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David Squires on … the unlikely Marxist takeover of English football

Our cartoonist on the booing of England players taking a knee, radical leftist positions and Harry Maguire’s ankle



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Staying with City till the end of the season is not surprising (frankly, you have to be pretty naive or in deep denial not to see that he wanted to from the start). What is surprising, is that he neve

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Debbie Hewitt to become FA’s first chairwoman in its 157-year history



The Football Association has appointed the first female chair in its 157-year history, with the business executive Debbie Hewitt expected to take up the position in January.

The appointment is subject to confirmation by the FA Council next month, but if the formalities are completed Hewitt will become the permanent successor to Greg Clarke, who resigned after making racially offensive remarks in front of a parliamentary committee.

Hewitt has an extensive background in business that suggests a more polished approach to high-profile positions representing her employer. She is a former chief executive of RAC and the current nonexecutive chair at Visa Europe, the clothing brand White Stuff and the financial services group BGL, which owns price comparison site Compare The Market.

Hewitt has also spent six years on the board of The Restaurant Group plc, which owns Wagamama and Frankie and Benny’s. She will step down from that role on taking up her FA position.

“I’ve been passionate about football from a very young age and I’m excited by the opportunity to play my part in shaping the future of something that means so much to so many,” said Hewitt, who was awarded an MBE in 2011 for services to business and the public sector.

Hewitt will take charge of English football’s governing body at one of the most precarious financial moments in its history. The FA has projected estimated financial losses from Covid-19 to reach £300m by 2024 and has laid off 124 members of staff.

She also arrives at a time of turbulence, not only because of Covid. The consequences of the failed European Super League have caused ructions across the game and the government is conducting a review into the governance of football in England, which could lead to the introduction of an independent regulator.

“As the events in recent months have shown, this is a significant moment in time for English football, with a clear purpose for all stakeholders to secure the long-term health of the game at all levels,” said Hewitt.

“I’m looking forward to working alongside our CEO, Mark Bullingham, and the team across Wembley Stadium and St George’s Park, and relish the opportunity to chair an organisation that has the potential to be a very positive force for good throughout the game and across society.”

Kate Tinsley, an independent non-executive director at the FA who led the appointment process said: “This is an excellent appointment for the FA and English football in general.

“Debbie was the outstanding candidate from a talented and experienced field. She immediately demonstrated her passion and ability to positively influence the direction of the FA on a domestic and global stage, providing strong and principled leadership along the way.”

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If this is how they react to taking the knee, please keep politicians out of sport

The rightwingers who condemn the players’ anti-racism protest are clearly people who don’t even like football


Let’s keep politics out of football this summer,” intoned Nigel Farage, a politician, releasing his second video about football in a 24-hour period. Nigel has reached the top, which is to say that he now operates out of a loft conversion in an undisclosed location. From this nerve centre, he also kept politics out of sport by tweeting multiple times about the decision to suspend a test cricketer for historical tweets. Could fans get Nigel to say the exact opposite for coins on Cameo? It’ll cost you £75 to find out.

Either way, Farage was joined in his Corinthian endeavours by culture war secretary Oliver Dowden, who informed the world that the England and Wales Cricket Board had gone “over the top … and should think again”. Like Boris Johnson, meanwhile, Oliver seemingly feels unable to condemn those people booing England footballers who take the knee before matches – but he would doubtless feel way more comfortable condemning the very noisy section of England supporters who bellow No Surrender on the fourth line of the national anthem at every single fixture. And yet, I’m going to shock you, Oliver: THEY’RE THE SAME PEOPLE. A small minority, yes, but the same small minority.

If, as rather a lot of people are suggesting, we “need to listen” to the message they’re sending with the booing of the footballers’ anti-racist gesture, then I guess it follows that we “need to listen” to their message of totally incoherent sectarianism. I mean, I know it’s been linked to the BNP and the EDL and the National Front. But if people are doing a thing, then the government’s position seems to be that that thing needs to be listened to and taken on board, as opposed to treated as something a minority of nasty twats are getting up to after several pints.

