The Best Football Writing of 2014

2014 saw some awful football writing. I mean, truly awful. The sort of stuff that brings shame to the already lowly art of clickbait, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

But this year has also seen some fantastic work by a number of writers, both professional and amateur, serious and satirical, and here are some of the best:

January:

Why Football is Too Tolerant of Anti-Semitism by Darren Richman (@DarrenRichman) for FourFourTwo

How to Make Football Better by Ally Moncrieff (@AllOrNothingMag) for BetsOfMates

Are Football Clubs Thinking Enough About Social Media? by Alex Stewart (@AFHStewart) for Huffington Post

Football, Globalization, and the Dutchman from Japan by Elko Born (@Elko_B) for The False Nine

How to Enjoy the Premier League Without Being a Dick by Callum Hamilton (@Callum_TH) for VICE Sports

Scotland Unites in Support of Divisive Figure Fernando Ricksen by Peter McVitie (@PeterMcVitie) for BeNeFoot

February:

Why David Moyes Cannot Save Himself at Manchester United by Rob Brown (@robbro7)

Martin Demichelis is Pellegrini’s Bad Lieutenant by Oscar Rickett (@oscarrickettnow) for VICE Sports

Wayne Rooney – The Lost Boy Wonder by Callum Hamilton for SBNation

The Changing Language of Football by Rob Brown

Anelka Suspension: 5 Games Feels Far too Few by Andi Thomas (@andi_thomas) for SBNation

March:

Reading Deadspin? Allow a Former MLS Player to Convince You Otherwise by Bobby Warshaw (@bwarshaw14) for Deadspin

A Curious Website Launch by Caroline Hatwell (@hatwell) for Typical City

A Monument to Losing: The Importance of World Cup Heartbreak by Zack Goldman (@thatdamnyank) for A Football Report

April:

Steve Evans: Football Manager. Convicted Criminal by Ian King (@twoht) for Two Hundred Percent

Lewis Emanuel: Talent, Torment and Armed Robbery by Jamie Allen (@plymkrprss) for In Bed With Maradona

World Cup: 25 Stunning Moments…Number 10 by Rob Smyth (@robsmyth76) for The Guardian

‘Your Fight is Our Strength’ a Fitting Legacy to Tito Vilanova by Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) for The Guardian

#Weareallmonkeys: Can a Picture of a Banana Fight Racism by Jude Wanga (@judeinlondon) for Independent Voices

Piermario Morosini – 2012 by Alex Stewart for Football’s Fallen

Your Heroes are Human: On FIFPro’s Mental Illness Study by Zito Madu (@Phaetonv2) for SBNation

May:

The True Story of Steve Snow, USMNT World Cup Hero Who Never Was by Nick Firchau (@nickfirchau) for MLSSoccer.com

Helena Costa to Clermont – A New Era? by Philippa Booth (@Philby1976) for French Football Weekly

Luis Suarez’s Redemption? Sport Needs a Political Conscience by Shane Thomas (@tokenbg) for Media Diversified

Golden Opportunities by Callum Hamilton and Andi Thomas for SBNation

Bari in their Hearts by Dominic Bliss (@theinsidelefty) for The Inside Left

June:

Diamonds in the Rough by Brian Phillips (@runofplay) for Grantland

World Cup 2014: We’ve Got to Start Somewhere by Max Grieve (@maxjgri) for Vertigo

Brazil 2014 is the World Cup We’ve Been Waiting For by Greg Johnson (@gregianjohnson) for VICE Sports

This is Not the Bosnia You Were Looking For by Kirsten Schlewitz (@KDS_Football) for SBNation

World Cup 2014: ITV Preview Belgium v Algeria by James Dutton (@jrgdutton) and Greg Johnson for The False Nine

July:

Hunting White Elephants in Manaus by Andi Thomas for SBNation

The Moving, Tragic and Very Brazilian Story of the Late Jorge Selaron by Reda Maher (@Reda_Maher_LDN) for Eurosport

1982: Why Brazil v Italy Was One of Football’s Greatest Ever Matches by Tim Lewis for Esquire

The Day Football Saved Lives by Michael Calvin (@calvinbook) for The Independent

Ze Carlos: From Selling Watermelons to World Cup Semi-Final by Charlie Pulling (@clonmacart) for WorldSoccer

August:

FIFA? PES? Against Modern Football Games by Ally Moncrieff for The False Nine

Letting the Monsters In by Ruud Gullit Sitting on a Shed (@RGSOAS)

This is Football’s Tipping Point by Michael Calvin for The Independent

September:

Transfer Window Should Know Its Place by Iain Macintosh (@iainmacintosh) for ESPNFC

Brian Clough Was Charming, Disarming and Had His Own Set of Rules by Daniel Taylor (@DTGuardian) for The Guardian)

A Club Transformed: Supporting Reading FC by Rob Langham (@thetwounfortunates) for The Inside Left

Atletico Madrid: Thank You For Bringing the Aggro Back by Rob Smyth for Eurosport

Clarity of Vision by Alex Stewart for The Upright

Red Bull and RB Leipzig: Money Gives You Wings by Daniel Storey (@DanielStorey85) for Football365

Partizan Belgrade Banner Highlights a Problem That is Not Going Away by Igor Mladenovic (@Mladenovic) for The Guardian

The FourFourTwo Preview: Newcastle vs Hull by Huw Davies (@thehuwdavies) for FourFourTwo

October:

No Good Reason Not to Try the Rooney Rule by Nick Miller (@NickMiller79) for Football365

False Memories and Football Opinions by Billy MacFarlane (@BillyMacfarlane) for The False Nine

The Problem with Ched Evans Returning to Football by Jude Wanga for Football Fanzone

Mario Balotelli and the Lessons of Liverpool Past by James Dutton for The False Nine

November:

The Brilliant Youth Football Idea That UEFA Took On and Killed by Ian Herbert (@ianherbs) for The Independent

Yaya Toure, Loss, and Treating Players Like Robots by Daniel Storey for Football365

Yaya Toure and the Stereotyping of African Players by Seb Stafford-Bloor (@premleagueowl) for The Premier League Owl

Football: More than a Man’s Sport by Alex Stewart for The False Nine

The Malky Mackay Texts, Dave Whelan, the FA and How Football is Losing the Fight Against Discrimination by Jonathan Fadugba for JustFootball

How Football Unlocked the Heart of a Boy with Autism by James Masters (@masters_jamesD) for CNN

Ched Evans Should Not Be Allowed to Return to the Sheffield United Football Pitch by Mollie Goodfellow (@mollie_writes) for Indy Voices

 

December:

Golden Goal – Fabio Grosso for Italy v Germany by Nick Miller for The Guardian

The Velvet Revolution by Elko Born for The Blizzard

Almost Mute: Why Angel Correa Deserves His Wings by Rob Brown for In Bed With Maradona

So You’ve Been Nutmegged… by Zito Madu for SBNation

 

39. Bad Santi

santi

Lights, Kamara, Action: If the FA listened to Hollywood

Sorry Diomansy, you don’t feature in the article. I’m only using you for what is at best an average pun

[warning: this article contains spoilers]

This week, in an unprecedented (not to mention ridiculous) move, UEFA decided to hand Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano a one-match ban for scoring a goal. But that’s not even the best bit!

The Brazilian is also required to partake in a day of “community football service”, which presumably equates to the punishment meted out to those two happy-go-lucky criminals at the end of Purely Belter.

For those of you unfamiliar with the finest football-themed film this side of Shaolin Soccer, it consists of making tea for an elderly lady whose apartment overlooks Newcastle United’s St James Park stadium. Not bad, you might think, until you realise that leaves you powerless to cover your eyes when Clarence Acuña and Daniel Cordone are on the pitch, for fear of spilling scalding hot liquid down your newly-pressed jumpsuit.

Anyway, this got me thinking. Why should we restrict these punishments to players whose team already turns out in Guantanamo orange, as if to pigeonhole them even further? Why not extend the appropriate (or not) sanctions to others? With that in mind, here are a few more ideas which cinema has thrown my way.

1.       After shooting a work experience kid with an air-gun, Ashley Cole should have been required to conduct a real-life re-enactment of the City of God scene where Lil Zé decides which one of two youths to shoot. You know, in an ironic, putting your kid off smoking by forcing him to work his way through a whole pack of cigarettes kind of way.

2.       As punishment for what is known in the FIFA rulebook as “not shutting the fuck up”, Jamie Carragher should be ordered to cut his own tongue in half with a pair of scissors, like in Oldboy.

