Fourfourtwo uk august 2016

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FourFourTwo 266 August 2016





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Tel 020 8267 5848 Fax 020 8267 5725 Email – or to contact an individual, email For work experience requests, please email Editor Hitesh Ratna Managing editor Huw Davies Art editor Anthony Moore Deputy art editor Tom Chase Features editor James Maw Staff writer Andrew Murray Staff writer Chris Flanagan Chief sub editor Gregg Davies Performance editor Ben Welch Performance writer Alec Fenn Videographer Andre Hoo Global digital editor Gary Parkinson Deputy digital editor Gregor MacGregor Digital features editor Joe Brewin Social media executive Harriet Drudge Digital apprentice Ben Clark Editorial secretary Sarah Weetch Thanks to Tim Barnett, Mike Wescombe, Chris Dean and Louise Connelly (pictures), Haymarket Pre-Press (repro), Pete Maxwell, Catherine Rees, Alex Lucas, Charlie Holmes Pictures PA Photos, Action Images/Reuters, Getty, Twitter, Rex Features, Imago

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HUDDLE ROUND... And so Portugal are champions of Europe. It’s a win that few saw coming, especially after three draws in the group stage and that injury to Cristiano Ronaldo in the final. Yes, 2016 is officially the year of the underdog. Turn to page eight to relive their triumph and all of the other Euro 2016 highs and lows, from Welsh heroics and Iceland’s Haka to England’s horror show (or you could skip that bit). As the tournament was reaching its climax, an altogether different story was unfolding in Manchester as Jose Mourinho began work as United boss. What makes this all so interesting Have any is that no one knows what will happen next. If thoughts on the Jose had been given the job after Alex Ferguson issue? Feel free retired, the narrative would have been different: to share with a follow and tweet two serial winners combine to dominate English @FourFourTwoEd football. Probably. What then would have been a match made in heaven is now a marriage of convenience, as two giants look to restore their reputations. Will it all end happily ever after? Head to p42 to find out. Finally, we have a victory of our celebrate: winning the PPA own to celebrate Cover of the Year award for our C Zinedine Zidane cover (left). As itt was chosen by the public, I just wanted to say thanks to all who us. We literally couldn’t voted for us have done it without your help. Enjoy the magazine.

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Hitesh Ratna Editor


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AUG U ST 2 01 6

EURO 2016 DIARY “I can’t stop thinking about Space Jam...”


Neither can we, Wrighty. But FFT stopped for a bit so we could record the events of a memorable European Championship. Dimitri Payet’s exocet on the opening night, Bastian Schweinsteiger’s surprisingly energetic goal celebration, Hal Robson-Kanu’s Cruyff turn... Relive the good, the bad and the ugly from four weeks of frolics in France. Spoiler alert: the hosts do quite well

FEATURES One-on-One: Pierre van Hooijdonk



The former Nottingham Forest striker and Dutch international answers your questions, from scoring at the 1998 World Cup to playing under Jose Mourinho and falling out with Dave Bassett

COVER STORY Man United and Mourinho

The Special One has finally landed the job he has always craved. But will his steadfast beliefs and unique style suit the mantra of a behemoth like Manchester United, or will sparks fly when this unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

Pioneering managers






Meet the men who moulded today’s top bosses, featuring the Midlander who launched tiki-taka and the Lancastrian who inspired the Magical Magyars

Bizarre five-a-side teams

FFT tracks down the casino dealers, RAF officers and brain surgeons, for whom a dust-up at the local Powerleague is just another work night out

1966 and all that: The untold stories

Heard the one about Eusebio gatecrashing a wedding during the World Cup? No? What about when greyhounds took priority over the football? Discover forgotten tales from a historic summer

Prepping for your pro licence

We go back to school with Kevin Phillips, Fabrice Muamba and Fredi Kanoute to find out what you need to succeed on a UEFA coaching course

4-4-2: Back with a vengeance

Everyone’s talking about it again thanks to Leicester and Atletico. What led to the system’s resurgence? And what was wrong with it in the first place?

Action Replay: Gunter Netzer


The former Borussia Monchengladbach star’s story is one seldom told outside of his homeland. From fast cars to fashion shoots, the two-time German Footballer of the Year was a trailblazer for his time

PLANET FOOTBALL 95 96 102 Plus

Getting shirty: Bordeaux kit not a hit with fans Nigel de Jong reveals his favourite nicknames Misery in Milan: two Italian giants still toil Stuffed seagulls; The German gaffer madder than Klopp; Earth’s wackiest tournament

PERFORMANCE 105 107 108 Plus

Go with your gut and keep your head in the game Arda Turan on finding the space to create chances Hector Bellerin: become a modern-day full-back How to breathe easy; What happened when FFT tried out cryotherapy; Dressing room initiations

6 August 2016

JOSE p42

MOURINHO Can an one of the game’s biggest egos make his mark on one of its biggest clubs? It’s make-or-break time for Mou

Euro 2016 diary p8

SUBSCRIBE TODAY! 66 facts about ‘66 p66

Why spend more? Get a great deal on FourFourTwo p34 August 2016 7

EU RO 2 016


It was quite a month in France, and FFT scribbled it all down in the diary. y. From Dimitri Payet’s stunning winner to start the tournament all the happe d way to the final in Saint-Denis, this is how it happened, as it happened Words Nick Harper, Si Hawkins, Louis Massarella, Nick Moore, Chris Flanagan, Andrew Murray


hen Euro 2016 began back on June 10, we had a few questions. Would the French crumble under the pressure of being hosts, having won the previous two major tournaments held on their own patch? Could England go all the way? Would the addition of eight extra teams lead to the likes of Wales, Iceland and Hungary stinking out the tournament? Questions, questions… But there were things we knew for certain, too. Portugal were going to be all Ronaldo and no trousers. Spain were guaranteed semi-finalists. Nobody was going to stop Harry Kane, Thomas Muller and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from rattling in goal after goal in their quest for the

Golden Boot. And there wasn’t wasn even the h slightest chance that either Northern Ire Ireland or the Republic of Ireland would emerge from difficult groups. We at FFT were confident that th t allll our predictions, inklings and wild stabs b in pas which h h the dark would come to pass, would be good news for our betting fea account balance but, we feared, a disaster for our Euro 2016 diary. G After all, where’s the fun in Germany marching predictably to the final? Fortunately we were so wrong. wr o Euro wo d al 2016 saw upsets, drama, wondergoals, b ll mad ad howlers, ripped shirts, burst balls, na commentators and every nation in d Europe adopting a terrifying Icelandic no HUH!! chant. Relive it all with us now.

E UR O 2016


David Guetta shrieks at the Stade de France



Giroud (57), Payet (89)


Stancu (65 pen)



Millions tune in for the last five minutes of Emmerdale and – more importantly – the beginning of Euro 2016. Before kick-off there’s a cliché-heavy opening ceremony, as lads in hooped jumpers and saucy can-can girls frolic round a carousel. “The French are famous for their kisses… naughty but nice,” purrs ITV's Clive Tyldesley unsettlingly. David Guetta plays records and shouts like a wino at traffic, but it’s all mercifully short, and after a lusty rendition of La Marseillaise, we’re underway. The game’s a typically nervy curtain-raiser: Olivier Giroud eases the tension with a headed opener and Bogdan Stancu equalises from the spot, before Dimitri Payet prompts a nationwide scream of relief by rocketing home from 20 yards.

“Some people are on the pitch…”


Plenty of positives for the hosts: Paul Pogba looks every inch the tournament's Parisian posterboy with some luscious roll backs and fine through-balls; N’Golo Kante plays his muscular henchman to perfection, and jinking genius Payet puts on a 20-minute masterclass to send even the most shruggy French local into Tricolore-waving raptures.


Very little to hate, although Romania’s (albeit understandable) lack of attacking intent suggests that the Euros' new format may lend itself to bus-parking on an unprecedented scale over the coming days. Get it forward, lads!


While Paris parties, Marseille burns. Or, at least, a handful of bozos in England shirts chant “ISIS, where are you?” outside the Queen Victoria pub and scuffle with some local dunderheads – leading to a couple of arrests and a light tear-gassing. This one may run and run.


The ITV ‘reporting’ – or shouting – of 2013 Wimbledon tennis champ Marion Bartoli and former Manchester United goal-plunderer Louis Saha from the Paris fans’ park is utterly deranged. “COME ON – ALLEZ LES BLEUS!” bellows Bartoli like a one-woman hen party, as Saha performs an uncomfortable jig. Weird.

10 August 2016

“What was the keeper doing?”

“oh no!” like a pantomime five-year-old when Romania score their equaliser and later commending Payet for “animating the animation”. Nope, us neither.

Dimitri Payet picks his spot… and his moment

Payet's stunner sent even the th shruggy French into raptures raptu s MEANWHILE, IN...

…Luebbenau, Germany, the Teutonic obsession with soothsaying animals continues, as Flocke the Humboldt Penguin – who lives at a health spa, the lucky, endangered swine – predicts a Die Mannschaft victory over Ukraine with some strategic waddling. There’s no point, mate, you’re never going to top that Euro 2008 octo-oracle, Paul…


ITV have upgraded their personnel since Euro 2012’s punditry hate crimes. Sitting at the head of an Eiffel Tower-based

capabl tableau is the capable He’ Mark Pougatch. He’s Emmanu l joined by Emmanuel Petit – resembling a wealthy Game of Thrones brothel keeper kee – intellig l who opines intelligently rece about France’s recent d problems and how, amid the woe: “football ’ave ’a e the quality to bring ’appiness”. h appiness”. Over on the Th wireless, 5 Live’s Thierry demonstrate no Henry demonstrates bellowin such nous, bellowing


“After one or two of their performances th other h night, h they h should be counting the h blessings bl ngs that they even their e flight,” said Roy got on the ‘ Motivator ivator’ Keane, in ‘Mr fidence-boosting confi dence-boosting d as he assessed mood the Irish squad before h departed Dublin they f the e tournament tournament. for


Payet’ss tears of joy as h he wass subbed after his bl kbuster (left). It’s all blockbuster ab bit X Factor to start with th erworks this early the waterworks iin proceedings, dings, but if we had jjust d done that on the opening n h off a major tournament, night we would ld probably robably fancy h le blub, too. having a llittle

EU R O 2 0 16



Brothers Granit (right) and Taulant Xhaka swap shirts after Albania-Switzerland




Two solid Home Nation performances – and two blunderbuss free-kicks – are the highlights of the first full day’s play, which ends up being far more fun for the Welsh than the English. All three games are tense: Fabian Schar nets early for Switzerland, but they have to cling on desperately against a spirited 10-man Albania. Euro debutants Slovakia and Wales contest a cracker, as a swerving Gareth Bale set-piece and a shinner-winner from Hal Robson-Kanu are enough to give the principality three points. Meanwhile, England slowly strangulate Mother Russia – and think they have finished her off with an Eric Dier missile – before she leaps back into

Bale (10), Robson-Kanu (81)

1 SLOVAKIA Duda (61)


Dier (73)


V. Berezutski (90+2)




The Welsh anthem Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau is spine-tingling, and early trickery from Bale and Aaron Ramsey are a joyful indication of a side playing without nerves or fear. Wayne Rooney, Dele Alli (below right) and Adam Lallana shine in a swaggering, but ultimately thwarted, Three Lions side. Albania’s whopping great flag is sweet, too.


Albania skipper Lorik Cana scuppers his compatriots’ chances by getting sent off before the half-time break thanks to a backflip-handball hybrid, while Slovak nutjob Martin Skrtel runs through his full gamut of crimes, scything down Welshmen at will, yet somehow gets away with just the one yellow card.




life like a berserk Bond villain to snatch an equaliser, as Vasili Berezutski expertly loops a header over a stranded Joe Hart.

Bale makes a splash against Slovakia

The violence in Marseille takes a rather nasty new twist, as a group of organised Russian hooligans rock up on the south of France to form an unwelcome aggro triangle with already punchy English boozers and fiery French youths. Bars blaze, an English fan is thrown in the harbour, and riot police even collar a bottle-lobbing French mademoiselle in heels and a pink dress. Sacre bleu! Bosh! England finally take the lead in Marseille...


Halfway through Albania vs Switzerland, we mysteriously cut back to the studio, where a shadowy Dan Walker sits, silhouetted like a nervous witness describing a heist on Crimewatch, munching on a big bag of Maltesers. Blood sugar is very important, Dan.


…London, the Queen’s 90th birthday is marked with Trooping The Colour. Her Majesty is resplendent in a green coat and hat combo, and doubtless proud to hear that her subjects are singing the national anthem enthusiastically in and around the Marseille waterfront.


Robbie Savage spearheads the BBC’s confederacy of dunces, calling Gareth Bale a “splash of a superstar”, and blurting twisted linguistics like “the flyers are tackling in” and “have a look at your ref, watch!” Alongside Thierry Henry being barely arsed to analyse Albania vs Switzerland, and a bizarre segment in which Kelly Cates details Albanian ethnic cleansing, it’s quite a shaky start to the Beeb’s coverage.


Valleys deity Bale attempts to stoke up Group B with some narky asides about England. “They big themselves up before they’ve done anything,” he bellows. “So we believe that we can beat them. them You t the h enemy.” never want to lose to


On a day riddled with negative headlines, the love-in between Albania and the Swiss Swi – countries bound by mass migration – is beautiful to see. It iss epitomised by the mum of Taulant and Granit Xhaka, whose clever dual flag T-shirt T-sh acceptabl is the first acceptable half-and f example of half-and-half attire in football hist history..

...but Berezutski strikes late for Mother Ru ssia August 2016 11

E UR O 2016


Schweiny busts a gut to clinch it for the Germans

one side he has the number four shaved into his head, on the other a map of his homeland. Oh look, there’s Dubrovnik…


More unsavoury scenes on the streets, this time in Nice, which fails to live up to its name when local thugs attack Northern Ireland supporters before their team’s game with Poland. On the pitch, Croatia’s Vedran Corluka battles on manfully after coming off worse from a clash with the feisty Cenk Tosun. But, after three stoppages to have his head bandaged – white, blue, white again – even the most ardent Terry Butcher fans agree that this is all getting a bit silly.


Modric wheels away after his wonder strike



1 POLAND Milik (51)



Mustafi (19), Schweinsteiger (90+2)



It’s starter’s orders for the front-runners (Germany), dark horses (Croatia) and probable also-rans (sorry Northern Ireland). The first two, plus Poland, are in danger of ‘doing an England’ before securing the the victories that their dominance deserve. In truth, Michael O’Neill’s team rarely look like holding out for the draw that they seem set up for – despite a motivational video message

12 August 2016

from golfing hair-sponge Rory McIlroy – while the world champions’ triumph, if predictable, comes from an unlikely source: the head of former Everton stopper Shkodran Mustafi, who’s only in the side because of injuries to both Mats Hummels and Antonio Rudiger.


A tidy German midfield trio. Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil both provide sumptuous assists, the latter's perfect cross expertly thumped in by Bastian Schweinsteiger. With Robert Lewandowski too busy tussling with Jonny Evans, meanwhile, Arkadiusz Milik is always Poland’s most likely goalscorer, his neat left-footed finish enough to get the White Eagles up and running. Special mentions, too, for Turkey’s striking trackie tops, all black

“Love Modric. Can we not all chip in to bring him back to the English game?!” bar the red and white badge, and Gerry Armstrong's classy co-commentary on BBC One. Let’s hope that he’s not restricted to Northern Ireland games.


A day of missed sitters across the Channel, with Turkey’s Ozan Tufan, Croatia’s Darijo Srna and Ukraine’s Yevhen Konoplyanka – even though his scuffed effort does draw a heroic goal-line clearance from Jerome Boateng – left wondering what the French is for ‘cow’s arse’ and ‘banjo’. Kyle Lafferty’s overhead kick from 25 yards out (left) also makes for painful viewing. But the honours go to Croatia’s Ivan Perisic, whose dazzling wing-play, sadly, is not matched by his hairdo – on


Germany are in Kroos control at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille as Teutonic Toni torments Ukraine. So why don’t they, you know, mark the Real Madrid midfielder? Former Fulham man Danny Murphy in the BBC commentary box can’t believe it, and neither can we.


...Marseille, it transpires that Jamie Vardy’s new wife, Rebekah, was among those tear-gassed by riot police amid ugly scenes between fans of England and Russia. This, as UEFA threaten to throw out the two teams and the hosts announce an alcohol ban around the fan zones and stadiums. Shame.


As Slaven Bilic continues to run the show on ITV with his blend of knowledge and wild hand gestures, it’s a busy day for Gary Lineker over at the Beeb. As well as having some decent one-liners, the anchorman is the target of a leaky roof in the Eiffel Tower-overlooking studio.


“He’s in his prime, he’ll only get better.” Alan ‘confused’ Shearer on Toni Kroos.


It just has to be Luka Modric’s dipping, first-time volley winner against Turkey. “Love Modric......” tweets a salivating Jamie Carragher, "can we all not chip in & bring him back to the PL?!” Hear, hear.

EU R O 2 0 16


celebrations. Only the fans in question appear to be Belgian. Continuity errors during live football: impressive work.





Pique (87)




Clark (71 og)



Giaccherini (32), Pelle (90+3)



Questions abound as this epic-looking day kicks off: Will Spain recover from their Diego Costa-cursed World Cup? Can Ireland’s creaking warriors stop the ageless superman Zlatan? And are Belgium about to fulfill that ‘next big thing’ tag? Well, yes, nearly, and no. Spain’s avuncular walrus, Vicente del Bosque, adds new faces but still lacks a fox en el box, relying on emergency centre-forward Gerard Pique for a late winner (top). Ireland dominate Sweden, and score a humdinger through Wes Hoolahan, but then struggle to even

draw. Yet Belgium are so feeble against unfancied Italy – who tonk them 2-0 – that Group E still looks full of possibility.


Spain’s Alvaro Morata misses chances, but justifies his selection by wiping out a linesman with a tackle that, in slo-mo, is reminiscent of a Roy Keane revenge special. Andres Iniesta’s near-perfect performance and a Bobby Moore-esque assist from Italy’s Leonardo Bonucci are equally special, but more romantic is the tale of two schoolfriends, Ireland’s Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick, who outshine Ibrahimovic. Meanwhile, in the Beeb studio, follicly challenged Alan Shearer and Danny Murphy sitting either side of Kevin Kilbane looks like Phil and Grant Mitchell intimidating Ian Beale.


Belgium? Big mess. Romelu Lukaku needs a holiday, while Kevin De Bruyne just looks really, really hot, and not in a sexy way. Perhaps Jose Mourinho was

onto something. Also pretty dreadful are Sweden, particularly ex-Arsenal flop Kim Kallstrom, who “looks heavy” according to Mark Lawrenson. True, he does patrol the midfield like a portly cop patrolling a doughnut shop. Let’s spare Ciaran Clark, already scarred by Villa’s season, nodding Ibra's cross into his own net. He needs some Ciaran attention.


After an unlikely opener from Emanuele Giaccherini - on loan at Bologna from Sunderland - Italy gaffer Antonio Conte emerges from the goal celebrations with a bloody nose. An accident? Then Graziano Pelle undergoes “relocation” as Martin Keown puts it - for a dislocated finger, accompanied by the inevitable close-up. Thankfully the director pulls out before the global audience faints.


Later on, that same director shows a replay of Italy’s Ciro Immobile almost scoring, followed by the fans’ curtailed

Belgium are so feeble against unfancied Italy that Group E is still full of possibility for Ireland

...TalkSport’s hotel-room studio, Ray Wilkins worries about England’s morale, after an interview with Jack Wilshere. “He’s saying ‘Hart’, ‘Rooney’ - why not their first names?” muses ‘Butch’. Weird.


Something rather unnerving becomes apparent as Lee Dixon co-commentates on the Spain game: he has got exactly the same voice as Karl ‘Idiot Abroad’ Pilkington. And a similar disposition. That clattered linesman, for example, deserved it. “That’s what you get,” fumes the former England full-back, “for wearing orange laces.” Harsh.


Igor Lebedev, shaven-header deputy chairman of Russia’s parliament, is a real charmer. “I don’t see anything terrible in fighting fans,” he says. “On the contrary, well done. Keep it up!"


Hoolahan strikes against the Swedes (bottom) - cut to the Irish crowd going bananas, and a bloke waving his crutch. A Norwich player scoring? It’s a miracle!

“I know, I can’t believe how bad they are, either...”

E UR O 2016



Szalai (62), Stieber (87)


1 PORTUGAL Nani (31)


B. Bjarnason (50)



After four days of largely predictable fare, Group F finally produces some of the trademark big-tournament shocks that make football such a marvellous caper. The first half of Austria-Hungary is sporting landfill, however the Magyars become vaguely magical in the second: Adam Szalai ends a slick passing move to grab his first goal in 41 matches, before Zoltan Stieber – who learned everything he knows at Yeovil Town – caresses home a sensational chip to seal the first real surprise Euro 2016 result, at their neighbours' expense. But Iceland – whose population, we’re constantly told, is smaller than Cristiano Ronaldo’s personal grooming staff – go on to write an even bigger headline in Saint-Etienne. Everybody fancies CR7 to easily overpower lots of strapping men (OK, two) called Sigurdsson, and this looks inevitable after Nani manages to breach their backline before half-time. Pepe tries out a new ‘tackle’ on Jon Dadi Bodvarsson

“Too-ra-loo-ra, too-ra-loo-ra, aye... everybody”

But a crisp volley from Birkir Bjarnason earns the debutants a famous result. Karma for jailing their bankers, right?


Massively bearded Viking figurine Aron Gunnarsson puts in an almighty reducer on Ronaldo just a minute into his side's clash with Portugal. It sets the tone for a heroic rearguard action. Elsewhere, 90-year-old Hungary goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly’s unwashed painter-decorator kecks remain highly commended.


Foot stamps, Ricardo Carvalho letting his studs linger after making a challenge, Pepe’s occasional Pepe-ing: Portugal’s ungentlemanly conduct can’t help but reinforce A Seleccao's image as baddies stamping on a loveable underdog’s face.

Ricardo Quaresma’s thuglife teardrop tattoos hardly help. Over in Bordeaux, Austria's Aleksandar Dragovic gets his marching orders after two yellow cards.


Abysmal Russian attitudes towards the weekend’s violence continue; security chief Vladimir Markin claiming that his French counterparts were ill-prepared to deal with “normal” supporters because they’re “more used to policing gay pride parades”. The 2018 World Cup in Russia is looking more and more fun, eh?


A PR genius at frozen food outlet Iceland takes a quick break from keeping Peter Andre's spray tan levels topped up to tweet: “YYYYEEEEEEESSSSSS” following Bjarnason’s equalising goal. Cunning.


…the West Country, the Cornish Pasty Association wade into the Brexit debate, claiming they “support remaining in”, because EU regulations stop anyone outside the county from making their succulent baked goods. Cop that, Boris!


On the BBC, Thierry Henry remains in cruise control, opining: “I still don’t understand how Iceland qualified” – seconds after a 10-minute film which had explained how Iceland qualified.


Romania manager Anghel Iordanescu defends Denis Alibec ahead of his side's fixture against Switzerland amid media reports the striker was smoking in the changing room before coming off the bench against France during Friday's t rnament kick-off. "It's difficult to tournament say what he really did because I was w ching the game," puffs Iordanescu. watching


Hungary’s gary’s supporters are phenomenal: th r trademark slow-handclap chant their nds like Come On Eileen for nutcases, sounds a d Stieber’s late clincher against the and trians sparks a group hug between Austrians t entire squad and 2,738 fans, while the nager Bernd Storck – a man who's so manager h gdog he makes Vicente del Bosque hangdog lookk madcap – wells up with tears of joy.

Hungary ungary fans’ slow-clap ow-clap chant sounds a bit like Come on Eileen for nutcases

EU R O 2 0 16




Glushakov (80)


Weiss (32), Hamsik (45)



Stancu (18 pen)

1 SWITZERLAND Mehmedi (57)



Griezmann (90), Payet (90+6)



After a first round that can be filed under ‘cagey’, will the second set of matches see things open up a little? Today’s fixtures suggest not. Slovakia dominate a dreary Russia beneath a closed roof in Lille, despite a brief, stuttering revival, while Romania and Switzerland’s draw is the tournament so far in microcosm: tidy, technically excellent and lightly enjoyable without ever being wildly exciting. Even hosts France are frustrated by a spiky Albania side for 90 Marseille minutes – before Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet break their spirit with another late show.


Somehow, we’re nearly a week into the tournament without any big refereeing bungles or angry punters sending errant linesmen death threats and dog muck in the post. Indeed, the men in the middle have gone almost unnoticed, a virtual miracle in the hyper-analysed modern era. Hats off, refs... but can it last?


Tensions bubble between English, Welsh and Russian fans in Lille. Stan Collymore is on the frontline like a sporty Rageh Omaar, and gets tear-gassed live on Periscope while barking “JOURNALISTE!” at riot police. The tragicomic farce is only accentuated when a Brummie yells “Up the Villa!” as Stan regains his eyesight.

“Give me that phone! I want a selfie with Stan”


Naughty Joachim Löw apologises for scratching his testicles in the Germany dugout. “When you’re full of adrenaline, things happen that you don’t perceive. I’m trying to behave differently. Sorry,” he says. What a load of old b*****ks.


A middle-aged man ventures out onto his Parisian balcony for a little air, only to become a hero to thousands of Republic of Ireland fans boozing in The Harp Bar down below. They cheer wildly every time he emerges like a deranged Pope, and then boo when he goes back inside.


…London, Nigel Farage and Joey Essex spearhead a bizarre flotilla of ‘Brexit boats’, pursued by furious Remain-er Bob Geldof, who bellows about the UKIP man being “no fisherman’s friend”.


Just sometimes, Mark Lawrenson’s withering worldview aligns perfectly

with a period of action. “How long have we done, 20 minutes?” he tuts as Russia vs Slovakia gets off to an interminable start. “Tall players don’t jump that high,” he continues, “they’ve never had to.” Over on ITV, Craig Bellamy impresses while talking about player passion. “Fire? It can cook your food, or it can burn your house down," he opines.


After giant baby Cristiano Ronaldo huffed: “I thought they’d won the Euros, the way they celebrated,” about Iceland the night before, Kari Arnason responds with some superb slang he must have picked up in Aberdeen. “What does he expect, for us to play like Barcelona? He fannies about and dives around. We didn’t pay any extra attention to him.”


Marvellous Marek Hamsik (left) stands out for Slovakia, and not just for his mad hairdo. The Napoli man's goal is a gem, just edging Slaven Bilic mounting ITV's studio table after Payet’s strike (top). August 2016 15

E UR O 2016




Vardy (56), Sturridge (90+2)

1 WALES Bale (42)


0 UKRAINE 2 NORTHERN IRELAND McAuley (49), McGinn (90+6)




Finally, after all the talk, the front- and back-page rabble-rousing, the tabloid tub-thumping and the cod-psychology, a game of football breaks out. In Group C, Northern Ireland beat Ukrai… eh? Oh yeah, right, the other one. The England vs Gareth Bale showdown arrives, and we get an answer to that classic pub debate of who would come out on top if three lions fought a dragon. The reality is a soporific affair, high on huff and puff and honest endeavour but low on quality. It’s never the full-fat “dust up” that Chris Coleman was hoping for, but ugly nonetheless. Wales’ rope-a-dope-Bale-and-hope approach appears to be working to plan when his second speculative free-kick of the tournament squirms in to give Wales the half-time lead and a sniff of qualification with a game to spare. But England’s interval changes spark a second-half revival that sees Jamie Vardy level proceedings with only his third touch in Big Tournament football, perhaps helped in part by the news that chewing tobacco and guzzling caffeine drinks can boost a player’s performance levels by as much as seven per cent! Super-sub Daniel Sturridge then slays the dragon, toe-poking a deserved but unlikely injury-time winner. It’s enough to have England supporters dreaming of a quarter-final exit on penalties. Elsewhere, it seems there are actually some other games besides ‘The Battle of Britain’ taking place on Day Seven. It is followed by Norn Iron claiming a first European Championship finals win with a well-earned 2-0 victory over Ukraine, their success built on an impressive display, mixing boundless energy and controlled aggression. It’s their first tournament win since that historic

16 August 2016

Sturridge snatches it at the death...

Joe Hart attempts to rally the troops with a Churchillian battle cry - if Churchill had Tourette’s victory over World Cup hosts Spain back in 1982, and it blows Group C wide open. In the final clash of the day, Germany escape with a draw against a powerful but impotent Poland, for whom even Robert Lewandowski is firing blanks. The world champions are strangely impotent “Who needs Will Grigg?!”

throughout in Saint-Denis, and coach Joachim Löw doesn’t once rub his penis. Perhaps the two things are connected.


Roy Hodgson’s timely tinkering deserves praise – particularly the fact that after

playing just a single striker in England's opener with Russia, he throws caution to the wind by shoving all five on here. It’s either a tactical masterstroke or the last throw of a very desperate man. But equally impressive are the three officials who combine to rule that the equaliser is very much onside, despite all our initial doubts and Bale’s throaty protestations. What we don’t see, but they do, is that the ball cannons off the head of Ashley Williams, into Jamie Vardy’s path, then on into the net. Yes, via the head of Wolverhampton-born Ashley Williams no less, which adds an extra level of complication to the officials’ thinking.


Chris Coleman’s cautious approach might be understandable but it’s still pretty hard to stomach. A sorry lack of ambition makes for a typically Premier League-type affair – but think Villa vs Norwich as opposed to Arsenal vs Chelsea. For England, Raheem Sterling and Big Leggy Harry Kane are atrocious and deservedly hauled off at the break – they may struggle to return in this

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...after Bale’s free-kick had beaten Hart

“This enough passion for you, eh?”

tournament. Joe Hart isn’t much better. He has one job to do all game – palm Bale’s well-struck but routine free-kick away to safety – yet he fails abysmally.

no one will come off. After twiddling his thumbs on the touchline for seven minutes that seem more like a lifetime, he finally gets on for the final three.



If Joe Hart’s hapless flapping doesn’t cause him sleepless nights, the fact he has let down the kids really should. Rewind to the tunnel, pre-game, and Hart attempts to rally his troops with a Churchillian battle cry – if Churchill had suffered from Tourette’s. “Right boys, pride, get that ball, move that f***ing ball, c’mon,” roars the rather pumped-up custodian, failing to note the BBC camera capturing every word. A Corporation apology duly follows.

...celebrity love story news, Taylor Swift and that Night Manager bloke are now confirmed to be ‘in a secret romance’. Obviously it’s no longer secret and they probably won’t still be canoodling by the time you read this, but there we go.


It’s a quiet day/night on Planet Pundit. The BBC’s calculated Hartson-Saunders,


Ahead of Ireland’s clash with Belgium, Roy Keane revisits an old theme by confirming he’d have happily kicked Eden Hazard around in training had he moaned that he wanted to leave for another club. “That's nothing personal, I would do that to anybody who was talking about possibly wanting to leave all the time,” smirks Keane with that murderous glint. “If it was true – that they wanted to leave and had a poor attitude to training – then I would kick them in training, yes. But I have kind of done that with most players, I suppose, even the lads who didn't want to leave.”



In easily the most surreal match of the tournament so far, Northern Ireland’s win over Ukraine is stopped when the heavens open and God rains down a barrage of head-sized hailstones. Later, the Irish take time-wasting to an amusing new level as Paddy McNair prepares to come on, only to find that

Shearer-Ferdinand match-up produces no fireworks or fisticuffs whatsoever – what made sense on paper fell flat in 3D. Similarly, the experiment of sticking Robbie Savage and Martin Keown in the same commentary box at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens yields friction but no punches, sadly. And not even ITV can rescue the night. The usually reliable ‘Bilic + Wright + AN Other' formula that has served them so well thus far falls flat for the late game. It doesn’t help that the Germany-Poland clash is a bit of a dud, or that the AN Other is charm vacuum Lothar Matthaus. Not even Wrighty and Slaven can save that.

Lewy still can't hit the target

Dele Alli’s role in England’s winner is subtly sublime – to the point of going unnoticed. As Roy's Boys push for a late winner, the ball falls under the starlet's feet. Surrounded by red shirts but aware of Sturridge to his left, Alli flicks the ball into the striker’s path and the substitute does the rest. Alli was quiet by his own high standards, but that single moment and deft touch more than compensate. August 2016 17

E UR O 2016




Eder (88)



Skoda (76), Necid (89 pen)


Perisic (37), Rakitic (59)



Morata (34, 48), Nolito (37)



Today we learn nothing that we didn’t already know. This Italy team probably is the worst in 50 years after all, but it’s still altogether Italian enough to make the knockout stages with a game to spare. The Azzurri conjure a single moment of quality in the whole game against an equally clueless Sweden – Eder running at a sweating Andreas Granqvist, who lands on his arse and raises a white flag as the little Brazilian thumps home. In the celebrations that follow, Antonio Conte avoids bloodying his nose and his wig stays on, so all in all it’s a good day for him. Then we learn that Croatia without Luka Modric may struggle – 2-0 ahead against the Czechs with him pulling every string; a panicking mess as soon as he hobbles off. That only confirmed what we had already suspected. And we learn that Spain remain comfortable in possession and should go far. Plus ça change, indeed.


The quality of goals is impressively high. The run and drive of both Eder and Ivan Perisic, Ivan Rakitic’s dink, both Czech goals – one a clever header, the other an emphatic penalty – and Spain’s 21-pass move for Alvaro Morata’s second strike.


