matter.” Ockley Books

Where Would Swansea be now with Paul Tisdale?

“Football is full of what ifs. What if Jonathan Howard’s “goal” for Chesterfield had been given against Middlesbrough in the 1997 FA Cup final? What if Fergie had decided Cantona was too much of a risk to sign? What if Spurs’s chef had opted for a vegetarian curry instead of a lasagne before that game? And what if Paul Tisdale had taken the Swansea job…” thetwounfortunates

4-4-2 Managers and 4-4-2 Fans

“If you, as a football fan, recognise the shortcomings of 4-4-2 (the system, not the magazine), then that leaves you a few genes short of being a ‘proper bloke’ and certainly unpatriotic in the extreme. Here, we welcome back John Dobson, a regular chronicler of Yorkshire football, to point out how fan pressure must not be allowed to hold sway at Bootham Crescent.” thetwounfortunates

Directors of Football: The Case for the Defence

“Drectors of football have a pretty bad rep in English football – as illustrated by our article last week on their role at lower league clubs. There have also been plenty of inglorious appointments further up the tree, including Damien Comolli at Liverpool and Dennis Wise at Newcastle United. But there have been success stories. Nicky Hammond at Reading has been courted by Arsenal. West Bromwich Albion’s Dan Ashworth was poached by the FA. The latter’s replacement was appointed earlier this month; Richard Garlick has big boots to fill at The Hawthorns. But what factors have made the roles performed by Hammond and Ashworth a success?” thetwounfortunates

Ticket Prices And The Costs Of Having An Opinion

“Sixty-two, it would appear, may just be the magic number. It is starting to feel as if battle lines are being drawn in the ongoing debate over the extent to which ticket prices for matches have spiralled out of all control, and if last Sunday’s match between Arsenal and Manchester City was notable for anything in particular, then perhaps two stories to have followed in its aftermath have proved to be particularly instructive in terms of showing us who will be on whose side as the argument rumbles on. First up is the small matter of the deselection of the referee’s assistant who seemed to summarise the frustration that so many supporters are feeling at the moment over not only the issue of ticket prices, but also concerning the attitudes of the people that have been the chief beneficiaries of the money that has poured into the game over the last couple of decades or so: the players themselves.” twohundredpercent

Revisiting the Price of Football
“There comes a point in every football fan’s life when the “sod it, I’m not going moment” occurs. For some Manchester City fans, contributing £62 to Arsenal’s coffers was a step too far. For me, spending £25 to sit in a rickety away end at Brisbane Road on a cold December afternoon watching Exeter toil against an equally uninspiring Leyton Orient side proved beyond even my levels of tolerance and fanaticism. Despite the game being only a short ride away on the Central Line and no other plans, it was too much. I stayed at home. But this isn’t about Arsenal, or Manchester City, or even Leyton Orient (although if Barry Hearn really wants to attract locals away from West Ham, he might want to consider lowering his prices a little), no matter how much the debate has descended into partisanship. While it’s quite easy to pick examples of equally high prices at Arsenal or, say, Spurs, this obscures the real issue – that ticket prices in general are too high and, especially in an age of austerity, risk pricing out the next generation of fans.” twounfortunates

Ridiculous! Ticket prices are getting out of hand.. but it’s not just an Arsenal problem
“The best thing to happen this week has been the highlighting of ticket prices in football. Make no mistake – it’s not just an Arsenal issue even though this Sunday’s game with Manchester City has put it on the agenda. City returned 912 tickets – priced at £62 – from their allocation of 3,000 for the game at the Emirates. I must admit that I find that remarkable. That City fans are staying away from a crucial game against one of their biggest rivals in a game which has significance in the title race. Football is like a drug. Following your team is expensive but it’s also addictive. The other team not to sell out at the Emirates on a regular basis has been Wigan. Not a major shock as they have a small fan base. Newcastle didn’t either last month. They, like City, have some of the best and most passionate fans in the Premier League. But it was December 29, just after Christmas and three days after another costly trip to Manchester United. It is expensive being a football fan. Ridiculously so. It’s getting out of hand. And most bloggers, tweeters and supporters point to Arsenal as being one of the most expensive.” Mirror

