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:


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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



Curle All the Bad Guys Want

curleRemember early-2000s banger Girl All the Bad Guys Want by Bowling For Soup? Of course you do. Now imagine how much that would be improved* if the words were replaced by names of footballers.

Wonder no more, as I bring you the worst thing you’re likely to read all year.



Hayter Clark Bunn Day Knight Adam Weifeng

Depay Lee Cork Du Wei Skerla Little Calderon Mee

Kerr Nemeth Nolan Gee Zambrotta Wiss Arnaud Whing

Shearer Zitouni Button Knockaert Sherwood Landín

Owen Gee Wark, Hall Irwin Lowe Sand Lee Angell Singh

Butt Gee Neville Curtis Mee


Goss Steve Watson Wes Brown Greening Goma Duff Guy

Blissett Ling Thuram Eto’o Burn Davison Urzaiz

Salako Brown Mooney

Ji Slew King Rooney

Euell Whelan Newby

Greening Sung-Yeung Diouf

Milijas McPhail Blissett Lee

Ryder Keller Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan


Gillet Zikos McAnuff Lichaj Juan Norris

Hasebe Chedjou Fuller Sigurdsson Ahmad Adler Dann

O’Shea Ji Leitgeb Carson Riether Ahn Defour Die

Gee Neville Nolan Aimar Best Aquino Varane


Owen Gee Wark, Hall Irwin Lowe Sand Lee Angell Singh

Butt Gee Neville Curtis Mee

Goss Steve Watson Wes Brown Greening Goma Duff Guy

Blissett Ling Thuram Eto’o Byrne Davison Urzaiz


Leitgeb Winter Moss Trasch

Rai Stack Caesar Glass

Driver Inler Lahm Stam

Deisler Muller May Hamann


Salako Brown Mooney

Ji Slew King Rooney

Euell Whelan Newby

Greening Sung-Yeung Diouf

Milijas McPhail Blissett Lee

Ryder Keller Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan


Keshi Rose McKenna

Fish Nelson Fred Fox Chilavert

Jerome I. Harte Ivan Eliseu Deivid

Allen Warne De Vos De Zeeuw Makin


Nayim Watson Wes Brown

Ryder Dier Duff Guy

Isla Rincon Mapp Eto’o

Burn Davis Inler Wise


Salako Brown Mooney

Gee Slew King Rooney

Euell Whelan Newby

Greening Sung-Yeung Diouf

Milijas McPhail Blissett Lee

Ryder Keller Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan


Gus Caesar Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan

Gus Caesar Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan

Gus Caesar Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan

Gus Caesar Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan

Gus Caesar Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan


6. Kewell Runnings


5. Pirates of the Gary Breen


Tribalism on the terraces

In the second part of his series on racism in football, Rich Ward turns to the fans.

In ‘Leading figures setting a terrible example’, I discussed the issue of how Sepp Blatter and others are failing to show fans the (correct) way when it comes to racism.

What I didn’t cover in the article was the underlying issues on the terraces that are also hindering the path to racism-free football.

Recent allegations involving Chelsea fans chanting racist songs on the way back from Norwich further illustrates how some seem to have been inspired by the actions of players, managers and football chiefs.

In the past few months, racism has somehow become acceptable again and now seems to be rearing its ugly head on a weekly basis.

One of the fundamental problems is that football is such a tribal sport. So often down the years, fervent devotion to one team has spilt over into incidents of abuse.

Gary Neville was a favourite target for Liverpool fans, United fans will forever hate Carlos Tevez for crossing the Manchester divide and Sol Campbell experienced the same problems when he swapped Tottenham for Arsenal.

Fans work themselves into such frenzy that they even turn on their own.

This season, Blackburn supporters have repeatedly laid into manager Steve Kean and who can forget the hanging of a David Beckham effigy after his infamous World Cup red card while playing for England.

Most recently, in Saturday’s FA Cup game between Manchester United and Liverpool, Patrice Evra was abused and heckled throughout the match as the Suarez row took centre stage once again.