3.       During his spell at West Ham, Benni McCarthy ought to have been served the chocolate cake presented to Bruce Bogtrotter in Matilda, to see how hungry he really was.

4.       Following years of gruesome fouls, a 60-year-old Roy Keane should be sent back in time 30 years to have his legs broken by his younger self, as in Looper.

5.       After his selfish move to the middle-east, Asamoah Gyan will be forced to make an Argo-style sci-fi movie with Stefan Effenberg, Fabio Cannavaro, Mark Bresciano and Ben Affleck.

6.       El-Hadji Diouf must come face-to-face with the “cocknocker” from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, as punishment for being an utter penis.

Any more suggestions? Leave them below the line, get in touch on Twitter (@tomvictor) or shout them at passing strangers on the street.

Write for Pele Confidential

Apr. 25, 2010 - 05814135 date 24 04 2010 Copyright imago BPI Scott Parker of West Ham United Celebrates Scoring The Winning Goal PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUKxFRAxNEDxESPxSWExPOLxCHNxJPN Football men 2009 2010 England Premier League Action shot Vdig xkg 2010 Square Highlight premiumd Football.

Pele Confidential is looking for more writers to contribute features, round-ups or anything else.

 

If you are interested, pitch me an idea or just write a piece on spec, and if it’s good enough it will go on the site.

 

Weekly league round-ups are always a good way to get started, but if you don’t want the pressure of having to submit copy that frequently then stand-alone articles are just as welcome.

 

Get in touch by emailing tomvictor87[at]gmail[dot com] or tweet me @tomvictor

 

Cheers,

 

Tom

Premier League Round-Up 22/11/10

Arsenal v Newcastle United, Premier League 7/11/2010 Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger clasps his hands to his face as the fourth official shows four minutes of injury time  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

When summing up this week’s Premier League programme there is only one place to start.

Not that long ago it looked as though Arsenal had banished the fragility which has plagued them in previous seasons, but their capitulation at home to Spurs suggested nothing has really changed.

Credit to Harry Redknapp for inspiring the second-half comeback which earned Spurs a first win at the home of their fiercest rivals in 17 years, but the game was really about Arsenal snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

They should have been home and dry by half-time but – in scenes reminiscent of their visit to Wigan’s DW Stadium last season – once the fightback begun there was no sign of the Gunners arresting their slide towards defeat.

One team without such fragility issues is Bolton, and Owen Coyle’s side continued their march up the table with a crushing 5-1 win over Newcastle.

Neither Johan Elmander nor Kevin Davies has been particularly prolific while ploughing a lone furrow at the Reebok, yet by bringing the duo together Coyle has formed one of the most dangerous strike partnerships in the league.

Both struck twice on Saturday, with Chung-Yong Lee – one of the most underrated players in the top-flight – getting the other goal for the Trotters. Andy Carroll’s eighth of the season gave the visitors a glimmer of hope but ultimately proved academic.

Just as impressive was Manchester City’s 4-1 win at Fulham. Roberto Mancini’s side have received their fair share of criticism for negative displays but attack was the order of the day, with even the much-maligned Yaya Toure breaking forward to get on the scoresheet.

Mark Hughes’ side, on the other hand, will be nervously looking over their shoulders after the early-season unbeaten run is now starting to look like, well, just loads of draws.

Fulham are now just one place above the relegation zone, thanks in no small part to Birmingham’s surprise win over Chelsea.

While Lee Bowyer scored the goal, taking advantage of a centre-back in Alex whose pain-killing injection seemingly had side-effects of drowsiness, the star of the show was Ben Foster.

After his unconvincing display for England on Wednesday, Foster proved he is still a viable contender for the national side by keeping out everything Chelsea threw at him and earning his sixth clean sheet of the campaign.

As Birmingham are on the up, their west midlands neighbours are all heading in the opposite direction after defeats this weekend.

Aston Villa, missing several key players, were nonetheless outclassed by a Blackburn side comfortable from the moment Morten Gamst Pedersen put them into a first-half lead on Sunday.

The spirit remained from last week’s draw against Manchester United, but Gerard Houllier’s side lacked a cutting edge in the absence of Marc Albrighton.

That result leaves Villa a point ahead of West Brom, who are in freefall with one point from four games.