Book Review: The Long Way

“A week away from this season’s FA Cup third round, it seems appropriate to look back to A. E. Greb’s account of the 2011-12 competition, published in the Summer as an eBook, a collection of the blog posts which accompanied his ten month peregrinations and which concluded with Chelsea’s win over Liverpool in May (at this point I’ll admit that the result of that particular encounter had escaped me – and this from a boy who could at one point tell you all the showpiece occasion’s goal scorers between 1965 and 1996.)” thetwounfortunates

Eight Out of Work Managers Revisited

“The serious lack of imagination shown by Football League chairmen continues to fuel the managerial carousel. Almost three years ago, we were bemused by Paul Hart’s arrival at Crystal Palace while the likes of Alan Irvine, Brian Laws and Darren Ferguson played musical chairs. Two and a half years on and it’s Dougie Freedman, Mick McCarthy and Dave Jones making sideways moves, as well as Laws again. The message is – don’t be out of a job for too long or you’ll be viewed as yesterday’s man.” thetwounfortunates

Hoof for the Sky: Crystal Palace 1990-1

“Our Great Teams series of posts, soon to be augmented with its fortieth episode, has occasionally been joined by an occasional look back to those top flight seasons where it all came together in wondrous fashion for clubs more accustomed to life in less exalted company. In February, Adam Orton recalled Norwich City’s valiant heroes of the early nineties while just a couple of years before, Crystal Palace were the ones defying gravity. Here, we are delighted to welcome Terry Duffelen for his first post for us. many of you will know Terry as co-pundit on the always listenable Sound of Football podcast and he also devotes considerable time to analysis of the Bundesliga, both via the Bundesliga Show pod and the Bundesliga Lounge blog.” thetwounfortunates

Weighing in on the Price of Football

“Politicians like to talk about the squeezed middle – a concept that focus groups tell them plays well to a hard-working and hard-pressed often middle class demographic who have done nothing wrong financially but find the costs of living creeping ever further up so, through no fault of their own, fall towards the poverty line. It may make for a catchy soundbite at party conferences but said squeeze is also an apt description for a very real growing issue of financing for lower league football clubs, specifically from the exact middle messrs Cameron, Clegg and Miliband are pitching for votes from.” thetwounfortunates

No Pain, No Gain for Millwall

“The optimism with which the season began didn’t take long to evaporate. Perhaps they were just another dispiriting example of modern football’s culture of instant gratification, but the boos that greeted the half-time whistle in our opening match at home to Blackpool were loud and clear. In what some might refer to as a quirk of the fixture list, this opening match was a repeat of that which ended the previous campaign. The visitors went about both games in their usual way: urgent going forward, with the ever-present danger of meltdown at the back. There was, however, a world of difference between the two performances from the home side.” The Two Unfortunates

Learning from MLS: an American Soccer Weekend

“On Saturday, I was fortunate enough to take in my first Major League Soccer encounter as Portland Timbers took on DC United – the first game I have seen outside the UK since my attendance at the 1993 Champions League Final in Munich. The Oregonians are very much darlings of the footballing blogosphere, having become the subject of a wonderful podcast, Mao’s Football Show, been the subject of a cracking piece from its deviser Michael Orr in Issue Zero of the Blizzard and been subject to much praise for its fan culture in a series of posts at the excellent Pitch Invasion blog – indeed, a clutch of these appeared in Tom Dunmore’s book which we reviewed in January. But what can British football – and in particular the Football League – learn from Major League soccer? On this evidence – a lot.” thetwounfortunates

The Ethics of Soccer Sponsorship

“Feeling queasy at the increased commercialisation of football is an experience common to us all, but a definite ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ mood has prevailed in recent years. Indeed, sponsorship has become yet another facet of the game to get nostalgic about – a marvellous post at the Football Attic recently confirmed the fact that certain advertisers seem to ‘suit’ certain clubs. Hence, JVC will always be associated with Arsenal and a Liverpool shirt minus the legend ‘Crown Paints’ simply isn’t kosher.” thetwounfortunates