Sweden are dismal again – even poor Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He spoons over a gaping goal from inches out against Italy. While it may have been flagged offside, it sums things up quite nicely.


Croatia’s knuckle-dragging hooligan minority ruin the game by throwing

18 August 2016

Petr Cech can’t keep out Ivan's delightful dink

Sergio Ramos does his best to imitate Ibrahimovic

“Nice try, mate”

Conte avoids bloodying his nose and his wig stays on, so all in all it’s a good day for the Italy coach flares (above right) as well as fighting with each other as the Czechs mount their riposte. UEFA open an investigation that could end with them being either sent home or politely asked not to let it happen again. “These are not really Croatian supporters. These are sports terrorists,” says Croatia boss Ante Cacic.




Croatia defender Domagoj Vida’s lank little ponytail might be classed as crazy. Snip it off, son, you're fooling nobody.

…dead-ball news, Tony Pulis is getting increasingly angry on co-commentary duties for ITV. “I've been disappointed by the set-pieces at this tournament,” says Captain Cap while watching the holders Spain, of all teams, in possibly the most Pulis comment ever heard.

Days after announcing that if he could have any super power it would be to be Andres Iniesta for a day, Lee Dixon

reveals that when he talks to people: “I always ask them, Iniesta or Xavi?” What, always, Lee? Everyone? Every single time? Have a day off, Dicko.


“This guy is just too much. One time he lost the ball, I nearly fell off my chair.” BBC pundit Thierry Henry assesses Luka Modric’s contribution in Croatia’s draw with the Czech Republic with a little bit of drool hanging from his bottom lip.


In the opening moments of the second half against Turkey, el maestro Iniesta does what only he can do, taking a ball on the halfway line, nonchalantly lifting it over an onrushing opponent’s head and haring off into the distance. Over in the ITV studio, superfan Lee Dixon makes a terrible mess of his trousers.

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fiddling about in space by touching back down on earth, crash-landing on terra firma after a 17,000 mph journey home. He emerges looking a little bit green.


R. Lukaku (48, 70), Witsel (61)


Gylfi (left) shows Ronnie how it’s done from the penalty spot



G. Sigurdsson (40 pen)


B. Saevarsson (88 og)




In many ways the second Saturday of Euro 2016 is the stuff of nightmares. Ireland’s display is a horror show – playing for a draw and wondering if three single points will be enough to scrape them into the knockout stages, the Republic are left needing to blow the bloody doors off and beat Italy.



Pantomime villain Cristiano Ronaldo later endures a torrid time against the Austrians. He huffs and he puffs, he preens and he pouts, and he plays like a man teetering on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He misses a late penalty, taking his tournament stats to: 20 shots (more than nine countries have managed), 0 goals. If he can take any comfort tonight, it’ll come from the fact that Iceland's 1-1 draw with Hungary means it’s still wide open. o But h he won’t..


Even before the first of o hiss ttwo o goals, l Romelu Lukaku is pla k a man playing llike who knows goals will becau come. Perhaps because playin he knows he’s playing against the Republic off Ireland..


The Irish are very poor, po both collectively and individually. This ttime de Ciaran Clark deserves to be singled o out – h hiss

wild lunge at Eden Hazard (below) takes neither ball nor man and allows the speedster to tee up Lukaku's second.


A job lot of Hungarian clowns clash with security before kick-off against Iceland, which is tediously ugly. Robbie Brady gets a ball kicked hard in his swingers against Belgium, replayed in slow-mo HD on ITV, which is amusingly ugly.


Having clearly l l witnessed sed Shane Long h d kicked off by having his head ttwo Belgian an defenders ((bottom)), referee Cuneyt k waves aves play on. It’s Cakır in de the he penalty area, inside iit’s goalless lless at the time, ear as effing day. and it’s as clear


…Kazakhstan, … khstan, British naut Tim Peake astronaut d his 186 days of ends


Most notable is what the pundits don’t say, rather than what they do. “What about Hazard?” asks trusty ITV anchor Mark Pougatch at half-time during Belgium vs Ireland, referring to another half of nothing from the Chelsea man. The room falls awkwardly silent, until Manu Petit shrugs, then exhales very long and very loud – translation: merde!


“Despite the thorough body and bag searches at the stadium entrances, it is extremely difficult to completely eliminate the risk that fireworks are brought into the stadiums.” After more bangs during Iceland-Hungary, a UEFA suit admits they’re pretty powerless to stop flares being smuggled into the stadiums. Which is why, it seems, they have simply stopped bothering to try.


Sixteen minutes into Iceland-Hungary, the two sets of supporters go to war, happily, in the form of hand-clapping and warrior-like grunts. The acoustics provided by the Stade Velodrome’s roof make it all sound terrifyingly impressive. Month 2015 19

E UR O 2016

REVIEW England toil against Slovakia


Taylor nets his first goal since 2010...




It’s a bad night for German apparel during Switzerland-France. Four of the Swiss' Puma shirts rip – prompting Rio Ferdinand to ask Puma-sponsored Thierry Henry what’s going on – while the Adidas matchball bursts in the second half under the incredible force of Antoine Griezmann’s (Puma) studs.

0 ROMANIA 1 ALBANIA Sadiku (43)






Ramsey (11), Taylor (20), Bale (67)


Sadiku savours historic winner

20 August 2016

Slovakia find themselves in the wars against England. Peter Pekarik (bottom) sees claret after a stray Ryan Bertrand arm to the nose, while fellow defender Jan Durica cops Jordan Henderson’s well-struck volley to the chops and Martin Skrtel blocks Dele Alli's fierce drive a bit further south. All of this after Migjen Basha does a passable Nigel de Jong impression against Romania the night before – the Albanian midfielder lucky to escape with a yellow card after his early flying tackle on Ovidiu Hoban.


Calculators at the ready, because things are about to get complicated. In Lyon, Albania finally register the win that their energetic displays deserve courtesy of Armando Sadiku’s first-half header. It might not be enough to get them out of Group A, though, with France and Switzerland through in first and second respectively after a predictably tame stalemate in Lille, despite the best efforts of Paul Pogba (above) and Dimitri Payet, who both rattle the woodwork. In Group B, another 0-0 draw, this time in Saint Etienne, brings into focus the problem with the tournament’s expanded format. England, who yet again are dominant but profligate in front of goal, go for a win, with Slovakia seemingly happy to take third and hope that four points is enough. Thank you, then, Wales, who top the table after a textbook counter-attacking display. Bale vs Ronaldo in the last 16, anyone?


Albania’s supporters… again. Of the 25,000 who make the trip from Tirana to Lyon, a special mention must go to the young fan donning the, er, classic combination of a traditional Albanian dress and a foam finger. Sadiku’s header just before the break – his country’s first goal at a major tournament – is a nice moment too, complete with whole-squad-plus-staff pile-on celebration.


Where to start? England’s finishing, the Romanian goalkeeping, the pitch in Lille… but none are quite as amateurish as Russia’s defending. Clinical as Wales are on the break, a team of under-7s could have picked that ageing defence apart. Not that England managed it.

…the Germany camp, Mats Hummels admits he’s a fan of ‘Will Grigg’s on Fire’, which has taken social media by storm. While the superstar defender insists he’s “not terrified” of facing the Wigan and Northern Ireland striker, he isn’t man enough to showcase his own rendition of the song to the waiting media. Boo.


Over on BBC Four, Manish Bhasin heads up the Beeb’s C-team to cover Romania vs Albania, with the better-than-this Trevor Sinclair joined by Homes Under The Hammer presenter Dion Dublin, who graces us with absolute gems like “trust is the biggest word in football”.


“I hope Puma don’t make condoms.” Xherdan Shaqiri makes a good point.


Wales’ second goal is the first scored by Swansea left-back Neil Taylor for more than six years, when he netted for Wrexham in front of just 298 people against Grays Athletic in the Blue Square Premier League. No wonder he looks surprised.

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Yilmaz (right) sends Czechs home early


Blaszczykowski (54)




0 CZECH REPUBLIC 2 TURKEY Yilmaz (10), Tufan (65)



N. Kalinic (45), Perisic (87)


Morata (7)



Ah, the nail-biting quasi-tension of ‘probably qualified already'. Northern Ireland, essentially just needing to not get thrashed, happily accept a 1-0 loss to Germany in a Group C game that peters out alarmingly; meanwhile Poland again look quietly efficient, narrowly beating toothless Ukraine to finish second. The perma-bouncing Norn Iron masses – including Rory McIlroy in a George Best shirt – get to properly toast their mighty two defeats/one win later as a reinvigorated Turkey eliminate the Czech Republic. A Luka Modric-less Croatia surprisingly thrive, beating the defending champions to top the group and avoid Italy in the last 16; after making five changes. Reserves of steel.


This evening’s stars aren’t the hyped celebs. Northern Ireland’s clubless custodian Michael McGovern almost single-handedly repels Germany, while Poland's Jakub Blaszczykowski belts in “one of the goals of the tournament… I think?” according to a somewhat uncertain Mark Lawrenson. And Nikola Kalinic mid-air backflicks a fabulous opener for Croatia (left) before setting up the late winner for Ivan Perisic (right). Remember that guy, Blackburn fans?

deflected winner, after Sergio Ramos blasts a generously awarded penalty at Croatia’s miles-off-his-line keeper. Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller misfire again, while the clamoured-for Mario Gomez scores once, misses loads.

news to Barnesy, who’s pro-EU. He’s the England man, with a master plan.


Turkey endure an accidental assault. A gruesome cut above Gokhan Gonul’s eye reopens so their physio races over – too quickly – and pokes him right in the wound. Elsewhere, Northern Ireland’s keeper hero McGovern repels one of Muller’s shot with his McGoolies. Ouch.

Behind the BBC's red button, trade secrets are revealed. “One Premier League striker’s description,” laments Lawro on a lack of striking talent, “was ‘speaks five languages’, which means he’s rubbish at football.” Off camera on 5 Live, still-menacing former Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann is similarly frank about facing Zlatan Ibrahimovic. “On a good day you don’t react,” he says. “But on a bad day, you try to kill him.”






Why does Gerard Pique flip the finger at the television camera during Spain’s anthem? Perhaps it's a complaint about their away kit, which looks like an old vest so covered in blood, sweat and (possibly) worse that they pixelated it.

…EU referendum hell, David Beckham makes an Ole Gunnar Solksjaer-like late appearance for Remain, so Leave respond with John Barnes. Which is

“We need a Stalinist mobilisation,” thunders Russia’s Communist Party, blaming capitalism for the national side’s exit. “Eleven millionaires are running around with half-bent legs.” Insert your own ‘left-winger’ joke here.

The whole Turkish team, subs, staff and possibly several fans bundle on gruff gaffer Fatih Terim after Ozan Tufan’s clincher. You’re the one for me, Fatih.

McGovern takes (another) one for the team


And the household names? Not so good. Glenn Hoddle spits curious fury at Spain’s David de Gea for Croatia’s “Pick this one out, Lawro”

E UR O 2016




Gera (19), Dzsudzsak (47, 55)


Nani (42), Ronaldo (50, 62)



Bodvarsson (18), Traustason (90+4)

1 AUSTRIA Schopf (60)





Nainggolan (84)


Gera gets mobbed after his stunner


A tournament that has been simmering nicely finally bubbles over with drama, especially in Lyon, where Hungary and Portugal share a six-goal end-to-ender. No doubt the pick of the bunch is Zoltan Gera’s opener, the midfielder rolling back the years with a left-footed half-volley, but three times the Magyars surrender the lead. Iceland set up a last-16 clash with England with a late, late winner, leaving Austria as Group F’s odd team out. There are two more late winners in Group E, with Radja Nainggolan ruining Zlatan’s Sweden swansong, while Robbie Brady’s header sends the Republic of Ireland through. Time for a lie down.


Cristiano Ronaldo finally comes to the party, with a slide-rule assist for Nani followed by two fine finishes - a sublime half-volleyed flick followed by a powerful header (top). Glad you could join us.

MEANWHILE, IN... Brady rescues the Republic

“Ibrahimovic has tried to pull him off and then come across him” observes a keen-eyed Tony Pulis THE BAD

We know some of the Austrian fans are wearing Mozart wigs, Guy Mowbray, but do you really have to subject us to all of your pre-prepared Alpine puns? “The stands are alive with the sound of music,” he chirps after Das Team's national anthem, and it gets even worse when Alessandro Schopf equalises: “A Viennese Waltz through the Iceland defence”. Straight red.


CR7 again. First, he lobs a reporter’s microphone into a lake because he tried to ask him a question during the Portugal squad’s morning walkabout. Unnecessary. He then throws a hissy fit in the post-match press conference,

22 August 2016

because apparently he has to answer questions there, too. This, after coach Fernando Santos passes a note onto the pitch that says something along the lines of “don’t take any risks, lads, it looks like a draw will be enough”. The downside of the new 24-team format at this year's Euros laid bare.


The tournament goes deflection mad, with not one but two Balazs Dzsudzsak strikes against Portugal deceiving Rui Patricio, and Belgium's “Adios, winner against Sweden, Ibra” on closer inspection, taking a telling nick off midfielder Erkan Zengin. Cruel world.

...Hungary, it’s National Wear Your Grey Jogging Bottoms To Work Day in honour of their 40-year-old sweatpant-wearing stopper Gabor Kiraly. Whatever next?


So-bad-he’s-good co-commentator Martin Keown is on top form, observing that Ronaldo is “looking onimous” against Hungary, while Thierry Henry gets a little too excited that Portugal wonderkid Renato Sanches is coming on, saying: “My man, finally, woo hoo!”


“Ibrahimovic has tried to pull him off and then come across him.” Zlatan is a bit too fond of Belgium's right-back Thomas Meunier, according to Tony Pulis, keeping a keen eye on the Swede.


Given he describes it as “an out-of-body experience”, Brady’s goal must have felt pretty good, but it’s nothing compared to one Icelandic commentator’s reaction to Arnor Ingvi Traustason’s injury-time winner (far left). Our Icelandic is a little rusty so we can’t quite make out the beginning and the end, but we’re pretty sure the middle bit translates as “Yes, yes, yes”, screamed like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. Only on steroids.

© 2016 adidas AG



E UR O 2016


“Skyfall seems appropriate”

Croatia map against Turkey, a red-and-white national-flag appears on his bonce. The question is: does he also have an ‘away’ hairstyle, to cope with any kit clashes?


…Glastonbury, Adele’s set concludes with the blubsome Someone Like You. Flick over to the Northern Ireland highlights and it’s perfect knocked-out montage music.


Shaqiri’s stunner wasn’t enough for the Swiss



Blaszczykowski (39)




McAuley (75 og)


0 CROATIA 1 PORTUGAL (AET) Quaresma (117)



After two rest days full of EU aggro back home, the Euro business over in France proves fun-free too, as the knockout stages begin with three semi-stinkers. The much-trumpeted Home Nations clash is a tale of two Gareths, greying warrior McAuley scoring a harsh own goal from Bale’s wicked cross (bottom right). Switzerland start poorly against

24 August 2016

Poland, conjure a magical fightback, then lose anyway via a penalty howler that’s almost worth dozing through extra time for. Almost. The best tie on paper, Croatia vs Portugal, is one “for the aficionados” admits Clive Tyldesley – translation: absolutely nothing happens until Ricardo Quaresma’s late tap-in. By then, most floating TV voters have probably swapped Cristiano for Glasto.


Playing pretty well doesn’t always pay off. The Swiss bag the best-goal-so-far gong as titchy Stoke X-Man Xherdan Shaqiri caps a bravura display with a superhuman scissor-kick… then flies home. Croatia’s fit-again Modric is miles better than Ronaldo, but he leaves too. And Michael O’Neill executes a tactical W l win i anyway. masterclass, but Wales heartenin to see those h Still, it’s heartening A let’s offer ff fans getting on. And h rare applause to UEFA, who h smartly appoint a British Atkins f ref, Martin Atkinson, for sur i l that game. A surprisingly sensible move.


Where to begin,, eh? Grani New Gunner Granit Xhaka’s penalty suggests he

either (a) can’t shoot, or (b) can’t see. “How much?” asks Mark Lawrenson. “30 million,” says Jonathan Pearce. “Sterling?” Sadly, we lose Croatia, who seem uncharacteristically fearful in a game that only ignites after the disinterested Ronaldo grudgingly creates the winner. Then the TV director keeps moving away from the frantic finale to look for some moody shots of the crowd, like a frustrated auteur. Le utter tool.


One admirable novelty is the Terminator-like manner which sees certain players emerge from horrific-looking collisions. Swiss centre-back Fabian Schar cleans out Robert Lewandowski, wh performs f t by-the-Swiss who ah hurt-by-the-Swiss b soldiers ld hen rugged rollll but on. Then hl Williams ll Ashley (right) goes all fter a collision, floppy-armed after b battles b l on n belligerently like but h limbless l bl that knight in Monty h n’s Holy H l Grail rail. “It’s just Python’s d!” “You stupid a flesh wound!” bastard, you’ve got no arms left!”


We’ll e miss Ivan Perisic’s w cky barnet (left). wacky After the shaved

The Beeb clearly love a bit of beef. “Dean Saunders and Neil Lennon will be refereed by Alan Shearer,” joshes Gary Lineker before Wales vs Northern Ireland, fully aware that it was Shearer who once volleyed Lennon’s head. Things get a little bit spicier when Neil suggests Norn Iron should hit Gareth Bale ‘early and hard’ (“what, injure him?” splutters Saunders), but the pair are fairly civil until Lineker quizzes the new Hib boss on who Wales might play in the quarters. “I don’t care!” chirps Neil, whose sojourn in France presumably ends here as well.


“The first st time in history that a couple b h score goals in the Eurocup both ue and Shaquiri!!!” Mrs Gerard Pique que, also known as Colombian Pique, opstar Shakira, does some (albeit popstar oorly spel spelled) football banter. poorly


Shaqiri’s q ri’s scissor-kick to force extra ttime against Poland is so sensational th wro’s sidekick goes all Robot thatt Lawro’s W s. “Haven't Haven't heard Jonathan Pearce Wars. th cited,” muses one Tweeter, that excited,” e Sir Killalot chucked Chaos 2 “since into the flame pit.” Heady days.

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Griezmann (58, 61)




Boateng (8), Gomez (43), Draxler (63)



Alderweireld (10), Batshuayi (78), Hazard (80), Carrasco (90+1)


Griezmann heads home to draw France level in Lyon


That’s better. After three real rotters to kick-off the last 16, the knockout stages begin in earnest with a stonking Sunday triple. The opening seconds of the first game are as dramatic as it gets, when Paul Pogba’s clumsy challenge on Shane Long allows the Republic of Ireland to stun the hosts from the penalty spot. France look shell-shocked for the rest of the half, before finally making their three days’ extra rest count against an exhausted Green Army after the break. The other two matches are far more one-sided, with Germany strolling to a victory over Slovakia, who, having parked the bus to draw 0-0 against England, opt for a Robin Reliant against the world champions, and then proceed to leave all the windows open and the doors unlocked. Plucky Hungary™ also do away with defending, against the Belgians, making for an entertaining if lopsided evening fixture. The cream is slowly rising to the top, folks.


Fittingly for the business end of the tournament, several big names shine. Antoine goal Griezmann takes his two goals brilliantly against Ireland and is Sha only denied a hat-trick by Shane Duffy’s red-card foul. Julian D l an Draxler rewa d d torments Slovakia and is rewarded King l with a goal and an assist. Kingsley momentum- h Coman makes a momentum-changing b appearance from the France bench. undoub But man of the day is undoubtedly hs Eden Hazard, who, fresh from his

Hazard warning: Eden starts to hit top form

gap year at Stamford Bridge, delivers an irresistible display against Hungary in Toulouse, and is ably assisted by the always-excellent Kevin De Bruyne.


Martin M ti Sk Skrtel. t l Slovakia and Hungary both p de masterclasses erclasses in poor defending provide –D l r and Toby Alderweireld are Draxler ft completely pletely unmarked to bag left set-piece goals – but the soon-to-be ex-Liverpool centre-back (left) has the standout stinker, chasing G n shadows when he isn’t German p h ng Mario Gomez in the pushing b backk to concede a penalty.


IIt’s ‘wear ar your worst gear to work d y’ on ITV, V, where the blue, spotty day’ k sported ted by pitchside reporter jacket

“I’m claiming that”

Leon Mann is gazumped by Ian Wright’s cacti-emblazoned long-sleeved number. Have a word with them both, Pougatch.


Another day, another deflected goal, this time by Jerome Boateng, albeit after a sweetly struck volley that would have found the target, if not the net, anyway.


…Nice, world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury decides to take in England’s game against Iceland after pulling out of his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko because of an ankle injury. He rewards some lucky Three Lions supporters by picking up a €1,000 bar bill. Knockout.


While Messrs Lineker, Shearer and Ferdinand mercilessly remind Thierry

Henry of his 2009 handball against the Republic of Ireland on the BBC, on ITV Lothar Matthaus bats away suggestions that his compatriots are no longer any good at penalties after Mesut Özil’s failed spot-kick. “We’re saving them all for the semi-final against England.” 1-0 Germany.


Commentator Joe Speight: “He’s not the quickest striker.” Iain Dowie: “Nothing wrong with that.” JS: “He doesn’t score many goals, either.” ID: “Let’s move on.”


Eden Hazard’s trademark goal against Hungary, cutting in from the left to beat three defenders and finish with confidence, is proof that he’s back to his best. Great news for the Red Devils, but a little worrying for everyone else. August 2016 25

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LA ST 1 6


Chiellini (33) Pelle (90+1)



Rooney (4 pen)


R. Sigurdsson (6) Sigthorsson (18)



Oh dear. That lucky-looking last 16 draw turns out to be a Viking funeral for Roy Hodgson’s reputation. Defeat to Iceland – tiny country, mighty geysers – is “the worst performance I have ever seen from an England team,” fumes a purple-faced Alan Shearer. “Score early and you’ll thump 'em,” suggests every pundit beforehand, a theory Iceland ignore by equalising seconds after Wayne Rooney’s fourth-minute penalty. When they then go in front before the 20-minute mark, England wilt like roses in a microwave. Hodgson, bereft of any answers, declines to take questions as he quits there and then. Also sent home are the holders, Spain, who are outplayed by an Italy team who seem emboldened by pre-tournament criticism. Just how do they do that?

Pelle finishes off the holders


Even mid-game, Iceland aren’t taken entirely seriously. “Should Roy drop Hart for the quarter-final?” ponders presenter Mark Pougatch at the break, blissfully unconcerned that England might lose. Hodgson is curiously unresponsive too, only giving five minutes to the fearless Marcus Rashford. He and Danny Rose actually tackle each other and manage to win a free-kick, which Harry Kane – still taking set-pieces! – balloons into touch. Spanish ineptitude for Italy’s opener seems tame by comparison.


That titanic clash at the Stade de France is pleasingly tasty and bloody. “Get up, your team’s 1-0 down!” thunders the Beeb's Danny Murphy, oozing sympathy as Aritz Aduriz’s hooter oozes blood, which at least blends into Spain’s shirt.


Italy gaffer Antonio Conte (right) offers

more movement than England’s whole attack, leaping onto the dugout roof to celebrate Graziano Pelle's clincher and hoofing a ball away with hilarious frustration. Chelsea will quickly knock that out of him. On Twitter, there are differing business reactions to the Three Lions' surprise exit. “England were good when we made the kits,” brag Umbro, while discount frozen food peddlers Iceland scribble: “*pulls shutters down*” after Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s strike slithers through Joe Hart's fingers. Good idea.


…Argentina, 29-year-old qu Lionel Messi quits fo f international football after fourt major final losing his fourth h Copa in nine years, in the Cente i Four America Centenario. eh In nine major finals, eh? mu be awful. f . years? That must

More Hart-ache for Three Lions supporters


Every Iceland player is “absolutely outstanding,” says Shearer, which makes no sense but, hey, he’s upset. He even offers to replace Hodgson himself, which is generous. Iceland’s actual standout is defender Ragnar Sigurdsson, who not only equalises but nearly scores again with an overhead kick and last-ditch-tackles Jamie Vardy. Giorgio Chiellini is similarly valiant for the Azzurri, bundling in their first goal and repelling everything that Spain can muster; mind you, without David de Gea, Vicente del Bosque’s dethroned champs would have been buried by the interval. Aron Gunnarsson leads Iceland’s celebrations


Ever wondered what Sky Sports do when England are on terrestrial TV? They get Steve McClaren to watch it for them. The former Three Lions boss is untroubled by Iceland. “No problem, keep dominating, the only thing they’ve got is the big boy up front, Sigthorsson, who really… ohhh…” and he physically deflates as the ‘big boy’ pops up with the winner. Anyone got a pump?


While h l others h rant, ant, Ian Wright appears to b other planet. “I just can’t be on another nking about the film Space stop thinking J m ” he says. “It’s like the Jam,” nstars nicked our talent.” Monstars


Spain lose ose it during the anthems, uth. They’re rigid and in truth. nse, while the Italians tense, bellow Il Canto like 11 lean Pavarottis. Maybe that’s the secret to success.

E UR O 2016




Lewandowski (2)


Renato Sanches (33) (PORTUGAL WIN 5-3 ON PENALTIES)



Poland’s miserly defence up against Portugal’s malfunctioning forward line always looked like ‘one for the purists’ – i.e. about as mouth-watering as Ebola couscous – and so it proves at the Stade Velodrome: an immovable rock against a not-particularly unstoppable force, resulting in stalemate and spot-kicks.


Robert Lewandowski’s opener – the second-fastest goal in Euros history – prompts a passable first half. There’s some fine defending to admire, and Portugal’s penalties are ruthless.


Cristiano Ronaldo (top right) rages at his o i l d passes, team-mates over misplaced while simultaneously simulta ly performing f a string of air shots. The thought off avera side d potentially ll such an average drawing their way to the final depre . is mildly depressing.


In what is CR7’ probably CR7’s best sidestep off the entire evening, eve i Portugues preener the Portuguese successfully evades e d his h d second pitch invader tournam of the tournament.


Cabin fever sets in on ITV: Ian Wright seems to be wearing a surgeon’s gown.


…London, Boris Johnson withdraws from the Conservative Party leadership race while Gareth Southgate doesn’t really fancy taking on the England job. Does anyone want to do anything any more?


ITV draft in Ryan Giggs to give their studio a Principality flavour, but he’s a grumpy addition, hammering English players’ “washbag culture”. He also claims the Three Lions should “appoint f ithin”. Touched a nerve, Giggsy? from within”.


“Time to let the world know. M My next destination is Man United,” Zlatan posts on Instagram, ages after the world already knew.


Lewy celebrates his one and only goal

The tournament’s hotly tipped wonderkids have had a mixed month, month but Renato Sanches shines, shines bags the all-important equaliser (below), and wallops in the best penalty of the lot.


A. Williams (31), Robson-Kanu (55), Vokes (86)


Nainggolan (13)



The beers are really flying in Cardiff’s fan park now. Wales’ victory over the tournament’s top-ranking team isn’t that surprising – all three BBC pundits plump for them – but their football, like those pints, hits new heights. Ashley Williams cancels out Radja Nainggolan’s rocket (above right), then two stunning goals – from Championship strikers – get lots of people back home very wet.


Once sacked by Coventry City, Chris Coleman’s stock is rising rapidly. His changes work brilliantly here, starting Hal Robson-Kanu, then bringing on Sam Vokes. Great selections, great system.


Marc Wilmots looks considerably less composed as his erratic superstars fizzle, again, while one downside for Coleman is losing two key players for the semi-final against Portugal, particularly the Gareth Bale-rivalling Aaron Ramsey.


Whisper it, but Wales are lucky, lucky too: at b h get 2-1, Williams and Ben Davies both

away with crucial fouls. You’d imagine Belgian TV went a bit bigger on those.


It lashes down, all day. Biblical rain. But do they shut the stadium roof? Nah.


…Paris, Glenn Hoddle discusses the England job. “We’re in a hypothetical world, and I don’t live in that world, I’m a realist,” says the gaffer who sent injured players to a spiritualist.


Robbie Savage has been surprisingly measured during Wales games, but loses it after Robson-Kanu’s Cruyff turn (below left). “See you later, Meunier! See you later, Denayer! See you later, Fellaini!” See you Wednesday, Pepe.


“He’s been unonymous iin that half” alf” - Hazard’s d l y flummoxes display JJohn h Hartson.

MAGIC AGIC MOMENT OMENT “I didn’t know you could do that!”

28 August 2016

Ass the victors elebrate their celebrate historic result, heir huddle the fforms rms a big heart shape. ery fitting. Very tting

EU R O 2 0 16

REVIEW Pogba heads home No.2



Bonucci (78 pen) (GERMANY WIN 6-5 ON PENALTIES)



The pick of the quarter-finals (on paper, anyway) sees the two heavyweights sparring in the opening rounds. Then, as Martin Keown puts it, “a football match starts to break out”. Mesut Özil sweeps his team into the lead after a slick move down the left, Leonardo Bonucci levels from the spot and, for a change, both fighters try to land the knockout blow in extra time. As for the penalties…


Gianluigi Buffon’s save, Alessandro Florenzi’s control, Manuel Neuer’s sweeper-keeping, Mats Hummels' through-ball, Emanuele Giaccherini’s energy. Yes, Sunderland fans, we're still talking about that Giaccherini.


Simone Zaza (top, centre). Brought on specifically for the penalties, his only kick is still in Bordeaux aerospace after a comedy run-up and a finish to match.


Jerome Boateng’s accidental elbow to Eder's nose looks even more painful in slo-mo. Anyone for a glass of Claret?


Boateng’s penalty-conceding star jump (below left). What are you thinking, man?


…Chantilly, it emerges that staff at England’s HQ were told to remove its chandeliers before the players arrived, amid fears of hi-jinks. Footballers, eh?


“1,095 career goals between them and not a single hair on their heads.” Gary Lineker makes himself popular with Messrs Vialli, Shearer and Henry.


“There were lots of women with only one shoe on because they had been running like mad.” Sales of Louboutins soar in Paris after the fan park in front of the Eiffel Tower is evacuated due to a bomb scare. It later transpires that the loud bangs were 'only' firecrackers.


Alessandro Florenzi’s flying goal-line save to deny Thomas Muller sums up Italy’s commitment throughout the tournament, even if the German's strike was heading wide of the target anyway. German joy was quickly cut short


Giroud (12, 59), Pogba (20) Payet (43), Griezmann (45)


Sigthorsson (56), B. Bjarnason (84)



France show exactly what a competent team not wearing clown shoes can do against the plucky-but-limited Vikings – a four-goal first-half assault has them home and hosed. They hound Iceland into submission, to set up a semi-final clash with Germany. Yet the Blue Army (above right) never raise the white flag.


Paul Pogba (right, centre) provides a lung-busting masterclass as both water-carrier and creator-in-chief.


The game, as a contest. It’s a mis-match that only serves to again highlight the ineptitude of England’s performance.



…Llantrisant, Wales, the Royal Mint announces it’s releasing a £20 coin that portrays “the Welsh spirit”. Gareth Bale? Hal Robson-Kanu? No, a dragon. Snore.

Outside the Stade de France, Parisian police deal with a poorly parked car by blowing it up. A spokeswoman has some good news for the owner though: “They did not blow up the entire car.” Phew.




Iceland’s major weapon – the howitzer throw-in (below) – stirs sti memories i of Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang..

“A little bit of fatigueness creeping into Iceland’s play,” points out grammar’s Glenn Hoddle. Later, he uses the word “Swazz” to describe a cross into the box.

“I’ve enjoyed – maybe not the first 45 minutess – but all my e in Iceland and time it’s been a privilege to b involved.” Joint be boss Lars Lagerback its the job with his exits h d held very high. head


“You’re not booing any more...”

Iceland ce a d fans, a s, of which there d 8,000, 000, perform are around h ‘Huh’ h haka h ka one last time the af after the final whistle sounds. IIt never gets any ny less impressive. August 2016 29

E UR O 2016


“The ref has made some s**t decisions, and the worst is those socks”



Ronaldo (50), Nani (53)



It’s the competition’s surprise-package, sexily-bearded and dragon-hearted heroes against some moribund and misfiring Portuguese misfits who’ve drably drawn their way to the semis. Grinning heart-shaped fox Gareth Bale against grumpy, mic-lobbing CR7. Surely the football Gods can’t conspire against the good guys here? Of course they can: a towering Ronaldo header and a Nani poke conspire to end the Welsh dream.


Ronaldo seems jaded – understandable considering that he’s probably been self-abusing furiously all day to news reports about Lionel Messi’s conviction over tax evasion – but his spring for the opener reminds us that this is a truly great athlete, as he ties Michel Platini’s record of nine strikes at Euros finals. And as much as Portugal have been pyrotechnic-free, there’s something to admire about a wily team that knows its limitations and can strangulate an opponent previously full of vim.


Post-Brexit, Wales show an unwanted unity with England by putting in the kind of dispiriting knockout performance so familiar to the Three Lions: nervy, then clueless, then desperate. The defending – James Chester marking Ronaldo?! – is dubious, and they’ll rue that soft Aaron Ramsey suspension for the rest of time.


Both sides wear cornea-curdling away strips after it’s deemed that Portugal’s home red clashes with the Welsh’s ‘charcoal’ effort. There are also a large amount of empty seats – an absolute crime considering the amount of Wales t s roaming Lyon offering ff p supporters up t f a stub.. their kidneys and firstborn for

30 August 2016

up by saying very little indeed. Up on the gantry, the rich Neath baritone of Stoke assistant manager Mark Bowen replaces the not-Welsh-enough-for-me-Clive Andy Townsend. He starts off sounding mildly bored, and ends up near-suicidal. Any improvement is an improvement.

