Cardiff, Hull and Palace
Tony Evans looks at the Special Oneâ€™s return
Preview of the leagueâ€™s three newcomers
Interview with drummer and QPR fan Jack Lawrence-Brown
From Chile through Ecuador, Argentina and Spain
19 Cardiff City Adam Bate
Dan Byrne / Paul Gleeson
Online: www.fieldmatchday.com @field_matchday
Contributors: Scott Anthony @guardian_sport Adam Bate @ghostgoal Tom Bingham Tony Evans @TonyEvansTimes Andy Greeves @AndyGreeves Evan Lelliott @evanlelliott Tim Stannard @LaLigaLoca Graham Ruthven @grahamruthven
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Welcome After what seemed the briefest of breaks from the football season, Field is back. In this issue we take a look at everything that is new to the league, whether that be old managers at new clubs, returning heroes or the three recently promoted teams.
Fernandinho’s £30m fee makes him the most expensive signing of the summer so far and if Monday’s performance against Newcastle is anything to go by, it’ll be £30m well spent. But despite the impressive purchases by Manchester City and Tottenham the window’s defining feature has been the ambitious spending across the league as Norwich, Sunderland and Cardiff have all added experienced internationals to their squads (Fer, Van Wolfswinkel, Altidore & Medel). Southampton too have showed intent in the transfer market and whilst last weekend’s goalscorers and creators have taken much of the critical acclaim, Wanyama and Lovren impressed in an assured Saint’s performance.
Of the new managers taking their seats in unfamiliar dugouts this weekend, it was David Moyes who faced the most scrutiny over the summer. As his team brushed aside Swansea and took their expected position atop the league table he temporarily silenced his critics; but at Old Trafford the expectation is to win every week and as impressive as his record at Everton was his ability to lead a truly dominant side will be in question for the coming weeks and months. At Carrow Road Everton endured a mixed start with Moyesâ€™ replacement as Roberto Martinezâ€™s men mirrored Wiganâ€™s performances of last season: fluid in attack but prone to lapses at the back. Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini were both seen as facing stern tests as their respective clubs try to gain from any uncertainty at Manchester United, but both will have welcomed the ease with which their teams have started the season.
For Cardiff City, Crystal Palace and Hull City last weekend was a not-so-warm welcome to life in the Premier League and a reminder of how tough it will be for them to ensure they remain in the division next season. The good news for all three is that not every team will provide as stern a test as Chelsea, Tottenham and West Ham did on the opening weekend, meaning there will be plenty of opportunities for redemption as the season progresses.
After the lusty clamour for goal line technology comes the banal reality of using the system. Traditionalists have long argued against the case for using technology but after a series of high profile mistakes (and perhaps the desires of broadcasters) in recent years its introduction was inevitable. Although used frivolously by some shows, like a child desperate to use a new toy, it did come in useful on a couple of occasions, most notably during Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Hull City when Branislav Ivanovic’s header was correctly ruled a ‘No Goal’ after a fine save by Allan McGregor. As the season progresses there will be closer decisions to call, which is when Hawkeye will be under much greater scrutiny.
Perhaps the biggest surprise on what was a fairly regulation opening day to the season was Aston Villa’s victory over Arsenal at the Emirates. Wenger may have rued the refereeing display but as the fans were quick to point out: they need signings and they need them quick. Ahead of this weekend’s games, the table is already starting to take on a familiar look with Chelsea, United and City all assuming their pre-ordained positions at the head of the table. Though come the beginning of next week, things could take on a completely different complexion.
Pellegrini After the disappointment of his last two major appointments at Real Madrid and Malaga, City may prove to be Pellegrini’s last opportunity for success at a big club. After a superb start against Newcastle on Monday, everything looks to be going to plan for the unassuming Chilean as Tim Stannard explains.
Having participated in the grueling business of managing football clubs since 1987 and turning 60 in September, the temptation for Manuel Pellegrini at the end of last season to retire and return to his native Chile must have been enormous. This is especially the case when considering the new Manchester City managers exhausting
spell with his previous club, Málaga. Although the side had tremendous, headline-making success in Pellegrini’s final two seasons in La Rosaleda, the pressures down Spain’s south coast appeared unbearable.