Spartans fail to sparkle

“(With pre-emptive apologies to Harry Pearson – it’s impossible to have read The Far Corner and write about non-league football (and non-league football in the North-East, especially) without succumbing to the temptation to imitate his style…) My home town Morpeth – securely and perhaps smugly middle-class – is located at something of a crossroads. Leave the self-styled ‘ancient market town’ and venture north or west in the direction of the Scottish border and you find yourself in the romantic ‘Northumbria’ of the postcards and tourist brochures: mile upon mile of unpopulated scenic countryside, picturesque castles and expansive, unspoilt, golden beaches.” thetwounfortunates

Ten Reasons to Love the Football League

“So Football is officially dead then – beside images of sideburns, NHS celebrations, Kenneth Branagh in a top hat, a Somali-born hero, David Rudisha, the lightning bolt and the tranquil surrounds of ‘Eton Dorney’, the game has lost its sheen – embattled as it was when Freddie Flintoff inspired an Embrace song in 2005 and Jonny drop kicked that ball two years before. Well maybe – but we still feel there are reasons to celebrate the return of the round ball – and the Football League in particular. Hence, Lanterne Rouge (LR), Lloyd (LL) and John McGee (JM) have been called upon to provide 10 reasons why the resumption of hostilities is to be welcomed this blisteringly hot August Saturday.” thetwounfortunates

TTU Season Preview 2012-13: Clouds Continue to Gather at Blackburn

“… Any football fan naive enough to believe in the fairytale of the foreign-investor-as-knight-in-shining-armour need only look at the parlous state of Blackburn Rovers to be brought to their senses. John Williams, Tom Finn and Martin Goodman felt compelled to express their extreme concern just two months after Venky’s takeover, and events since – culminating in relegation to the Championship in May – have only gone to prove that if there’s an inverse of a panacea, then Venky’s are it.” thetwounfortunates

Football Needs Multiculturalism

“Multiculturalism has become an inordinately loaded concept in recent years – like ‘health and safety’ and ‘political correctness’, it’s a marvel how a presumably once positive set of values has now been branded with negative connotations. As Stewart Lee once said, ‘you can’t even write racial abuse in excrement on someone’s car without the politically correct brigade jumping down your throat’. When in doubt, ‘blame the effing Muslims’.” thetwounfortunates

Once were Wycombe Managers

“Wycombe Wanderers may be but a nobbut middling sort of team supported by a load of middle-class scout leaders, but we do seem to attract a few names to our humble valley: men who have come from, or gone on to, much better things, whether that be the Premiership, Scottish championships, Europe, or international management. Here are the high and lowlights of our helmsmen since I’ve been a supporter…” thetwounfortunates

Paris Saint-Germain – Dream Into Action

“So, barring any problems with a medical, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will today sign for Paris-Saint Germain. Many in the football world have been shocked by PSG’s audacious €65 million swoop for the Milan duo of Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, but it really should come as no surprise given the club’s massive transfer outlay ever since it was purchased by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) last summer.” Swiss Ramble

Rotherham United: Two Stadia; Two Identities

“In April, David Rawson caught the imagination of football’s online community with a striking post following the arrival of Steve Evans at Rotherham United. Here, with the Yorkshire club about to take up residency in a new stadium and with the new season a month away, David is in wistful mood…” thetwounfortunates

Book Reviews Week: The Away End

“… Dean Mansell’s website The Away End is based on a simple premise: fans meet online to swap and share their various experiences from following their clubs across the country. For his first book – also titled The Away End – Mansell has taken the very best of these stories and compiled them into a single volume. The author (a disingenuous title – Mansell has only contributed two articles to the book himself; the title ‘editor’ feels more appropriate) claims ‘the experience in a modern day away end is not quite like it used to be in the good old days of football’ and despite around half of the tales taking place in a contemporary setting, The Away End would appear to be his attempt to embrace and re-engage with ‘terrace culture’ from a bygone era. Mansell rejects the vapid commercialism and globalisation of the modern game, defiantly stating: ‘This was and still is a working man’s game.’ Needless to say, the words ‘prawn sandwiches’ appear more than once.” thetwounfortunates