Ronaldo rises to slay the dragon



When Chris Coleman throws on MK Dons striker Simon Church as an impact sub shortly after the hour mark, it’s hard not to marvel at the bewildering gulf in class between Wales’ individuals and their Portuguese counterparts – and salute the corny old #togetherstronger schtick that got them this far in the first place.



…Barcelona, Messi’s suspended 21-month sentence for tax fraud means it’s unlikely he’ll spend any time in the slammer. So no chance of him getting any Ricardo Quaresma-style eye tattoos or hitting a big man over the head with a tray early doors to show he’s not a soft touch, then.


Coleman comforts Williams

“I’m excited,” mutters Ryan Giggs pre-match, despite looking like a man who has just opened a slightly higher than anticipated electricity bill. Throughout the evening, he’s full of meaningful pauses, which he then follows

“It was a shameless display of conceit – let God judge them!” roars a spokesman for Vladimir Putin – a chap you do not generally want to be on the wrong side of – after it becomes apparent that Russia’s calamitous side had splurged €250,000 on champagne in a Monte Carlo nightclub just days after being eliminated, later claiming they’d been bought said beverages by a wealthy business type. Polonium chaser, lads?


As might be expected from a country billed explicitly as the Land of Song, the Welsh throng form a bombastic choir to salute their boyos at full-time. There is also a sporting on-pitch exchange between Galacticos Bale and Ronaldo (bottom left) – although they might have just been talking about that new delicatessen that’s opened around the corner from their mansions in Madrid.

EU R O 2 0 16



Griezmann (45+2 pen, 72)



A great, throbbing semi. Die Mannschaft look to be extending their decades-long domination of Les Bleus, until a typically imperious display turns to scheisse. France start brightly but are gradually overwhelmed, and the Germans are just a decent goalscorer away from perfection. Oh, for another Miroslav Klose, eh? Instead, the hosts get some closure, riding their luck until a nerveless penalty from Antoine Griezmann (below) reverses the mood, and Germany stall at this stage for the second Euros running.


Griezmann – a sort of high-performance Adam Lallana – is again outstanding, and increasingly a contender for player of the tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo probably thinks differently. Props to retain Didier Deschamps, bravely retaining an rookie defender Samuel Umtiti and rath Newcastle’s Moussa Sissoko rather

Gotze consoles Kimmich (right)

than Leicester’s more feted N’Golo Kante. Germany, prompted by Mesut Özil, can’t understand what happened.


That absent German spine – Hummels, Khedira, Gomez – eventually tells, as they go uncharacteristically wobbly. Bastian Schweinsteiger sullies a fine first 45 with a daft handball, and even Manuel Neuer flails for France’s killer second. “He was too arrogant!” says ITV pundit Emmanuel Petit, miming Neuer trying to catch it one-handed. True, but the most-mocked player on Twitter? Olivier Giroud, who wastes France’s best pre-penalty first-half opportunity by trundling toward goal as if “towing an invisible caravan”.

Griezmann pokes home France’s second seco d

a bit protective when Gary Lineker and Thierry Henry giggle at poor Olivier like hyenas attacking a buffalo. But did Gary reach a final? Non. And Giroud will play, as Andre-Pierre Gignac is even worse.


France’s formidable second half is summed up by Bacary Sagna, who tracks Julian Draxler’s run and wins his side a goal-kick, then doubles up due to an accidental knee in les boules. “They can’t beat this French resistance!” chirps co-commentator Martin K Keown, a tad insensitively, g h opposition. given the


“The e referee eferee has made some ss**t decisions,” gests Twitter scribe suggests hextwinsdad, “the Aphextwinsdad, w st being those f** f***ing worst ks.” Yes, much of the socks.” line chat about this online match concerns official Nicola Rizzoli’s attire; he is sporting the traditional all-black

“Itt was as ba balll to hand, ref””

but with blue stockings, and thus exudes all the authority of that kid who always turned up at PE with half his kit missing.


…The North, former Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes joins Middlesbrough: quite the change of scenery. ‘The Riverside’ probably sounded nice in the brochure.


The striker-baiting begins at breakfast. “I don’t fancy Giroud,” ponders Alan Brazil on TalkSport, while Rio Ferdinand reveals pre-match that “I used to look at Giroud and think: ‘oh, he’s not gonna cause me any problems’.” And even the most critical Gooners must be feeling


France and England: so near, near but so very different. “We do nott have ha the h power to solve all of the French people’s problems,” muses Deschamps, “but “bu emotio we can generate emotions.” sear h Meanwhile the FA’s search for a new England manager so d out hots up. “We need to sound all of the key deliverables,” deliverable says sa s a spokesman to 5 Live. Sigh. S h.


Paul Pogba (right) & Co. borrow a full-time f Iceland’s Viking chant at (top). Earlier, the Paris fan zone one goes nuts at Griezmann’s ope d bl opener: incredible incred bl One O e scenes. Almost too incredible. wonders if UEFA added halff off them em in via CGI, like the way George G Lucas went back and ruined Star St Wars. s. August 2016 31

E UR O 2016



S UN D AY JU LY 10 1 PORTUGAL Eder 109



Flair-mongers France try to make good on their status as the pre-tournament favourites, pitted against preen-tastic purist-perturbers Portugal. It’s the host nation who are in destruction mode early in the final, though, as unlikely hard man Dimitri Payet sends a virtual wrecking ball through the knee of Cristiano Ronaldo, leaving Portugal’s biggest (and, in fact, only) star writhing in agony. Ronaldo vs France in a major final rarely goes well – just ask the Brazilian version about 1998, played at the same stadium – and after a fair bit of teary-eyed hobbling, the Real Madrid star concedes he has to depart. Without him, Portugal unsurprisingly struggle to take hold of the game and it’s Moussa Sissoko who is dominating, playing with all the determination of a man who knows this is his last chance to earn a move and avoid playing in the Championship with Newcastle. Many Toon fans are “But I don’t cheering him on want to go...” back home – they don’t want him playing for the Magpies either, after he’d shown pretty much no sign of this form or work rate for about three years. There’s precious little in the way of clear-cut chances and the first half is summed up by a cutaway to a yawning Luis Figo, but France miss two golden opportunities after the interval as Antoine Griezmann heads over and substitute Andre-Pierre Gignac hits the post. Portugal finish the 90 minutes on level terms for the sixth time in seven matches at these finals, and Fernando Santos’ men then come very close to scoring in extra time when Raphael Guerreiro’s free-kick hits the bar. They only have a few seconds to wait before a goal does come, though, as Eder’s fierce strike stuns the hosts. Cue French tears at the final whistle and a reinvigorated Ronaldo whipping off his shirt as Portugal clinch their first ever major trophy. Ronaldo 1 Messi 0.

32 August 2016

suit-and-trainers combo, although we’ll let him off purely because he’s Xavi.


English referee Mark Clattenburg (below) enjoys a largely controversy-free game. Unlike Howard Webb at the 2010 World Cup, at no point does he point-blank refuse to send someone off for sending a karate kick into an opponent’s chest.


There’s yet another pre-match performance from long-haired professional grinner David Guetta, as if Europe hadn’t suffered enough during the opening ceremony. Xavi also delivers the trophy to the field in a questionable

Not content with his weird teardrop tattoos, Portugal’s Ricardo Quaresma decides to take it up another notch for the showpiece by shaving some sort of leaf into the side of his head. It’s been one of the fads of the tournament: Quaresma’s effort certainly isn’t up there with Ivan Perisic’s Croatia flag chequers, although it’s marginally less embarrassing than the huge coq that Paul Pogba decided to shave into the side of his own noggin.


A swarm of massive, man-eating moths descends on the Stade de France for the final (OK, they’re probably not

man-eating, but they’re definitely big). The reason? The hosts had left the lights on the night before, racking up the sort of electricity bill that would make you switch supplier. The solution to the moth mayhem is to send out a couple of blokes armed with a vacuum cleaner and a broom, giving them half an hour to Hoover up approximately half a million moths. Sadly it doesn’t quite work, and one of the pesky fliers even lands on Cristiano Ronaldo’s eyelashes as he lays prone following his early knee problem, thereby adding insect to injury...


...London, a blubbing Andy Murray wins his second Wimbledon title with victory over Milos Raonic, who helpfully obliges by being a considerably worse tennis player than his usual final opponent, Novak Djokovic. Murray’s immediately installed as the favourite (again) for BBC

EU R O 2 0 16

Clockwise from left: Portugal create history; Gignac whacks the woodwork; delight for Eder; devastation for both Blaise Matuidi and Antoine Griezmann



Antoine Griezmann: After emerging from the bench to nod home a late, late winner against Albania, the pacy forward lit up Euro 2016 and ended up with the Golden Boot, having been the first Frenchman to net more than five goals at a single finals since Michel Platini at Euro 1984.


Renato Sanches: The Bayern Munich-bound midfielder has proven why there was such great interest in his signature after just 24 league outings for Benfica. Steadily working his way into Fernando Santos’ starting XI, the 18-year-old will be his country’s great hope for years to come.


Xherdan Shaqiri: Although fellow stars Dimitri Payet, Cristiano Ronaldo and Hal Robson-Kanu gave him a run for his money, Shaqiri’s overhead scissor-kick to (briefly) thwart Poland took everyone’s breath away.


Sissoko realises this is his last chance to avoid playing in the Championship Champio hip Sports Personality of the Year, pushing Gareth Bale into odd . third place in the odds.


BBC trio Alan Shearer, Shearer Thierry Henry and Rio th y Ferdinand look like they have f ve come straight from a funeral – either that tha or the h

Payet’s 89th-minute winner against Romania was the hosts’ Sliding Doors moment: draw the opening match and Les Bleus could crumble. Instead, the West Ham playmaker’s magisterial strike set up a tournament chock-full of late drama. dark suit-and-tie look is supposed to show they mean business, as if they’re in Pulp Fiction or something. ITV are having none of it, and Ian Wright is sporting a particularly garish blue shirt alongside fellow pundits Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and Lee Dixon. Opinion is divided on Twitter. “BBC pundits look smart, ITV pundits look like tramps,” d l i r “Watching h declares one viewer. it on ITV d s are as BBC pundits i suits, wearing k b says kn*bs,” h . Witty. another.


“It might g just w k in his hs work f favour,” BBC ntator commentator owbray Guy Mowbray

asserts as Ronaldo rolls around in pain following the tackle by Payet (below left, with Renato Sanches). Everyone is briefly puzzled about how getting a mighty whack in the knee is going to help, until Mowbray explains that it will fire up the Portuguese ace, who presumably hadn’t been at all bothered about winning Euro 2016 up to that point. Sadly no amount of motivation can overcome the fact that he can’t actually move.


Eder scored precisely no goals in 15 appearances during a forgettable spell with Swansea before departing for Lille in February. He hadn’t even been the best Eder at this tournament, outshone by that little Brazilian bloke up front for Italy, before he cuts inside and thumps in a sensational winner. The celebrations are understandably euphoric and will live long in Portuguese memories.








Guerreiro Bonucci


Buffon Substitutes: McGovern, Chester, Pepe, Hector, B. Bjarnason, Blaszczykowski, Pogba, Dzsudzsak, Özil, Ronaldo, Bale Manager: Fernando Santos






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ONE-ON-ONE Was he madder than Di Canio? Does he regret going on strike at Forest? Why does he not get on with Van Persie? And could a cat really manage a football club? YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY...

Pierre van Hooijdonk Words Chris Flanagan Portraits Jill Jennings

“People in England think I’m a bad guy, an a**hole, but I’m not,” Pierre van Hooijdonk explains as he puts his crutches to one side and sits down with a smile to chat to FFT. The forward made plenty of headlines during a sometimes controversial career – his three-month strike at Nottingham Forest remains one of the most infamous sagas in Premier League history – but the former Dutch Footballer of the Year is ready to tell his side of the story when we meet at the WestCord Fashion Hotel on the outskirts of Amsterdam. The 46-year-old arrives with his foot in plaster, having damaged ankle ligaments playing amateur football a few days earlier, but the striker-turned-television pundit is as outspoken as ever. Indeed, he’s soon pondering what would happen if all football managers were eventually replaced by cats. Dave Bassett beware, he’s not a fan... Why did NAC Breda release you as a young teenager, but then re-sign you at 21? Martien, Breda I was originally a midfielder, but when I was 14 they said that I wasn’t good enough for them. That was hard. At that young age you are living a dream and when they tell you it’s over, you believe it’s over, because you expect them to have the vision to say ‘good’ or ‘not good’ about you. They were right, I wasn’t one of the best midfielders. But when they signed me again, I was a striker and scoring a lot of goals. Going back to the team you supported from childhood, the team who decided not to continue with you, there is no better feeling.

36 August 2016

What was it like to make your Netherlands debut while playing your club football with what was a relatively unfashionable team? Wim Nijsink, Rotterdam I’m still the last player to be capped while playing for NAC Breda. I came on for 15 minutes for the national team and I was thinking: ‘I don’t mind if this is the last time, I’ve been capped’. I could say: ‘Hey, have you

FACT FILE Full name Petrus Ferdinandus Ferdinand Johannes J h van Hooijdonk Date of birth 29/11/69 Height 6ft 4in Position Striker Strik r Place of birth Steenbergen, Netherlands h l ds Clubs 1989-91 RBC Roosendaal Roosend l 1991-9 NAC 69 games (33 goals); 1991-95 Breda 115 (81); 1995-97 Cel ic 92 eltic (56); 1997-99 Nottingham Forest F t 77 (41); 1999-00 Vitesse Arnhem 36 (28); 2000-01 Benfica 35 (23); (2 ) 2001-03 Feyenoord 79 (62); (62) 2003-05 Fenerbahce 63 (35); (35) 2005-06 NAC Breda 20 (8); 2006-07 Feyenoord 43 (8) International 1994-2004 Netherlands 46 (14) ( ) Playing honours Scottish Cup C p 1995; 1995 English First Division 1998; 8; UEFA Cup 2002; Turkish Super Lig 2004, 2005; Dutch Footballer of the Year 2002

Below Thirty-four goals fired Forest to the First Division title in 1997-98, but he failed to kick on at the City Ground

played for Holland?’ I was there almost like a fan thinking: ‘Look, there’s Bergkamp! There is De Boer!’ Clarence Seedorf made his debut in the same game. We shared a room and I’ll never forget him taking his clothes off to reveal a physique that was unbelievable! I’d done so much just to get a bit of muscle when I was younger – I worked in a sports shop, and three mornings a week I’d train at an army base when the shop wasn’t busy. I said to Clarence: ‘Are you working out?’ He said: ‘Not at all’. He was 17 and for him it was all just natural. How did you end up moving to Celtic in 1995 Did id you know much about the club 1995? f ou arrived at Parkhead? before you oth, Glasgow Stuart Booth, I was two o weeks after my Holland debut. It Clubs ffelt they could buy me then, because d been b n stamped as a national team player. I’d Th That was how I was presented in Glasgow – they’d h y’d signed a Dutch international, e even if he’d only played for 15 minutes. minute I did didn’t know much about Celtic, but I played bb as a kid and I had Celtic, because Subbuteo h strip i was unusual. There were only seven the l hough, because I always broke them. players though, i hadn’t dn’t won a trophy for six years Celtic w u arrived. Did you know what when you i meant when you popped up with the it wi i goal in the Scottish Cup final? winning milton Ewan, Hamilton h I arrived rrived they had just lost the League When Cup finall against a First Division team (Raith nd I was shocked by the standard. Rovers)) and

“I called Van Persie an a***hole a hole after the World Cup. I said what I thought at the time. It hasn’t changed”


Left eft Lifting the 1995 Scottish S ottish Cup after scoring oring the winner Below Savouring promotion p omotion to the Premier P emier League Below left Di Canio liked ed a close shave Bottom Botto “A present p t from o God” God - on o target g at the World Cup p

Old Firm action vs Rangers in 1995-96

If we’d played NAC Breda, we’d have lost big time. I scored my first goal nine minutes into my debut against Hearts and it was one of my best goals, so the fans felt: ‘OK, this guy is a decent player’. Looking at the goal, they probably thought I was the new Maradona! There was big pressure on our Scottish Cup run and in the final we played Airdrie, another First Division team. Scoring the winner really made me a fans’ favourite. People came up to me cryi l who ho had gone through those six crying, people y years. That feeling was incredible and from then on we became roper team. Within months a proper e had a team that would we h ve hammered NAC Breda. have i Jorge e Cadete and yourself Paolo Dii Canio, e Amigos during your were called the Three i i Who was the maddest? time at Celtic. Scott,, Kilmarnock People forget Andreas Thom, too. He was calmer but he was one of the best players I played with. Jorge was a pure striker - goals, goals, goals. Sometimes they used to tell me: ‘get in the f***ing box’ because I wanted to play with the ball at my feet, but when Jorge arrived I played the same way and no one noticed because he was there. Paolo was an example for me. He went to the gym every day before training, so I did too. He was hilarious, too – he’d shave his pubic hair in front of us all in the dressing room and we’d be saying: ‘What are you doing?’. But he gave the team a bit of arrogance. He was class.

i iit feel when How did Andy Goram saved your penalty in the Old Firm match in 1996? Stephen Mullan, via Facebook I missed some penalties in my career, but b that was one of the ones that mattered, mattered in a season when we missed out on th the title even though we only lost one league game. I enjoyed the games with Rangers, but the rivalry could go a bit far. Once I was driving to the city from the training ground. I was at some traffic lights and a teenager opened my door and spat at me. I enjoyed it at Celtic, but I was an easy target because you could always see me from a distance. Would you have changed anything about your departure from Celtic? Paul Donnelly, Valencia No. I had an agreement when I signed that if I did the business, the club would knock on my door

very soon. I wasn’t earning a lot, but I went there for the challenge. But after the cup goal and scoring a lot the year after, I didn’t hear anything. Eventually they said: ‘Yes, you can get more money if you extend your contract’. I said: ‘That’s not what we agreed’. After that they announced they’d doubled my wages. It was a great bit of PR, but double was still only half of what the best players were getting. I just wanted to be up there where I belonged – with Thom, Di Canio and Cadete. They put me in the reserves to put pressure on me and I asked Guus Hiddink: ‘What should I do?’ He said he could only select me for the national team if I was playing. This was 1997 and in 1998 it was the World Cup. I thought: ‘If I have one chance of playing in a World Cup, it’s now’. If I hadn’t been in the national team, I would probably have stayed at Celtic longer. But my aim was to play at the World Cup, and I did. Do you have any regrets about your comment while at Celtic that ‘£7,000 is enough for a homeless person, but not enough for a top-class footballer’? Stephen McIlroy, Greenock I can explain. I had a column in a paper, where someone would call me and write it up into a column. I wanted to make a comment to explain to the supporters that I wasn’t talking about peanuts. I said: ‘OK, the offer they have made is a lot of money for ordinary people, but for a top Celtic player it isn’t, because people like Di Canio and Thom are paid more’. I’ll never forget when I woke up the next day, I would always put Radio Clyde on and they said: ‘After the break, news and sport, with

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Van Hooijdonk talking about the homeless’. I thought: ‘What?’ My wife asked me: ‘What have you said?’ Then I realised it had come from the column, even though I hadn’t said that. I thought: ‘How can I defend myself from this?’ I couldn’t do anything, I just had to take it. I was stupid not to ask them to send the column to me. That was my last column. You scored 34 goals to help Nottingham Forest to promotion in 1997-98. Was that the best season of your career? James, Nottingham Not the best, but it was good. When I arrived they were rock bottom of the Premier League. We got relegated that season, but we hardly lost any of the players. Anyone could have got promotion with that team. Although some of the stadiums were basic, for me it was football culture. It gave me a good feeling going to Stockport or Bury. Football-wise it was great, but on the professional side I didn’t want to play five-a-side all the time during training, where the goalkeeper plays right wing and the centre-half is in goal. I wanted to keep improving. During the week you’re supposed to learn and I didn’t really learn anything. You played at the 1998 World Cup. Would Holland have beaten Brazil in the semi-final if the referee hadn’t been Ali Bujsaim? Andre Dutra, Brazil Yes, we should have been in the final. I came on at 1-0 down with 15 minutes left. Patrick Kluivert equalised and then in the last seconds Wim Jonk put the ball across, I made a run and 1,000 per cent I was going to get a free header, but I was pulled. I heard the referee blow the whistle and I thought: ‘Penalty!’, but he gave me a yellow card for diving. I still have a picture showing the foul. I scored against South Korea in the group and that’s one of those moments you treasure forever. It felt like a present from God for the way I was playing and training, but also for my social role in that group because I am not an enemy of anybody. You had the chance to become a Forest legend, so why did you go on strike? Paul Buttery, Valencia Why? In December 1997 I had the opportunity to go to PSV and I told [Dave] Bassett I wasn’t

“We did f*** all in training. We became champions, but so what? If all of the managers were cats there would still be a winner” Top Happy days with Kevin Campbell and Chris Bart-Williams Above right “Smile, Pierre, we’re going to get on just fine” Below Van Hooijdonk was shocked by the standard when he first joined Celtic

satisfied with the whole setup. He said: ‘I can’t let you go, we want to get back to the Premier League, you’re top goalscorer, I cannot defend myself if I sell you’. I said: ‘OK but I want to go after the season.’ He said: ‘Get us back to the Premier League and we’ll let you go.’ The first time I got upset was when there was a story in the newspaper that Newcastle wanted to pay £7 million and Bassett said: ‘He can only go for £10m’. But £10m in 1997 was ridiculous, that’s like trying to sell a cappuccino for £25 – it’s for sale, but nobody will touch it. I realised they were going to put me in the window like they’d said, but they were going to put a price tag on me that no one was going to pay. He knew I didn’t want to be there, but he told me something in a fake way. I spoke to [Forest director] Irving Scholar, who I respected a lot, and said: ‘It’s nothing to do with money, I’m just not happy here’. We were doing f*** all in training. People say we became champions, but so what? If you were to change all the managers in the league for cats, at the end of the season there

will still be one champion and three will get relegated. Does that mean the cat who is champion is fantastic and the three who got relegated are sh*t? It’s about players as well. Scholar said: ‘Let’s see, go to the World Cup’. I did, but there was still no movement. I just decided: ‘OK, if you hurt me, I hurt you’. I didn’t want to hurt the fans, they didn’t create that situation, but I wanted to make a point to the people who were trying to take the p*ss. That’s why I decided to stay home and train there. With the benefit of hindsight, do you think going on strike was a wise move? Gerard Looker, via Twitter Looking back, I should have waited until the end of August. But would they have sold me then? I don’t think so. People said I went on strike because they sold some players – that was another reason, but it was not the main reason. People say players should be pleased to play and get money, then they always use the fans to say you should be happy to play for people who have hardly got anything. But it still doesn’t give you the right to screw me around. I had no problem with the club fining me two weeks’ wages every time that I wasn’t there. I didn’t want to get paid for doing nothing, but I wanted a solution to it all. In the end I had to come back after agreeing with Irving Scholar in Monaco that they would sell me to a club for a fixed fee of £3.5m. When you returned to Forest after the strike, did you apologise to the rest of the team? Nick Dosanjh, Abu Dhabi Mainly the English players were talking in the press, with some saying ‘he’s a disgrace’. These were my friends until then. When I went back into the Forest dressing room I spoke to everyone and said: ‘Any questions?’ Only one person said anything. Geoff Thomas said: ‘I disagree with what you did’. I said: ‘OK, you disagree, but I have to think about my career’. When I started playing again I gave everything – but that [extra] five per cent you get when you’re buzzing... it wasn’t on purpose but it was missing. The heart wasn’t there any more. Do you feel in any way responsible for Dave Bassett’s sacking and Forest’s ultimate relegation that season? Alan Carroll, via Twitter Would I have really made that much difference, even if I’d played every game? I’m not sure I would have done. He still says that I’m responsible for him getting sacked but I played a major role in getting him promotion. I didn’t sign the players he signed that year, August 2016 39


because they weren’t good enough to help him. With me on board, things were not going dramatically better. I was sent off in December and got a two-match suspension, so the manager gave me Christmas off to go home. Then when he got sacked he made out like I’d gone home without permission, which I hadn’t. He was a rat, a snake, and he still keeps saying things about me. He is the worst I’ve come across. People say he was successful with Wimbledon, but he had decent players and maybe he’s a good manager to manage things. But he wasn’t a good coach. We never had a game where we had a tactical accent on attacking or defending, nothing. Just ‘enjoy it’. What was it like to be coached by Jose Mourinho in what was the Portuguese’s first managerial job, at Benfica? Nuno Silva, Sao Paulo It was good, but it was completely different to if you are coached by Mourinho now. At that time he was just another coach. I had a very good relationship with him. I’m not going to say I expected him to have all the success he’s had, but I recognised his methods from working with Ronald Koeman and Louis van Gaal, because they were all at Barcelona. Mourinho gave the players a feeling that they would die for him. Everybody liked him, even in the short period of time that he was there. There were elections at Benfica and the president who brought in Mourinho, myself and other players lost. The new president had promised a different coach and Mourinho had to go. I did too, even though I had scored 19 goals for them. They bought me for £3.5m and sold me to Feyenoord for £800,000. What would you say was the defining moment of your career? Lewis Andres Woo, Singapore Winning the UEFA Cup with Feyenoord in 2002. It was so unexpected. The other three semi-fi finalists that year were Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan and Inter - and normally you would say that we were not in the same class. I scored two against Rangers earlier in the competition, which of course gave me satisfaction, and

40 August 2016 FourFou

“Players I fell out with will say I am not a nice guy. But they can’t say I was a bad professional” in the 93rd minute against PSV in the last eight. Then I scored two in the final against Dortmund. Everything fell right that year. Fans in Turkey are known for being particularly passionate – what was the craziest thing that happened during your two-season spell with Fenerbahce? Andy, Croydon The worst was after we played Rizespor. There was a big rivalry between Fenerbahce and Trabzonspor. They really hated each other, and after the game in Rize we had to go by coach along the Black Sea to the airport in Trabzon. There was only a barrier between us and the sea, it was dark, and suddenly there was a noise and the coach swerved. The driver stopped – there was glass, bricks – but we continued, then there was another brick. They had to get police with shields to sit by the window on every row of the bus. You played with Robert Enke at Benfica and Fenerbahce. How did you react to the news of his suicide in 2009 (left)? ecep, Istanbul Recep, obert was my closest friend Robert when I was at Benfica. We got n really well, our wives too. He on was a very good goalkeeper and a nice guy. When I moved to FFenerbahce nerbahce we had a German ccoach ach and he brought in Robert Robert. We would drive in to training ttogether. gether. We lost the he first game of the he season 3-0 against

Top left UEFA Cup triumph in 2002 Below RVP was “poor” in Brazil Bottom PVH netted 70 goals during two spells with Feyenoord

Istanbulspor and Robert didn’t look good for two of the goals. Later that week I get a knock on the door and Robert says: ‘I’m going back to Germany, I’ll call and explain, but I need to rush’. I asked the coach what had happened, I thought it was because the fans were on his back. The coach said he had mental problems and I thought: ‘Yeah, right’. I thought it was an excuse. In the time I knew him, I never saw anything that made me think that he had a problem. I saw him a couple of times after he left Fenerbahce, then one day I turned on the TV and saw the news. I couldn’t believe it. I met his wife at a friendly match for him, and I broke down in tears. I told her I never had any idea. It scares me, I didn’t see it coming. You played with Van Persie at Feyenoord, why did you call him an a***hole last year? Joe, Melton Mowbray It was in a certain context, although I did say it. At the World Cup I was doing TV analysis and I thought he had a poor tournament; he scored a great goal against Spain, but he never played as well as he did when Manchester United became champions [in 2012-13]. He presumably thought he’d had a great tournament and later did an interview where he slagged me off. I was asked about that, and of course I didn’t like what he said, so I said: ‘a***hole’. I was just saying what I was thinking at that moment, but that hasn’t changed since. It probably says more about him than me. He was a fantastic talent at Feyenoord and he realised he was already one of the best players at 18, but that does not mean that you can behave like you have been the best player for several years. Do you think the perception many have of you as a troublemaker is fair? Ed, Nottingham The people to answer that are the ones who were in the dressing room with me. Those who I fell out with will say I’m not a nice guy, but one thing they can never say is that I was a bad professional. I gave every club value for money. All the ones who paid money for me could look at the goals I scored and say: ‘Not a bad ratio’. If players earn a lot and do little, you feel you have paid too much. But I don’t think anyone could ever have said that about me. me Do you have plans to become a manager? Alan, Birmingham I had a couple of games as Hiddink’s assistant with the Turkish national team and I’ve done my coaching licence. licence The only one I need to do is the Pro Licence. But it’s not my time yet. I had the opportunity to join AZ Alkmaar as assistant, assistant when Marco van Basten went to the national team. I thought about it, it but I do so many nice things now. now Do I want to give them all up? My diary would be completely full. Who would you like to see quizzed here? And what question would you ask them? Tweet us @FourFourTwo with #1on1


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“I’M NOT AFRAID OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF MY DECISIONS” These are the words inscribed on the inside of Jose’s wrist watch – a credo that has delivered success and strife in equal measure. The question now: will this inability to compromise make or break Manchester United? Time to find out... Words Andrew Murray Additional reporting Marcus Alves, Andy Mitten, Alberto Santi August 2016 43


At 9.30am on Friday May 27, 2016, an unemployed man found himself a new job. Five minutes later he joined Instagram and posted a picture of his contract. “Manchester United Football Club Limited”, read the top of the document, “and Jose Mario Dos Santos Mourinho Felix. Service Agreement.” Inside half an hour, the image had 11,600 likes on the image-sharing website and Mourinho had more than 45,000 followers. In his first interview about the job he has long coveted, the Special One beamed like a wolf handed the keys to the henhouse. “I think it comes in the right moment of my career, because Manchester United is one of those clubs you really need to be prepared for,” he smiled. “It’s a giant club and giant clubs must be for the best managers and I think that I’m ready for it. I’m happy, I’m proud, I’m honoured, I’m everything. “We can look at our club in two perspectives – one is the past three years and one is the history. I prefer to forget the past three years.” In truth, he could have as easily been talking about himself. In 2013, Mourinho had been overlooked at Old Trafford in favour of David Moyes. The former Everton manager, the club felt, would help to bring some stability after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. Seldom has the 53-year-old Portuguese ever seemed so utterly defeated. In private he cried, unable to believe that Ferguson – who he had counted as a personal friend – would champion another’s credentials. His Real Madrid project was unravelling, the squad and manager in open revolt. He became “a hologram” according to one of Jose’s assistants, May’s Copa del Rey final defeat to Atletico Madrid barely registering on his hitherto volcanic emotional Richter scale. A soap opera, not just a guarantee of success, now accompanies Mourinho. Once, it would have been inconceivable for the Portuguese to join a team without Champions League football, who had just finished fifth,

44 August 2016

but – sacked six months after winning the 2014-15 Premier League with Chelsea amid “palpable discord” in the dressing room – he had relatively few credible alternatives. If Mourinho wasn’t the right man three years ago, how are things any different now? Backed into a corner after stagnating under Moyes and the turgid possession-for-its-own-sake philosophy of Louis van Gaal, is this make or break for United as well as Mourinho? Can he build the legacy the Red Devils so badly want? After all, you-know-who has just taken his place on the other side of town…


Jose Mourinho is many things. Aggressive. Pragmatic. Egotistical. However, there is one description of the Portuguese’s psyche that really resonates, something that any player, manager or referee will recognise in an instant: Jose Mourinho is a winner. When his father, Felix, was sacked as manager of Rio Ave on Christmas Day 1984, months after securing promotion and a cup final, the steel entered a young Jose’s soul. No matter how well you do in life, it seemed, people forget your glories and focus on the present, without looking to the future. Win enough games and trophies follow. You keep your job. Pragmatic. Simple. Even taking into account last season’s FA Cup triumph, it’s something United have not done enough of in recent seasons: put simply, it’s become too easy to beat the 20-times English champions. Last season, Bournemouth, Sunderland, Swansea, West Brom and relegated Norwich, the latter at Old Trafford, all took three points off United. “There used to be a huge fear factor in going there, and you just wanted to try and get away with a draw,” explains the former Stoke, Southampton and Sunderland defender Danny Higginbotham. “More recently, teams look to take the game to Man United. They have become too focused on stopping the opposition, rather than making the other team worry about them, especially at home. “They needed a new manager that’s proven in the Premier League and has won things. Mourinho ticks every box.” The Portuguese himself certainly agrees. “I want to win,” said the man who has claimed more than 20 trophies as a coach, including eight league titles in four different countries and two Champions Leagues, at his Old Trafford unveiling. “And more than that, I need the players and supporters to feel that.” The situation in which Mourinho finds himself at United isn’t all that different to his 2008 arrival at Inter Milan. Though the Nerazzurri had won back-to-back Serie A titles – helped in part by Juventus’s post-Calciopoli disintegration – they hadn’t won the European Cup since 1965. Europe’s elite no longer feared a trip to the San Siro. The ship was listing. In two seasons in Milan, Mourinho won every major honour going, including an unprecedented Treble in 2009-10 of Serie A, the Coppa Italia and Champions League.