Handling footballers and their various demands and sulks on day-to-day basis is challenging enough for any manager. Handling footballers in a depleted squad who are not getting paid and still delivering exemplary performances in the league and Europe is almost impossible. That is exactly what Pellegrini achieved at Málaga, a team who were just seconds away from the Champions League semi-finals after a dramatic tussle against Borussia Dortmund. Running Málaga was supposed to be the opportunity for Pellegrini to build a legacy in La Liga before riding off into the sunset. It was chance to build Spain’s third great force on the Mediterranean coast in a well-planned, long-term strategy. However, a big team project was beset by small team problems. Players were bought and then swiftly sold, without a thought on how the transfer could ultimately be funded. Wages at Málaga went unpaid as did suppliers and debts to other clubs. For this reason, UEFA took stern action against Málaga last year and banned the institution from European football, despite a sixth-placed finish. Pellegrini was only just starting a journey that was mirroring the success achieved at Villarreal between 2004 and 2009 - turning a small provincial outfit into European sluggers. However, maintaining the outstanding success of the east
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Before becoming a manager, Pellegrini spent the entirety of his career with Universidad de Chile, making over 400 appearances for the club between 1973 and 1984. During his time there, Universidad emerged from one of their most unsuccessful periods to clinch the national Copa Chile, which had eluded them since 1969.
coast club who were Champions League semifinalists in 2006 was always going to be a tough ask. This is perhaps what tempted Pellegrini to sit on Real Madrid’s bench, a perilous job for any manager if ever there was one. Florentino Pérez had returned as president to the Santiago Bernabéu for a second spell in 2009 and had signed Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Kaká to deliver Champions League triumphs. What Pérez did not have was a flashy, Galactico coach. Pellegrini was as he has always been - dignified, diplomatic, thoughtful and honourable. However, poor results in the Copa del Rey and the Champions League and the sudden availability of Jose Mourinho saw the Chilean fired after just one year in charge. It is a decision that is still unpopular with many a Madridista today, who felt that the much respected coach deserved more time in the Spanish capital. Manchester City may well be the one big project that Pellegrini has been looking for and deserves. A stable, professional side, in a stable professional league. The club’s new coach can now deliver where he has succeeded in the past with Málaga and Villarreal. And that is helping the team to pack a punch in the Champions League after two disappointing seasons. If Pellegrini can push a couple of small Spanish sides further than could ever be imagined in Europe, the potential at Manchester City is boundless. City supporters can expect a side that is going to follow the cliche of being well-organised. The team will certainly be an attractive, passing outfit, but of a slower, more conservative nature. Malaga and Villarreal’s successes were built on solid, defensive foundations and clean sheets rather than gung-ho, score-more-than-you-concede philosophies. Such tactics reflect Pellegrini’s personality - calm and thoughtful with few frills. Pensive rather than boring. If retirement was in the thoughts of Pellegrini before Manchester City came a’calling then that moment will hopefully be a long way off. The Chilean manager may be a modest, unassuming soul, happy to remain out of the spotlight, however Pellegrini deserves a few, solid years of global glory before finally saying goodbye.
Words by Tim Stannard Illustration by Tom Bingham
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Managerial History 1987–1990 Universidad de Chile 1990 Palestino 1991–992 Palestino 1992–1993 O’Higgins 1993–1995 Universidad Católica 1998 Palestino 1998–2001 LDU Quito 2001–2002 San Lorenzo 2002–2003 River Plate 2004–2009 Villarreal 2009–2010 Real Madrid 2010–2013 Málaga 2013 – Manchester City
Mourinho The Special One is back and suddenly it’s like the past six years were nothing but a bad dream. As Tony Evans points out though, this might not quite be the marriage made in heaven that everyone expects it to be...
