So often histories can hinge on a small turn of events, whereby the seemingly innocuous tumbles out of control and comes to represent a watershed moment: Newcastle’s 1-2 defeat at the hands of Reading last Saturday felt like a watershed moment at St James’ Park. Too often this season the fans have left the stadium in disconsolate mood but this time was different; anxiety had turned to anger after a lacklustre display and a senseless substitution that may be talked about for years to come. With the game at 1-0 to Newcastle, the oldest footballing dilemma in the book presented itself. Would a nervy Newcastle, desperate for a win, get the jitters and begin to defend their own 18 yard line, or would they have the character to keep on playing and increase the deficit against a team second from bottom who hadn’t won away all season. Just after the all-important hour mark, the substitutions board lit up and the […]

There’s a certain irony in seeing Sam Allardyce do so well with West Ham at a time when the ‘Barcelona-lite’ model is cast as the only future for English football. The success of his team’s sometimes brutal and often direct footballing style seems to puncture the pomposity of the so called educated managers who see ‘possession at all costs’ as the sole strategy for effective football. Many fans have become sick of that hollow “progressive”, “possession football”sloganeering from managers like Brendan Rodgers which scream out the English game’s general deference to the continental blueprint. This is reflected in the English national team, who are on the whole second rate, but they’ve become doubly weighed down by a timid and unrelenting self-awareness that they aren’t as cultured as their continental counterparts. Allardyce is unapologetic of his ‘route one’ game, which is quite refreshing. That may not be a fashionable point of view given Allardyce’s penchant for the long ball and all […]

The Premier League is in transition, so we're told. The old fashioned man-management type ‘gaffers’ are gradually being replaced by slightly more aloof tactical masterminds. The English domestic game will change to resemble the more technical games we see throughout Europe but Tottenham and Liverpool’s respective starts to the new campaign seem to suggest that the men wishing to take it immediately to the next level may well be martyrs to the cause.