Spanish flair at Swansea City.
The Craven Cottage
More than just a football stadium.
Itâ€™s all about the money English football under pressure.
Hooliganism The dark side of british football.
Exclusive, behind the scenes and with clear statements. We are halftime.
Nikolai Petersen Tim Heuschkel Søren Jakobsen Marcel Carstensen
Halftime is a sports magazine which issues informative reporting, articles, and news in a neutral, objective, and clear manner. Halftime publishes sports news with an economical, cultural, political, and historical angle.
© halftime 2013 All Rigths Reserved
Nikolai Pedersen 22 years old Business Language and IT-based Marketing Communication
Søren Jakobsen 24 years old Business Language and IT-based Marketing Communication
Active football player with great interest in international football.
Active football player with great interest in Spanish football.
Favourite team: Liverpool FC
Favourite team: Swansea City
Tim Heuschkel 22 years old Business Language and IT-based Marketing Communication
Marcel Carstensen 22 years old Business Language and IT-based Marketing Communication
Has great interest in British football as well as football history.
Active football player as goalkeeper with great interest in German and English football.
Favourite team: Manchester United
Favourite team: Fulham FC
El Genio - Spanish flair at Swansea 06
Interview with Michu 10
Itâ€™s all about the money
The Craven Cottage
El Genio - Spanish flair at Swansea
History and today: Hooliganism
A story of underdogs
Interview with Michu
The Craven Cottage 14
History and today: Hooliganism 15
Swansea City resurrected with Spanish flair by the “Great Dane” AT THE BRINK OF OBLIVION
Nearly 11 years ago, Swansea City faced an existitial dilemma. The Welsh team barely escaped relegation to the Football Conference, the fifth best league in the English football system. Faced with board room troubles and economic mismanagment few would have dared to dream of a return to the Premier League nearly ten years alter. After steadily climbing the English league ladder they eventually returned to Premier League in the 2011/2012 season. Swansea City became the first Welsh team to partake in the Premier League since its inception in 1992. Swansea city even managed to secure a very impre ssive midtable finish in their first season at the highest level of club football in England.
AN IMPROBABLE SUCCESS
After losing their in-demand manager, Brendan Rodgers, to Liverpool FC at the beginning of the 12/13 season, many pundits and fans alike expected Swansea to strugle in the Premier League. They were coming off a great debut season in the Premier League while playing attractive attacking football. Integral players such as Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair were sold to Liverpool and Manchester City respectively after breakthrough performances in the Premier League. Replacing both players and their manager seemed an impossible task and many expected Swansea to rehalftime 6
turn to the Championship after overperforming in their debut season.
THE GREAT DANE
Enter Michael Laudrup. The legendary midfielder with an illustrious career playing for european heavy weights such as Juventus, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Widely regarded as one of the best ever midfielders by his peers, he used to enthrall the entire footballing world with silky smooth dribbles and an incredible vision when looking for the final pass. His past with FC Barcelona soon draw comparisions to the way Swansea City played after a bumpy beginning. “Swansealona” quickly became the favourite adjective to describe the playing style of the new Premier League darlings. The praise was well earned - Swansea played beautiful possesion based football which was indeed reminescent of his former club, FC Barcelona. There were fears that Laudrup would be unablato develop Rodgers possesion based football even further but he quickly abolished such fears.
Laudrups past as manager for Getafe and Mallorca quickly paid dividends as his intimate knowledge of La Liga player-pool allowed him to set his sights on a few rough diamonds. Pablo Hernandez, Michu, Chico and Jonathan de Guzman were transferred to Swansea City at the direct order of Laudrup. Chico has proven to be a rock at the heart of the Welsh defense while Michu has
been the revolution of the Premier League. With a transfer fee of 2.2M euros, expectation weren’t massive towards Michu but he soon captured the hearts and minds of the entire Premier League. With 21 goals in 38 apperances, transfer rumors did inevitably circulate in the press and figures such as 15-20M euros were mooted. Ultimately, the increased value of arguably the entire squad reflects the impressive work carried out by the entire club players, coaches, staff and the manager alike.