The bromance at the Bridge will be one of the main themes of the season. Jose ‘I’m Special, treat me that way’ Mourinho is back, six years after Roman ‘I can buy anyone I want’ Abramovich threw him out and shredded his team template. Chelsea fans are excited. They’re moist. They see a happy ending. Except there’s a problem. Jose wasn’t quite special enough for his first choice, Manchester United. It does affect a manager’s ego when he’s lower down the pecking order than David ‘The Ordinary One’ Moyes. And poor Roman. He fluttered his eyelashes and chequebook at Pep Guardiola but the Catalan decided he doesn’t do dysfunctional and ran off to Munich. So love second time around isn’t quite what it seems. It wouldn’t take much for this marriage of convenience to fall apart. The Russian oligarch was disenchanted with Mourinho’s style of play in 2007. He has spent the period since trying to encourage his one-season stand managers to play expansively.
Would the Portuguese have bought Juan Mata? Oscar? Eden Hazard? Fernando Torres? This is a squad that appears to be at odds with Mourinho’s football philosophy.
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There will be plenty of checks on Mourinho’s power. In June, shortly after the manager’s return, Marina Granovskaia was appointed to the Chelsea board. Granovskaia was initially Abramovich’s personal assistant but developed an increasingly important status at the Bridge.
The returning manager will not have as much control as he had first time around, either. Towards the end of his initial tenure, the Chelsea owner developed reservations about Mourinho’s
relationship with Jorge Mendes, the manager’s agent. Abramovich was not impressed with the standard of Mendes-represented players arriving at the Bridge. There will be no repeat of that situation.
keep us entertained. But don’t be surprised if the reluctant lovers have gone their separate ways by then. Both sides are probably on the lookout for their next partner already, if history is anything to go by.
Jose wasn’t quite special enough for his first choice, Manchester United. It does affect a manager’s ego when he’s lower down the pecking order than David ‘The Ordinary One’ Moyes.
There will be plenty of checks on Mourinho’s power. In June, shortly after the manager’s return, Marina Granovskaia was appointed to the Chelsea board. Granovskaia was initially Abramovich’s personal assistant but developed an increasingly important status at the Bridge. She is the ‘gatekeeper’ to the owner. She began to become involved in transfer negotiations and the recruitment of new managers. In the course of three years, she developed into the most powerful woman in English football. Her elevation to the boardroom formalised Granovskaia’s position and sent a message to the incoming manager about who is in charge. Of course, Mourinho is one of the greatest managers of his era. He should succeed. But so is Rafa Benitez. And so is Carlo Ancelotti. They were both successful and Chelsea chewed them up and spat them out. Like the club did with the Special One first time around. The potential for greatness is there. Yet disaster could strike swiftly and brutally. The players that Mourinho would regard as trustworthy – John Terry, Frank Lampard and co – are nearing the end of their careers. Abramovich has not opened up the bank vaults like he might have done for Guardiola. Will Abramovich and Mourinho be together next June to celebrate their tenth anniversary? Let’s hope so, because the Chelsea romcom will always
Words by Tony Evans Illustration by Tom Bingham
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Moyes On the face of it things have changed very little at Manchester United since Ferguson’s departure. Yet despite brushing Swansea aside last weekend, the question remains: is Moyes up to the job? Graham Ruthven explores the impact Moyes has had thus far.
No marquee signing, a dismal pre-season record and the public breakdown in understanding with Wayne Rooney. It’s been a testing summer for Manchester United as their new manager David Moyes settles into the self-proclaimed biggest job in football. Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy was always likely to linger at Old Trafford and indeed Moyes has yet to make a true impression on the team left behind for him at United. But while almost nothing has gone Moyes’ way off the field the new United boss has started making an impression within the private confines of the training ground. Early on in his tenure, Moyes somewhat undermined that stability mantra on which he’d been appointed by ruthlessly clearing out Ferguson’s backroom staff and appointing his own team of coaches and specialists. But what are they teaching their new subjects? Michael Carrick gave an insight into Moyes methods recently, revealing how the 50 year old is more hands on than his predecessor. “His energy and intensity has rubbed off on everyone,” the
midfielder said of the new man in charge. “He’s a lot different to Sir Alex in that respect.” So considering Carrick’s endorsement can Moyes change United before United changes him?