Oligarchy, Football, Ethics

“With the protracted takeover of Reading FC by Thames Sports Investment having finally gone through and the imminent signing of Pavel Pogrebnyak on the point of being rubber stamped, now would appear to be the appropriate time to consider the background to the impact oligarchy has had on the ownership of British football clubs. You’ll remember that Anton Zingarevich has assumed the ownership of the Berkshire team, laying down £12.7 million for a 51% share this summer while obligated to stump up the remaining 49% (amounting approximately to £12.3 million) by September 2013.” The Two Unfortunates

Euro 2012 – The Runners & Riders: Spain

“From perennial under-achievers to perpetual favourites in considerably less than ten years, the first decade of the twenty-first century was the one that transformed the world’s perception of the Spanish national football team. Spain began the new century living very much down to people’s expectations, with a quarter-final defeat at the 2000 European Championships being followed up with a quarter-final defeat in the World Cup two years later and a first round elimination at Euro 2004. At some time around the middle of the decade, though, something clicked and Spain became all-conquering and fearsome. They matched France’s turn of the century achievement of winning the European Championships and the World Cup back-to-back – albeit in reverse order – and go into this summers finals as the favourites to win the tournament again.” twohundredpercent

For Croatia
“As has sadly become a hallmark of Slaven Bilic’s managerial reign, Croatia made tough work of their eventually successful qualification campaign. Having, as Scott Carson will no doubt remember, trumped England to the last European Championships, Croatia failed to make the cut for the 2010 South African World Cup. Here then, drawn in a relatively manageable qualification group, Croatia looked certain to shake off the blip in their progress that was 2010 and ride happily into the Ukrainian-Polish sunset. But as is often the case in qualification groups spread over long months and years, the perceived most formidable nation didn’t prevail, as seasoned underdogs and overachievers Greece, enjoying more footballing than economic success, finished top of the group.” In Bed With Maradona

Reading FC 2006 and 2012: a Comparative Perspective

“Reading’s extraordinary canter to the Championship title provokes inevitable comparison with the feat of their forebears of half a decade ago. The 106 points amassed by that vintage set a record and if we are yet to cover the 2005-6 Royals in our Great Football League Teams series, that’s not to ignore the best second tier XI of all time.” thetwounfortunates

The downward spiral

“Late March, and if you listen carefully you can – in the parlance of a certain puce-cheeked knight of the realm – hear the sound of bums starting to squeak. So, time to cast an eye over the teams who this May are most likely to be swapping the preening pros, plastic fans and prawn sandwiches of the Premier League for the Bovril, goal celebration music and cheerleaders of the Championship. In descending order…” thetwounfortunates

Chopping and Changing at Blackpool

“Ian Holloway’s introduction of three substitutes in the 64th minute of yesterday’s 3-1 defeat at Reading seemed like a strange tribute to Barry Fry, master of the ‘threeplacement’ in his heyday at Birmingham City. That said, it’s also a sign of one of Blackpool’s major problems this season; a campaign that has, nonetheless, been punctuated with lots of good things.” thetwounfortunates

Football – the last bastion of Social Democracy?

Hubert Robert – Architectural Composition with the Pantheon
“I know what you’re already thinking. That I’m going to argue something entirely inarguable. That in between skimming the dressing room copies of Nuts and Zoo the average Premier League footballer is more likely to clutch a well thumbed copy of Ayn Rand’s hymn to self interest, ‘Atlas Shrugged’ than the collected writings of Tony Crosland. And you’d be right of course. Modern football is awash with greed – with car swerving prima-donna Ashley Cole its own John Galt – a rifle toting poster boy for the ‘we’ll do what we like’ generation.” thetwounfortunates

Great Football League Teams 31: Liverpool 1961-2

“I grew up during a period of near total domination for Liverpool Football Club but one thing I shall always remember is a notebook my Dad had stored away in which he had kept a record of all the FA Cup results for several seasons in the early 1950s.” thetwounfortunates