Historically, English football has always been viewed as a physical sport with emphasis on speed, physicality and direct play whereas Laudrups Spanish heritage is view as a art form. In England, players are cheered on everytime they make a succesfull tackle or in other ways show that they are willing to sacrifice
themselves for the greater good of their team. In Spain on the other hand, football is more akin to going to the theater in most stadiums - the spectators expect to be entertained by mesmerizing runs and stunning flicks. Laudrup were part of FC Barcelona “Dreamteam” of the early 1990’s which is arguably one of the greatest sides ever to grace the pitch. Johan Cruyff reformed the Catalan club with his total football policy - the idea was that every single player on the pitch was able to contribute both in an attacking and defensive aspect. Even goalkeepers are expected to master the art of passing at a relatively high level. Possesion of the ball is key in “total football” as the idea is to pass the ball around quickly and creatively until a crack opens up in the opponents defense. It is a very patient form of football which was meant to counter the very defensively
minded Italian teams of the era. This is perhaps where the greatest success of Laudrup is to be found. In a league where physiciality is favored he succeed in building a team that played beautiful football with very few means in terms of big-money transfers. Leon Britton, who has been with Swansea city for almost 10 years barring a loan-out to Sheffield United in 2010-2011, managed to achieve a higher successfull passing rate than Xavi with 1127 succesfull pases which meant that only 7,7% of his passes did not hit the intedend target. In other words, this homegrown English player bested one of the most respected midfielders in the history of the game. In a time where football seems more like a business than a sport, it is refreshing to see that our beloved sport can still produce the underdog stories that we all love.
The fairytale history of Swansea City quickly mirrors the ideological differences between Spanish and English football - sweat, blood and physicality versus beauty and nimbleness of the Spanish. Swansea City it would seem, would become an alluring mixture of both worlds...
„Who is the best player in history? Laudrup“ - Andres Iniesta, FC Barcelona
A story of underdogs AN EPIC JOURNEY
Laudrups success is even more impressive when you realize the circumstances of it and compare it to their direct rivals. Not a penny of debt, a wage bill of a measly 34M pounds yearly and a club history bereft of any major honors was what Laudrup faced on the 24th of February 2013. Facing of with minnows Bradford City in the League Cup final, both could claim their rights to a “Cinderella Story”.
A STORY OF UNDERDOGS
En route to the Capital One Cup final as it officially known, Bradford City beat Wigan, Aston Villa and Arsenal - all three teams play in the Premier League whereas Bradford lumber their days away in the third best league. Especially their victory against Arsenal was a true testament to the English football style. Bradford City embodied the English football style of old - defensively well structured with a deadly counter attack but more importantly with blod, sweat and heart on the pitch. Fittingly enough, they eventually faced off with Swansea City in the final. Swansea, the diametrical opposite to the burly Bradford managed to fight their way to the first League Cup final in the clubs 101-year history. halftime 8
After late-game heroics against Crawley in a match that ended with a one goal victory to Swansea (2-3), they were facing their old manager Brendan Rodgers, now at the helm of Liverpool FC. In a match where many was apprehensive of Swanseas chances, Laudrups troops pulled a suprisingly well-earned 3-1 victory against “The Reds”. However, the defining moment of the League Cup came against Chelsea with a 0-2 victory away against the regining European champions. Michu was one again the deciding factor as he opened the score with a stunning effort to put Swansea City in the lead before Graham capitalized on a monumental mistake by Ivanovic in the dying minutes of the game. In the return match at Liberty Stadium in Swansea, the “Swans” managed to hold on to a well earned draw which booked them their ticket into the League Cup Final. In the pre-game build-up, Laudrup did his utmost to stress the importance of not underestimating Bradford as their previous opponents have lived to regret. There was no doubt, that the pressure lied solely on Welsh team as they were viewed by many as heavy favorites for the title. It was almost a surreal situation for the Danish manager, as he had guided the team to an unpredcedented League Final
where a loss would be nothing short of disasterous. Doubts were raised about the defensive stability of the Welsh team, as stalwart Chico was ruled out with an ancle injury weeks before. These doubts were soon to be forgotten as the fairytale Bradford had written so well, inevitably met its demise. A victory against Swansea City was simply a step too far for Bradford City. In a packed Wembley Stadium, Swansea City ran out as deserved winners against a clearly inferior Bradford side with a final scoreline of 5-0. Swansea took the lead after only 16 minutes of play when Nathan Dyer opened the scoring. Goals by Michu followed in the 40th minute which meant a comfortable lead for Swansea at the halftime interval in a first half they completely dominated. The Welsh team wasn’t done, as they made it three to nothing two minutes after the break when Dyer got his second goal of the match. Bradford City goalkeeper, a hero of their run to Wembley, was eventually sent of after comitting a penalty on Dyer in the 58th minute of play. A small scruffle broke out between Dyer and de Guzman as Dyer wanted to take the penalty kick in order to become the first player to score a hattrick in a League Cup final. de Guzman