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While Ferguson’s United never boasted an iconic identity like Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona or Rinus Michel’s Holland, their style was noted for its sheer speed and unpredictable explosiveness.
At Everton Moyes was a figure of adaptation, tailoring his side’s approach to the threats they faced on an individual basis, betraying the alleged tactical stubbornness that dogs his public perception. For instance, against United on the opening day of last season Everton strong-armed their opponents, finding Marouane Fellaini with direct balls forward
and working off the lanky Belgian’s chest. The blueprint worked, with the Toffees claiming a bullish 1-0 win. Yet against sides that could match Everton’s physical attributes Moyes would push his central midfielders further up the pitch, establishing a platform of possession closer to the opposition goal. Moyes founded his Everton premiership on a refined core of creative, yet authoritative, central midfielders. Players like Arteta, Fellaini and Pienaar dictated Everton’s pace and direction through the middle, explaining why Moyes has prioritized the signing of a midfield pacesetter at Old Trafford this summer.
At Everton Moyes was a figure of adaptation, tailoring his side’s approach to the threats they faced on an individual basis, betraying the alleged tactical stubbornness that dogs his public perception.
Despite the emergence of Albanian-Belgian teenager Adnan Januzaj United are not a team awash with inside wingers in the mould of Juan Mata or David Silva, meaning Moyes will almost be forced to accommodate out-and-out wingers, like Nani, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young, within his system. United have scored more goals from crosses than any other team in the Premier League for three of the past four seasons. Wing play is woven throughout the club’s fabric and Moyes would be a fool to abandon it. While Ferguson’s United never boasted an iconic identity like Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona or Rinus Michel’s Holland, their style was noted for its sheer speed and unpredictable explosiveness. Even if Moyes wants to change United he might not be able to.
United’s desperate need for a central midfield presence has taken its place alongside Arsenal’s eight year trophy drought and Barca’s refusal to play a centre back at centre back as one of football’s most tiresome clichés. Yet like most clichés, therein lies a core of truth. Moyes seems to have recognized United’s soft centre, focusing much of his effort this summer on poaching Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona, to no avail. Moves for Fellaini and Real Madrid’s Luka Modric could now be sanctioned. But if the club’s pre-season tour of Australia and Asia is to be taken as a preview of the season ahead, Moyes will retain the stylistic values that came to characterize United under Ferguson. That identity sees Moyes use wingers, midfield playmakers and a versatile attacking pivot, things that Ferguson’s legacy has left behind for him.
Words by Graham Ruthven Illustration by Tom Bingham
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Cardiff City Three record signings, clearing the club’s debt and promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history. Vincent Tan’s investment has bought Cardiff huge success but at what point will his meddling in club traditions prove too much for the fans?
Street protests are not an unusual occurrence in the world of football. The game stirs strong emotions. What’s curious about Cardiff City is that theirs came in May 2013 - shortly after the club secured promotion to the top flight for the first time in over 50 years. These are strange times in the Welsh capital. Malaysian businessman Vincent Tan should be a hero. The owner has already broken the club’s transfer record three times this summer having staved off the threat of bankruptcy and provided the investment that helped bring promotion. But the baffling decision to switch the Bluebirds’ strip colour from blue to red makes Tan a villain in the eyes of some supporters. “I am surprised there are fans against the colour,” said Tan. “I’m actually quite disappointed with that. After all, for me to invest so much into
the club that several times could have gone bust and had financial trouble and a big court case with
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Labelled as ungrateful. This is the sort of empathy that leaves fans fuming. But does Tan have a point? For some, the colour of a shirt is an insignificance when weighed against the improvement in fortunes on and off the field.
the former owner... I was willing to invest and put in a lot of money.”