“Mourinho scares opponents by himself. My God he’s a bad loser. He demands perfection” “Mourinho scares opponents by himself,” Julio Cesar (pictured top left), the Special One’s first-choice keeper at Inter, tells FFT. “My God, he’s a bad loser. He lives on the edge, so if a player doesn’t have a strong personality, he may suffer a drop-off in performance because Mourinho demands perfection. “He lives and breathes football 24 hours a day, and the group ends up absorbing this. Every player must follow that lead. Perhaps this is the big secret behind all his titles.” Part of Mourinho’s methodology is to create a mystique around his club, the theory – learned under Professor Manuel Sergio while at university in Lisbon in the mid-1980s – being that the less the opposition knows, then the better your chances of winning. “He changed a lot of things at Inter,” says former Nerazzurri left-back Maxwell, “especially at our training ground. He wanted more privacy for us to work. That’s one of the most important issues for him. He wants every player to feel comfort in our daily routine.”

Above Mourinho led Inter to a Serie A, Italian Cup and Champions League Treble in 2010 Below Manchester United managers, past and present

Similarly, if he sees something that he does not like, Mourinho will act. During pre-season preparations with Real Madrid in 2011, he sacked every chef at the club. Unhappy with the colour of the grass at Los Blancos’ UCLA training base in California the same summer, he demanded that all of the pitches be resurfaced, at great expense. The key to Mourinho’s management style is an understanding of the power of public speaking, as well as psychology. “That’s definitely one of his strong points,” agrees Benni McCarthy, who won the 2004 Champions League under Mourinho at Porto. “United should have gone for Mourinho after Ferguson, he would have been the best option in difficult circumstances. Under Mourinho, players will have more freedom, they’ll also help put the fear factor back into opponents visiting Old Trafford. That’s been lost.” To re-establish that aura, the first item on Mourinho’s agenda is the defence. True, no team conceded fewer than United’s 35 Premier League goals last season, but this

was principally down to the deposed Van Gaal’s desire for dominating possession at the expense of attacking intent. When the United back four was put under any kind of concerted pressure last term – think away at West Ham towards the end of the campaign, a Marko Arnautovic-inspired Stoke on Boxing Day or conceding three times in the opening 20 minutes at Arsenal last October – it crumbled. Individual mistakes cost United severely. It was no surprise, then, that the highly rated Villarreal central defender Eric Bailly was Mourinho’s first signing. Strong, quick and good in the air, the Ivorian possesses the athleticism that Mourinho demands. With further reinforcements set to follow, doubts persist around the suitability of Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and Phil Jones. What is certain is that many hours on the Carrington training pitches will be dedicated to defensive shape in the coming months. His go-to system is the ‘low block’, where the back four retreats to the edge of their own penalty box, the midfield only pressing around 60 yards from goal. Mourinho subscribes to the view that football is all about making the fewest errors and that “whoever has the ball is more likely to make a mistake”. “Defence is the priority for Jose,” says former Porto striker McCarthy. “Teams haven’t been afraid to play against [Manchester United] like they used to be. Even though United’s defence didn’t concede so many goals last season, it still looked very leaky and teams knew that they would get chances against them. “He wants his teams to be very disciplined. It’s not all attack, attack, attack. He’s cautious, but makes sure that opponents can’t break you down easily. He’ll be very well prepared on opponents, better than anyone.”


Preparation is where Mourinho really excels. Meticulous in his research, there’s a plan for each game. Individually tailored dossiers are delivered to every member of the starting XI to study, every eventuality considered. He’s even capable of turning the opposition’s greatest strength into its biggest weakness. “David Silva is the main man, the creative force for Manchester City,” says Higginbotham, of Chelsea’s February 2014 visit to the Etihad Stadium. “He was playing on the left wing, with Branislav Ivanovic at right-back for Chelsea. He had Petr Cech hit his goal-kicks towards Silva for Ivanovic to win every header. He knew that Silva wouldn’t track back, so he probably wasn’t that surprised when it was Ivanovic who scored the game’s only goal.” The defensive masterclass served up by Mourinho’s 10-man Inter Milan at the Camp Nou to reach the 2010 Champions League Final (at Barcelona’s expense) is proof of the Special One’s nous, but there’s much more to his teams than mere spoiling tactics. “It’s a case of substance and style,” believes Higginbotham. “When Chelsea won the league in 2014-15, they’d scored as many goals as Manchester City by January, playing some August 2016 45


great football. And in the second half of that season, they ground out results, maintaining a lead that they had established through style. Football is a results business, he delivers both.” It may not be very pretty, but it’s certainly effective and which Manchester United fan would not want to scratch what would be a four-year league title itch next May? “Coaching is about recognising the good qualities of the opponents and recognising the fragilities of the opponent,” said Mourinho in April 2015, following a 1-0 victory for Chelsea over his now employers. “It’s to recognise the good qualities of my team – and the bad qualities of my team. It’s very important that we recognise our bad qualities. “One of the secrets of good coaching is: ‘Can you hide your bad qualities from your opponents and even from the pundits?’”


Perhaps the definitive representation of what Mourinho’s style-and-substance method can achieve came in 2011-12. In the previous campaign, his Real Madrid side may only have won the Copa del Rey to Barcelona’s Liga and Champions League double, but that victory over Barça – made the Special One more determined than ever that a solid, deep defence allied to some devastating counter-attacks was the way forward. Mourinho is obsessed with transitions, in particular how his team move the ball in the five seconds immediately after winning it back. “Mourinho is all about transitions – winning the ball and going on the counter-attack,” says former Barça midfielder Xavi, who has faced Mourinho-led Chelsea, Real and Inter.

Above left Hot shot Marcus Rashford will “definitely benefit” from working with Jose, says ex-Porto star Benni McCarthy Above right “Talk to me again about ‘the philosophy’, Louis?”

“He adapts, of course, and at Real Madrid he played more with the ball against smaller teams, but his best teams counter. Real with [Angel] Di Maria and [Karim] Benzema, I’m thinking about. It’s not how I see football – as a coach, I’d be of the Guardiola or Luis Enrique mould of wanting the ball – but I respect it.” During Real Madrid’s 2011 pre-season, Mourinho worked almost exclusively on developing fast transitions, with his drills repeated so they become automatic. The back four move as one to close space near their own box, then two touches in midfield, a pass out wide, cross and shot at goal. The alternative option would be to hit the centre-forward – in this case Benzema or Gonzalo Higuain – early, open play out to the wing, cross and shoot. That season, Los Blancos swept to the title by nine points – they were top of the table for 31 of 38 matchdays, scoring a record 121 goals in the process. Quick, simple, effective. For a manager determined to avoid risks and over-elaborate the midfield play, it’s a ruthless system. “If you don’t play counter-attack it’s because you’re stupid,” said Mourinho after winning the Premier League title with Chelsea in May 2015. “Because counter-attack is a fantastic item of football. It’s ammunition you have and use when you find your opponent unbalanced.” After a decade where Barcelona and Spain have introduced tiki-taka to the football world, the counter-attack is certainly back in vogue.


Voyeurs, cats and the donkey who never became a horse - beware the raging Mou SABRY NO V EM BER 2000

After criticism from the midfielder seven matches into his first managerial job, at Benfica, Jose lays into the ‘always offside’ Egyptian in a press conference.


Benfica’s new chief had promised to bring back former coach Toni, so Jose issues an ultimatum: either extend my contract or I quit. No extension was offered, and so he quit.

46 August 2016


Jose turns down a Benfica return with Ferreira as his No.2, later saying he’d had more success in three years than Ferreira in 30. “This is the story of a donkey who has worked for 30 years but never became a horse,” he added.


Shortly after taking the reins at Porto, Mourinho drops keeper Baia, then suspends him after a training ground row. “He wanted to make a statement,” Baia said.


Fergie refuses to shake Jose’s hand after defeat by Porto. “I understand,” Jose sniped. “You’d be sad if your team got dominated by opponents built on 10 per cent of the budget.”


Celebrates a goal in the Carling Cup final by pressing his finger to his lips in front of the Liverpool fans, who react furiously.


Claims he saw Barça boss Frank Rijkaard enter the referee’s dressing room at half-time during a Champions League tie at Camp Nou, adding that he ‘wasn’t surprised’ when Didier Drogba was later sent off.


Leicester won the Premier League by exploiting quick breaks from their electric forwards Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, while Atletico Madrid reached a second Champions League final in just three years by knocking out Barcelona and Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich, despite enjoying less than 35 per cent possession over four legs against Europe’s two best exponents of the possession game. “Mourinho gets pigeonholed for the way that he plays, but there is nothing to back that up,” says former Manchester United youth teamer Higginbotham. “The amount of goals that his Real Madrid, Porto and Chelsea teams scored prove that to be wrong. “We’re seeing a shift from possession-based football back to the counter-attack. Last term, one of the games where Man United recorded the least amount of possession was the away game against Everton, and they won 3-0.” Crucially for United, still hungover from Louis van Gaal’s possession-based trudge, parallels exist between Mourinho’s approach and Sir Alex Ferguson’s best teams. Wingers Ryan Giggs and David Beckham underpinned the 1998-99 Treble-winning season, loading the bullets for Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole to fire. Nine years later, Ferguson’s use of Wayne Rooney as a roaming forward (alongside Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo) in the 2008 Champions League Final is just as interesting. Mourinho is a huge admirer of the England captain and spent the summer of 2013 trying to persuade him to leave Old Trafford and join Chelsea, “speaking more to Rooney than to his wife”, according to an agent quoted in The Secret World of Jose Mourinho, a book by Spanish journalist Diego Torres on the Portuguese’s three years at Real Madrid. Rooney, it seems certain, will operate as a deeper midfielder, as he did towards the end of Van Gaal’s tenure and at Euro 2016. Further forward, Mourinho could be the perfect coach to provide the discipline and structure Memphis Depay clearly needs to succeed at Old Trafford in his second season – wide forwards Cristiano Ronaldo, Eden Hazard, Di Maria and Arjen Robben, when fit, have all thrived under his management. Even Juan Mata, viewed as a probable Mourinho casualty as he was at Chelsea, could earn a clean slate. “No one should be fearful of him, unless they don’t do as they are told and keep repeating mistakes,” says former Porto forward McCarthy. “If you’re willing to learn


Calls the Frenchman ‘a voyeur’ who spends too much time talking about Chelsea, after being irked by the Arsenal manager’s comments in the press.


Mourinho claims Claude Makelele is being treated like ‘a slave’ by the federation. France’s head coach Raymond Domenech calls the terminology ‘staggering and insulting’.

“Developing youngsters, giving them a chance, is part of the club at United” under Mourinho, then you’ll do very well. Footballers like waking up in the morning looking forward to training with him. “Rooney, Anthony Martial and definitely Marcus Rashford will benefit. People say he doesn’t like young players, but I disagree with that. We had so many young players at Porto, youngsters who became great players. At Madrid, Di Maria, Isco, Jese and Raphael Varane were all young.” Of all the criticisms levelled at Mourinho, his lack of long-term vision and hitherto unwillingness to promote from within are perhaps uppermost in people’s minds. Van Gaal gave first-team debuts to 15 academy graduates in his two seasons at Old Trafford, maintaining a truly remarkable statistic that a homegrown player has appeared in every United matchday squad since October 1937, comfortably more than 3,000 games. Mourinho, meanwhile, played a role in selling talented Chelsea youngsters Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne, and has failed to nurture a youth-team graduate into a first-team

Above Mourinho’s a big admirer of wide players, like Beckham Above right Two big personalities at Inter Below Would Giggs have broken into the team under Jose?



Claims that Petr Cech had to wait half an hour for an ambulance at Reading are rejected by NHS chiefs, who say it was seven minutes.

CRISTIANO RONALDO APRIL 2007 Jose says Ronaldo is ‘lying’ if he claims Man United aren’t favoured by refs, adding: “And if you lie you may never reach the level which he aspires to.”

regular at Stamford Bridge, Inter or Real Madrid. United themselves aren’t immune to such profligacy, but a club can surely only afford one mistake like Paul Pogba. Such a connection between team and support, who will always cheer one of their own, is vital to Manchester United. Early rumours of a reunion between the new manager and Zlatan Ibrahimovic don’t bode well for Rashford’s continued development. “I think it’s massively important that he maintains it,” Luke Chadwick, an Old Trafford academy graduate, who made 38 first-team appearances in the early noughties, tells FFT. “It will be demanded of him. He’ll appreciate the young talent at his disposal. If they are good enough, I think he’ll give them a chance. “It was different at Chelsea and Real Madrid because that isn’t what those clubs are about. But at United, developing young players and giving them a chance is a big part of the club.”


There’s here’s a very good reason why Manchester ited chose Mourinho. He’s box office. His United me alone still holds immense cach caché and name n attract the best players in the world, can d spite the club facing a second season in despite ree without Champions League football. three The Manchester United brand is more ucial than ever before, with hundreds crucial off commercial partners around the world ntributing millions to the coffers. As such, contributing it isn’t enough to just sign the best players, but marketable assets, too. Like Zlatan. “You’d love to see someone like [Gareth] Bale,” says Chadwick. “Someone with that lectric pace. United have always had people electric

His relationship with Chelsea’s owner deteriorates after disagreements about transfers. Mourinho departs the Blues.


The newly appointed Inter coach chooses to describe the Juve manager as ‘old and he has not even won anything’ - and he later brands him a ‘loser’.


Accuses journalists of ‘intellectual prostitution’ after they echo Luciano Spalletti’s view that Inter’s Mario Balotelli dived in a draw with Roma. Jose adds that both Roma and Milan will finish the season with ‘zero titles’. August 2016 47


like [Ryan] Giggs, [Andrei] Kanchelskis, those sorts of players. You’d say the team lacks pace. Rashford and Martial are quick, but a bit more pace would be great. Bale is top of that list but I can’t see him leaving Madrid any time soon.” Crucially, Mourinho must integrate the new arrivals into his team. When Van Gaal’s side took to the field for the 2016 FA Cup Final, only three of his 15 signings for the club were in the starting XI (Martial, Rojo and Daley Blind), and this from a £250 million outlay. Mourinho’s eye for a player is usually sound, but there have been failures too, from Ricardo Quaresma at Inter to Juan Cuadrado at Chelsea. United fans demand a bit more value for their buck. It isn’t just new arrivals that will occupy Mourinho’s early thoughts: there are a number of senior United players who the Special One must ensure stay at Old Trafford. Michael Carrick has already signed a one-year deal – now 35, the former Tottenham man offers a calm midfield influence – but Martial, Chris Smalling and Ander Herrera won’t stick around forever without improvements. The big one, however – despite ongoing tabloid talk of his private life – is David de Gea, United’s player of the year for the last three seasons. Last summer, only an errant fax machine prevented the Spanish goalkeeper from joining Real Madrid and the 25-year-old’s camp were making noises about him leaving were Van Gaal to remain. Mourinho must ensure his best player, and cornerstone, stays. The early signs are good. “United’s decision to sign Mourinho is the right one,” De Gea told Spanish radio before the start of Euro 2016. “I think United needed a coach like him – a winning coach with personality.”


“Would Fabio Capello have responded with the name of a team? Or Vicente del Bosque? They are too intelligent,” he says after the Italy boss tips Juventus for the title.


Sparks fury after suggesting Sulley Muntari’s form has dipped because of fasting due to Ramadan. “He should talk less,” explains a Muslim spokesman in Italy.

48 August 2016

“He demands a lot of his players. It’s why he loses the dressing room - they can’t handle it” Above David de Gea applauded United’s decision to bring in the Special One Above left Jorge Mendes is likely to become a familiar face at Old Trafford

Yet there’s more here than meets the eye: De Gea and Mourinho are both represented by super-agent Jorge Mendes’ Gestifute sports agency, and at each of Mourinho’s previous clubs, there has always been a healthy number of Gestifute players on the books. In his book on Mourinho, journalist Diego Torres says that players and club officials grew to resent Mendes’ omnipresence at the Real Madrid training ground – frequently watching from the office that overlooks the club’s Valdebebas complex and joining the players for breakfast on most mornings – especially as other agents required passes in order for them to access training. Mendes players came to be called “los suyos” or “theirs” by the non-Mendes faction. The final straw allegedly came when Mourinho demanded the signing of Hugo Almeida, a journeyman striker and Mendes player, who few believed to possess enough quality to play for Los Blancos’ first team. So does the Mendes and Mourinho connection ever become a bit too much?

“No, Mourinho is the boss,” says Benni McCarthy. “He tells Mendes which players he wants. He’s the man to go and get the players. If Mourinho wants to sign Ronaldo, Mendes can probably go and get Ronaldo. “Mourinho makes the decisions. His wife is the only one who can challenge them!” Under a transfer committee headed by Michael Emenalo, Chelsea’s dealings with Mendes became limited in Mourinho’s second spell at Stamford Bridge, but the decision to take a fading Radamel Falcao on a season’s loan last season is the kind of situation United will be keen to avoid. James Rodriguez has the talent (and marketing appeal) to also be a target, yet any calls for full-back Fabio Coentrao and others from the Gestifute stable to join United will surely be resisted. Perception, then, is very important for Manchester United. Trophies at English football’s most successful club can’t come with the sort of win-at-all costs mentality that Mourinho was afforded at Real Madrid.




Axes Balotelli from the Inter Milan squad ahead of their crucial European match away against Chelsea after a row with the young striker, who is said to be ‘bitter’ at the decision.

Jose allegedly tells the new recruit that even if the Real Madrid team plane crashes and he’s the only player remaining, he still won’t play.


Drops Real Madrid’s only fit striker, having already made it clear that the forward didn’t fit his system, saying: “If I cannot hunt with a dog, then I’ll hunt with a cat.”

Sent off in the first leg of the Champions League semi, Jose suggests refs favour Barcelona. “One day I would like Josep Guardiola to win this competition properly,” he says.


Pokes Barcelona assistant Vilanova in the eye during a touchline scuffle at the Camp Nou in Spanish Super Cup.



United fans tell us what they think



“Alex Ferguson once claimed that Manchester United’s manager needs to be the most important person at the club, with complete control over his players and staff. Since he stepped down, David Moyes and Louis van Gaal have both failed to gain the control required: they sold established players and then failed to get an effective contribution from their squad. That will change with Mourinho. He’s achieved more in football than the majority of the players and will immediately command respect. They’ll be desperate to work for him. The same could also be said for Ryan Giggs, but United couldn’t afford to take such a risk with an unproven manager. He should prove himself elsewhere, like Luis Enrique did at Roma and Celta Vigo prior to managing Barcelona. Jose has craved this position for many succeed.” years: he’ll be willing to adapt and work relentlessly to succeed.



“Mourinho’s not the man for me. I understood the concerns about appointing Ryan Giggs, but I would have given it to him anyway because I’m a dreamer. The rewards would have been worth the risk. What was the point of grooming Giggs to be Louis van Gaal’s successor and going on about a mythical ‘Man United Way’ if, when it came down to it, it all went out of the window in favour of a short-term dividend? What’s the worst that could have happened under our greatest-ever player? We might have gone a few more years without a league title, perhaps? Boo f***ing hoo. It’s only been three years since the last one, not f***ing 23. Giggs as the manager would have given us something pure – something that was ours and ours only, not something bought off a shelf. But here we are, sitting in the big top. Mourinho’s poisonous, Machiavellian ways are our future now. So let’s get on with it.”


Casillas speaks with Barça captain Xavi and the duo vow to curb bad behaviour in El Clasico for the good of both clubs and Spain. Jose then sees this as a betrayal and falls out with his No.1.


Pepe speaks out after Mourinho criticises Casillas and says that he regrets not signing first-choice keeper Diego Lopez earlier. Jose’s response? “Pepe’s problem has got a name Raphael Varane.”


The Portuguese responds to claims that he ‘fears to fail’ by branding Wenger ‘a specialist in failure’. “Eight years without silverware, that’s failure,” he says. “If I do that in Chelsea, I leave and don’t ever come back.”

Wherever the line is, Mourinho will either cross it, or jump up and down on it until it finally buckles of its own free will. “Mourinho is a superstar at using the media to his advantage,” Corriere dello Sport journalist Andrea Ramazzotti, who covered Mourinho’s Inter from 2008 until 2010, tells FFT. “After Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sold to Barcelona in 2009 he became more tense. He needed to create a strong bond in the team so he looked for a common enemy for the team to attack: the journalists. “It began one day, talking about a lack of trust. By the end of the season, he’d stopped attending the press conferences and the Nerazzurri had won everything.” Nothing particularly untoward here. Not until Mourinho and Ramazzotti got into a fight by the Inter team bus in December 2009 following a 1-1 draw with Atalanta. “A lot of water has gone under the bridge since that little episode,” smiles Ramazzotti. “All I can say is that those were very unique days. I wasn’t in the mood for jokes or to be messed around. He said that I became the most famous Ramazzotti, after Eros, one of Italy’s most famous singer-songwriters.” It’s a world removed from the much calmer character that United’s players will come to experience every day. “Mourinho with the media is totally different to the Mourinho with the players,” says former Inter full-back Maxwell. “I wouldn’t say that he’s arrogant, but when you face the cameras, you have to find a way to protect yourself and he has his own way of doing that. “He’s always having a laugh with his players. When you carry so much responsibility, it is impossible to behave the same way when answering tricky questions from reporters.” To be accepted at Old Trafford, even if Sir Alex Ferguson wasn’t backward about coming forwards when criticising officials, Mourinho must also soften his frequent diatribes and accusations of conspiracies aimed at referees. “Mourinho was the same at Porto,” says Benni McCarthy. “But he’s right! Why should refs get away with murder with costing teams points? If a referee doesn’t do his job properly then he should be criticised. If the referee has a good game then Jose’s the first to applaud him, but that doesn’t make headlines.” The Special One’s eye gouge of then Barcelona assistant manager Tito Vilanova during the 2011 Supercopa is indicative of

a Machiavellian operator where the end justifies the means. Even after the game, he claimed not to know “this Pito Vilanova or whatever his name is”. ‘Pito’, as Jose was well aware, is Spanish for ‘cock’. “A United manager would not do what he did to Vilanova,” Bobby Charlton, still on the Red Devils’ board, said in December 2012, six months before overlooking Jose in favour of David Moyes. “Mourinho is a really good coach, but that’s as far as I’d go.” The situation at United may have required a change, but the rather stilted conversation between Mourinho and Charlton at Carrington at the former’s unveiling would indicate that the latter’s stance may not have altered. “The problem is,” one Gestifute executive told Torres in his book, “that when things do not go well for Mou, he doesn’t follow the club’s line. He follows Jose’s line.” The unseemly episode involving former Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro is a case in point. It smacked of a diversionary tactic, intended to distract from an uninspiring 2-2 draw at home to Swansea, but blew up into a court case for constructive dismissal because Mourinho was too stubborn to apologise for criticising an employee for doing their job. Yet Mourinho’s willingness to settle the case in June – and avoid text messages and emails being made public – would indicate that he’s willing to rein in the personality and ego for the club he’s always wanted to manage. United suits would certainly hope so. The Carneiro situation proved the beginning of the end of his second Stamford Bridge sojourn, because she was so well liked by the Chelsea squad. Mourinho lost the respect of the dressing room. Fostering a siege mentality is critical to Mourinho’s man management, and is why players so readily take to his methods, especially in the early days.



Hazard appears to criticise Mou when he says Chelsea’s tactics leave him doing things ‘all by myself’. Jose retorts: “He’s not the kind of player ready to sacrifice himself 100 per cent for the team and for his mates.”


When Ramos slates Cesc Fabregas and striker Diego Costa for pulling out of a Spain squad with injury, Mourinho points out the defender ‘is not a doctor’ – the pair fell out at the Bernabeu.

Courting controversy: United’s new boss loves to create a siege mentality

When Luiz was sold to PSG, Jose indicated the Brazilian wouldn’t be missed. Luiz scores to knock Chelsea out of Europe and the centre-back’s mum takes to social media to taunt his former boss.


Benitez is appointed at Real Madrid and his wife says ‘we tidy up Mourinho’s messes’. Jose hits back, saying that she should focus a lot more on Rafa’s ‘diet’. August 2016 49


“He protects players,” says Benni McCarthy, “all of whom suffer from pressure and nerves. Players appreciate playing without a dark cloud over their head because he’s gone to war with the media for them. I hope that I can have that ability when I manage.” Mourinho also regularly takes his players out individually to dinner, finding out more about their families and including himself in the minutiae of their daily lives. To repair an already fracturing relationship with his Real Madrid squad in the autumn of 2011, Mourinho organised a barbeque at his house in Pozuelo, on Madrid’s plush outskirts, to help clear the air. Nine months later, Los Blancos were crowned Spanish champions. His difference to the standoffish Louis van Gaal couldn’t be greater. Orders had to be followed on the Dutchman’s say so. Players would open emails from Van Gaal on their phones and then leave them idle for 20 minutes, so the tracker planted inside the email would register that they had been ‘read’ for an adequate amount of time. “Mourinho tries to take the maximum from his players,” former Chelsea left-back Filipe Luis told FFT earlier this year. “I think that’s one of the reasons he loses the dressing room sometimes. He asks so much of his players that some can’t handle it for too long.” The Brazilian lasted just a season in SW6 before returning to Atletico Madrid at the beginning of 2015-16, finishing the season as a Champions League runner-up. Problems arise when players start to tire of the constant mental demands Jose places on them to overcome a perceived foe, from other teams or managers, to journalists or referees. “Maybe it can win matches for you, but sometimes it’s not enough,” says Maxwell. “Last season, Chelsea did much better under Guus Hiddink because there’s so much stuff that can motivate that another controversial comment won’t make a difference.” Some players feel cast aside by Mourinho’s combative approach. “I felt I didn’t have any kind of relationship with him,” former Inter winger Kerlon, he of the seal dribble, tells FFT. “It felt like he didn’t want me at Inter because Filipe Luis (right) left Chelsea after one season

it was Roberto Mancini who had bought me. I thought that I deserved the chance to prove myself. He was always honest with me, but it’s impossible not to become frustrated because we all want to be playing football.” Mourinho demands unswerving loyalty from his players. If he doesn’t feel it, paranoia sets in. At Real Madrid, he became convinced that there was a mole in the dressing room who was leaking both team line-ups and tactics to the press, after correct predictions that he would use Pepe in a midfield role during a 1-1 draw with Barcelona in April 2011. “His eyes started to mist up. I’d never seen him in such an emotional state before,” wrote Madrid’s reserve keeper Jerzy Dudek in his autobiography. “‘Where is the rat? Who is it? Maybe it is somebody who has played here the longest? How can you destroy what we’ve been working for all week? You screwed me over. But you screwed yourselves and your families and friends too. I will get to the f***ing source’.” Dudek goes on to suggest that Mourinho believed the mole to be goalkeeper Iker Casillas, whose wife Sara Carbonero is a high-profile TV presenter. By the end of Mourinho’s three-year Real Madrid spell, his relationship with Spain’s World Cup-winning captain had irrevocably broken down.


In all of this, of course, there is an elephant in the Mourinho room. Or city. He goes by the name of Josep Guardiola Sala. Once the former Barça boss had been named as Manchester City’s new coach for 2016-17, there was an inevitability to Jose rocking up just 20 minutes south-west of the Etihad. The yang to Guardiola’s yin and the Moriarty to the Catalan’s Sherlock. The prospect of both in Manchester just fits. The pair fell out after Barcelona promoted Guardiola ahead of the Special One after Pep’s solitary season as Barcelona B coach. “Mourinho is a winner,” explained Man City’s chief executive Ferran Soriano, who as a vice-president at the Camp Nou giants was privy to that 2008 decision, in his book


Michael Cox assesses the tactical tweaks Mourinho will make at Old Trafford: deep, disciplined, dynamic


Jose Mourinho doesn’t park the bus every game, but United will unquestionably play deeper than last season. Under Louis van Gaal, they defended close to the halfway line and allowed space in behind – which helped them achieve the joint-best defensive record in last season’s Premier League. Mourinho will ask his team f y area, a ea allowing ll g space in midfi field. to defend closer to the penalty


Jose likes old-school, no-nonsense defenders who concentrate on their job – defending. It’s difficult to imagine he will continue with Daley Blind (left) at centre-back, preferring an aerially dominant player. He’s also unlikely to use converted wingers like Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia as the full-backs, because he requires players who will tuck inside and offer close f the two t t e-b k protection for centre-backs.


Van Gaal may have sat with a tactics board on his lap, but he rarely made game-changing strategic decisions. Mourinho, on the other hand, always trains his players in two separate systems: 4-3-3 and 4-3-1-2 early in his career, now usually 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1. He’s not afraid to make dramatic changes at an early s. stage, and United will be capable off outwitting opponents.


Mourinho doesn’t care about the possession statistics. He just wants his players to attack quickly, before the opposition’s midfield is in position to properly shield their defence. Sometimes this is in the form of classic, speedy counter-attacking football, but the same principle applies when Mourinho’s side regain field – they attack quickly y and d incisively ly.. possession in midfi


Manchester United’s line-up was often unpredictable under Van Gaal, causing a lack of cohesion. Mourinho avoids rotation – particularly in defence. Going forward, he prefers to regularly substitute key attackers 15 minutes from full-time, rather than leaving them out sporadically. In 2016-17, United’s first choice line-up should be clear. August 2016 51

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The Ball Doesn’t Go In By Chance, “but in order to be a winner he guarantees a level of tension that becomes a problem.” Maxwell is one of the few to play for both. “Guardiola and Mourinho have totally different ways of thinking,” he says. “There were no similarities between Barcelona and Inter. I came from a counter-attack school, where the main goal was not to lose games, to one where we wanted to win in a beautiful way and convince everyone we deserved it. Then there were the Mourinho mind games.” Guardiola has confessed to having “no good memories” of the games between Mourinho’s Madrid and his own Barcelona side, including the four Clasicos in 18 days in 2011. Perhaps the most memorable was Guardiola’s “Jose’s the f***ing boss” press conference explosion before that season’s Champions League semi-final meeting between the clubs. Even separated by hundreds of miles at Chelsea and Bayern Munich, Mourinho still couldn’t resist taking a swipe after his 2015 Premier League title win with the Blues. It wasn’t difficult to spot the subtext when he said he could never “go to a country where a kit man can be coach and win the title”. These, though, are sentiments that the Manchester United hierarchy would prefer their new manager to keep buried, and Mourinho is making the right early noises. “For two years,” Mourinho has said, “Pep and I were in a league where the champion would be either me or him, Real Madrid or Barcelona. “In a situation like this, individual fights make sense because they can influence things. In the Premier League, if I focus on him and Manchester City, and he on me and Manchester United, someone else is going to win the league.” He has a point. For all the blustering about referee and UEFA bias, and the recommencement of hostilities between Barça and Madrid players – which had been all-but extinguished after the 2010 World Cup win – Mourinho only won two of the pair’s 11 Clasicos. The pair’s first meeting, scheduled for Old Trafford in September, should make for fascinating viewing. The rivalry will be good for the Premier League, as will a return to the tete-a-tete between Manchester United and Arsenal, given Mourinho and Arsene Wenger’s frequent attempts to out-pantomime each other via the medium of handshakes.