The Liverpool fans continue to condone Suarez’s behaviour just like his manager has done and ITV did not attempt to diffuse the situation either by insisting on showing the Uruguayan’s reaction in the stands to every on-field incident.

“Banter”, as Kenny Dalglish put it, was exchanged between the two sets of supporters, with United fans chanting “racist b******” in response to boos from the Kop.

The effect of this tribalism is that it prohibits fans from showing any common sense or rationality.

Players are jeered when wearing the colours of their clubs, yet cheered when sporting England white. Players who transfer teams are revered one week, hated the next and vice versa.

So it is perhaps not surprising then, that if the colour of shirt a player is wearing, or the area of the country he comes from makes him a target, that the colour of his skin can too lead to incidents of vile abuse.

It may be a cliché, but if fans and managers alike could remember the old adage “it’s only a game”, they might be less inclined to allow their passion to turn into blind abuse.

Such a change in attitude might then prevent a repeat of the scenes at Anfield on Saturday where a player who was the victim of racism was booed because he was wearing a United jersey and not a Liverpool one.


Find Rich on Twitter @richjward

Links for 09/01/11

With other distractions consuming my attention over the Christmas and New Year period, it has been a while since the last Pele Confidential reading list. As a result, I will bring you an extended selection of articles, from the holiday period as well as the last week.

David Beckham signing for LA Galaxy in 2007 (photo: Jeremy Ryan)

LA Galaxy deserve better than Beckham by me at Footy Matters – Would fans of English clubs stand for the way the former Manchester United man has treated his MLS club?

Why Aston Villa would be the perfect fit for Omar Cummings by me at Footy Matters – A look at how the Jamaican forward would fit into the set-up of the club where he is currently on trial

Major League Soccer should welcome Guille Franco with open arms by me at Footy Matters – An examination of what the Mexican has to offer to the league

Chris Wondolowski: The Carlos Tevez of the MLS? by me at Footy Matters – An assessment of whether the deep-lying forward could replicate his club form to provide the United States with a new avenue of attack

Teal Bunbury will gain a lot from Stoke City rejection by me at Footy Matters – A look at how young talents pften have more to gain from not getting a big move before they are ready

Togo's national team at the 2006 World Cup (photo: the weaver)

In Togolese memoriam by Gary Al-Smith at In Bed With Maradona – an emotional look at the Africa Cup of Nations one year after the tragic attack on the Togo team bus in Cabinda


Sir Alex, El Tel and Barca: What If? by Alex Dimond at In Bed With Maradona – a thought-provoking assessment of one managerial decision on the whole spectrum of European football over the last 23 years.

Has transsexuality in football turned a corner? by Chris Ledger at In Bed With Maradona – a revealing analysis of an issue which perhaps has been given insufficient coverage in the past

The revolution must be televised by Juliet Jacques at In Bed With Maradona – an rallying call for the English broadcast media

The saddest thing in football by Domm Norris at In Bed With Maradona – a sensitive approach to the agony felt by fans of Russian club FC Saturn Moscow Oblast

Former Juventus midfielder Pavel Nedved (photo: Mike Brown)

Juventus – Team of the Decade by Liam Apicella at Footy Matters – The best eleven players to have graced the Stadio Delle Alpi in Turin

Why David Beckham to Spurs makes sense by Andrew Fitchett at Footy Matters – What the North London club would have to gain from the introduction of the former England captain

Stevenage have come a long way since they last met Newcastle by Joe Tyler at Footy Matters – An assessment of the progress made by the League 2 club in the decade-or-so since they took yesterday’s Premier League opponents to a famous FA Cup replay

Break-ups to make-ups: On Rooney, Tevez, and letting go by Greg Theoharis at Just Football – The impact on fans of their favourite players moving to pastures new

Why write about football? by Dominic Pollard at Polly’s Pause for Sport – the title says it all, really. A must-read for any budding football writer.



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