He added: “I’m disappointed that after 51 years of not being in the top-flight that there are still some fans who don’t think we have done a good job. I may say maybe they are not grateful so that part is disappointing.” Labelled as ungrateful. This is the sort of empathy that leaves fans fuming. But does Tan have a point? For some, the colour of a shirt is an insignificance when weighed against the improvement in fortunes on and off the field. For others, it cuts to the very essence of the football club. In truth, the active number of complainants represent a minority. The Keep Cardiff Blue campaign saw hundreds take to the streets. In contrast, this summer the club has sold 22,000 season tickets. Plenty of those may well be disgruntled but voting with their feet they are not. Tan surely has Cardiff boss Malky Mackay to thank for that. While the owner has helped the manager with his financial support, the Scot has taken considerable heat off his employer by keeping the results coming. Bread, circuses and the small matter of the Championship title. As a result, Cardiff begin their Premier League adventure with an away trip to West Ham at the weekend and the feel-good factor intact. “The fans have been fantastic,” said Mackay. “We have got to make sure we are very competitive, we managed to get here for the first time in 51 years and we have to make sure we stay here.”
more Cardiff supporters could come to wonder just how much has been sacrificed for their brief sojourn in the Premier League sun. Strange times, indeed.
Players to watch Craig Bellamy: Although past his best, his experience will be invaluable to Cardiff this season Kim Bo-Kyung: Slight, technical and astute on the ball. Bo-Kyung is certainly one to watch Andreas Cornelius: The summer signing from FC Copenhagen will provide Cardiff with a strong focal point in attack
“I’m disappointed that after 51 years of not being in the top-flight that there are still some fans who don’t think we have done a good job. I may say maybe they are not grateful so that part is disappointing.”
Achieve that feat and succeed in superseding Swansea, and Tan might well be doing the Ayatollah to widespread acclaim in the spring. Fail and many
Words by Adam Bate Type by Evan Lelliott
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Crystal Palace Having experienced promotion with Crystal Palace in 1997, Ray Houghton knows first-hand the excitement Eagles fans will be feeling, despite last weekend’s disappointing 1-0 defeat to Tottenham. As he explains to Andy Greeves though, it may not get much easier.
Since the Play-Offs were introduced in 1987, no team has enjoyed more promotions via that route to the top flight of English football than Crystal Palace. As fans of the South London club know all too well though, adjusting to life in the top flight has not come easy to their team. On the back of their last three promotions in 1994 (when Palace were winners of the old Division One), 1997 and 2004, they have been relegated the following season. “They’ve (Crystal Palace) got a fighting chance staying in the division, but it’s a tough league and their fans known that only too well,” says Ray Houghton, who played 73 league games for Palace between 1995 and 1997. “Of the three teams that went up, Palace were in the unenviable position of seeing Cardiff City and Hull City have a number of weeks on them in terms of going up and starting to get their preparations in place. “In Ian Holloway, they’ve got an experienced manager with Premier League experience though and also one that has been relegated from the divi-
sion before, so he’ll be determined to keep them in the top flight.” Houghton experienced play-off final heartache with Palace in 1996, as the Eagles lost 2-1 to
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“For newly promoted teams, you have to get off to a decent start.”
Leicester City at the old Wembley Stadium. A year later, the club were back beneath the twin towers securing their place in the Premier League with a 1-0 victory over Sheffield United. “It goes without saying that I wasn’t very happy to be on the bench for such a massive gate as a play-off final, but I had to accept Steve Coppell’s decision,” recalls Houghton. “My abiding memory is that it was a poor quality match and the goal to
win it for Palace was out of keeping with it… a beautiful strike from David Hopkins. Of course, you’ll take promotion anyway it comes though and having got to the play-off final for the second season running, we wanted to go up any way possible.” Delighted at Palace’s return to the Premier League following an absence of eight seasons, the Irishman, who also plied his trade for the likes of West Ham United, Fulham, Oxford United, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Reading and Stevenage Borough, is hoping his old team can cement their place in the top flight this campaign. “Palace have had some tough years of late and some financial issues, but hopefully all that has been sorted out now,” he says. “The chairman and the board are working extremely hard to get things right. It will be a balancing act in terms of how much they spend to strengthen this summer, but they will hopefully learn by others’ mistakes and also look to other clubs like Norwich City and Swansea City for inspiration. “For newly promoted teams, you have to get off to a decent start. It doesn’t get much harder on the opening day than playing Tottenham (at home) but there will be a sell-out crowd I’m sure at Selhurst Park and a game the players will definitely be fired up for. It might actually be a good time to face Tottenham with the upheaval they’ve had over the summer and the uncertainty about Gareth Bale’s future. You can also imagine it taking a little while for (Roberto) Saldado and Paulinho to bed into the side.” Houghton will be looking at play-off final hero Kevin Phillips, now 40-years young, to share his vast top flight experience with Palace’s new-look team that has added new signings such as Dwight Gayle, Elliot Grandin, Jose Campana, Jerome Thomas, Dwight Gayle and Marouane Chamakh over the summer. “There will be a question about how many games (Kevin) Phillips will actually play of course, but his experience around the place will be invaluable,” smiles Houghton. “He’ll be a great influence
for the young players and young strikers especially. He is a great professional, someone that has always given 100% wherever he has been and he can teach the youngsters how to finish without any doubt.”