“Jose’s the boss. He makes the decisions. His wife is the only one who challenges them” Above left Passion won’t be in short supply this season Above Jose can’t afford to fight with Pep in the Prem... Below ...but other sparring partners remain elsewhere

“Everybody wants to see that with the managers, it’s entertainment and the only way you can get an advantage,” says Danny Higginbotham. “Manchester has the two best managers in world football going for the title, it’s going to be fantastic. Add Jurgen Klopp, Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino at Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs into that and it’s going to make for a mouthwatering season.” Ultimately, Manchester United have played the only card available to them. Three years ago, they were champions and, despite an ageing squad, had a group of winners capable of regularly challenging for major honours. Worried by Mourinho’s tendency towards the theatrical, they appointed first a safe pair of hands (Moyes), and then the owner of a phenomenal CV (Van Gaal). In 2016, English football’s biggest club needs the Special One to restore its lost aura. The wolf has entered his most coveted of chicken coops and is licking his lips in anticipation. “Mourinho’s always had great respect for United,” says Benni McCarthy, who

was part of the team that knocked the Red Devils out of the 2003-04 Champions League at the last-16 stage, with the Portuguese’s Old Trafford touchline dash announcing his arrival on the world stage. “I’ll never forget how he prepared and motivated us for that game. People said it was impossible. “This is the job he’s probably always wanted. It’s the perfect job at the perfect time. Is he the right man? 150 per cent, yes. If he’s not the best in the world, he’s in the top three.” “I am not afraid by the consequences of my decisions,” reads the inscription on the €20,000 sapphire crystal deLaCour watch that seldom leaves Mourinho’s wrist. Maybe not, but to succeed, the Special One will have to soften that personal mantra and submit his ego to Manchester United’s needs. It took Ferguson 27 years to definitively reach his stated aim of “knocking Liverpool off their f***ing perch”. Mourinho won’t have anywhere near as long to do the same to Pep, yet when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object, it’s often the object that’s left standing once the force has blown itself out. August 2016 53


MANAGERS WHO INVENTED MODERN FOOTBALL Words Chris Flanagan, Nick Moore Illustrations Sergio Ingravalle

Mourinho, Simeone, Pep... Big Sam: none of them could have succeeded without these trailblazing pioneers


THE PROMOTER OF MODERN PRESSING Few people have inspired quite as many of the world’s current crop of top managers as Marcelo Bielsa. “He’s the best coach the planet currently has,” Pep Guardiola said in 2012. Despite that tag, Bielsa’s honours list is surprisingly threadbare – a couple of titles with Newell’s Old Boys, another with Velez Sarsfield, a gold medal as coach of Argentina’s Olympic team in 2004, and that’s about it. But it’s the way that Bielsa’s sides play the game that has made him almost messianic. A whole-hearted dedication to attack thanks to an ambitious 3-3-3-1 formation was backed up by an intense pressing strategy that has since been adopted by managers from Diego Simeone and Tata Martino to Jorge Sampaoli and Mauricio Pochettino. Pressing had been around long before Bielsa became a coach, but never had it been used quite so aggressively and persistently. “My football in defence is very simple – we run all the time,” he once said. Nicknamed El Loco, Bielsa has been known to pace out pitch measurements before deciding on his game plan. His 2015 was disappointing – he resigned as Marseille boss after only one year – but Chile’s Copa America win earlier that summer was largely down to the tactics he had implemented before stepping aside in 2011. It’s far from the only trophy triumph his methods have inspired, one way or another. FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Diego Simeone

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To say Cloughie was an unqualified success as a motivator of men would be daft. This was a manager, after all, whose opening gambit at Leeds in July 1974 was to tell his players that they should throw their medals in the bin – a horrible miscalculation that helped earn him the boot just 44 days later. Plenty of squad members elsewhere, who he often lambasted and occasionally punched, loathed Clough just as much as the blazer-wearing boardroom bores he perennially raged against. But when he got things right, Clough’s players would run through brick walls for him. Bristling with a heady combination of wit, intelligence, menace and northern football savvy, his force of personality meant that he became a gaffer-as-God: amid a desert of stuffy bosses spouting clichés, he was an oasis of cocksure brio. Clough told Forest fans that he could walk on water. And they – and his teams – loved him for it. A First Division title and two European Cups simply proved it. Clough knew how to make a team better than the sum of its parts, and was never afraid to field mavericks. His greatest skill was the motivational “word in the ear”. Clough talked average-looking players like John Robertson into becoming world-beaters. “It was easy working for him if you were committed,” said his Forest skipper John McGovern. “He had that knack of saying the right things in the right way. And he was always right.” FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Jose Mourinho August 2016 55




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In the sack-happy landscape of the Premier League, it’s tough to comprehend the sheer scale of the job Matt Busby was allowed to do at Old Trafford between 1945 and 1969. He was a revolutionary from the very start: prior to the Second World War, managers tended to have a limited role in the buying and selling of players. However, Busby took full control of both training and transfer policy, spearheading a new generation of all-powerful bosses – but none used that new oomph to create a dynasty as impressive as Busby’s. A former pit boy who was charm personified and never forgot a name, Busby’s powers of persuasion helped him lure the best young prospects to Old Trafford, while his teacherly

qualities helped him communicate with this raw talent brilliantly. A focus on long-term planning allowed him to hone three great sides at a club that had been trophyless since 1911: the FA Cup winners of 1948, the Busby Babes of the 1950s, and the post-Munich air disaster European champions of 1968. Busby was a visionary, too: in 1956 he went against the wishes of the Football League and decided that Manchester United should become the first English club to take part in the European Cup, which he believed was a key part of the future of the sport. He wasn’t wrong. FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Alex Ferguson



THE ORIGINAL SPECIAL ONE Long before Jose Mourinho came along, Guttmann was writing the blueprint on how to win trophies and then spontaneously combust. It was Guttmann who said ‘the third season is fatal’, something that Mourinho can identify with – he has still never lasted longer than that in seven managerial stints. Guttmann’s first league title as a manager came in his native Hungary with Ujpest in 1939 but he departed soon afterwards, eventually ending up in Romania with Ciocanul Bucharest, where he insisted on being paid in vegetables due to food shortages. He quit after a director tried to interfere with team selection and later fell out with Ferenc Puskas in a second spell with Ujpest, moving on once more. As manager of Milan, he guided the club to the summit of Serie A, but was fired after a dispute with the board. “I have been sacked even though I am neither a criminal nor a homosexual. Goodbye,” he announced, bizarrely. In subsequent jobs, Guttmann made sure he had a clause in his contract preventing him from being sacked if his team were top. He would win the Portuguese league title with Porto before jumping ship to join Benfica, where he signed Eusebio and won successive European Cups in 1961 and 1962. His time at the Estadio da Luz ended acrimoniously, after three years, when he was refused a pay rise and departed – stating that ‘not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion’. The Eagles have reached eight European finals since then, and been beaten in every single one. The curse lives on. FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Jose Mourinho


THE MAN WHO PAVED THE WAY FOR TIKI-TAKA Pentland’s career in football started at Small Heath and ended at Barrow, but in between came 15 years during which he totally revolutionised Spanish football. A five-time England international during his playing days, Pentland’s first managerial post was an unfortunate one – he took charge of Germany’s Olympic team in 1914, only for the First World War to break out. Interned in a detention camp near Berlin, Pentland became chairman of the camp’s football association and formulated the tactical ideology that he would later take to Spain.

Appointed manager of Racing Santander in 1920, he introduced a short-passing game at a time when many clubs in Spain were playing in a typical English kick-and-rush style, using a 2-3-5 formation. Pentland adapted that 2-5-3, focusing on possession in midfield. He later had two spells with Athletic Bilbao, guiding them to their first two league titles. He became known as ‘El Bombin’ because he wore a bowler hat, which his players would trample on as a way of celebrating victories. Pentland’s Athletic side thrashed Barcelona 12-1 in 1931 – still the worst defeat in Barça’s history – but the Camp Nou side would later benefit hugely from the short-passing style he brought to the country. Pentland’s tactics were the seed from which tiki-taka eventually grew. FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Pep Guardiola


THE MANAGER WHO WANTED TO DO EVERYTHING (INCLUDING PICK THE TEAM) A man bubbling with more ideas than a mad professor, Chapman is regarded as one of the great modernisers in early English sport: so many of his innovations ended up becoming part of the game’s lexicon, he’s virtually football’s equivalent of Shakespeare. Most significantly, during a management career that spanned Northampton Town, Leeds City, Huddersfield Town and Arsenal before his untimely death through illness at 55 in 1934, Chapman persuaded his boards that it was he, and not they, who possessed the requisite knowledge to pick the best 11 players for his team. It may seem obvious now, but it was not until 1963 that FA suits stopped selecting the England side. That wasn’t all, though. Chapman is credited with popularising the WM formation – a kind of 3-2-2-3 system that allowed for effective counter-attacking – to thwart the new offside rule. He got Arsenal’s reserves playing the system, too, so that players could slide seamlessly into the first team when required. Chapman was the first boss to use a tactics board – drawing a picture of the field on a table top, meaning his players could understand his instructions better – and he also placed a previously unseen emphasis on physical conditioning, disliking players who drank or smoked. Chapman even changed the name of the Tube station on Gillespie Road to Arsenal, and advocated floodlights, white balls, numbers on shirts and the idea of a pan-European tournament years before just about anyone else. What a guy. FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Jimmy Hill


THE KING OF TOTAL FOOTBALL Englishmen Jack Reynolds and Vic Buckingham sowed the seeds of Totaalvoetbal in separate spells in charge of Ajax, placing an emphasis on possession, but it was their former player Michels who brought the idea to fruition. Michels replaced Buckingham as boss in 1965, his first task to avoid relegation. Within a year, Ajax were Eredivisie champions. The new man focused the team’s training on ball-work even more than his predecessors and developed a style of play so fluid that each outfield player was capable of switching position. Defenders could also play in attack and forwards could be deployed at the back – it was a revolutionary philosophy. Michels won four titles in six years at Ajax, guiding them to their first European Cup in 1971 before departing for Barcelona. He implemented the same methods at the Camp Nou, taking Johan Cruyff with him. It was at the 1974 World Cup that the Total Football tag was first used, after Michels took charge of the Netherlands and led them to the final in Munich. He would later return as national team boss and win Euro 88. FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Johan Cruyff


VALERIY LOBANOVSKYI THE STATISTICIAN There was one place that Andriy Shevchenko really wanted to visit after netting the winning penalty for Milan in the 2003 Champions League Final. Soon, he was back in Kiev with the trophy, placing it next to the statue of the late Valeriy Lobanovskyi. “It was his big dream,” Shevchenko said of his former Dynamo Kiev boss. “He is not here, but I’m so glad I’ve won it – and he won it, too.” Unlike most statues, Lobanovskyi is not depicted standing dominantly: instead he’s sitting on a bench, deep in thought, analysing. In a managerial career that ran from 1969 to 2001, he analysed football like no one before – sending scouts to compile opposition reports and bringing in a computer from Moscow to keep performance stats on his own players. “When I was a player it was difficult to evaluate players,” Lobanovskyi explained. “There were no videos, no real methods of analysis. Today players know that the morning after the game, a sheet of paper will be pinned up showing all the figures. If a midfielder has fulfilled 60 technical and tactical actions in the course of the match, then he has not pulled his weight. He is obliged to do 100 or more.” Lobanovskyi combined his duties for club and country during three spells in charge of the USSR, guiding them to the final of Euro 88 in Munich. At club level, he won 12 league titles and two UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups. FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Sam Allardyce


THE MAN WHO INSPIRED THE MAGICAL MAGYARS A kind of wandering football shaman, Hogan had a direct influence on several great international sides. Best known was the trailblazing pass-and-move Hungary outfit epitomised by Ferenc Puskas: following one of the English game’s nadirs – the 6-3 defeat at Wembley in 1953 by the Magical Magyars – the president of the Hungarian FA famously told journalists: “Jimmy Hogan taught us everything we know”. The quiet Lancastrian was long retired by that point, but Hungary had perfected a style that he had devised. During a spell with Budapest’s MTK, Hogan’s insistence on versatility, fast running and short passes on what he called “the carpet” became ingrained in the national psyche. He then repeated the feat in three other countries. His talks during a tour of the Netherlands in 1910 helped to shape Dutch methods, while a spell in Germany was equally powerful: when Hogan died, his son received a letter calling him the “father of modern football in Germany”. As a coach, he also instilled his ideas into the 1930s Austrian Wunderteam. Much to England’s detriment, he was treated with suspicion by the FA. FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Gusztav Sebes, Hungary coach, 1949-57



How do you follow three European Cups as a player with Real Madrid? Step into the dugout and win two more as manager, of course. Munoz was part of the Real midfield for a decade from 1948, helping the club to their first three European Cup triumphs – or the Primera, Segunda and Tercera, as they’d no doubt be called these days. His transition to management was seamless: after a brief apprenticeship with the reserves, he took charge of the first team in 1959. “It’s true, flowers come out of my backside,” was how Munoz responded to those who questioned his coaching credentials,

referencing a popular Spanish idiom. Munoz inherited a talented but ageing squad, transforming it to such a degree that his 15-year reign produced nine league titles, as well as the Cuarta and the Quinta for good measure – Real beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in the European Cup final in his first season in charge, before a comeback triumph over Partizan Belgrade in 1966 that Munoz described as one of the most extraordinary performances of the era. Madridista Munoz became the first person to win the European Cup as both a player and coach, proving that it was possible to graduate pretty much straight from the football pitch to the manager’s hot seat. FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Kenny Dalglish




Arguably the first superstar manager, Herrera was the man who turned the focus away from the players and on to the dugout. He did so thanks to his ruthless execution of catenaccio, or ‘the chain’. An Argentine by birth, he claimed that he invented the sweeper position during his playing days in France, although that’s disputed. What’s not disputed is that after spells managing Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Barcelona, his tactical acumen developed Inter Milan into a side that won three Serie A titles and back-to-back European Cups. Catenaccio was originally rolled out by Padova boss Nereo Rocco in the 1950s, but it was Herrera who perfected it and took it to its greatest glory, removing a midfielder from his team and adding a sweeper. For a period, La Grande Inter were virtually invincible. FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Giovanni Trapattoni



“Bobby, son, good to see you,” was Bill Shankly’s greeting to Manchester United’s greatest-ever player as he arrived at Anfield for a fixture against Liverpool in 1967. “But by God, if ever there was a man who looked ill, it’s you, Bobby.” “Ill? I look ill?” Charlton replied. “Aye, Bobby, you look like you’re sickening for something. If I were you I’d see a doctor as soon as you set foot back in Manchester.” Minutes later, Matt Busby gave his United squad some news. Charlton had pulled out of the game. He’d suddenly been taken ill. Shankly won three league titles as Liverpool boss, guiding them from the Second Division to a position in which they could start to dominate at home and abroad. The Boot Room, where staff would concoct the tactics to outfox the opposition, played a key part. So too did Shankly’s ability to psyche out opponents with a variety of mind games. The Scot changed Liverpool’s shorts and socks from white to red, believing that an all-red kit made the players appear taller, and installed the famous ‘This Is Anfield’ sign in the tunnel to confront visiting teams. Before another home game, also against Manchester United, Shankly appeared in the tunnel brandishing an orange ticket as the visiting players arrived. “Guess what boys?” he said. “I’ve had a go on the tickets that give the time when the away team will score. And it says here, in a fortnight!” Liverpool won 2-0. FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Alex Ferguson August 2016 59





It’s Monday Night Football, but not as we know it. FFT meets the surgeons, soldiers and coffee-shop workers who lock horns at their local Powerleague

Interviews Chris Flanagan, Alec Fenn



Photography Richard Cannon


“Our team is a mixture of army, navy and RAF personnel,” explains Jamie Lee. “We’re all based in the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall and we play every Tuesday night in Docklands. “The team name is because we have taken inspiration from Jamie Vardy, even though none of us are actually Leicester fans. It’s a play on words with two WWE wrestlers called the Hardy Boys, plus we’ve added M.O.D. to our name now so that people know we’re representing the

Ministry of Defence. There may well be a bit of fear when opponents find out they’re playing us. They tend to put that extra bit of effort in, probably because they know we’re all in the armed forces. “The RAF guys are good in the air. They play up front, so the clichés are quite fitting. A guy called Tommy runs the show for us and our goalkeeper is nicknamed the Flying Potato – he’s not in the RAF, he’s in the navy, but he’s called that because he’s a bigger bloke,

“We didn’t go for the camouflage kit, as we would struggle to pick each other out”

shall we say. We play in red and white. It’s actually the same kit as the Gibraltar national team, but that’s a coincidence. It’s just because we happened to be scrolling through a website and that was the only kit we could all agree on. “We didn’t go for a camouflage kit, I don’t think that would really work. We’d struggle to see each other, and it’d probably end up like that Man United game [at Southampton in 1996] when they had to change shirts at half-time.”



“There’s a lot of pressure at work, so it’s crucial to unwind,” says Ed Rice. “When we play football there’s no pressure, it’s just pure enjoyment. “Our team is made up of players who work in the neurosurgery department at Leeds General Infirmary. Some people

can only make it every two or three weeks because of the hours we work, so we have a squad of about 15 players. “We have doctors, physios and nurses – and about six or seven of our squad are people who can operate. People sometimes do 24-hour solid on-call

Photography Nick Eagle

shifts, with operations throughout, so occasionally colleagues will come down and play football while they’re waiting for an operation to start. The pitches are only 10 minutes from the hospital, so if you know that an operation isn’t going to happen until 10pm, you can have a game before you go and do the op. “Our team name does refer to our profession, but I don’t know whether our

opponents realise that we are actually a group of neurosurgeons. Do we have a cerebral style of play? I don’t know, we just go out and try not to get beat! “When we started we were absolutely terrible, but we’ve gradually improved over time. We try to play as a team. There isn’t one person who is the brains of the team, as we’re all the brains – we’re a neural network on the pitch.” August 2016 63



“There are two stories behind the team name,” explains Phil Denison. “Firstly, most of the team are poker dealers and in one five-card poker game the final card is a river card. Players hate it and they always say it’s the one they lose their money on the most, so we thought it would make a good name. Ironically, one of the casinos got shut down after the floods last year so, again, the river name seemed a good fit. “Unsurprisingly we do like to gamble and play attacking football. Everyone in the team wants to score and be the hero. We’re very open and our mentality is that we will outscore the opposition. We have quite a big squad because a lot of the players work shifts, so we have to chop and change the team. “I’m the manager of the poker side of the casino and I’d say 50 per cent of the squad are poker dealers. But we have also got two bar staff and a couple of

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blackjack and roulette dealers. There’s a lot of extravagant personalities in the squad – a lot of people are in the casino business – and you can tell on the pitch! “The ace in our pack is a guy called Ethan. He’s been offered professional contracts with two clubs in America but decided to stay in England and study at university here instead. He’s a midfielder with electric pace, and he can get up and down the pitch all game long.”

“Unsurprisingly this team likes to gamble. We try to outscore the opposition”

Photography Nick Eagle



Photography Garrod Kirkwood

“Our players all work at Mister Woods coffee shops in North Tyneside,” says Richard Clough. “The business owner and myself had the idea a couple of years ago to put together a football team so that staff could do something socially. It’s great for a bit of banter and becoming a real team. “We’ll close the doors of the shops at 5pm and then get down to the

Legendary five-a-side moments happen every day at your local Lucozade Powerleague community club. To be part of this, you can join a league or play socially by visiting

North Shields Soccerdome as quick as we can to have a kickaround. “Sometimes I wish I could have a cup of coffee during the game to keep me alert, but having a milky coffee before the match never works - it just jumbles up inside you. “We’re all Newcastle fans, but we don’t talk too much about that at the moment, after how last season went. Our owner Steven Smallwood

COFFEE-SHOP WORKERS is our targetman - he’s nearing 50 and is very good for his age, although he is my boss so I’d be knackered if I didn’t say that! We have got Torres, too – well, a guy who used to look like Fernando Torres before he grew his hair. “We’ve done all right and we’re in the Second Division, but I think Alan Shearer’s safe. We’re not going to be at that level any time soon!”

You’ve seen the clips of England’s triumph a thousand times, but there are plenty of other things about the 1966 World Cup that have long been forgotten. FFT learns the truth about the iconic tournament Words Simon Craft, Ian Passingham, Paul Simpson

1 Call girls were put on hold Inspector Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read was the World Cup’s unsung hero. Fearing that foreign fans would be easy prey for Soho’s villains, he formed a squad of 12 officers to warn gangsters, pimps, pickpockets and prostitutes to behave, and maintained blanket police coverage of London’s West End throughout the finals. The strategy worked: reported crimes fell by half during the World Cup. And Read’s next assignment? Tackling gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray.

2 Another goal-line controversy It’s 1966, and England beat West Germany at Wembley – thanks to a linesman’s intervention. So far, so familiar. But this was February 1966, and a pre-World Cup friendly. After a disjointed performance – Three Lions boss Alf Ramsey

experimented and Nobby Stiles, wearing No.9, scored the only goal (above) - England were booed off. Alfred Heiss ‘equalised’, but the ball rebounded from behind the line and the linesman flagged instead for a corner-kick.

5 Africa chose to boycott the tournament

The Republic of Ireland could have qualified – but the FAI agreed to stage a play-off tie in Paris, rather than the UK, after their opponents Spain offered to hand over all the gate receipts. In front of a largely Spanish crowd, Ireland were beaten 1-0, with the FAI trousering £25,000.

All of the African federation nations boycotted qualifying, unhappy that the winners from their zone would face a play-off against the Asian zone winners for a place in the tournament. South Korea also withdrew, leaving Australia and North Korea to contest a two-legged play-off for the right to head to England.


3 Ireland almost qualified

4 Moore tried to quit West Ham Bobby Moore may have lifted the trophy as England’s skipper, but his build-up to the tournament was far from ideal. Moore asked for a transfer from West Ham in April 1966, but boss Ron Greenwood refused to consider the request, and replaced him as club captain. August 2016 67


Aussies failed to tie down a finals place

9 Selecao prepared well, played poorly Brazil played 19 games in the three months leading up to the finals, including four against Chile. The Brazilian FA withdrew clubs from the Copa Libertadores and cancelled the league play-offs so the Selecao could have more time to prepare. They went out at the group stage.

10 Brazil employed a bloke to read them the rules of football





Australia were so confident of overcoming North Korea that they ordered 200 neckties emblazoned with ‘World Cup 1966’ and their crest. However, they lost 6-1 and 3-1 at a neutral venue in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Brazil had quite the entourage in England – they even brought an expert on the laws of football. “Apart from 22 players, Brazil will be bringing 15 varied technicians with them to the World Cup,” the Daily Mirror reported, “including a dentist, a cobbler, a storekeeper and Flavio Iazetti, a professor of the laws of the game. A dressing room lawyer, eh?”

7 North Korean anthem silenced North Korea’s qualification caused a diplomatic headache as the country was not recognised by the British government. One of the stamps designed by the Post Office to commemorate the tournament was banned by the Foreign Office for featuring the North Korean flag, and the playing of national anthems was cancelled except for the opening match and the final.

No one put their hat on England “England will not win the World Cup,” Jimmy Hill declared before the finals. “But don’t blame Alf. No one would win with this lot.” Despite home advantage and the presence of three truly great players – Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton – bookies offered odds of 10-1 on England winning.

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11 Swiss fan walked from Zurich A Swiss window cleaner pushed a pram decked out in his country’s colours and adorned with cowbells all 800 miles of the way from Zurich to Sheffield, where Switzerland played their group games. Emil Holliger’s journey (below) was not rewarded with a successful World Cup campaign, the Swiss side returning home without gaining a single point. Undaunted, he kept up his pram-pushing antics, even releasing a promotional single for Hush Puppies shoes called Miggel on the Road to celebrate a subsequent walk to Lisbon.

12 Last-minute ground work Stadium improvements took place until the last minute, after the government only agreed a year beforehand to contribute £500,000. FA secretary Denis Follows had warned: “Without help, we couldn’t hope to do the sort of job for spectators that was done in 1958 and 1962.”

13 The Boy Scouts thwarted Uruguay Uruguay’s plans ahead of the opening game against England were thrown into chaos… by a Boy Scout troop. The two-time World Cup winners arrived at a local sports centre to find a Scouts’ sports event in progress. They had to work out back at their hotel instead.

Testers took pee


Bobby Moore and Jack Charlton made history as the first England players to be drug-tested at a World Cup. Uruguay’s Nestor Goncalves and Omar Caetano were also selected at random to give samples.

16 Brazil called for ban on tea Random drug tests were introduced for players for the first time, with Brazilian official Carlos Nascimento asking FIFA for clarification on some of the new rules. “Our players drink an awful lot of coffee,” he explained. “If we are not allowed to drink coffee, then England should be banned from drinking tea.”


18 Bulgaria had a volleyball-playing, skiing full-back

19 Argentina were no fans of Welwyn Garden City

Aleksandar Shalamanov played two games at right-back for Bulgaria at the 1966 World Cup, but his skills weren’t confined to football. He competed in the 1960 Winter Olympics as an alpine skier, and was a reserve for the national volleyball team in the 1964 Summer Games.

Discovering they weren’t quite in the centre of swinging London, Argentina’s players spent 30 minutes outside the Homestead Court Hotel arguing with coach Juan Carlos Lorenzo. Legend suggests the glimpse of a beautiful woman led them to check in.

Enid Blyton’s illustrator designed the mascot World Cup Willie, the first official World Cup mascot, was designed by Reg Hoye, who had illustrated Enid Blyton’s children’s books. Hoye drew four mascots – three lions and a boy – and the FA selected the lion based loosely on his son, who was called, appropriately enough, Leo.

15 England’s opener did not even sell out Although the tournament set a new record for overall attendances, not all games sold out. There were empty seats for England’s opening match against Uruguay. The attendance was officially 87,148, but The Times reported that 25,000 of the seats at the 100,000-capacity Wembley Stadium were left unoccupied.

No beds for visiting supporters


Local organisers in Sunderland had to issue an emergency appeal for locals willing to put up foreign fans after being caught on the hop. Ticket sales in the North East had been slow, but a Sunderland organising committee spokesman said on the eve of the Italy-Chile group game at Roker Park: “Hundreds of supporters have come to the town hoping to pay at the gate. Our list of people prepared to offer them beds is totally inadequate.” August 2016 69

23 Soviets all had Napoleon Solo haircuts The Soviet Union wowed fans with their football AND their haircuts. The squad were given a pre-tournament trim at a Durham barber’s shop and many opted for the look sported by Man From U.N.C.L.E. character Napoleon Solo, played by Robert Vaughn. Barber Jack Brown said: “I don’t suppose they’ve even heard of Napoleon Solo, but the style suited some of them very well.”

21 Spain wouldn’t drink local tap water


British holidaymakers know all about the perils of ‘Spanish tummy’, but Spain manager Jose Villalonga was more concerned about ‘English belly’ when they pitched up in Birmingham. He banned his players from drinking the local tap water, explaining: “This is a precautionary measure against potential stomach upsets.”

Only £4 for the refs While the players stayed in hotels, referees were put up in B&Bs with a daily allowance of only £4. Cyril Jackson, of the English Referees’ Association, claimed: “They are the best referees in world football and should be treated royally while they’re in England, but this isn’t happening. It’s all very mean.”

West Germany were supposed to be rubbish


West Germany were not favoured before the tournament, with their odds at 28-1 after the draw placed them in a group with Argentina, Switzerland and reigning European champions Spain. Although they’d won the World Cup in 1954, a national professional league had only been set up in 1963 and it was generally felt that Uwe Seeler and Karl-Heinz Schnellinger (left) were their only world-class players.

25 Swiss trio were banned for driving through Sheffield

26 Greyhounds got priority over the World Cup

Three Switzerland players were dropped for their opening match against West Germany after arriving late at their Sheffield hotel. The trio – Kobi Kuhn, Leo Eichmann and Werner Leimgruber – were banned by the Swiss FA after taking an ‘unauthorised car ride with two English girls’. Kuhn went on to manage the national team from 2001 to 2008.

Football may be more important than life and death, but it’s not bigger than dog racing. That was what Wembley’s owners concluded, refusing to reschedule an evening at the greyhounds on July 15 to accommodate Uruguay vs France. On the slightly less hallowed turf of White City Stadium, the Uruguayans won 2-1.

27 Italy went on a mattress spree

31 The 20,246-word report of a 0-0 draw

32 The arrival of Chollima Lightning

Italy were unhappy with their Durham County School of Agriculture accommodation. After one look at rooms usually used by students, they headed to Newcastle to splash £1,000 on furniture. They’d hoped to take their purchases with them around the country, but as it turned out, Italy didn’t make it out of their group.

Birmingham Post Office staff took almost SIX HOURS to send reporter Osvaldo Ardizzone’s 20,246-word match report on Argentina’s ill-tempered 0-0 draw with West Germany by cable to his Buenos Aires magazine. At a cost of £1 a minute, the 20ft-long cable set the bosses of El Grafico back a whopping £340.

Atletico Madrid and Leicester City have got North Korea’s ’66 coach Myung Rye-Hyun to thank for their recent success. Myong created a style dubbed Chollima Lightning Football (named after a mythical horse that could run at 1,000 miles an hour) based on speed, position-swapping and attacking vigour.

Mexico had a bullfighter up front


Mexico striker Enrique Borja (right) played in ’66 after turning his back on a career as a bullfighter. Borja, 20, revealed before facing England: “My father was a top bullfighter and I fought them in the training ring, but decided the horns were very dangerous. Football is less dangerous, so I switched. Jackie Charlton is big and strong like a bull, but I would still prefer to face him than a bull. He has no horns!”

29 Hungary brought only 18 players Hungary came to England with only 18 players, leaving four of their 22-man squad at home. Their FA secretary, Gyorgi Hontl, said: “We find that men who do not get a place in the side begin to nag, so we cut down on the nagging by making the party as small as possible.”


Koreans were plane angry

If things were going well on the pitch for the North Koreans, they were less happy off the field after being kept awake by aircraft. The squad stayed at the St George Hotel, near Darlington, during the group stage and found themselves only 300 yards away from Teesside Airport. Spokesman Shin Ha-Taik complained: “The noise from the aeroplanes is tremendous.”

34 30 Italy pelted with tomatoes North Korea beat Italy 1-0 to dump the Azzurri out of the tournament, and the Italian squad were pelted with tomatoes upon their return home. This was despite planning their arrival sometime between midnight and dawn at an unannounced airport (which turned out to be Genoa). The fury was not confined to the fans – a group of MPs demanded an explanation from the Prime Minister for Italy’s exit.

Final not the tournament’s best match Sorry England fans, the best match of the 1966 World Cup was not the final. Purists raved over Hungary’s 3-1 group-stage defeat of reigning champions Brazil, with journalist Brian Glanville deeming it “among the best the World Cup has produced”. It was dominated by Florian Albert, who passed and moved with brilliance and intelligence. As Hungary’s No.9 swigged water after full-time, the Goodison Park crowd chanted “Al-bert! Al-bert!” August 2016 71

38 The Union Jack ruled

39 FA chief denied reward money

There was barely a St George’s Cross in sight in 1966. Most England fans flew the Union Jack, even though it also represented Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. By 1990, it had begun to change: on England’s tearful night in Turin, the two flags co-existed, by Euro 96 the St George’s Cross dominated.

FA chairman Joe Mears tried to claim the £6,000 reward offered for finding the trophy after it was stolen. Mears received a ransom note and argued that since the trophy was subsequently found, he deserved the money. Mears’ claim was dismissed and the reward went to David Corbett, Pickles’ owner (see 41).

35 Franchi at centre of blame game Italy’s explanation for their poor performance was unusual. Desperate to spread the blame, coach Edmondo Fabbri insisted his players had been drugged at the behest of Artemio Franchi, who was plotting to oust federation president Giuseppe Pasquale and who would give his name to Fiorentina’s home stadium. Many players signed statements backing Fabbri’s claims, although the wording was suspiciously similar and some – notably Giacinto Facchetti and Sandro Mazzola – eventually recanted. It did not save Fabbri’s job, or his reputation. He later lamented: “I’ve had to go through my whole life with the burden of Korea.”

36 No bonuses for communists North Korea’s reward for their win over Italy was to be sent on a five-mile training run before breakfast. Their FA chairman Kim Eung-Sir insisted there was no question of the communist state paying them bonuses. He said: “In our country they play for honour. When we go home, perhaps the government will then make them Merited Sportsmen.”

37 Record-breaking goalkeeper hit five Mexico No.1 Antonio Carbajal set a record when he played their final game against Uruguay at Wembley – becoming the first player to appear in five World Cups, breaking his own record of four, achieved at Chile ’62.

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40 ‘Seen’ Connery met England In the Swinging Sixties, England manager Alf Ramsey was a throwback to the buttoned-up 1950s, taking elocution lessons so he could speak in the polished, upper-middle class tones typified by the BBC’s ‘received pronunciation’. The transformation wasn’t entirely successful. On a visit to Pinewood Studios, England players cracked up when Ramsey introduced them to “Seen Connery”. He was touchy about his accent. Believing that Bobby Moore and Jimmy Greaves were mocking it, he once told a colleague: “We’ll win the World Cup without those b******s.” Well he was half right, at least.


Pickles strangled while chasing a cat We still don’t know who stole the World Cup from Westminster Hall on March 20, 1966. Petty thief Edward Betchley, who demanded a ransom for the trophy, was jailed for two years for ‘being concerned in a larceny after the fact’ but insisted a mysterious associate called The Pole had stolen it. Black and white collie Pickles (left) found the trophy in a field six miles away from Betchley’s home, and the dog later had to be given protection after an anonymous caller phoned police to say Pickles would be kidnapped. In 1967, Pickles strangled himself with his own lead, while chasing a cat.

42 Man City hero’s German mission

48 Brazil boss didn’t fancy going home

Bert Trautmann, the keeper who played the 1956 FA Cup Final with a broken neck while at Manchester City, had retired by 1966 but acted as official attaché to the West Germany squad.

Brazil coach Vicente Feola dodged protests in Rio over their group-stage exit by staying in Europe... while his wife was under police guard. The 56-year-old revealed he would watch the knockout stages in England before travelling on business. He said: “By that time I hope the fuss will have died down. The authorities have put a police guard on my wife and house.”

43 Wingless Wonders had wingers

England against Argentina was the only last-eight game broadcast live in Britain. All four kicked off at the same time, so TV viewers missed the drama of Portugal 5 North Korea 3.

46 Players told not to smoke Many teams banned tobacco, with FIFA’s technical report noting that “players were expected to cut down smoking”. Some balked at this, not least 60-a-day Brazilian midfielder Gerson, who liked a puff at half-time. The Charltons enjoyed a smoke too, although Bobby never lit up before training was finished.

47 The star sides of ’62 struggled None of the four semi-finalists from the 1962 World Cup made it further than the group stage in 1966. Defending champions Brazil and Chile suffered early exits, while Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia failed to qualify for the event.

England fan’s house burned as he watched game One man watching England’s quarter-final against Argentina on TV was ‘so engrossed that he did not notice that his house was burning’, The Times reported. Mr Bradley, of Wiltshire, only became aware of the danger when a neighbour burst in to inform him that his roof was on fire.

44 Edu came, didn’t play, went home

45 TV audience missed Portugal vs North Korea

Fifteen managers assessed their opponents, sending observers to matches or watching matches on television. The odd coach out, FIFA’s technical committee noted, was France’s Henri Guerin. After Les Bleus came bottom of England’s group, he was forced out by rebellious players and the media.


Ramsey’s ‘Wingless Wonders’ are part of 1966 legend. Yet England fielded a winger in every group game: John Connelly (vs Uruguay), Terry Paine (vs Mexico) and Ian Callaghan (vs France). Alan Ball only stepped in from the knockouts.

Brazil included 16-year-old Santos forward Edu (right) in their squad. Had he made an appearance, he’d younges d have become the youngest player to feature in a World Cup match, breaking the record set by Pele in 1958. In the end, Edu failed to play a single minute.