Speaking of several pints, it is of course no surprise that we’ve also heard on this front from Laurence Fox, the 18th toughest guy at Rada. Fresh off his London mayoral bid for the Reclaim party, which awkwardly saw him fail to reclaim even his deposit, Laurence now announces he will be boycotting all England games in the Euros and hopes the “millionaire woke babies” go out in the first round. To which the only sensible reply is: so what? YOU DON’T EVEN LIKE FOOTBALL. Trust us, we can tell a mile off. Why does anyone even care what Fox thinks about football – or even, after that London result, about politics? It’s like asking Marcus Rashford what he thinks of a mid-afternoon repeat of Lewis.

There are plenty of politicians who are absolutely avid football fans with a long heritage of genuinely caring about the game, as well as the positive and negative aspects of our society that it reflects (yet crucially, does not create). Notably, these are the ones who don’t actually jump on every passing bandwagon.

Instead, you get the likes of Farage or Fox or Johnson. And whenever one of these walks up to what I imagine they’d call the penalty crease to sky some completely basic point about football, all I can think is: SHE DOESN’T EVEN GO HERE. What are you even doing, guys? Why are you here? Without Googling, tell me where the last Euros were hosted. Let’s face it, you couldn’t even tell us which two teams were in the FA Cup final. Come back when you can beat a nine-year-old on the trivia.

The fish-out-of-water format was typified this week by one Martin Daubney, a former Loaded editor who was briefly a Brexit MEP. Martin has been wetting his pants about the whole taking-the-knee thing and, following England’s friendly with Romania on Sunday, rushed to the airwaves to ask for the names of the “two England players” who did not take the knee, because he’d like to shake the hands of “those lads”. Oh dear. We don’t expect Martin to be able to identify Florin Răducioiu and Ianis Hagi on sight – but we do expect him to have glommed on that they are, in fact, Romanian. Without wishing to get too deeply into the arcana of England fandom approximately 10 minutes out from a major tournament, knowing which team is which is pretty much the price of entry to this particular conversation.

On the one hand, it’s hilarious that Martin somehow charlatanned his way through the whole of nineties and noughties lad-mag culture when he appears somewhat clueless about the sport that was supposedly such a massive part of it (which in turn tells you a lot about how plastic lad-mag culture actually was). On the other, could he not just do whatever is the former politician’s equivalent of shutting up and playing?

Likewise with Johnson and Fox. I’ve no idea whether Dowden genuinely likes sport, but if the culture secretary really wants to help he should be delivering on his promise to hold social media companies to account for the torrents of racist abuse black players receive on these platforms, instead of dicking around trying to pick the England cricket team.

In the meantime, it remains significant that throughout this entire pandemic, the only group any cabinet minister has suggested should be made to take a pay cut are Premier League footballers. Top-flight footballers are the only super-high-earning UK taxpayer you will ever see a politician disparage. Despite the fact that English football is a hugely successful global business that makes millionaires out of extremely talented, young working-class individuals, there is just something about it that makes all this the wrong kind of success. I wonder if we’ll ever put our fingers on it.

You can be quite sure the same politicians would listen to pretty much any other passing multimillionaire on any subject on which they cared to opine. A multimillionaire such as Wetherspoon’s boss Tim Martin, for instance, is permanently indulged by the government in his every political outpouring. One minute Tim’s doing joint appearances with Boris Johnson to push Brexit; the next he’s trying to get the government to reverse its EU immigration policy because he’s discovered he can’t get the staff. What a preposterous character. And yet, it’s only sportsmen and women who are continually urged to just shut up and play. You never hear politicians tell Tim Martin to just shut up and get them a pint.

So as another Tory MP wades into the row to draw comparisons between taking the knee and the Nazi salute, we have to ask: please, please, please can we keep politicians out of sport this summer?