however, was the appointed penalty taker and eventually scored to make it 4-0. Swansea clearly took their foot of the pedal in order not to embrass their opponents who still fought as bravely as they have done the entire competition. Even though their team was down 4-0 and still haven’t recorded a single shot on goal, the Bradford supporters were an inspiration to all. They cheered on their team constantly and created an unbeliveable atomsphere that all other fans could learn a lot from. In this aspect, Bradfords fan showed that there is more to football fans than violence - everyone affiliated with the team should have been proud to see such support. Eventually it ended in a 5-0 victory as de Guzman slotted home the final goal of the match. In the end, Laudrup had managed the impossible. Barely 11 years after the club faced an existencial crisis, the players were lifting the first ever major trophy of the Welsh club. They say, that few people are as wellrenowned in the city of Swansea as Michael Laudrup - the Great Dane who brought Spanish flair to the city of Swansea. - Søren Jakobsen halftime 9
”Laudrup is our best player” Spanish newspaper, AS, recently interviewed Swansea City’s star-striker Michu about his experiences at the Welsh club. We have been given exclusive permission to bring you the interview in English. You can now speak English. You can’t have learnt it in such a short time since arriving? Yes, I speak a little. I studied it in school and I’m going to have to improve on it. It’s harder because the Welsh speak with a different accent. You scored 15 goals last season. Was that not enough to earn you a move to one of the biggest clubs in Spain? Swansea came in for me and I was attracted to them because of Michael Laudrup and now here I am. In Spain now not many teams want to spend 3.5 million euros on a player, it’s a lot of money. You were spotted in a pub recently.. That’s right, drinking a glass of fizzy water! I was there to watch football. The fans here are very respectful, it’s not like in Spain where people will stop you in the street and talk to you with no inhibitions. They can be over the top when they are praising you, and they can even insult you. Here people keep their distance a bit. Which manager would you like to play for the most? Playing for Michael Laudrup is an amazing experience. He was one of my idols when I was growing up. When he joins in the training session you can see he is a much better play than we are. Everyone talks very highly of José Mourinho, but I’ve not had the chance to play for him. He always defends his players, he looks after them and he gets the best out of them.
It’s all about the money
English football under pressure
In the past twenty years, 56 professional clubs in England became insolvent. The British Parliament now demands transparency and solidity. Role model is the German Bundesliga. English football is under pressure of the British policy. The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee criticized the status of the branch once again, while special laws and the regulation of some heavily indebted clubs in the Premier League and in minor leagues are no longer excluded. Especially the big fan organizations like “Supporters Direct” that demand greater involvement of football fans to the clubs are now confirmed. The fans keep the football branch upright by purchasing tickets or as pay-TV customers.
„The worst regulated sport in this country“ - Hugh Robertson, British Sports Minister
The umbrella organization “Supporters Direct” represents 300,000 members of supporters’ associations - the so-called fan trusts. Some of them are actually owner of football clubs in England, such as the traditional AFC Wimbledon (fourth division) or holds twenty perecent of a bigger club like Swansea City. The positive role that fans can play is also evident in the Bundesliga, where the majority of capital companies must belong to the clubmembers. This model is more and more considered as a role model. Especially because the balance in England is frightening. Since the launch of the Premier League in 1992, the second and third league always made losses. In the past twenty years, 56 professional clubs in England became insolvent. British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson says: “We all agree that we have to tackle the issues.” Some time ago, Robertson the local football branch as the “worst regulated sport in this country“. - Marcel Carstensen
Are you still at the stage where you miss home or do you now think that every player should be forced to play football abroad? I completely agree with the latter. This is an incredible experience. Apart from playing football and enjoying myself here, I will return home speaking a very important language. - Søren Jakobsen halftime 11
Bobby Robson at Craven Cottage The former Fulham-striker and English football legend Sir Bobby Robson at the ground of Craven Cottage.