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Players to watch Dwight Gayle: An unknown quantity to many in the Premier League, Gayle’s pace will certainly cause one or two defenders trouble Jose Campana: Calm and assured in possession, Campana will provide Palace’s midfield with quality to complement the steel of Jedinak Jonathan Williams: The Welsh Iniesta will be hoping to build on his burgeoning reputation after a fine season with Palace last year
Words by Andy Greeves Type by Evan Lelliott
Hull City Hull City’s promotion last season was about as unexpected as them surviving this season would be. But is that assumption an unfair one? Scott Anthony certainly thinks so as he argues the case for Steve Bruce and Hull City.
Don’t be distracted by Hull City’s rebrand, this should be the season when the Tigers manager finally gets the credit he deserves. It’s difficult to remember now but Steve Bruce used to be spoken about as the English manager to watch. Bruce made his name in a six year stint at Birmingham City. When Christophe Dugarry was driving Birmingham City up the Premier League in 2003 it was easy to forget that, just over ten years previously, the Kumar brothers had pushed the Blues to the brink of extinction. Steadying the ship would have been a significant achievement, instead Bruce established Birmingham as a Premier League side. He had been preceded by the likes of Terry Cooper, Barry Fry and Trevor Francis. Alex McLeish and Lee Clark have come after. In 20 years’ time, Bruce’s reign at Birmingham will likely be seen as a golden era.
Not only did Bruce not get the credit he deserved but he also made the fatal managerial mistake of showing loyalty to a club, twice rejecting overtures from Newcastle, the club he had supported as a boy.
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Bruce made his name in a six year stint at Birmingham City. When Christophe Dugarry was driving Birmingham City up the Premier League in 2003 it was easy to forget that, just over ten years previously, the Kumar brothers had pushed the Blues to the brink of extinction.
Pledging loyalty to a club run by David Sullivan, David Gold and Karen Brady, imagine.
Earlier on in his managerial career Bruce had been a young man in a hurry, charging through Sheffield United, Huddersfield and Wigan in the quest to land A Really Big Job. At Birmingham he did the reverse and it has cost him dearly. In recent years, Bruce has found himself patronised as a journeyman boss. But his Sunderland side were gelling promisingly before Asamoah Gyan and Darren Bent both decided that they would be financially better off leaving Wearside for the UAE and Aston Villa respectively. He also did what Roberto Martinez could not at Wigan – comfortably preserve the club’s top flight status. Bruce has always improved sides and teams usually struggle after his departure. Famously, Steve Bruce never played for England. His managerial qualities to date have been ignored in a similarly criminal fashion for a constellation of reasons. Firstly, he’s English and his generally overachieving sides have not boasted about playing the ‘progressive’ kind of football that keeps modern day pundits on side. Secondly, there’s been a generational shift. When Bruce entered management you had to earn your spurs at a lower league club. But recently British managers – like Brendan Rodgers and Steve Clarke – have tended to boast more about their work in the backroom staff at one of the big six clubs. Spend too much time in the Championship and you become a ‘championship manager’. Lastly, there’s the curse of Fergie. Sir Alex Ferguson seemed to have issues with his first set of championship winning players. Unlike David Moyes, Steve Bruce, Mark Hughes, Bryan Robson, Paul Ince and Roy Keane all found themselves on the wrong end of Fergie’s briefings – it was as if Fergie wanted to keep any potential successors in the shade. But this season Premier League managers are finally free of the need to doff their caps in Ferguson’s direction. Consolidate at Hull on the back of an extremely impressive promotion (imagine how Zola would have been lauded if Watford had gone up) and Bruce’s star will deservedly shine.