49 France gaffer didn’t scout the opposing teams

51 Taxpayers funded Rattin’s tooth treatment Antonio Rattin, sent off in the quarter-final against England, was only able to play in the tournament at all after emergency dental treatment on the NHS. The Boca Juniors star gave Argentina a scare when he woke up with toothache. A visit to a Birmingham dentist was arranged... at the British taxpayers’ expense.

Last tournament without subs The 1966 World Cup was the last with no substitutes, despite the Football League allowing them during 1965-66. This meant an injury effectively reduced a team to 10 men, encouraging some countries to rough-up star opponents - the most famous example being Portugal’s battering of Brazil’s Pele (below).


53 South America cried conspiracy Many South Americans still maintain that England only lifted the trophy thanks to a conspiracy. In 2008, former FIFA chief Joao Havelange said: “English referees were used in the games between Brazil and Portugal, and Brazil and Hungary. The Germany vs Uruguay game had an English ref and England vs Argentina had a German ref. Isn’t this strange?” The aim, the Brazilian Havelange maintained, was to smash the dominance of Brazil, who had won the previous two World Cups. Referees weren’t kind to the South Americans: Portuguese winger Morais wasn’t even booked by English official George McCabe for chopping down Pele. The British Embassy in Mexico City received bomb threats, while the staff at the British ambassador’s residence in Montevideo had to be saved from an angry mob by police.

54 Eusebio gatecrashed a wedding Michael and Tina Taylor had some unexpected guests at their wedding – the Portugal squad. Eusebio & Co. were in the mood to celebrate at Manchester’s Wilmslow Hotel after they had knocked out Brazil when the couple held their reception there. The players joined the party and Eusebio even posed for some snaps. August 2016 73

55 Bloody Germans Even back then footballers were accused of play-acting – FIFA’s technical report noted “it was asserted that some West German players overdramatised injury from fouls”. That said, Helmut Haller only collapsed against Uruguay after his testicles had been “seized so fiercely that they oozed blood after the game”.

56 No victory stamps in Scotland

59 Charltons’ dad missed the semi The Charlton brothers’ father didn’t watch England’s semi-final win – because he was at work. Coal miner Bobby Charlton Snr did his shift in Ashington, Northumberland, as normal on the night Jack and Bobby helped the Three Lions beat Portugal. Bobby Snr, given time off to see a TV re-run of the match, did manage to get to the final.

60 Final was shown in 59 countries

To celebrate England’s glory, 12 million commemorative stamps were sold in England and Wales but not, to avoid causing offence, initially in Northern Ireland or Scotland.

The final was screened live in 29 countries, with another 30 buying the rights to show delayed coverage. Lancashire County Cricket Club took the unusual step of setting up TVs at Old Trafford for fans who wanted to break off from the Roses match against Yorkshire.

57 The England squad prepared by playing cricket England warmed up for their semi-final win over Portugal with a game of cricket. Geoff Hurst had almost quit football to become a cricketer four years earlier, missing West Ham’s tour of Africa to play for Essex seconds. The squad prepared for the final by heading down to the local putting green en masse.

58 WAGs left out of the party The England WAGs weren’t invited to FIFA’s lavish post-final banquet in Kensington – they had to make do with a party in another room at the Royal Garden Hotel. In a less politically correct age, the WAGs spent the night before the final watching The Black and White Minstrel Show at Westminster’s Victoria Palace Theatre.

Beckenbauer wasn’t the best Who is German football’s greatest ever sweeper? Sounds obvious: Franz Beckenbauer. However, in Germany, some argue that Willi Schulz (right) surpassed the Kaiser in this role. In 1966, West Germany manager Helmut Schoen didn’t trust Beckenbauer not to press forward and played him instead at right-half. It was Hamburg star Schulz who shone in a position that he had been given just before the tournament started.

64 Haller didn’t steal Hurst’s hat-trick ball Let’s nail the canard that Helmut Haller Hal e deliberately stole the ball with which Geoff ff Hurst scored his final hat-trick. In Germany, Ge the tradition that a player kept the ba f ball after scoring a hat-trick was unknown at the time.

65 Moore threw out the well-wishers With 30 minutes to go before the final kicked off, Bobby Moore expected to get ready in a quiet dressing room. Instead there were around 100 people in England’s changing space, mostly media and well-wishers. So when the normally laid-back Moore started losing his temper, the clear-out soon began.


62 Taxman missed out on final bonus

66 Linesman gave goal ‘for Stalingrad’

England’s players were paid £60 a game, with a £1,000 bonus for winning the trophy. Radox Bath Salts paid Bobby Moore £750 and Geoff Hurst £250. Justice Brightman ruled the Radox payments were not taxable because they were an “accolade rather than remuneration for services rendered”.

Tofiq Bahramov had no doubt the ball had crossed the line for England’s controversial third goal. When Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst ran to the touchline, the Azerbaijani linesman made it clear, primarily through gestures – Dienst did not speak Russian or Azerbaijani – that Geoff Hurst had scored. He never changed his mind. Legend has it that decades later Bahramov was asked why he had given the goal and replied: “Stalingrad”, referring to the Second World War siege of the city by German forces.

63 Final heroes were latecomers England’s goalscorers in the final, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, were both relative newcomers to the England setup: neither of them made their debuts until 1966. Hurst gained his first cap in February, while Peters did not feature until May.

‘66: The World Cup in Real Time, published by Pitch Publishing, is available in hardback and in Kindle/ebook formats August 2016 74






Words Alec Fenn Photography Leon Csernohlavek

Psychology, communication and coffee. Lots of coffee. What actually happens on a UEFA coaching course? FFT is invited back into the classroom as current and ex-pros are put through their paces


he sound of boisterous teenage boys and the barking voices of men grows louder as FourFourTwo approaches an 11-a-side pitch on a bitter June morning. Nearby, the occupants of two dugouts huddle together for warmth: laughing and exchanging stories like a pack of mischievous school kids. But this isn’t a random bunch of acne-ridden teens. Kevin Phillips and Luke Chadwick look out from one of the shelters, while Freddie Kanoute and Darren Powell are interested spectators in the other. It’s 9am on a Thursday and FFT is at the FA’s St George’s Park headquarters for the sixth day of a UEFA A Licence coaching course, finding out exactly what’s required to become one of the country’s next top managers. A total of 82 current and former players are here on an eight-day residential stay, but it’s

no busman’s holiday. This coaching boot camp will enable them to go and work at any academy on the planet, and manage at every level below the Premier League. On the pitch, Fabrice Muamba and former Burnley midfielder Wade Elliott are leading a possession-based training session. The pair are learning how a manager and coach work together to conduct a practice in tandem. They’ve been given a problem to solve. They are only allowed to play on a limited area of the pitch and will have fewer players at their disposal than they’d first thought. “It’s a simulation exercise based on what would happen at a club,” says course director Geoff Pike, who talks with the gusto of an East End cabbie. “When I was a youth coach at Leyton Orient, the first team would come over after 20 minutes and take away two of my August 2016 77


players. We teach them to have a Plan B. If they can solve the problem, their credibility is then enhanced in the eyes of the players.” At a cost of £6,055, the course isn’t cheap – although the PFA picks up 50 per cent of the tab for retired players and those still playing the game. There’s a further 20 per cent discount for FA Licensed Coaches’ Club members – a free membership service available to those taking their badges. There are no shortcuts, though. All of the participants must hold a UEFA B Licence before applying. Each application is then vetted by the course director, who assigns places to those with the best credentials. The intensity of the programme is relentless. Most of the days run from 9am to 7.30pm – the final session can often last until 9pm – and combine practical work on the pitch with theory sessions in the classroom. For some, it’s been an eye-opener. “I’ve never drunk so much coffee in my life,” jokes former Sunderland striker Phillips, as the players move inside for a mid-morning break. He joined Derby County as a first-team coach in September, having previously worked at Leicester – largely under Nigel Pearson, who has now followed him to the iPro Stadium.

“As a player you’re used to starting at 10 and finishing at 12,” Phillips adds. “As a coach it’s 8am and you don’t finish until four or five. It took a lot of getting used to, but I was lucky. Nigel gave me a lot of leeway, as he knew that I was going through a transition.” It’s a working day that Jay Blackie would happily swap. The Brighton and Hove Albion women’s captain combines her playing career with life as a high-school teacher. “I’m normally up at 6.30am, I work in school from eight to four, coach from six to eight and then train from eight to 10,” she says. “I get home at midnight and go straight to bed.” She was meant to be on a women-only course in February, but then had to defer because of her playing season. This week is her half-term break – the only time she can fit the course into her packed schedule. Blackie is the only woman taking part in the programme. Unlike her male peers, there is no financial help for those in the women’s game. “I’ve had to pay for the full lot,” she continues. “Luckily my dad has been able to help me out.” Opportunities are also slim. Only a handful of managers in the women’s game are full-time, yet all coaches are still required to pass their A Licence before moving into a top job. Blackie and the rest of the coaching tribe leave their coffee cups and go their separate ways. Some head for classrooms, others back outside for coaching practice. FFT opts for the warmer option.

“It’s been brilliant learning off people who have won titles and European Cups” Above Kevin Phillips, Fabrice Muamba and Freddie Kanoute compare notes

Former Manchester United youth team coach Paul McGuinness is delivering a two-hour talk in a room that’s been wallpapered with notes and A3 posters covered in tactical annotations. He shows pictures of Alex Ferguson playing games with academy players, and Danny Welbeck and Marcus Rashford laughing on summer trips abroad during their early teens. “It’s important that young players have fun,” he says. “Before training we’d put on a DVD of George Best, Maradona or Ronaldo doing some tricks and ask: ‘who wants to be Maradona?’ “We did a lot of work with Marcus Rashford. He always wanted to be the No.10 and drop deep, but we wanted him running in behind because of his pace. We taught him to receive


the ball side on and burst past defenders. However, we didn’t just tell him what to do. We taught him that it was fun to score goals and said that people would notice him a lot more if he scored more goals. We want coaches to have fun with players.” But how much fun can coaches have, when they have got mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay? “There’s pressure to earn a living,” says Morecambe’s manager, Jim Bentley. “I played most of my career at League Two level and I have to earn money to pay bills. You’re always looking over your shoulder.” After five years in charge of the Shrimps, he’s already the fifth longest-serving manager in English football. The average tenure is just 17 months. But having finished two places above the fourth tier’s relegation zone last season, he knows his future is far from certain. “Hopefully I’ll move my way up the divisions, but I may have to work in non-league at some point,” the 40-year-old concedes. “Tactically I need to get better and I want to be an adaptable coach who can work with young players as well as senior players, so this course has been brilliant for that – it’s been fascinating learning off people who have won European Cups and Premier League titles.” Lunch is a hot buffet served in a canteen, where groups of coaches then discuss the morning’s work. Much of the chitchat is about how to get instructions across to players. “The aim of the course is to get them to understand the ‘how’ bit of coaching,”


Right A sticky situation for the prospective coaches

9am PRACTICAL FILMED SESSION Fabrice Muamba and Wade Elliott (above) deliver practice on defending against a No.10. Limited number of players at coaches’ disposal and small area of pitch available.

says Pike. “How do you get your players to understand what you want them to do? All too often we see managers giving their players too much information.” Phillips weighs into the debate. “Working with Claudio Ranieri was an eye opener,” he says. “He’s got wonderful humour, he understood English banter. In meetings he would take stick and give it back. But the key was that his instructions were so clear. Players would come out of meetings and say to each other: ‘I know what I’m doing on Saturday’. I’ve been in a lot of dressing rooms where players have come out feeling confused.” Muamba remembers working with Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. “He’d always give the players the responsibility to find a solution, rather than just giving the answer,” he says. “It gave the players confidence and created trust between them and the manager.” FFT has clocked former Blackburn, Crystal Palace and Bolton striker Matt Jansen slipping out of a set of double doors. This afternoon he’ll lead a coaching session in which he must teach a defence which passes they can allow the opposition to make and which they must prevent. By the time we catch up with him, he’s stood in the middle of a vast indoor pitch wearing a headset like an aerobics instructor. He’s being filmed, while two tutors stationed on the touchline are monitoring his every move and listening to every instruction. Neil Bailey has been assigned as Jansen’s tutor. After the eight-day course, he’ll visit him

in his club environment for a minimum of a further 30 hours of one-to-one sessions. All coaches will undergo the same process. “It’s not an exam,” Bailey says. “In schools we teach kids to pass exams, but that’s not learning. We want to work with the coaches while they’re on the job – that’s how you learn. Once we think they’re competent in all areas of the trade, they’ll get their certificate.” Bailey says Jansen still has room for improvement. “We’re looking at how he’s organised the session, how he’s managed the session, and his observation and communication skills. Sometimes his positioning prevents him from seeing certain things, but we’ll work on that.” According to Pike, it’s a common mistake made by former players as they get used to seeing the game from a coach’s perspective. “I remember working with Dennis Wise on his B Licence,” he recalls. “He was stood in the centre circle doing a session, but he hadn’t said a word to any of the players. After 10 minutes, I tapped him on the shoulder and said: ‘Are you OK, Dennis?’ He said: ‘What the f*** is going on?’ He’d only ever watched the game from a player’s point of view.” Jansen immediately watches his session back on a large widescreen TV by the side of the pitch. He’s also given a code by a member of staff, which he can use to view the footage on a laptop or the TV in his bedroom. But can this blur of technology really help prepare him for the harsh reality of working in non-league football? It’s a world away from the 38-year-old’s day-to-day existence. He has spent the last 12 months in charge of Conference North side Chorley, after being promoted from assistant manager to replace ex-Blackburn team-mate Garry Flitcroft.

10.30am BREAK

12.30pm LUNCH


6.30pm DINNER

11am THEORY Talk from former Man United youth coach Paul McGuinness on creating a winning culture. Coaches gain understanding about how players learn in a fun environment.

1.30pm PRACTICAL FILMED SESSION Matt Jansen teaches a defence which passes they can allow and which they must prevent. Practice monitored by tutor and filmed for review.

3.30pm THEORY Seminar discussing how to use fitness work within training sessions. Coaches are given advice on using performance analysis to communicate with their players better.

7.15pm TUTOR PEER GROUPS Tutors watch the training sessions back alongside the coaches and then provide feedback. 7.30pm FINISH August 2016 79


“I fell into the job,” he says. “A course can’t prepare you for it. When you lose a game as a player, you’re a bit p***ed off. As a manager, it ruins your week. The highs and lows are more extreme – it’s like being bipolar.” The mind is an area in which Jansen has an edge over his coaching peers. Close to making England’s squad for the 2002 World Cup, his life was turned upside down that summer after he was struck by a taxi while riding a motorbike on holiday in Rome. He suffered a brain injury that nearly cost him his life. He made a full recovery, but was never quite the same player again. “My confidence was crushed,” Jansen remembers. “I went to see brain specialists and kept complaining to the doctor that I didn’t feel right, so they put me in touch with a psychiatrist. Blackburn were great with me. Graeme Souness was my manager and he was supportive.” Jansen believes his personal experiences will prove far more valuable in shaping his management style than any course. “The best managers deal with individuals. Sam Allardyce had sports psychologists to work with players. You could have a beer with Terry Venables. I can pass those lessons on to my players.” Back inside, they’re working on a psychology module, which aims to educate prospective coaches on the mental side of the game. A discussion has begun about how players are motivated and the impact a coach’s words can have on different personalities. The class are again encouraged to share stories as part of the learning process. Former Watford striker Gifton Noel-Williams recalls a tale about working with Tony Pulis at Stoke City. “Psychologically he was brilliant,” he says. “He’d whisper in my ear: ‘These centre-backs are beating people up, they’re going to beat you up’. Then he’d be telling Ade Akinbiyi: ‘I’ve heard that they’re saying you can’t run any more’. It stewed in our heads.” The group are also taught different ways to communicate. Head of performance analysis Laura Seth explains the importance of using video to illustrate points to an entire squad before a game, or to certain individuals on the training ground using a tablet. “At big clubs, coaches will have one, two or even three analysts, but lower down the pyramid some managers will be the analyst,” says Seth. “Using video and specific stats can help to accelerate the learning of players.”

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“In schools, we teach kids to pass exams. But that is not the best way to learn” With England, Seth and her team use an online platform called Replay Analysis. Player clips from training and games, opposition footage and match highlights are uploaded, which the national side can then access via a phone or laptop. Players and staff can then chat about them using a comments tool. The final talk of the day focuses on fitness. The session informs the coaches how to design sessions that will improve players’ player health while also avoiding injury. “If a manager prefers a pressing gam game, lik like [Jurgen] Klopp at Liverpool, the training needs d to focus on short, sharp sprints,” says th the FA’s performance expert Matt Portas. “It’s much m h more physically demanding than, for example, ex le, a counter-attacking style like Atletico M d id Madrid. The coaches must learn how to base th i their training around the system they use.” Noel-Williams is keen to know more. He came through Watford’s youth system – where he now works as a coach with the club’s community trust – before playing alongside Michael Owen for England’s Under-18 side. But he developed rheumatoid arthritis in multiple joints in his body after suffering a broken kneecap. In one bizarre twist, former Hornets chairman Elton John paid

Top Matt Jansen reviews (left) and delivers his session Above The coaches listen and learn Below Luke Chadwick: increased self-belief

for him to try a course of pills he’d come across in America in a bid to save his career. He was eventually forced to retire aged 30. “Some people look at my career and think I was one of those guys who didn’t work hard and wasted his talent,” he says. “A doctor told me to retire when I was 19 - he said I’d be crippled by 40 if I carried on. I laughed at him. “[Former Watford boss] Gianluca Vialli used to call me lazy and scared. He accused me of not wanting to play. I could run around for 90 minutes, but then I couldn’t train for a week. He thought I was pulling a fast one.” There’s homework to do at the end of a long day. To measure their understanding of the afternoon’s work, the coaches are required to put together a two-week training programme back at their clubs. Psychology, performance analysis and fitness techniques must be embedded within their coaching sessions. They must then deliver a presentation explaining their work to their tutors. As the coaches file out of the room, FFT wonders what will be next for the class of 2016 once they’ve passed the course. Not all of them harbour ambitions of one day gracing Premier League dugouts. Much like during his playing days, Freddie Kanoute is in no rush. He currently runs two academies – one in Abu Dhabi where he now lives, and another in his homeland of Mali. “I’m in no hurry to be a coach,” he muses. “This course was more to expand my personal knowledge. I wanted to know how to work better with my academy coaches. The biggest lesson has been getting all of my players to understand what I want them to do.” Luke Chadwick, who at 35 still has the look of a university student in his baggy Cambridge United tracksuit, was recently appointed the club’s foundation-phase lead coach. The role will see him monitor the development of the club’s young players up to the Under-12 group. “I want to work with young players,” he says. “I’m not a very confident person and I thought that would hold me back in coaching, but this experience has dragged me out of my comfort zone and given me a lot of belief in myself.” On Monday, Jay Blackie will start a new term at Blatchington Mill School and Sixth Form College, but sees her future in management. “ want to do it full full-time once I’ve finished “I l i playing. I don’t want to balance jobs, I want d it i properly. operly. The course has been a great to do i e – the biggest thing has been experience l i from f om other people’s stories.” learning N l Williams is the last to leave. Like his Noel-Williams h will be eligible to take his Pro Licence peers, he h ’s passed the course. Completing the once he’s ualification would make him eligible finall qualifi anage in the Premier League. But he to manage k ws there’s a long road ahead. knows “There aren’t many jobs available and here aren’t many black managers in there he game today, but people like Chris the H ghton and Chris Powell have shown Hughton h t if you’re good enough, you’ll get that hance. I want to manage at the very a chance. abroad, I’m willing top.. If I have to go abroad rules!” to do it. I want to break the rules! I ’t that what school’s all about? Isn’t

HOORAY FOR 4-4-2 * Football’s classic system was starting to become something of a tactical relic – now it’s enjoying a resurgence thanks to Atletico Madrid, Leicester City & Co. Why did it go out of fashion? And what’s brought it back? Words Louis Massarella

*(the formation, not the magazine, although hooray for us too)



o sooner had England crashed out of the 2010 World Cup than the obituaries were being written. “The tournament has proved conclusively that 4-4-2 is dead,” said pundit Robbie Savage. “You can expect to see lots of 4-2-3-1 in the Premier League and Championship this season.” And indeed he was right. This magazine’s namesake had become increasingly rare in English football, if not extinct. And when national team manager Roy Hodgson did flirt, briefly, with the formation in a friendly against the Republic of Ireland in May 2013, Gary Lineker used Twitter to bemoan “a step back to the dark ages of two lines of four”. The irony that both of those critics were former Leicester City stars won’t be lost on anyone. Playing what, on paper, was the most conventional of 4-4-2s, the Foxes swept to their maiden Premier League title last term, confounding critics, making a mockery of bookmakers and flummoxing opponents. And it wasn’t just Claudio Ranieri’s team. Atletico Madrid pushed Barcelona and Real Madrid all the way in La Liga and the Champions League respectively playing 4-4-2, while Bayer Leverkusen, Burnley, West Ham and Watford were among the other teams to achieve success with its deployment.

84 August 2016

Above N’Golo Kante often seems to be in two places at once Below Victor Maslov: the father of 4-4-2

So why the sudden resurgence of a system that had seemed to have fallen forever out of favour? How does it work in the modern game? And is it really even 4-4-2 anyway? FourFourTwo (who else?) has the answers. And we’re not biased, honest…


Like all formations, 4-4-2 wasn’t invented, it evolved. Positionally, it was a variation on the 4-2-4, which was perfected by Brazil in 1970. But whereas Mario Zagallo’s team was largely about individuals – with two of the greatest wingers of all-time and Pele in the No.10 shirt, Brazil probably could have won the World Cup playing any formation – the new 4-4-2 was about the collective. About using defence as a form of attack. And most of all, it was about one word: pressing. Pioneered by Victor Maslov at Dynamo Kiev in the late 1960s, 4-4-2 relied on increased fitness levels – helped by improved nutrition and more sophisticated training methods – to deny the opposing team space, with the wide forwards becoming midfielders and expected to defend as well as attack. No system can be all conquering without fluidity, though. It was this that enabled Arrigo Sacchi to take 4-4-2 to another level with his Milan side in the ’80s. As well as compressing

space by ensuring that the distance between his defensive and forward lines was never more than 25 metres, the Italian encouraged his players to interchange positions – if Franco Baresi stepped out from the back, one of the midfielders would drop in. If Marco van Basten pulled wide right, Roberto Donadoni would appear at centre forward. The result was European Cup wins in 1989 and 1990. Denied European football by the ban on English clubs following the Heysel Stadium disaster, Liverpool in the late ’80s did a more than passable impression of Sacchi’s Milan, with Ian Rush leading the pressing from the front. “It’s like the continentals,” said John Barnes at the time. “Alan Hansen can go past me, and I’ll take his position.” But English football became synonymous with a more rigid 4-4-2, akin to the one Barnes played in for England. “Here,” said the winger at Italia 90, “if Chris [Waddle] comes off the line, or I come off the line, and no one goes into that position, if the full-back doesn’t come, then the marker’s free. [With Liverpool] you’re not caught short anywhere.” Often playing with two wingers and two out-and-out strikers, British teams were, indeed, often “caught short”, particularly at international level or when they returned to club competition in Europe. The last World Cup


“You can make a formation look as simple or as complicated as you like. It won’t work if the players are unable to implement it” or European Championship to be won by a team playing 4-4-2 was in 1994, when Brazil beat Sacchi’s Italy. In raging heat and with less time to work with his players than at club level, the Italian’s fluid pressing game was always going to struggle. But, precipitated by changes in the offside laws, 4-4-2 was already going out of fashion by then anyway. A tactically flexible Terry Venables enjoyed some success with the formation at Euro 96, while Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United won the 1999 Champions League playing 4-4-2 – although the Scotsman always denied it. With Dwight Yorke and Paul Scholes able to interchange, Andy Cole often pulling left and sundry other nuances, you can see why. In fact, despite experimenting with a version of 4-2-3-1 prior to the tournament, only after their embarrassing exit at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa did England follow the rest of the world, and most of the Premier League,

Above Try telling this lot that 4-4-2 is dull and predictable Below “Pace and athleticism are key,” says Gary Rowett

and give in to the obsession with ‘not getting outnumbered in midfield’. We hate to admit it, but Robbie Savage had hit the nail on the head: 4-4-2, as we knew it, was dead.

4-4-2 IS DEAD. LONG LIVE 4-4-2

So why has 4-4-2 risen from the grave? Sean Dyche thinks he has the answer. “Five years back, everyone thought we should all play like Barcelona,” said the Burnley manager, whose team won the Championship title last season p ou’ve guessed it, 4-4-2. “If you take playing, you’ve B l a on at their own game, what do you Barcelona h k will happen? You ain’t going to win.” think Teams became obsessed with dominating p on, partly because, as the late Johan possession, ff putt it, with 4-4-2 “the numbers don’t Cruyff h up”. p”. Against systems that encouraged match ssing triangles, such as Cruyff’s 4-3-3 passing and the 21st century’s favourite, 4-2-3-1, players in a 4-4-2 could

end up like training cones when they did not have the ball. Watch England’s Euro 2000 opener back on YouTube. After going 2-0 in front against Portugal, Kevin Keegan’s team are painfully exposed, allowing Luis Figo & Co. to play between the lines. They lost 3-2. “Leicester did it a different way,” explains Paul Ince, who played in that game. “Marc Albrighton and Riyad Mahrez weren’t really wingers who went outside, they liked to come inside. A lot of teams then use their full-backs as wingers, like Tottenham, but Leicester’s sit back, as do their central midfielders.” Just as importantly, they do it without the ball. “Nine times out of 10, Leicester are happy to drop back, surrender possession and invite the opposition on,” says Birmingham City boss, Gary Rowett, one of the most astute tacticians currently in the Football League. “Atletico, particularly against the big two, are similar.” The stats bear this out. Understandably, given that they’ve been drilled by the Argentine for four more years, Diego Simeone’s team are even more compact than Leicester, conceding half the number of league goals last season (18). That the Rojiblancos averaged 49 per cent possession, alongside Leicester’s 45, reflects the top-heavy nature of La Liga compared to England’s top flight as much as anything. The formation’s resurgence has mainly been a case of ‘goodbye high press, hello deep one’, but other challenges remain. “I’d say 4-4-2 is the hardest system to be really good at, because the higher the level, the better teams are at exploiting the numerical advantage in midfield,” explains former Burton Albion manager Rowett, who laid much of the groundwork for the Brewers’ recent success. “Pace and athleticism are key because you have to cover an awful lot of ground for it not to be too open. I read a stat that in the last 10 years, the number of high-intensity sprints per game has increased on average by five per cent each season, allowing teams such as Leicester to be able to play 4-4-2 effectively.” In other words, if it seemed like N’Golo Kante was in two places at once at times last season, that’s probably because he pretty much was. The French midfielder topped both the tackle and interception counts in the Premier League. “More important than the system itself, though,” continues ex-Leicester defender Rowett, “is to have players who work hard.” If this sounds like a cliché, then consider the facts: Leicester topped the tackle and interception counts in the Premier League last term, as did Atletico in La Liga. Watford, another team who played 4-4-2, were fourth and second respectively. But even they were in awe of the Foxes’ remarkable work rate. “I am not surprised to find out that [Shinji] Okazaki is the most substituted player in the Premier League – he runs himself into the ground,” said Hornets captain Troy Deeney. That the Japanese forward only scored five league goals and provided no assists, yet was still considered key for Leicester, proves how important working your socks off can be. But you can’t win a title on hard graft and defensive organisation alone. And again, this is where the 4-4-2s of Leicester and Atletico August 2016 85




“You do not need to spend millions on the big names. 4-4-2 is all about team cohesion” differ from yesteryear. “Traditionally, a 4-4-2, particularly in this country, included wingers trying to get crosses into the box for strikers like me who were really good in the air, or a targetman up front and a No.10 playing in behind,” says Les Ferdinand, QPR’s director of football. “If you look at Jamie Vardy’s goals last season, he didn’t score many headers (two). Leicester relied heavily on his pace.” They were also clinical – scoring the third-highest number of goals from the eighth-highest number of attempts – good at set-pieces and fortunate with injuries. Or as Ince puts it: “If everyone knows their job and you have the right personnel, there’s no reason why 4-4-2 shouldn’t be able to compete as a formation, or even win the title.” In short, while other managers may have had bigger, shinier cogs than Claudio Ranieri, none of their machines were as well oiled as the Italian’s. Not even close. Case closed. If only FFT’s argument didn’t have one fatal flaw: Leicester weren’t playing 4-4-2 at all.


“Every system, to a certain degree, can look like another system, with or without the ball,” says Rowett. So while it’s true that as soon as they get the ball, the likes of Leicester (Vardy and Okazaki), Atletico (Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres or Yannick Carrasco), Burnley (Sam Vokes and Andre Gray) and, especially, Watford (Deeney and Odion Ighalo) have two men up front, without it, it’s another story. Then, one forward drops back onto the

opposition’s deepest central midfielder, effectively making it a 4-5-1 formation. In Leicester’s case, you could argue that they’re not really a 4-4-2 going forward either. Take a look at their players’ average positions in any given Premier League match on the FourFourTwo StatsZone app. Their full-backs rarely get forward, and with Kante and Danny Drinkwater only occasionally venturing upfield, the wingers tucked in and Okazaki dropping off, it looks suspiciously like a 4-2-3-1 to us. A similar argument could be made for almost any formation. A diamond can be flattened to a 4-4-2 without the ball; it’s not rocket science to turn an attacking 4-3-3 into a defensive 4-5-1, and so on. “It’s t’s about the team being a cohesive unit,” says Rowett. “When you write it all down on a piece of paper you can make a system look as simple or as complicated as you like. But it won’t work if the players can’t implement it.” A prime example was England’s 4-1 defea defeat to Germany at the 2010 World Cup, which prompted Alan Shearer to call Fabio Capello’ Capello’s men “a team in name only” and Savage to start penning his 4-4-2 obituary. In this instance, the former was nearer the mark. How else could you explain the success of Uruguay, who finished third at the same tournament playing variations of 4-4-2?


So what next for the flying Foxes and their keepin now-fabled formation? “The priority is keeping what they’ve got,” said BBC pundit Chris Sutton at the end of the season. But is that

Above Watford, with Ighalo and Deeney up front, have breathed new life into 4-4-2 Below Robbie Savage was right, annoyingly

strictly y true? Yes, the success of Atletico d d and d Leicester cester has been as much Madrid b h l yers who buy into their about having players i interpretation off 4-4-2 as the system itself. Yet, as Simeone almost proved, if you can get l l ave their egos at the door, new players to leave Leicester s unlikely achievement need not Leicester’s be a once-in-a-generation occurrence. Atleti won the Spanish title in 2013-14 playing a similar 4-4-2. Of the players that started the Champions League final in Lisbon the same season, only five remained for this year’s showpiece in Milan. “What Leicester will need to do is try to stay one step ahead. Teams are going to sit back a bit more and restrict space for counter-attacks,” says Rowett. “Teams rarely respected the way they played, and ended up playing into their hands,” Ferdinand adds about the Foxes’ title-winning campaign. It’s a mistake nobody is likely to make in 2016-17 – but will they go one step further? Can we honestly expect Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho to say: “D’ya know what, let’s play like Leicester”? Who better to ask than the man who consigned 4-4-2 to the history books six years ago? “I can’t see it,” Robbie Savage tells FFT. “When you’ve managed Barcelona and Bayern Munich, you don’t need to look at Leicester and think: ‘that’s the way to do it’. Guardiola’s philosophy is based on possession, Leicester were at their most dangerous when they didn’t have the ball. Few teams have got someone with the pace of Vardy. Mourinho, on the other hand, is a coach known more for a counter-attacking style. With Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and one or two others, he might have the option to do that.” “It’s not a revolution, but tactics move in cycles,” believes Rowett. “When I first started playing, nearly every team set up in a 4-4-2, but at both Derby and Leicester we played 3-5-2 and others started following suit. Next season it’ll be back to 4-4-2, and the season after it’ll probably be something else again.” Ferdinand agrees, saying: “I think a lot of managers still like that assurance of having an extra man in midfield. But the great thing about Leicester’s success and the return to 4-4-2 is that it proved you don’t need to spend illi d millions illions of pounds on the biggest millions and bout team cohesion cohesion, and if names. It’s about you’ve got that, anything is possible.” Savage adds: “Besides, it wouldn’t be h be b allll and end all if Leicester found the h l s in a relegation battle and themselves h d straight aight out of the Champions crashed L e next season. They’ve won the League i League ague title and nobody can Premier k that away from them.” take At last, something that e can all agree on. we Robbie Savage was talking at he launch of the Greene King the Season Ticket, which offers you 10 per cent off selected drinks at more than 700 different pubs. To find your nearest, visit August 2016 87


Gunter Netzer may not be a household name in the UK, but he remains German football’s answer to the ‘Fifth Beatle’. FFT discovers why the blond midfielder became such an icon Words Uli Hesse


n late January 1974, four days before Real Madrid took on Real Murcia, the phone rang in Gunter Netzer’s apartment in the Spanish capital. When the German midfielder picked up the receiver, he heard the voice of his friend Michael Pfleghar, a film director who had worked with Frank Sinatra in the 1960s and at one point dated Sinatra’s daughter, Tina. Netzer had been sidelined for two weeks with a muscle tear, so Pfleghar asked how his friend was doing. When Netzer told him he wouldn’t be taking up running exercises for another week, Pfleghar said: “Good”. Then he added: “Pack a few essentials, a toothbrush and a dinner suit. I’ll meet you in London tomorrow, then we’ll fly to Los Angeles. We are going to Tina’s wedding in Las Vegas!” Tina Sinatra was about to marry songwriter Wes Farrell at Caesars Palace, the legendary casino. It was a major event, not least because Frank would give an eagerly awaited concert on the evening before the wedding, his first Vegas appearance in five years. Netzer, playing along with the joke, replied that he didn’t own the proper attire for such an occasion. Without missing a beat, Pfleghar said: “Well, then just pack a toothbrush. We’ll find you some clothes tomorrow in London.” Netzer, realising his friend was deadly serious, protested. “How do you think that’s going to work?” he asked. “I can’t just leave without telling anyone. And I won’t be able to get out of the country.” Real Madrid’s rules were rigid. The players had to inform the club about any long journey. What’s more, Real had collected all passports – partly to avoid the scenario of any of their players forgetting his travel documents, and partly to render clandestine trips impossible.