The Craven Cottage More than just a football stadium It’s the year 1780, when William Craven erected a small hunting cottage. More than 200 years later, we see the stadium of Fulham FC. The stadium, devised by the legendary architect Archibald Leitch, is unique. Glossy arenas with the charm of a gym are nowadays part of the football world. Not in Fulham. Incidentally, Leitch is also responsible for the buildings at Anfield, Old Trafford, the Ibrox Park and many, many other cathedrals of football. But unlike those named, Craven Cottage has not yet remained the big stage of football. The Fulham FC tries to ascend the Big Four in the Premier League for years now. The rich london district Fulham is home to abundant solventes audience, and the multimillionaire Mohammed Al Fayed spends his savings on the club. So far, in vain
Move to local rivals And in the hour of success, they almost have to give up their traditional homeground. After promotion to the Premier League 2001/02, the responsible shooed the reconstruction of the old Craven
Cottage into a modern stadium. A new stadium was needed. But before that, the club had to move to the Loftus Road - the home of local rivals Queens Park Rangers. The Fans were outraged, what ultimately led to the renovation of Craven Cottage.
Fire hazard in Haynes End We may all be grateful to the responsible that they did not destroy the most precious jewel of the club’s history. So the Fulham players play in an unique stadium today. Where else can you find “No smoking” in the stands? And not because of etiquette to non-smokers, but for fear of a major fire. The Johnny Haynes Stand, the characteristic stand with the bay window in the roof, is the oldest stand in English professional football. And old means wood. Old wood. Very old wood. And that burns very fast. On the other side of the Hammersmith End, the stand for the supporters, is the Putney End, a stand for neutral spec-
Hooliganism tators - a neutral area is unique in European football. Parts of the stand are made of wood from the forests of 1780. Back when the hunters blew the horn in the old cottage.
The charm of a 100-year-old maid The Craven Cottage is narrow, old and musty as a 100-year-old maid. It is not a cauldron, but a stadium that brings tears to your eyes. No place for great football but for football romance. Welcome to Craven Cottage. - Marcel Carstensen
Hooligans Hooliganism has been a great issue for most clubs in Britain.
The dark side of british football In British football culture, hooliganism has for been a known subject for several hundred years by now, and thereby a great issue for most clubs in Britain.
The term “Hooligan firm”, describing these groups of supportersfirst appeared in the mid 1960’s, leading to increased media interest and coverage.
Hooliganism often doesn’t draw many similarities to football, but functions as organized crime amongst various football club followers. Hooliganism can range from shouts, spitting and smallscale fistfights to huge riots where groups of hooligans attack each other with deadly weapons (including, but not limited to, sports bats, glass bottles, rocks, knives, machetes and even pistols).
In British football, groups of hooligans are also called “Hooligan firms” or “Football firms”.
Hooligan History Football hooliganism as we know it in British football was first recorded in the late 1800’s. During a football match in 1885, gangs of supporters would intimidate each other, as well as attacking the referee in Preston North End and Aston Villa. From that point hooliganism escalated, and it didn’t take a very long time for every major football club in Britain to have their own group of violent supporters, destroying the sport with violent behaviour and loud harassment.
Today hooliganism is not always only about the “sport”, but also about politics. Some football firms exist to promote fringe political causes, both on the far Left and Right, and, in some cases, the promotion of political ideals through violence is of greater importance than the football club itself. Even though hooliganism has been a huge part of the British football culture during the last 150 years, statistics show that number of hooligan related arrests is dropping rapidly, especially in the 2010-2011 season. During 2010-11 seasons the total number of people arrested in connection with all international and domestic football matches involving teams from, or representing, England and Wales was 3,089. This represents a decrease of 9%, or 302 arrests, on 2009-10 totals. During the season an average of less than 1 (0.97) arrest made per match. At 71% of all matches, no one is arrested, and only an arerage of two hooligans gets arrested at 86% of matches. Furthermore, 51% of all matches in the 2010-2011 seasons were police free – continuing to free up police resources to deal with local police and community priorities. - Nikolai Pedersen