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Players to watch Robert Koren: The Slovenian midfielder is key to Hull’s attack and will be the focal point for much of their play Robbie Brady: A former Manchester United trainee, Brady’s darting, incisive runs down the left will cause many teams trouble Tom Huddlestone: His ability to hit cross-field balls with unerring accuracy will be key to Hull’s attacks this season
Words by Scott Anthony Type by Evan Lelliott
White Lies White Lies drummer Jack Lawrence-Brown on QPR’s dire form last year, his hopes for the new season and what the band have planned for their forthcoming album, Big TV.
For Queens Park Rangers 2013 has been a year to forget. Relegation gave way to a summer of doubt and speculation over the future of the club’s star players and it was far from certain that Harry Redknapp would remain in charge. This is in stark contrast to Jack’s summer thus far, which has seen White Lies play their first gig in South Korea, make their debut on the main stage at Reading and Leeds and release their highly anticipated third album, Big TV. Despite a promising start to the Championship season and some astute signings by Harry Redknapp, Jack remains pessimistic about QPR’s chances of an immediate return to the Premier League. “I don’t think we’re going to win the league and I don’t think we’ll get second but if we come up it will be through the play-offs. I’m not convinced that we’ll even finish in the
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playoffs but I think we should be aiming to at least finish there. At the moment I think its probably a bit unrealistic for us to go straight back up automatically.” Jack’s reticence to be overly optimistic about QPR’s prospects this season is understandable, after all it was only a year ago that Mark Hughes made the infamous statement that there would be no way QPR would face relegation again during his time there. Only for him to depart a year later, with QPR mired in a relegation battle. After a season best described as nightmarish, Jack is perhaps better placed than most to offer a word of cautionary advice to fans of the newly promoted clubs and those of teams who are about to embark on their second season in the Premier League. “I think after we stayed up the season before on the last day, which was really amazing - a ridiculous season, everyone got
a bit carried away because Mark Hughes came out and said this will never happen again, we’ll never be in that situation again and obviously we found ourselves in that situation very quickly again. But I just think that you have to be really realistic with it, especially in the second season if you manage to stay up in the first one.”
“The top five could be anyone at the moment. As much as I hate to say it I think it will probably be Chelsea [who win the league].”
he’s certainly not so about White Lies’ new album, which has taken the band in a different direction to their second offering, Ritual. “The main difference for us will be the live show because we’ve made the record in such a way that we will be able to play a much more stripped back live show than the previous album. For the last album we put together a very, very complicated live show which meant that we couldn’t really have much freedom on stage. When we were writing this album we wanted it to be a lot more stripped back in terms of what’s going on in a track, the music is actually quite simple in terms of how many guitars are playing and it just means that the shows we can do now are a lot more energetic and freer than they were before.”
This message may be particularly relevant to fans of Norwich and Southampton, both of whom have spent significant amounts on new signings ahead of the new season with Norwich breaking their transfer record to sign Ricky van Wolfswinkel, whilst Southampton have broken theirs twice to bring in Victor Wanyama and Pablo Osvaldo. It’s at the other end of the table though where Jack thinks things might be slightly more difficult to call. “The top five could be anyone at the moment. As much as I hate to say it I think it will probably be Chelsea [who win the league]. I think if Chelsea get one more striker they’ll do it. I think that United probably won’t finish first or second but might be third and I can see City doing quite well.”
White Lies new album ‘Big TV’ is out now on Fiction Records. For more information, head to ShootMatchday.com Words by Paul Gleeson
Where Jack may be sceptical about QPR’s chances of an immediate return to the Premier League,
Interview by Dan Byrne arranged by Shoot Music Promotions
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Field Season 2 - featuring our preview of the season, White Lies and a columns by Tony Evans, Tim Stannard & Graham Ruthven.