“I’ve spoken to the people at the embassy,” Pfleghar said. “They have a passport substitute for you.” As Netzer would find out the next morning, they had more for him: a high-collar coat and a wide-brimmed hat. It was not the most elaborate of disguises, and as he was walking through Madrid airport, Netzer felt sure his cover would be blown at any moment. After all, he was a star player for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Seven months earlier, he had signed a contract that netted his hometown club Borussia Monchengladbach 800,000 Marks (the equivalent of £140,000 at the time) and made the 28-year-old German the highest-paid member of Real Madrid’s illustrious squad. “That’s more than half the team together is earning!” vice-president Raimundo Saporta cried when Netzer demanded a salary of 350,000 Marks per year. They eventually settled on 295,000. It was a spectacular transfer – not to mention a controversial one. The West German national coach Helmut Schon was unhappy that Netzer, a key member of the stylish team that had won the 1972 European Championship, was moving abroad just one year before a World Cup on home soil, and joining a club that might not release him for internationals. In June 1973, two days before the cup final between Gladbach and Cologne, the German magazine Kicker said there was a “secret Netzer plan”. Bayern Munich, the paper speculated, might sign him on loan from Real for one year, until the World Cup. It was a tantalising prospect. People were still talking about the day West Germany defeated England 3-1 at Wembley in April 1972. The game still looms large in German football lore, mainly because of the magical interplay between both Netzer and Franz Beckenbauer. When Netzer surged forward, sweeper Beckenbauer covered for him. When Beckenbauer decided to move upfield, Netzer dropped back and closed off the gaps. So would the two now be reunited in Munich? Alas, the “plan” never came to fruition. Schon wasn’t the only coach unhappy about Netzer’s transfer. Gladbach’s iconic manager Hennes Weisweiler went into a huff, too. He had spent the previous 10 years having spats with Netzer about next to everything, from the team’s tactics to the player’s lifestyle. The main reason for their clashes was that Netzer had an innate aversion to any fform off authority, while Weisweiler was a cont controll ffreakk who distrusted marquee players. A few years down the line, the coach would shock the whole of Barcelona by subbing Johan Cruyff. Now he decided to show another midfield maestro who was boss. Weisweiler benched Netzer, the team’s captain, fo for what was supposed to be his final gam game in Gladbach’s colours, the German Cup up final.l. h When Netzer learned of this snub, on the day of the match, he was so enraged that th he h went to his hotel room and packed his b bags, ready to walk out on the team. Herber Herbert Wimmer, the man who covered all the miles il in midfield that Netzer couldn’t be bothered both d with, later recalled how Jupp Heynckes and d

90 August 2016

“I’m willing to consider a tie, but nobody will get me to the hairdresser’s” Top Taking on the Soviet Union in the final of Euro 72 Above Netzer was rarely understated Below “I’m going to play over there now, gaffer. Got it? Good”

Berti Vogts argued with their captain for a long time, until he finally relented and travelled to the stadium with the squad. At half-time, it was 1-1. Weisweiler must have felt he had made his point, because during the interval he approached Netzer and told him: “You’re getting into the game now.” Netzer barely looked up. “Me?” he said. “No, no way.” It was not the time or the place for one final quarrel, so Weisweiler walked away wi h ther word. The two men most without another ibl for Gladbach’s transformation responsible f ll, unfashionable second-division from a small, i ne of the most exciting sides on team into one h continent i nt watched the second half in the ld f from either end of the bench, Dusseldorf i as much space between them as putting ibl under nder the circumstances. possible h the final whistle rang, it was still When uring the break before extra time, 1-1. During er strolled across the pitch while Netzer h crowd was chanting his name. the He noticed young Christian Kulik lying on the ground, looking exhausted. “Can you continue?” Netzer asked. I’ve got nothing left,” Kulik said. “I’ve etzer nodded his head and told his Netzer mate to come off. Kulik assumed team-mate

that Netzer was relaying an order from Weisweiler, so he didn’t ask any questions. Netzer walked back to the bench. Passing Weisweiler, he casually said: “Now I’m playing.” Then he took off his tracksuit top. When the Gladbach supporters saw this, they cheered their lungs out. This was more than just a cup final for them, it was also a derby between fierce local rivals, and finally Weisweiler had come to his senses and would bring on the player who was, according to the chant the fans now started up, “the best man in the world”. Nobody knew the truth. Nobody knew that Netzer was actually bringing himself on. It wasn’t until Weisweiler’s death in July 1983 that the full story of that June afternoon at the Rheinstadion finally came to light. Three minutes into extra time, Netzer moved through midfield, passed the ball to Rainer Bonhof and continued his run. Bonhof played the ball back into Netzer’s path – and the midfielder drilled it into the top corner with a first-time left-footed strike from 12 yards. It was the goal that won the cup for Gladbach, and also Netzer’s last goal on German soil. After the game, a reporter asked Netzer about Real Madrid. Netzer said he was looking forward to joining the Spanish giants. Then he added there was one worry. “A journalist told me that the rules are pretty strict in Spain,” he revealed. “He said I might have to cut my hair and wear a tie. But that’s out of the question. I’m willing to consider a tie, but nobody will get me to the hairdresser’s.” And indeed, as he was walking towards his gate at Madrid airport, where the plane to London was waiting, Netzer still sported the famous blond mane a generation of English football fans would forever associate with that 1972 game at Wembley. The image of the tall and dashing Netzer, wearing West Germany’s green away shirt, his long hair illuminated by the floodlights as he easily rode lumbering tackles, came to symbolise a defeat which, in the words of author David Downing, “knocked the incipient cockiness out of English football”. Netzer had worn his hair like this since the late 1960s, when he became the first German player whose locks went way below the collar. Back then, this was more than a fashion statement. A 1971 book about Netzer’s life was called Rebel on the Ball, because he always did things differently. He had listened to Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones when his team-mates were into the banal mainstream pop known in Germany as schlager music. At a time when a typical footballer married his school sweetheart, Netzer was dating a gorgeous, somewhat mysterious goldsmith who always dressed in black. While even German superstars like Beckenbauer still had something provincial about them, Netzer mingled with creative types, artists and filmmakers. Hurrying through Madrid’s airport in his disguise, trying not to attract any attention, Netzer wondered if he was really a rebel. He felt flattered by the term, but he also thought people were taking things too far. It was the age of the student protests and people liked


to draw parallels between politics and football. It was said that Bayern Munich’s possession game stood for the old, conservative men who were running the country, while Gladbach’s aggressive transition game represented the young and progressive opposition. Essayist Helmut Bottiger memorably wrote that Netzer’s trademark long passes, which often instigated Die Fohlen’s counter-attacks, “were breathing the spirit of utopia”. When asked a few years ago how he used to handle all of this brouhaha, Netzer replied: “Football lent itself to such things back then. Sometimes I was amused, because there was no deeper meaning to what we did. We were not political, we were athletes. I read the literary and arts sections because I was interested in what people said. But I didn’t take any of it very seriously.” But if he wasn’t a rebel – why did he do these things? Why was he secretly boarding a plane to London, breaking half a dozen club rules? He was hardly stupid. He knew exactly what would happen if he was spotted by a reporter or a fan, if the club found out that, instead of getting back into shape, he was crossing eight time zones to schmooze with Ol’ Blue Eyes. Real, already out of the title race not least because Netzer had got off to a slow start at his new club, would probably fire him on the spot. The best explanation he found for why he always did these things was that he

couldn’t resist anything that was out of the ordinary. As he later said in his autobiography, with considerable understatement, Netzer was always a little bit “restless”. Netzer arrived in London without being recognised. Pfleghar took him on a shopping spree so that he wouldn’t look out of place among the Rat Pack jet set, then the two friends travelled on to Los Angeles and, finally, on a small private plane to Las Vegas. While his team-mates were preparing for the game in Murcia, Netzer sat down to watch Frank Sinatra. He was sharing a table with celebrities like Sammy Davis Junior and Neil Diamond, who became very excited when he learned

Below Gunter mixes the drinks at Lovers’ Lane, watched by Germany team-mate Wolfgang Overath Bottom left Not many early-1970s footballers would be found at an art fair Bottom right Being ignored by Hennes Weisweiler... again

that Netzer was a football player. Diamond’s enthusiasm quickly cooled, though, when none other than Dean Martin explained that the game Netzer was talking about was soccer. Netzer wondered what the people back home would say if they could see him now. Apart from being called a rebel, people also said he was a playboy and compared him to George Best. In a way, this was silly. Netzer didn’t drink and he had only a fraction of the affairs the press attributed to him. But he could see where his reputation came from. He used to own a bar-cum-discotheque in sleepy Monchengladbach called Lovers’ Lane that attracted people from far away because barkeeper Picco made the best cocktails around. When Netzer opened the place in 1971, Weisweiler groaned: “This is the end”, imagining his star playmaker dancing and partying until the early hours. There was also his fascination with cars. Before he turned 20, Netzer had driven a Mercedes, a Porsche 911 and a Jaguar E-Type around his tranquil hometown. He sold the Jag to Beckenbauer when a yellow Ferrari Dino 246 GT caught his eye. It was this car which almost killed him in June 1970. Netzer survived the crash, but sustained injuries that made him miss the World Cup in Mexico. As Sinatra took to the stage, opening with Come Fly With Me, another World Cup was less than five months away. Netzer would hardly feature in that tournament either, partly because he wasn’t in the best physical shape after his injury-strewn first season in Madrid, and partly because Schon’s preferred playmaker was the less unpredictable Wolfgang Overath. This may explain why Netzer is an icon in Germany, where he’s remembered as the best player in the best team the country ever had (the 1972 side), while he never quite got the recognition he deserved abroad. His timing on football’s biggest stages was simply not the best. And sometimes he was just plain unlucky. Take the day of arguably his greatest game, October 20, 1971. Gladbach hosted Inter Milan in the European Cup. A classic Netzer pass set up Heynckes for the opener. Shortly before the break, Netzer whipped a 25-yard free-kick into the top corner to make it 4-1. Then, seven minutes into the second half, Gladbach’s No.10 dropped deep to lose his marker. He started a move near his own box, August 2016 91


then ran through midfield until he suddenly appeared in Inter’s penalty area. Heynckes crossed from the left and Netzer elegantly chipped the ball into the far corner with the outside of his right foot. The final result was a jaw-dropping 7-1 win for the German side. There was only one problem. It was all for nothing. In the first half, a Coca-Cola can thrown from the stands had hit Inter’s Roberto Boninsegna, who went down and was stretchered off. German fans remain convinced the Italian was feigning his injury. Five years ago, even the referee of the game, the late Jef Dorpmans from the Netherlands, told a German TV crew: “I’ve always believed he was faking it.” Still, Inter filed a protest, the game was replayed and ended as a 0-0 draw, a result that eliminated Borussia. Netzer’s haul of silverware at club level, though impressive, was also not quite what it could have been if he had played for a club like Bayern or gone abroad earlier. He was loyal to Gladbach (also because he knew he was the undisputed star there), although he felt Weisweiler’s high-tempo game was not suited to winning league titles. It was an eternal bone of contention between them. Netzer argued that you sometimes had to conserve energy and couldn’t always attack straight after winning the ball back, which led to one of Weisweiler’s great one-liners. Asked to relay the shortest definition of the offside rule, he said: “Offside is when the tall asshole passes the ball too late.” Netzer himself, though, was never one to rue missed opportunities. After winning a couple of league titles with Real Madrid, and spending one season with Grasshoppers in Switzerland, he wrapped up his playing days in 1977 – and immediately became as daring and inquisitive in his second life as he

92 August 2016

Left Big sad eyes, doleful expression... and a bassett hound Below “Me? Have my hair cut? Never!” Bottom Trying to go incognito can prove tricky when you’re in a green Ferrari

had been during his active career. Many were surprised when Hamburg made him general manager later that same year, but they were the same people who had always underestimated his business sense. Netzer hadn’t opened Lovers’ Lane because he was partial to a bit of nightlife, but because he wanted an investment and something to concentrate on away from football. He went on to build the Hamburg team that would beat Juventus in Athens to win the 1983 European Cup before restlessness stirred again and he lost interest in the administrative side of the game. He then made a fortune buying and selling football broadcasting rights and eventually ended up in front of the camera himself – between 1998 and 2010, Netzer was one of the most popular football pundits in Germany, admired not only for his wit, but his frankness and self-deprecating humour.

Who knows, he may have acquired the knack of being himself and at ease no matter the circumstances on that last weekend in January 1974, when he hung out with some of the world’s biggest celebrities in Las Vegas. On the day after the Sinatra show, Netzer met the father of the bride in person. At one point, Ol’ Blue Eyes looked at Netzer and Pfleghar and said: “Do you guys want to see Elvis? He’s performing at the Hilton today.” Within an hour, the two Germans sat together at a table right in front of the stage, a bottle of champagne between them, while Thus Spake Zarathustra came blaring out of the speakers and the King strolled onto the stage wearing a jumpsuit as white as Real Madrid’s shirts. Tuesday only six days after Pfleghar had On Tuesday, ll d hi he phone, a still jet-lagged called him on the N r was w back b k training in the Spanish Netzer i l. Midfielder lder Ignacio Zoco asked capital. hi if he had watched any television him h weekend. kend. Netzer shook his over the l oco, who was about to long mane. Zoco, i d to o popular singer Maria get married O i said: id “Sinatra’s “ inatra’s comeback show Ostiz, w on TV.” TV ” Netzer froze. was ““Maria i swears there was a guy iin the h audience dience who looked just lik you,” Zoco co added. “You must like h d pelganger, Gunter.” have a doppelg Decades would go by before Zoco heard the true story. But he should tru known: there was have known obody quite like Netzer. nobody

As Netzer said in his autobiography, with some understatement, he was always a little ‘restless’





Monumentally bad, that is. Bordeaux fans aren’t impressed with their strip becoming a tourism ad Bordeaux is one of France’s most beautiful cities – but would you be able to work that out from looking at the team’s new third kit? Fresh from a disappointing campaign, in which Les Girondins finished 11th in Ligue 1, the club attempted to celebrate the local area by plastering their new shirt with some of the city’s famous monuments, including the Place de la Bourse, the Porte d’Aquitaine and the

Esplanade des Quinconces. But sadly it has not had the desired effect, with the heavily-decorated, purple, pink and blue mishmash taking a trashing on social media since its launch. A poll in regional newspaper Sud Ouest revealed that three-quarters of voters had a negative reaction to the rather garish garment. “It’s horrible,” says Nicolas Pietrelli, who runs fansite “When we saw the colour and design it

was a real ‘wow’ moment, and not in a good way. It looks like a postcard. “If you know the city then you can identify the monuments. You have to wonder if it’s a partnership with the local tourist office. To be honest, it’s rare for fans to be opposed to a new kit as strongly as we are to this one. “2015-16 wasn’t great for us on the pitch. When the new kit came out we thought: OK, the bad news continues.”

There was a better response, however, when Bordeaux launched their 2016-17 home shirt a week later. Based on a design from the club’s successful 1980s period, it has gone down a storm with the supporters. “The new home kit is great. In fact it’s every bit as beautiful as the third kit is horrid,” Pietrelli says. Safe to say we know which of the two will be stuffed in the bargain bins of south-west France come Christmas.

Romania Ex-Universitatea Craiova owner Adrian Mititelu is in the money - the league and FA were ordered by a court to pay him €220m for incorrectly dissolving the club August 2016 95

Words James Eastham; Planet Football editor Chris Flanagan




“My favourite nickname? King Kong de Jong – that sounds nice”

Nigel de Jong has amassed many monikers after sending a wrecking ball through various opposition midfields during his career. Now he’s in the US and eyeing an international recall Why did you decide to leave Europe and join up with LA Galaxy at the beginning of the year? It was always in the back of my mind to come to the United States one day and play football, especially for a team like Galaxy. For me, it’s the biggest club in the country. It was always a dream to experience living in America. They made contact with my agent asking if I would be keen. I wasn’t playing a lot at Milan and I thought it was a great opportunity. Was the LA lifestyle a factor? Of course. Los Angeles is the type of city that suits me. I like America a lot. I’ve got a family with two children, so I have to think about their futures as well. I could see myself living here after my career is over. I’m a huge fan of American sports too, particularly the NBA and the NFL. Pittsburgh Steelers is my team. I follow that much more than European football to be honest. Did any of the Galaxy players get in touch and try to convince you to move over to California? Not directly, but I spent some time in Los Angeles three years ago for my rehabilitation after I tore my Achilles and I spoke to Robbie Keane then. He told me a lot of positive things, so I was already aware of the whole atmosphere within the club and the culture around soccer in the United States. That helped me to make my decision.

Some people have labelled this Galaxy squad as the most talented in the 20-year history of MLS. Has that created a lot of expectation? It’s normal. When you bring in some quality players like Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole, Giovani dos Santos, Robbie Keane (below), Jelle van Damme or myself, combining that with the rest of the team, you have to expect the pressure to be on. But I’m really grateful that I can play alongside someone like Stevie in midfield. What he’s done in the game over ove a span of almost 20 years is absolutely incredible. He really is a football legend, not only for Liverpool, but in general. Playing with him truly is an honour. Robbie Keane has gone to his second European Championship as a Galaxy player. At 31, do you still see a future for yourself with the Dutch at international level? Yes, I’ve not retired from playing for Holland. It’s a little bit more difficult once you are overseas – flights are longer and time zones are different, but it’s not impossible. For me it’s not a problem. I’m not retiring from the national team unless I can’t play any more or somebody tells me: ‘You’re not going to get selected’.

How hard was it to miss out on qualification for Euro 2016? It was very disappointing. With the standard of football that the Dutch national team has to offer, everyone always expects us to be qualifying for every major tournament. So it’s really bad, especially for the younger g tion of Dutch players who generation ld have got a lot of could v l able experience in valuable F ce at Euro 2016. France N Now we will have to hrough another go through lifying campaign qualifying d wait two more and rs to have a chance years off redemption. I hope we will qualify for the orld Cup, but it’s not World a given. It still hurts hat happened, but what i s football. I was also it’s art of a team that got part to the podium at two consecutive World Cups, and not many players get to do that. I’m very proud of that group and my generation in general. During your career you’ve been given a lot of nicknames, but which one is your favourite? There have been so many, like King Kong de Jong, the Terrier, the Pitbull, the Lawnmower and the Destroyer. My favourite? I like the Lawnmower a lot because it was given to me in England by Manchester City’s fans. And maybe King Kong de Jong, too, because that one just sounds nice!

There were rumours that you had an offer from Manchester United during Louis van Gaal’s time in charge of the club. Is that true? Rumours are rumours for a reason. If there was any interest, then it’s something that my agent had to deal with, not me personally, so I never heard anything about it. Is Manchester City still a special club for you, after playing more than 100 league games for them? Of course, Manchester is a second home for me. City will always have a place in my heart – especially as I was with them from the very start, when we hadn’t experienced the success the club have gone on to achieve. I was fortunate to be a part of the team that was growing up to championship level. I still have a lot of love for the supporters, too. I will always be blue for the rest of my life. Not everyone realises that Sergio Aguero’s dramatic injury-time goal that won Man City the Premier League title in 2011-12 started… [interrupting eagerly] With me! Yes, I helped to set it up. I gave the ball to Mario Balotelli and he then gave it to Aguero, who scored. It’s nice to be part of history and that moment was special, for sure. Winning a league championship in England in that fashion – you will never experience anything like that ever again. But it’s all about Galaxy for me now. I want to win and hold a trophy here.

NIGEL DE JONG IN NUMBERS Interview Martin Harasimowicz

The man Xabi Alonso probably still has nightmares about has, surprisingly, rarely seen red


Number of career red cards: one for Milan and two while with Hamburg


Months since the latest of his 81 Netherlands caps, in March 2015


Minutes gone when he made THAT tackle in the 2010 World Cup Final


Goal scored in 104 league appearances for Man City, vs West Ham in 2011

Colombia Suspended for poking a ball boy in the eye, Santa Fe manager Alexis Garcia was unrepentant. “I stuck out my hand and the boy came with his face,” he insisted

96 August 2016



THAT’S A NICKNAME Nigel de Jong isn’t the only player to have had a rather creative moniker bestowed upon him

BIG ASS One imagines Dragan Vujovic didn’t entirely appreciate the name given to him during his playing days with Buducnost, but it was a compliment. Honest. While the term ‘Guzo’ implies laziness, it was actually a tribute to the way Vujovic’s supreme skill and vision more than made up for a perceived reluctance to run around. A bit like the Montenegrin version of Matt Le Tissier.

DRAGON HEAD The good news for Romanian Rom Muntea winger Catalin Munteanu was that he had quite an amazing nickname. The ref r d bad news was that it referred to the fact that most people pe l massi thought he had a massive bonce. Still, it didn’t stop him h moving to Atletico Madrid. Madr d.

HAMSTER Nicknames don’t come much more intimidating than this. No one wanted to face the Hamster, otherwise known as former Russia, Spartak Moscow and Fenerbahce striker Vladimir Beschastnykh - so called not because he spent half the match running in a wheel by the side of the pitch, but because he had high cheekbones like the rodent. We can see it, now that it’s been pointed out.

Germany Following Hannover’s relegation, a local brothel offered disconsolate fans ‘15-minute quickies’ together with the slogan ‘After Going Down, Something Comes Up’ August 2016 97

Words Chris Flanagan

BEAR STRANGLER One imagines that the Hamster would squeak with fear and head for the hills with a month’s supply of sunflower seeds rather than risk being marked by the Bear Strangler, aka the former Fenerbahce and Galatasaray defender Servet Cetin. No bears have been strangled during the career of the 35-year-old, we should add. He just looks pretty fearsome.



Words Kieran Pender

Abkhazia win the world’s most bizarre tournament, and celebrate it by announcing a public holiday

Abkhazia 9 Chagos Islands 0, Somaliland 3 Szekely Land 10, Padania 6 Raetia 0. We knew UEFA were starting to let more teams into the Euros, but this is getting crazy. Well OK, this wasn’t the new expanded group stage of the European Championship, but the ConIFA World Football Cup, a tournament for unrecognised states and minorities that took place just as the Euros were preparing to kick off. The Dutch didn’t qualify for this one, either.

Twelve ‘nations’ were invited to take their place in Abkhazia, a separatist region of Georgia. The UN cautions against travel there, but that didn’t prevent a host of teams - from Northern Cyprus and Iraqi Kurdistan to the United Koreans of Japan, Panjab and Sapmi - turning up for a game of football or two. “We took a big gamble taking the World Football Cup over to Abkhazia,” ConIFA President Per-Anders Blind, a Swedish businessman, tells FFT.

“We faced political pressure in light of their controversial status. However, we enjoyed a fantastic tournament.” Twenty-eight matches were crammed into eight days, with players relishing the chance to go and represent their region. “We are inspiring all of Somaliland,” says defender Guiled Aden, representing the team from the breakaway state in Somalia. “This is the first time that Somaliland players have come together and united on an international stage.” Somaliland lost both of their group matches 5-0 before the 13-goal thriller against Szekely Land determined they’d finish the tournament in 10th place, leaking 22 goals in four games.

The Chagossians, who were evicted from their Indian Ocean archipelago by the British in the late 1960s, came 12th out of 12 after shipping 27 goals in their four matches – just behind Raetia, a province of the Roman Empire now part of modern day Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Italy. Panjab, who represent the Punjabi diaspora in England and are managed by former Oldham defender Reuben Hazell, were eventually beaten by Abkhazia in the final after a penalty shootout. The hosts’ victory sparked a pitch invasion from joyous supporters inside a packed-out Dinamo Stadium in Sukhumi. A public holiday

Panjab (in blue) go clos e in the final while, below , an Abkhazia fan drums up support

was quickly announced to help celebrate the triumph. “We want to play football,” says Ruslan Adjinjal, federation chairman of Abkhazia, who retired from Russian Premier League club FC Krasnodar last year. “This time it is the World Football Cup – next time the Euros or the World Cup.” Watch out Argentina, Abkhazia mean business.

[ Museum piece ]


Words Ben Clark

Museum Feyenoord and Sparta Rotterdam Weirdness rating Will the real dead seagull please stand up? Oh, they both are already, mainly because they’ve been stuffed and then glued to their respective plinths. Eddy Treijtel would like to be remembered for the 11 years he served Feyenoord, winning the UEFA Cup in 1974. Instead, he is recalled for a piece of accidental avian

assassination. The Dutch international was playing against Sparta in 1970 when his goal-kick struck the flier like a guided missile, bringing it crashing down to earth. And he got a surprise when a taxidermist turned up at his front door a few months later with the gull now very much stuffed. Not wanting a reminder of his inadvertent bird butchery,

he handed it over to Feyenoord, who put it in their museum. But their rivals claim that the bird was a Sparta fan, blocking Treijtel’s clearance, and that they have the real gull. They’ve even got experts to assert that the gull in Feyenoord’s musuem only visits Rotterdam during the spring and couldn’t have been the one hit in autumn. Maybe it was just pining for the fjords.

Feyenoord insist this is the genuine arti-gull

Argentina Top division club Tigre have announced plans for a new ‘Passion Ticket’ - a microchip that fans can have implanted in their arm to open turnstiles on matchdays

98 August 2016


“É! EASY TAXI!” DE!” A R O T A G ! “UH


“Let me educate you… u ”

How do you raise funds for a new training ground? By getting supporters to chant the names of the club’s sponsors, of course. What could go wrong… Taxi and Netshoes displayed on the big screen for everybody to join in. Predictably, they didn’t. “Everyone laughed,” fan Eder Sguerri tells FFT. “Nobody really understood what it was about.” The scheme was quickly mothballed, thwarting hopes of entering the campaign into the Cannes Film Festival and following in the footsteps of a bizarre 2013 movie about ‘the Corinthians epidemic’ – with lines like ‘we are a disease, a bunch of insane people without a cure’. Scary stuff. “We’ll sing what we want…”

The club’s head of marketing, Gustavo Herbetta, says: “The campaign was launched with the purpose of winning an award in the Cannes Festival again, and also finding an alternative way of earning money for the training ground. “If we had reached a level of voices, brands would have paid us an amount we discussed. Our supporters didn’t take part in it, but the extras did their bit and the club got paid for it. “The expectation we had was confirmed – no one can own the way that the fans support.” So for now, supporters will continue with their normal songs about the players - at least until Corinthians unveil their new forward line. Two guys who are called Netshoes and Easy Taxi, apparently.


Sassuolo ITALY

Why should I care? The Neroverdi (the Black and Greens) outperformed many more glamorous clubs – including Milan and Lazio – to finish sixth in Serie A during 2015-16 and qualify for Europe for the first time. They were in the fifth tier in 1998.

Impressive. Who’s Wh ’ their manager? Eusebio.

Eusebio? Surely not. That isn’t even possible? Well, not THAT Eusebio. This is Eusebio Di Francesco, a former Roma and Italy midfielder, who was appointed in 2012.

So presumably it’s been plain sailing ever since he arrived at the club? Well, not exactly. He guided the Neroverdi into Serie A just 12 months later but was sacked midway through their first season in the top flight – only to be reinstated as head coach five weeks later when results didn’t improve without him.

Where the hell is Sassuolo anyway?

Who he is…

r League side Shanghai A rangy midfielder with Chinese Supe ba Ba on their books – Dem have also who – hu hua Shen Greenland Korean Kim Kee-hee. South with where he forms a midfield axis

Who he should be…

vlogger with green hair who pranks A profoundly punchable YouTube channel. Net worth: £2.3 million. ANG” his flatmates on his “ME&MYW

It’s in the north of Italy, midway between Milan and Florence. The population is 40,000 – the same as Salisbury – although they’ve not played in Sassuolo since promotion to Serie B under Max Allegri in 2008. Their 4,000-capacity home wasn’t big enough and they now play at Reggiana’s Mapei Stadium.

So what should I say down the pub? Tell people that Sassuolo got their colours from English side Lancaster Rovers, who were unable to fulfil a fixture during a tour of Italy in 1921, so donated their kit as an apology.

Turkey Besiktas supporters offered to buy 25 million copies of Poland defender Kamil Glik’s autobiography in a bid to persuade him to join the club from Serie A side Torino August 2016 99

Name words Nick Moore; Corinthians words Marcus Alves

One afternoon, somewhere in Sao Paulo, Corinthians had a brainwave. Instead of fans wasting their breath singing about the players or the team, why not get them to chant about the sponsors instead? It was a cunning plan, and a deal was struck. The more fans sung about the sponsors, and the louder they chanted, the more money would be paid. Needing cash for a new academy training facility, the six-time Brazilian champions planned to raise around 35 million Reias (£7 million) through this novel scheme. Around 300 hired extras were brought in to lead the singing during a league match against Novorizontino at Corinthians’ 49,000 arena, with lyrics for chants about Gatorade, Easy

P L A N E T FO OT B A L L Get online to see this and other great goals from FFT’s archives

[ Great goals

retold ]


Words Felipe Rocha; Illustration German Aczel

005 ao, La Liga, 2 b il B c ti le th vs A

What could possibly be any better than playing for your boyhood club? Scoring your first goal for that club by dribbling from the halfway line and then launching a screamer into the corner from outside the area? Yes, that might just about do it. Jesus Navas did exactly that for Sevilla back in 2005, at the tender age of just 19. A mere reminder of the moment is enough to make him grin.

“Imagine one day playing for the club that you’ve always loved, the club that I used to watch on TV,” the Manchester City winger tells FourFourTwo. Navas had made his debut 17 months earlier, gradually becoming an important member of a Sevilla squad that also included Dani Alves and Sergio Ramos. But it was his strike at Athletic Bilbao’s old San Mames Stadium that established him as a new star.

“That was a very important day for me,” he says. “San Mames was a spectacular football stadium, Athletic’s supporters are noisy. Every footballer liked to play there. “I was just past the halfway line, I tried to cut inside but realised that wasn’t going to work. I turned back to the wing and ran past the first defender. “Then I saw it was difficult to go all the way on the right and decided to shift inside again.

All I wanted was a shooting opportunity. I escaped from two defenders and just hit it really hard with my left foot. It was a great strike. “There aren’t many with my left that I can remember, but that was a nice one.’’ Nice indeed, and Sevilla’s 3-1 win that day helped them to beat Athletic Bilbao in the race for the UEFA Cup spots, after a spell of eight seasons without European football.

Navas would help the Rojiblancos to win the UEFA Cup in each of the next two seasons - and five years later he played his part as Spain lifted the World Cup in 2010. But sometimes that first goal is the sweetest.

[ Derbies Deconstructed: Motagua vs Olimpia ]


Words Damon Townsend

Stand by for scraps, stunts and smouldering shirts in Honduras’s fiery El Clasico Capitalino Why all the fuss?

Reasons for aggro

Maddest moment

Cult figures

Motagua and Olimpia are Honduras’s two leading sides and their fierce rivalry dates all the way back to their first encounter in 1929. The Eagles and the Lions both use the Tegucigalpa national stadium and in a country that has the world’s highest murder rate, violence is never far away.

There’s been many a title tussle between the pair with Olimpia crowned champions 30 times to Motagua’s 13 – and tensions have often spilled over. Clashes between Olimpia’s hardcore La Ultra Fiel and Motagua’s Revolucionarios are common, with mass fighting seen in the stands during a 2014 derby.

Carlos Valladares’ decision to cross the divide in the 1940s and sign for neighbours Olimpia after leaving Motagua did not go down well. Angered by the perceived disloyalty of El Diablo (The Devil), some disgruntled Motagua fans responded by taking Valladares’ kit on to the pitch and setting fire to it.

With his side 2-0 up during a derby clash in the 1960s, Motagua’s Fermin Navarro decided to stop the ball and sit on it rather than fire it into an empty goal. “There were five minutes remaining and we had a bet to see who could pull off the most outrageous stunt,” he later explained about it.