Should that prove impossible, then all these politicians supposedly concerned about “the issues” embodied in the debates over racism in various sports need to look much closer to home for the solutions. They, and not any England sport’s management, are responsible for the country. Perhaps they could even consider the lessons of one FA executive’s reply to Margaret Thatcher in 1985. “What is football doing to keep its hooligans out of society?” ran Thatcher’s pious inquiry. “On the contrary,” came the reply. “What is society doing to keep its hooligans out of football?”

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Boris Johnson refuses to condemn fans booing England taking the knee



Boris Johnson has said he wants the “whole country” to get behind the England team but has refused to condemn those who booed players taking a knee, as a row over the anti-racism gesture threatens to overshadow the start of Euro 2020.

With a slew of Conservative MPs and right-wing commentators stirring up further controversy, fan groups called on those who jeered before two recent friendlies to stop. England play their opening Group D fixture against Croatia on Sunday.

Asked about the booing before England’s match against Romania at the Riverside on Sunday, the prime minister’s official spokesman seemed to offer support to both sides of an increasingly heated argument.

The prime minister “fully respects the right of those who choose to peacefully protest and make their feelings known”, the spokesman said, adding: “On taking the knee, specifically, the prime minister is more focused on action rather than gestures. We have taken action with things like the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities and that’s what he’s focused on delivering.”

The Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities was widely criticised by experts for a selective use of evidence and concluding there was no evidence of institutional racism in the UK.

On the subject of the team the spokesman struck a different note, however. “The PM is supporting the England football team and wants them to succeed and wants the whole country to get behind them in that endeavour,” he said.

Gareth Southgate has confirmed his players will take the knee on Sunday and throughout the tournament. “It’s not going to stop what we’re doing and what we believe. It’s not going to stop my support for our players and staff,” he said on Sunday – and that they will answer no further questions on the subject.

That may prove difficult should there be more booing at Wembley against Croatia, where a crowd of 22,500 is expected, twice the number at the Riverside where all tickets were sold to members of the England Supporters Travel Club.

Free Lions, a part of the Football Supporters’ Association that represents England fans, called for unity. Observing how fans rebuked the racist abuse directed at some England players in Bulgaria in 2019, “we have to ask where that solidarity has gone”, the group wrote.

“English football fans have a great reputation around the world for the numbers in which we travel, the passion we demonstrate in supporting our team, and our ability to party enthusiastically well into the night,” Free Lions said in an open letter. “The most-dedicated fans in the world shouldn’t be booing our own players before kick-off. We’d urge those of you booing players to have a think about your behaviour and its impact.”

The Football Association is understood to be working with the ESTC on establishing new barriers to entry at England matches for fans found to be involved in antisocial or discriminatory behaviour.

Other voices have called for unity too, but of a different kind. A leader in the Times on Saturday said England should stop taking the knee, arguing it had “exhausted its purpose and is now more divisive than it is helpful”. They were followed by the red wall MP Brendan Clarke-Smith, who called it “habitual tokenism” and “a divisive and confrontational matter” before comparing England’s actions to those of the team that gave the Nazi salute before a match in Berlin in 1936.

“Focusing the debate about how we do anti-racism over time is probably the best way forward now,” said Sunder Katwala of British Future, an independent think tank that works on issues of identity and race. “If you want to put a reasonable challenge to the so-called criticism of these gestures, it would be to ask [critics] to be clear on how they would challenge the racism that is still there.”

British Future will this week publish a report on race and identity and the lessons to be learned from football, with Katwala arguing it has played a central role in diminishing racism in England. “In the 1970s West Bromwich Albion in particular and the England team did more to change the idea of who could be English than the Commission for Racial Equality or the Race Relations Act ever did,” he said.

“The England team of 2018 represented the young diverse England of the cities but also the England of leave voting towns in Yorkshire. The England team is one thing we have in common across England, and in some ways we’ve had something in football that we’re not confident we’ve got outside of these footballing summers.

“That is now being contested again within football. I think there’s a danger the booing does ruin the feel good effect of this championship.”