West Bromwich Albion/Stoke City Premiership 20.11.10 Photo: Tim Parker Fotosports International John Walters Stoke City celebrates 2nd goal with team mates Photo via Newscom

Stoke were the beneficiaries of some generous defending this time around, Jon Walters adding to Matty Etherington’s penalty with a second-half brace in the Potters’ biggest away win since their return to the Premier League.

But the situation remains far from desperate for the Baggies, which is more than can be said for local rivals Wolves.

A fourth successive defeat leaves them on a paltry nine points, although any side would have been hard-pressed to respond to the opening goal from Blackpool’s Luke Varney.

Varney’s effort, a volley from way out which arced over a helpless Marcus Hahnemann, conjured up memories of Hugo Rodallega’s goal of the season contender last year.

On the subject of Rodallega, the Colombian striker did not enjoy quite as fruitful an afternoon at Old Trafford on Saturday.

A two-footed lunge saw him sent off, after team-mate Antolin Alcaraz had seen red just minutes earlier, and Manchester United’s margin of victory could have been far greater than 2-0.

Defeat for Wigan saw them slip into the bottom three, where they have Wolves and West Ham for company.

Saturday’s defeat at Anfield was comfortably the Hammers’ worst performance of the season, which is really saying something given their record of seven defeats and just one win in their opening 14 games.

Liverpool barely needed to break a sweat, racing into a three-goal lead before half-time, and one gets the feeling they could have not turned up for the second half and still scored a couple more without reply, had they so wished.

Monday night’s game was one of the most exciting since Richard Keys returned to out screens on a weeknight, Everton and Sunderland sharing the spoils in a pulsating 2-2 draw.

Danny Welbeck made up for the absence of Asamoah Gyan by scoring both goals for the Black Cats, sandwiched between efforts from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta.

But both sides missed golden chances to win the game in stoppage time: first Welbeck snatched at his shot when well-placed, then Everton substitute Jermaine Beckford prodded wastefully over after being put clean through on goal.

Team of the week (4-4-2): Foster (Birmingham); Eardley (Blackpool), Gallas (Tottenham), Johnson (Birmingham), Evra (Man Utd); Holden (Bolton), Meireles (Liverpool), Pedersen (Blackburn), Silva (Man City); Tevez (Man City), Elmander (Bolton)

A change of formation

As you may well be aware, more and more of my articles are cropping up elsewhere. You may even have found this site through one of my other pieces.

Consequently, I have decided the main purpose of this blog will be the weekly Premier League round-ups, but at the same time I do not want you missing out on my work for other sites.

This means from now on I will provide you with a weekly round-up of my writings from across the web, as well as articles from other football journalists and bloggers which have caught my eye over the course of the week.

England's Jordan Henderson (L) is challenged by France's Samir Nasri during the international friendly soccer match at Wembley Stadium in London November 17, 2010.  REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth  (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

England vs France: Experimentation is the Key to Progress by me at Caught Offside.

A preview of the England v France friendly, looking at the new faces in the Three Lions’ squad

MLS Conference Finals: Colorado to face Dallas for MLS Cup glory by me at Footy Matters

My round up of the MLS Conference finals, including LA Galaxy’s shock 3-0 capitulation at home to FC Dallas

Will the United States Reap the Benefits of a Multi-Cultural Side? by me at Footy Matters

A look at the foreign-born players breaking into the US national side, in the light of Juan Agudelo’s match-winning goal against South Africa

Black Wings by Andrew Thomas at In Bed With Maradona

A sensitive look into depression in football, a year after the death of German international goalkeeper Robert Enke.

Why Gay Footballers Should Not Come Out by Musa Okwonga at The Independent

An intelligent response to homophobic abuse in the world of football

FIFA Puskas Award 2010: Top Ten Goals of the Year at SabotageTimes

Some entertaining viewing, including my personal pick for goal of the year, Matty Burrows’ stunner for Glentoran against Portadown

More of my ramblings elsewhere

Hi all.

There will be no weekly Premier League update this week I’m afraid, as I have other matters to attend to.

In the meantime, why not treat yourself by dipping into some of my articles elsewhere.

For those of you into the MLS, my regular column on Footy Matters features a round-up of the postseason playoffs and a selection of longer comment pieces.

And for the rest of you, there’s my column on Caught Offside, which is about – well – whatever I feel like discussing. Last week it was West Ham; this week – who knows.

Enjoy,

 

Tom.