Fans are frisked after a shooting in 2013

Iran Persepolis keeper Sosha Makani was hit with a six-month ban - with his decision to wear garish ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ trousers before a game cited as a reason

100 August 2016


KLOPP? PAH! HE’S GOT NOTHING ON THIS GUY Martin Schmidt has become only the third coach to lead Mainz into Europe, after a couple of chaps by the names of Klopp and Even Kl d Tuchel. T h l E n Jurgen seems rather dull in comparison

Mainz’s Pablo de Blasis and Christian Clemens celebrate anot her win

Football? Nah, it’s just not dangerous enough Born in a tiny village in the Swiss Alps, and a childhood friend of FIFA’s shiny-headed new supremo Gianni Infantino, Schmidt never played football professionally – not helped by the fact that he tore his knee ligaments on seven separate occasions. Three times it happened on the pitch, with FC Naters and FC Raron, but his love for extreme sports proved more perilous. Schmidt twice damaged his knee while skiing, and twice more while mountain biking, but that wasn’t even the worst of it. In yet another skiing race, he broke two vertebrae in his neck but carried on anyway, before collapsing on the finish line and being airlifted off to hospital, narrowly avoiding paralysis in the process. Crikey.

working as a mechanic – a role which later led to working in the German Touring Cars series. He also opened up a business supplying motor-racing tyres and repairing luxury Porsches, before branching into textiles. Well, why not? Until recently he ran a factory with his sisters, although they’re looking after it these days – presumably while Schmidt concentrates on trying to persuade his Mainz players that what they really need is a new carpet for their living room room. Knockdown prices prices, lads!

The naked teamtalk Schmidt moved into coaching immediately after hanging up his boots in 2001, spending two years as assistant coach at FC Raron in Switzerland’s sixth tier before becoming the club’s manager. His most memorable moment? A calendar to raise funds, which featured a picture of an entirely nude Schmidt issuing tactical instructions to his team. Something about one up front with two just behind supplying the ammunition, accounts . by all accounts...

Part-time mechanic, part-time mogul He took an unusual route to the top, combining playing at amateur level with membership of the local yodelling club and

“No, it’s your turn to pitch the tent”

Who should get the Mainz job? Er, me? The one-time mechanic later took charge of FC Thun’s youth team before forming a friendship with Mainz youth boss Thomas Tuchel as a result of a friendly between the two clubs. When Tuchel became manager of Mainz’s first team in 2009, he brought in Schmidt to lead the reserves. The Swiss guided Mainz II to promotion and then made an unlikely TV appearance in 2014 following Tuchel’s resignation. A local journalist hotfooted it into Mainz’s central square to ask supporters who they thought should step in to replace Tuchel – stopping Schmidt to ask for an opinion, not realising he was talking to one of the candidates for the job. Schmidt’s answer obviously wasn’t persuasive enough – Mainz appointed Dane Kasper Hjulmand instead.

Don’t forget the cowbells! Hjulmand didn’t last long – just nine months in fact – before

Pack your thermals, it’s -11 where we’re going… Schmidt’s first full season as Mainz boss started promisingly and when the winter break came around they were eighth in the table. How to prepare then for the crucial second half of the season? Warm-weather training in Dubai? La Manga? No, get your tents ready, lads, we’re going camping in the Alps. Oh, and wrap up warm, it’s -11C. Thankfully the squad responded positively to being sent off to a snowy wilderness 2,700 metres above sea level, and they improved to seal sixth spot in the second half of the Bundesliga campaign – enough to snare a place in the Europa League. Just pray you don’t end up in Iceland in the first round, boys, or the gaffer will have you paragliding into volcanoes or something.

Netherlands Eljero Elia celebrated Feyenoord’s KNVB Cup victory with a tattoo of the trophy. Just two problems: it said ‘Fenenoord’ and the date of the match was wrong August 2016 101

Words Michael Yokhin

Schmidt discusses his plans for the club’s next calendar fundraiser

h d was handed h d d the h job j b Schmidt in February 2015. To celebrate, his 82-year-old father travelled to the new coach’s first game in charge against Eintracht Frankfurt, to watch football in a stadium for the very first time. He was also joined by Schmidt’s six siblings and scores of friends, who cheered him on from the stands with the help of several traditional Swiss cowbells. Mainz won 3-1 and finished the campaign in 11th place in the Bundesliga.


MISERY IN er and Champions League football as Int ut ho wit r yea er oth an yet es fac Italy’s second city hard times? Europe’s greatest clubs fallen on of o tw ve ha y Wh ve. hie rac de un AC continue to since purchasing the club in 1986, no longer possesses the financial means to keep the Rossoneri relevant. Despite repeated claims that the club is close to being sold on, vice president Adriano Galliani has made countless errors on the occasions that funds have been made available. Fans watched as Galliani conducted bad deals from Luiz Adriano and Andrea Bertolacci to Alessandro Matri and Giampaolo Pazzini. That was compounded with managerial appointments such as Clarence Seedorf and Pippo Inzaghi, former players who had little experience of leading a team before being handed the reins. Cristian Brocchi became Milan’s fifth coach in two years when he replaced Sinisa Mihajlovic in April.

“They are ridiculing the name and the history of Milan. We can’t put up with this rubbish any more,” read a recent statement from the club’s leading ultra group, which ended with a plea to “get rid of Galliani or sell Milan!” “I feel great disappointment thinking about all the trophies the club have won in the last 30 years,” says former Milan striker Maurizio Ganz. “I’d put a veil over the last five years. “In the seasons when Milan made history, they didn’t need to search for players, to scout. They used to buy the best players without thinking about how much they were paying. Recently when they have had to go into the market with a set budget, everyone can see the difference.

We hope for more help from the investors. The future [of the club] depends on it.” Berlusconi’s preference has been to sell to fellow Italians, although interest from China emerged in the spring. Chinese investors agreed a takeover of city rivals Inter Milan last month, which

at least provided some hope for the Nerazzurri after an awful period on the field. The club have now failed to qualify for the Champions League for five successive seasons, with early promise in 2015-16 eventually fading as they slid to a fourth-placed finish, piling the pressure on coach Roberto Mancini. The former Lazio and Manchester City boss is Inter’s seventh coach since they won the Treble under Jose Mourinho in 2010.

Words Adam Digby; Additional reporting Emanuele Giulianelli

When Real Madrid defeated neighbours Atletico Madrid to win the Champions League final in May, few stadiums in Europe could have provided a more fitting backdrop than the San Siro in Milan. That final, though, was the first Champions League match at the venue for more than two years. There will be none in 2016-17 either, as the city’s two giants continue to flounder. Between them, AC Milan (seven) and Inter (three) have been crowned champions of Europe on 10 occasions, but right now an 11th triumph seems some way away. The Rossoneri finished the 2015-16 Serie A season down in seventh place, 34 points short of champions Juventus. They were even further behind in the two previous campaigns, when they could only manage 10th and eighth respectively. Owner Silvio Berlusconi, who had bankrolled a remarkable period of sustained success

Ecuador Pelileo thrashed Indi Native 44-1, with Ronny Medina netting 18, but the result won’t make the Guinness Book of Records as it ‘only’ took place in the third division

102 August 2016


MILAN A penalty king, the Slovenian saved six spot-kicks in a row at one point and is now only two stops shy of matching Gianluca Pagliuca’s Serie A record of 24. “I joined Inter Milan at a time when there was a changing of the guard, in terms of a new generation of players and the club’s ownership,” Handanovic tells FFT. “It’s a unique, special club. There has been a huge turnover in the playing staff and a new approach will take time. It’s only natural that you struggle at times with such a massive turnover of players. “It has been strange, but every team goes through unsuccessful periods in football. It’s happened to Manchester United, Liverpool and AC Milan. You can’t expect to see changes overnight, as it takes years to build a team that’s able to compete at the top. The club are working towards that.

“There’s always pressure when you want to compete for big prizes. A club like Inter has to compete year in, year out.” Whether Inter will be ready to compete for that big prize in 2016-17 remains to be seen. Securing a long-awaited return to the Champions League is one thing, overhauling dominant Juventus to win the Scudetto could be quite another. Italy’s last three European champions may have been Milanese, but it will require a sizeable power shift in Serie A before either of the city’s clubs see days like that again.

“Altogether now… the wheels on the bus…”

Ultras really are getting younger Second-tier success is child’s play for Spain’s four-year-old superfan Budding football fan Paula may only be four years old, but that hasn’t stopped her from leading the way with a megaphone at Alcorcon. When the Spanish Segunda Division outfit invited their fans to watch the team’s final training session before a key clash against rivals Leganes, the ultra group’s motivator-in-chief was a little bit younger than anyone expected. Armed with a megaphone, Paula belted out chants for the initially confused Alkor Hooligans to join in with. “We didn’t know who she was,” explained the journalist Aimara Garteizgoxeascoa Gil of the Alcorcon Sport website. “The hooligans had stayed behind to cheer the team on, and this girl just appeared with a megaphone. Everybody started going mental.” Such was her popularity that a #FansDePaula hashtag soon took hold on Twitter, and she was soon given the opportunity to head to the dressing room and cheer the players on personally (above) – still shouting through the

megaphone, even though they were just feet away. Things got even more bizarre after Alcorcon beat Leganes 2-0. “She took to the field once again and then started singing, it really was a rather funny day,” Gil adds, possibly wondering whether the whole thing had been some sort of weird dream. Alcorcon have no plans to

draft her in as a motivational coach at this stage – but having just missed out on the play-offs and a chance of promotion to La Liga for the first time in the club’s 45-year history, they could probably do worse than call upon Paula’s inspirational powers again next season. Just as long as she sticks to usual chants. These days the ultras are a bit shaky on the lyrics to Humpty Dumpty and Hickory Dickory Dock.

Czech Republic Top flight officials Marek Pilny and Jiri Jech were banned after appearing drunk during a game. The staggering Pilny fell over; Jech urinated behind the goal August 2016 103

Words Simon Harrison

Indonesian entrepreneur Erick Thohir helped to partly rebuild after the Nerazzurri’s nadir, a ninth-placed finish in 2012-13, modernising the club’s management structure and employing some sharp business minds off the field, but on it the team remains unsuccessful and incoherent. “Milan couldn’t spend but Inter have spent a lot and very badly,” says Ganz, who played for both San Siro sides. Geoffrey Kondogbia - bought for €31 million - and Stevan Jovetic have struggled to find their best form, while Xherdan Shaqiri departed Italy almost as quickly as he arrived. One player who has been far more successful has been 2012 signing from Udinese, Samir Handanovic, a steady presence in the Inter goal whose form earned links to Barcelona and Manchester United before he inked a new three-year deal in January – although that has not prevented more rumours of a move to the French champions, PSG.




TRUST YOUR GUT It’s ’ the eternal dilemma: i protein p i shake or a pint? So do you listen to your head or your heart? Neither. There’s another voice you should be lending an ear to...

But why should you be listening to the muffin top hanging over your skin-tight shorts? Surely you can’t be depending on the bulge’s judgement – that’s the thing that the coach will be prodding with disappointment when you return for the first day of pre-season. “Your gut holds a lifetime of learned experiences which enable you to make quick decisions when all the relevant information isn’t available to the conscious mind,” says Melody Wilding, an adjunct professor of human behaviour at Hunter College in New York. Now put down that burger, leave the beers in the fridge and lace up your boots, ready for a run. Why? Because your gut told you to.

Words Alec Fenn; Performance editor Ben Welch

With the sun blazing and the smell of a sizzling barbecue wafting through the air, running laps around the local park isn’t too high on your to-do list. Cue internal slanging match. Do it. No. Get up and go. No. Move it you lazy so-and-so. No. Argh! Which voice should you listen to? The one in your stomach, of course. “Your gut has its own nervous system, just like the brain,” says UCLA professor of physiology, psychiatry and biobehavioural sciences, Emeran Mayer. “Ninety per cent of the messages between the brain and the gut are sent from the gut to the brain, so a large part of our emotions are actually controlled by the gut.”

THE FOURFOURTWO PERFORMANCE PANEL Meet the experts available to answer your questions about every aspect of the game MASTERCLASS

Hector Bellerin Arsenal’s lightning quick full-back

The Spaniard on how to become the ultimate modern-day defender by adding extra pace to your game.


Gavin Allinson Top sports nutritionist

Consume the correct meals for your body type and hit your fitness targets with a little help from our food expert.


Arda Turan Barcelona and Turkey’s dynamic midfielder

The Catalans’ pass master reveals the secrets to finding time and space to create chances for your team-mates.


Chris Edmundson Elite strength and conditioning coach

Our fitness guru helps you ease back into pre-season and avoid injuries with his fun, but challenging circuit.


WE WAS ROBBED The emotions felt by fans during games have been likened to those of someone being robbed – with similar stress-hormone release and heart palpitations – triggering sleep disturbance, indigestion and an increase in levels of the potentially dangerous cortisol in the blood.

NO PAIN, MUCH GAIN A study of players feigning injury in 183 elite-level games learned that teams with the most to gain from stopping a match ‘suffered’ more minor injuries in the final 15 minutes than teams chasing the game.


Yoga moves such as the downward dog could help stop football players from picking up crippling knee injuries. UK specialist surgeon Simon Moyes has called for more footballers to get involved with yoga in a bid to maintain flexibility and prevent career-ending knee knack.


Salt may be bad for you in the eyes of health gurus, but nutritionists are advising footballers to make sure that they’re not missing out. Some experts suggest that adding a little extra salt to food and drinks - and using the higher-sodium version of sports drinks - may reduce cramping.

SING WHEN YOU’RE CHILLING If your team is tearing your nerves to shreds, joining in with the chanting could calm you down. Researchers have found the ‘choir-like’ singing of songs ‘imposes a regular breathing pattern on participants’.


WE’VE LEARNED THIS MONTH DON’T JUMP! How you sprint and jump isn’t key to becoming a pro player, according to an 18-year study in Spain. Research from 235 reserve players found that only centre-backs who scored high in the tests were most likely to graduate to the first team.


A report has concluded that a better intake of fluid and fuel during a game may not only ensure that players run further and faster in the second half of a match - but also help to maintain skills and judgement when players would otherwise become fatigued.


Bearded footballers may be more intimidating to clean-shaven opponents, according to evolutionary researchers. Experts have claimed that male ‘primates’ develop loud ‘badges’ such as beards to enhance sexual attractiveness to females and give them an edge over other males.

PITCH PERFECT A study involving 80 football players over the course of 83 hours of matches and training sessions, in which injuries were recorded according to playing surface, found that artificial turf pitches do not appear to contribute to injury incidence.

YOU’RE NOT FIT TO REFEREE Fitter referees aren’t necessarily better ones. Following a study of all 78 referees and assistants officiating games in the Iranian Premier League over a full season, researchers found no correlation between their fitness, BMI and body-fat levels and their FIFA assessment scores.

Studies and authors: Ohio State University Medical Center, USA (‘We was robbed’); The Wellington Hospital / (‘Dog days are yoga’); University of Gothenburg, Sweden (‘Sing when you’re chilling’); Evolution and Human Behavior (‘Fear the fuzz’); Department of Psychology, National University of Singapore (‘No pain, much gain’); University of the Basque Country, Spain (‘Don’t jump!’); Loughborough University (‘Salt it out’); Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Unit, University of Palermo, Italy (‘Pitch perfect’); Sports Medicine Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran (‘You’re not fit to referee’); Loughborough University (‘Hit the bottle’)


[ You ask, we answer ]

Stamp your authority Keep getting shut down by the opposition? Barcelona’s schemer tells you how to find space “I love getting on the ball, but I struggle to find enough time and room to play my game. Can you help?” Tim Wilson, via Twitter

Arda Turan

Interview Recep Ozerin

Barcelona midfielder & Turkey captain “Start by dividing the field into three areas. Keep it simple in the first two by controlling the ball and making quick passes – then play with freedom in the final third. This is where you create chances and score goals. If you think you’re going to lose possession, try and put yourself between the defender and the ball. You might force them into making a foul, buying your team some time. If you’re struggling to get into the game, drop deeper to receive the ball off full-backs and centre-backs. There will be more room and less chance of you giving the ball away. Most importantly, look for space between midfield and attack. You won’t be a top player if you can’t do this. At Barcelona, Lionel Messi and Neymar mostly use this space, but Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and myself always look for openings. When the opposition man-mark you it can be more difficult to do this. In this situation I roam around the pitch to lose my marker. If he follows me, then the opposition’s defensive structure will be broken.”

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Shield the ball to keep your team in control, says Arda

“Next season I’m going to be making the switch from winger to full-back. How do I go about adapting to the new position?” Ryan Briggs, via Twitter


Interview Felipe Rocha

Chelsea’s versatile Brazilian starlet “Sometimes you think you play better as a striker, but then a manager discovers you have the potential to be an effective playmaker or defensive-minded midfielder. They might be right, so you have to listen to them.

If you want to be a complete footballer, you need to have an open mind about playing in more than one position. Then you need the flexibility and intelligence to make the switch during a game. It’s important you start watching defenders and their positioning – then you need to do some extra defensive training and tactical work to get a feel for the role.

Preparation is really important, too. It’s always useful to get as much information on board as you can, and that goes for any position. My natural position is as a striker, so I like to know who is going to be marking me beforehand. Will I be facing a strong or fast defender? As a defender I think it’s even more important to do my research, so that I’m prepared before I play in a position that I’m not used to. Doing your homework will help to ensure you make the right decisions on the pitch. These small details can be decisive during a game.”

Left-back Kenedy used his attacking instincts to net against Norwich August 2016 107


[ Masterclass M e cl ]

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O Y C A E D B N R E K D C MOULL-BA F th streng ed l a t n ne me icism, umen – you eed t e l h t A c c tical a ant to suc l’s c a t d w a u an Arsen t if yo the lo flank, says aniard on the neering Sp bucca



Be versatile

Attackers can make the best defenders

“At Barcelona I was a winger, but when I joined Arsenal they moved me to right-back. I thought that I would be better in an attacking role, but Steve Bould and Bacary Sagna helped me to adapt to the new position, which was key. Talking to two top-class defenders who really know the role offered fantastic insight. I also used my experience as an attacker to help make the switch – I know the positions on the pitch that wingers prefer to take up and what areas they want to play in.”

Interview Andrew Murray


Don’t skip leg day Build bigger, stronger pins

“I’m naturally very quick, but I do lots of extra gym work with the coaches at Arsenal to help improve my speed. Squats, single-leg squats and split squats have improved the strength of my legs over time. I also work on my running technique, and the way my knees and hips move. It’s the same type of training that Olympic sprinters do, but you can apply it to football just as easily. If you do the same thing then you can get quicker, even if you’re not a naturally fast player.”

Interview Alec Fenn


CRAIG CRA G PICK G PICKERING Add some extra power and pace to your game with this advice from the former Team GB 100m, 200m and relay sprinter


Pick your moments Time your attack to perfection

“As a right-back the most important part of your job is knowing when it’s best to attack and when it’s safer to hold your position and defend. You often see players get caught high up the pitch, which then leaves them vulnerable to the counter-attack. If you sprint down the wing and your team loses possession in midfield, the opposing winger will have plenty of space to attack into. You need to make sure you are alert at all times to avoid leaving yourself exposed defensively.”


Try different sports Be open to alternative techniques

“I only competed in track and field once when I was at school because it wasn’t very popular back home in Spain. However, I did play a lot of basketball, in addition to football, which has helped to make me a much better footballer as they’re similar sports. Taking part in a number of different sports can really improve your co-ordination and ability to move in different directions. This is important if you want to have a long career in football, or any other sport.”

“If you want to run faster you need to tweak your technique. Footballers often let their foot hang loose when they sprint, whereas sprinters keep it tense, producing more force when they hit the floor. This change can make a big difference.


Use the overlap Get beyond your winger

“The movement of the right winger on your team is really important if you want to be an attacking threat from right-back. It’s up to him to work alongside you to create space down the flanks. Overlapping the winger on the outside is the most effective way of opening up the defence from a wide area, because if you decide to run infield instead, there’s less space and a lot more players crowded into a small area. This increases the chances of you losing possession.”


Train the brain

Gain a psychological advantage

“I had a youth coach at Barcelona called Victor Sanchez who taught me about the importance of the mental side of the game. He told me stories about life and advised the squad which books we should read. We won the Nike Premier Cup at under-15 level and it was then that I realised how much having a positive mindset and clear goals can help you achieve success. If you educate yourself and then apply that intelligence on the pitch, it can lead to improved performances.”

Improving leg strength is crucial, so focus on the back and front squat. Start off with three sets of 8-10 repetitions to build up your general strength, and then tailor sets and reps to suit your position. For example, if you’re a winger and your game is based on power and making lots of sprints, or you’re a defender who needs to

jump explosively, you would suit a higher load and lower reps - so try five sets of five reps instead. A player whose game is based more on endurance would be better off doing three sets of 15 reps with moderate weight. As your strength improves, try some single-leg exercises such as Bulgarian split squats or step-ups.” August 2016 109


[ Fitness ]

TRANSFORM YOUR GAME Sculpting a pitch-ready body for next season? Whatever your shape, we’ve got you covered


Bulk up “Consume 500 calories more per day,” says sports nutritionist Gavin Allinson. “Try a protein and carb shake, followed by chicken and rice with peanut sauce.”

Words Alec Fenn

Advice GET ON THE SCALES “Weigh yourself once a week on the exact same scales,” advises Ricky Hatton’s former nutritionist Kerry Kayes. “The gains will be much more noticeable and help to boost morale.”


GET FITTED “Buy yourself a slim-fit suit and use different colours,” says fashion and lifestyle stylist Jerry Khan. “Charcoal and a lighter shirt will work well.”

110 August 2016

Lose the spare tyre “Try two minutes running at 75 per cent of top speed,” says Halabi. “Rest for two minutes, repeat five times. By doing high intensity interval training, you’ll be burning calories long after you finish.”

Get lean “Cut back on carbs like rice, potatoes or pasta,” explains Allinson. “A spinach and mushroom omelette, or salmon and stir fried veg, are good options.”

Advice BE REALISTIC “Don’t set any big weight-loss goals which seem so far out of reach,” says Kayes. “Set small, achievable weekly targets of one or two pounds to help you stay motivated.”


DRESS TO YOUR STRENGTHS “If you’re not tall, avoid wide trousers or slim-fit clothing,” Khan says. “A single-breasted jacket will flatter your shape.”

Do you bend over to tie your shoelaces and sprout a six-pack? Halabi says: “Some people are blessed with muscle mass and low body fat. They process food well and respond quickly to weight training.” THE WORKOUT


Gain muscle “Compound lifts like squats, deadlifts and clean and jerks use multiple muscle groups and stimulate an increase in testosterone,” explains Halabi. “This will help build muscle.”

It’s OK, we understand. You’re just ‘big boned’. “Endomorphs have a slow metabolism and therefore a tendency to store body fat,” says Halabi. “They can put on weight very easily.”




Spend hours in the gym but can’t put on weight? Chances are you’re an ectomorph. “You’ve a fast metabolism, which means you burn more calories at rest,” says conditioning coach Karl Halabi.




Maximise your gains Halabi says: “Kettlebell exercises and Olympic lifts [the snatch, and the clean and jerk] will maximise a gifted athlete’s potential by improving power, strength and speed.”

Boost recovery “Training burdens the immune system,” says Allinson. “Eat lots of fruit and veg. Red cabbage, beetroot, carrots and squash will all aid your recovery.”

Advice CHALLENGE YOURSELF “Organise a holiday or photo shoot and give yourself 12 weeks to get in perfect shape,” recommends Kayes. “That way you’ll stay focused and won’t take your body for granted.”


FLAUNT IT “You can get away with pretty much anything,” adds Khan. “Try a skinny or tailored fit suit to emphasise your fine physique.”


3 [ Health ]


Nobody wants to spend pre-season panting like a dog. These simple breathing techniques will help you take control of your tiring lungs


Bend over


Breathe through your nose


Put your lungs to work

It’s time to enroll at a very different kind of gym – one without barbells and beefcakes. Professor Alison McConnell is the creator of Breathe Strong Training – a programme designed to improve the strength of your respiratory system. She uses a range of breathing trainers – the equivalent of dumbbells for your diaphragm – to add resistance to your breathing, just like when you are doing bicep curls in the gym. Inhaling air through the training device as fast as possible and exhaling over three to four seconds can help boost your on-pitch performance. “You need to train twice a day – 30 breaths each session – to stress your respiratory system enough for it to grow,” says McConnell. “In one study study, five minutes of training per day for four weeks improved the displays of cyclists in time trials by five per cent.”

head and another group who were bent over with their hands on their knees. The results were conclusive. It turns out that bending down while gasping for air brings down heart rate 22 beats per minute faster than staying upright. And guess what? One of sport’s biggest icons – basketball legend Michael Jordan – spent his entire career doing exactly that. Add it to your game and you too could breathe like a baller.

If you want to be good at anything, you’ve got to master the technique. Free-kicks, penalties – it doesn’t matter. Success is dependent on the efficiency of the execution. Breathing is no different. So get your tekkers right and you’ll be motoring past opponents when the pressure’s on. Inhaling through your nose has a host of benefits. “Breathing through your nasal passage can increase CO2 saturation in the blood and slow down your breathing – both create a calming effect,” says Dr Roy Sugarman, director of applied neuroscience for EXOS. Don’t even think about gasping for air like a fish out of water, either. Orthodontist Dr Yosh Jefferson explains that this “irritates the tonsils which can then cause a blockage in your airways”. That’s the last thing you need when you’re a wheezing mess, willing the ref to blow his whistle and end the agony. August 2016 111

Words Alec Fenn

Have you ever laughed at the fat guy bent double trying to catch his breath five minutes into a 90-minute game? Prepare to wipe that smug grin off your face, because the joke’s on you. Why? Well, scientists at Western Washington University decided to find out the most effective way of reducing heart rate in between bouts of exercise. The boffins tested participants stood upright with their hands behind their


[ Fitness ]

The gym-free off-season workout

Pistol squats

SETS 5-8 REPS 5-8


“Stand on one leg and put your arms and other leg out in front of you,” advises Chris Edmundson, former Blackpool conditioning coach. “Lower yourself until your standing leg is at 90 degrees, then return to the start position.”

Ditch the bench presses and the barbells. Ease your way back into shape in five easy-to-follow steps

Single leg Romanian deadlifts

SETS 5-8 REPS 5-8


“Stand on one leg and bend forwards while bracing your core until your head and non-standing leg are in a straight line,” says Edmundson. “That leg must be straight to really work your hamstrings.”

Nordic hamstring curls

SETS 5-8 REPS 5-8


“Ask a friend to hold your ankles and gradually lower yourself towards the floor, contracting your hamstrings and core,” says Edmundson. “Place your hands on the floor to avoid hitting your face, then return to the start position.”

START EARLY, SERVE UP ACE 2016-17 Make sure you are ready to hit your peak when the campaign kicks off with FFT’s summer training tips


“Both physically and mentally it’s good to have 10-14 days of complete rest,” says FA fitness expert Matt Portas. “Try some light tennis if you get the itch to get active.”




“This exercise will challenge your core,” Edmundson says. “Get on all fours, raise your knees off the ground and then stand on your tiptoes, keeping your back straight. Crawl forward for two minutes per set, maintaining this position.”

112 August 2016

Box jumps



“Stand about two feet in front of a sturdy box or stool no higher than knee height and jump as high as you can, landing on the box with both feet – then step carefully off the box and repeat,” explains Edmundson. “Swing your arms upwards as you jump as doing that will allow you to gain more elevation.”


“Step up your training with explosive work. Small-sided games – 2v2 and 3v3 in small spaces will really help to test your engine.”


“Organise a friendly match among your squad, or play against lesser opposition and slowly increase the quality as you work your way back up towards full fitness.”

Words Alec Fenn; Illustrations Jason Pickersgill

Bear crawl

“Ease back into it with some simple ball drills. Work on a large pitch to slowly build up a base level of endurance.”


[ Recovery ]


You won’t catch FourFourTwo sunbathing in between double sessions this summer. Oh no. We stripped down to our underpants and braved a Whole Body Cryotherapy chamber to help sooth some of our aching limbs. Brrrr! What is it?

Why are they using it?

A recovery method used by professional footballers to accelerate rehabilitation from injuries and ease muscle soreness.

The cold causes your body to go into shock mode. Blood vessels narrow to reduce circulation and protect internal organs. When you step out, blood rich in anti-inflammatory substances floods the body, breaking down lactic acid.

Athletes stand in a chamber exposing their bodies to extreme temperatures as low as -85C, wearing little else but their underpants for up to six minutes. Fun.

Who uses it? Champions League winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery, plus Zlatan Ibrahimovic, have all been willing to feel the chill in the name of fitness.

“SO.S. please someone help me”

How much does it cost? CR7 splashed out £36,000 on his, but you can save yourself a few quid by spending £50 on a single session at the BMI Hendon Hospital.

Does it really work? Always at your service, FourFourTwo decided to pop along and find out… Wooly hat? Check. Surgical mask? Check. Gloves? Yep. Socks? Got it. Navy blue crocs?! Looking like Mr Muscle’s anaemic cousin, FFT stepped towards a swirling, whirring blur of biting cold. Minus 85 degrees can’t be that bad. Sure, it’s colder than Antarctica, but this was important research. At least we had Rihanna for company. No, she wasn’t taking part in a twin session. Cryotherapy users are able to plug their headphones into a dock and play music inside the chamber. We can confirm that Caribbean vocals do very little to thaw out frozen chest hair.

“It might feel a bit nippy”

The first minute was a frantic battle for breath. What’s wrong with hot yoga? The photographer smirked on the other side of the glass in the nice warm room. A bit of macho posturing helped pass the time... for another 60 seconds. The finish line slowly neared. Was hypothermia imminent? And would frostbite be claiming a few toes? The cold does wonders for the imagination. At last, a knock at the door signalled the end of this three-minute torture.

Triumphantly, we emerged - mission completed and feeling invigorated as the blood rushed back through the old capillaries. For 48 hours, FFT felt refreshed, revitalised and ready to get stuck into back-to-back games. VERDICT: Cryo is the real deal.

RECOVERY RATING August 2016 113

Words Alec Fenn

How does it work?

“When you said we were going to an ice bar...”




THE ESSENTIALS Transferred to a new club this summer? Warm up your vocal chords and practise your chat-up lines as we prepare you for the very worst of welcomes from your team-mates

2 4

1 3

Words Alec Fenn; Illustration Bill McConkey

1. Belt out a winning solo performance NOTABLE VICTIM Andriy Shevchenko was made to sing in front of his Chelsea team-mates on the Blues’ tour of the USA. They pelted him with bread rolls. SURVIVAL TIP “Remember, nerves are only adrenaline,” says public-speaking expert Simon Bucknall. “Put your chin down and take two deep breaths from your stomach before you start.”

2. Watch your clothes go up in flames

3. Whisper sweet nothings to a mop

NOTABLE VICTIM Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang tested the humour of John Hartson by torching his brand new suit, before soaking the charred remains in a puddle and letting down his car tyres.

NOTABLE VICTIM Nicky Butt was forced to chat up a mop in front of Man United’s first team while David Beckham had to, er, get up close and personal with a photo of Clayton Blackmore.

SURVIVAL TIP “If you’ve got a bad temper, walk away from the situation,” says clinical psychologist Isabel Clarke. “Exercise can defuse feelings of anger.”

SURVIVAL TIP “Just throw yourself into it,” says confidence coach Martin Perry. “You’ll earn respect. Being out of your comfort zone will give you a boost.”

114 August 2016

4. Outlast the wall of silence NOTABLE VICTIM Gerd Muller’s Bayern Munich team-mates refused to speak to him for two weeks. A round of applause marked the end of his initiation period. SURVIVAL TIP “If you’re shut out by your team-mates, have a laugh with your coach and get to know him – it might help you get a place in the team,” says sports psychologist Richard Nugent.









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Tim Cahill Australia’s all-time top goalscorer selects a side comprising the best players he has come up against over 18 years with club and country GK MANUEL NEUER


What he’s done for both Bayern and Germany has been class – he changed the perception of what a keeper can do. I played against him at the 2010 World Cup, but not for long as I was sent off.

I played against him at the 2006 World Cup. As a defender he had strength and speed, but he could then burn you going forward as well. He’s one of the hardest strikers of a free-kick I have ever seen.




An absolute magician with his close control. I can remember thinking that I would be able to get the ball off him, but he just had this bag of tricks that would make you look foolish. Every time.


He’s been named in the team of the tournament at every World Cup I’ve played in. He’s versatile and has made a career as a defender despite being undersized – something I really admire.

I had several tough Merseyside derby battles against him when he was one of the very best midfielders in the Premier League. The complete footballer, who always played with passion and dignity.

I first faced Cristiano in the 2004 FA Cup Final with Millwall, when he was starting to make his name at Old Trafford. He did score that day, but I mostly remember his combination of speed and control.




He wasn’t particularly tall, but he was so strong, solid, and tactically aware. You couldn’t beat him in the air so you’d try and beat him on the ground, but he’d then position himself to shut you down.

As a Manchester United fan growing up, I had long admired him. There’s a great photograph of him sliding into a tackle on me from when I played against him about 10 years ago, which I really love.



I played against him at the 2014 World Cup. It was our first match, and both he and Chile were quick out of the blocks. He’s incredibly strong on the ball, but also so quick with the ball at his feet.


DENNIS BERGKAMP My Premier League career began near the end of his time at Arsenal. He was still a force to be reckoned with.


Every time we played, we would go hard at one another. We were in each other’s pockets, with elbows, pushing, fouls and grappling. He was a dangerous player, and just brilliant at marking you tight.

When I played for Everton and went up against him at Arsenal, he’d kill us – no one could mark him. His pace was pure jet propulsion. It was an honour to play with him for New York Red Bulls.













YAYA TOURE That engine combined with his skillset makes Yaya an incredibly tough opponent.







RYAN GIGGS The consummate all-round midfielder who I have long admired for his longevity. MANAGER

Interview Sam Pilger





DAVID MOYES He was my boss at Everton for eight years, and is the only man I would want to put in charge of my d e m team. A top dream m nager who has manager lso remained also a close friend outside of football.


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