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The  lying,  tree hugging  Guardian Commie should step out of his tiny little bubble and get off his lazy ass and do some actual research on what this anti western, anti British, anti white, racist black power rmovement is all about. 

A fucking group who terrorised America for 6 months, burning down down buildings, looting everything in sight and threatening to burn down America, if a Cop guilty of a manslaughter case was not found guilty of first degree murder.

Their relentless hate speech, violence and threats of terrorism should have been more than enough to have seen them be banned.

No better than KKK filth.


Oh, and Laurence Fox is most definitely a football fan. Seen him talk about it an interview.









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9 minutes ago, NikkiCFC said:

So what's left for Frank? Tbh I never expected any PL team to approach him. 

He should be back managing in championship.

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It terms of him ever getting a top job again, it's a long road back for Frank now.  His dealing with Rudi, shows he's got a fair bit to learn on the man management side of things.

JT is going about learning his trade in the right way and this should stand him in good stead for when he steps into management.

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I am eagerly awaiting Paul Merson and Phil Thompson's rant over the new Wolves coach.

cc @Jas

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1 hour ago, Blues Forever said:


that sucks, I was hoping he would get hog tied up at Palace, a wreck of a club

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David Wagner steals another job somehow. West Brom fans better be excited to see them run a lot trying to gegenpress and play piss poor with the ball just like his team did at Huddersfield. 

Whoever takes the Palace job is effectively doomed regardless. Bar Eze, Zaha, Guita, Milivojevic, and a handful of others there isnt a great deal to work with.

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The Fiver

The managerial merry-go-round is spinning so hard and fast right now


‘Look at this tea-timely email, they think my name is pronounced Lager. Still, I guess it’s better than Hatchet Man (the column that goes in hardest).’
camera.png ‘Look at this tea-timely email, they think my name is pronounced Lager. Still, I guess it’s better than Hatchet Man (the column that goes in hardest).’ Photograph: Jack Thomas/Wolves/Getty Images

Scott Murray


The managerial succession at Wolverhampton Wanderers was dealt with in a very calm and measured fashion. Nuno Espírito Santo serenely announced his decision to move on. A backroom administrator gently scratched the nib of a fountain pen across a sheet of quality bond paper, carefully folding the request for a work permit for Bruno Lage then sealing it with wax. The request was delivered by hand to Her Majesty’s Government who issued the required permit, and now Mr Lage has been announced as the new manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers. The entire process was soundtracked by an instrumental version of The Girl From Ipanema, quietly piped through the Molineux PA system at volume setting three.

Compare and contrast to Goodison Park, where Napalm Death is screaming out of the speakers, which have all been turned up to 11. The chair in the manager’s office is spinning and all the curtains are flapping, a result of Carlo Ancelotti doing one at great speed the other week. Wow, look at that slightly out-of-condition $exagenarian go! Goodison is a study in tumult, everyone racing around pretending to know what’s going on and that there’s a coherent plan. Antonio Conte and Rafa Benítez having been briefly considered, the new favourite for the vacant managerial position is none other than Nuno Espírito Santo, who has just ended talks with Crystal Palace, and, well, he’s on the market so why not, it’s not as if we know what’s going on or there’s a coherent plan.

Speaking of coherent plans, Tottenham Hotspur are still looking for someone to build on the promise of the Keith Burkinshaw era. That 37-year search may come to an end after the Euros, with news that former Everton boss Bobby M is now in the frame. He’d certainly be a good spiritual fit, on account of his commitment to progressive football, and the fact Belgium are The Fiver’s favourites to spectacularly underachieve this summer. Let’s hope Spurs, and indeed Everton, turn these rumours into hard fact soon, because quite frankly the desperation is unedifying. Also, the managerial merry-go-round is spinning so hard and so fast right now, we can barely, as this article amply illustrates, hear ourselves think.


“So if you want me to be proactive now you can ask me: ‘How many trophies have you won in your career?’ And I’ll tell you 25 and a half. The half is the final that I didn’t play with Tottenham” – renowned winner of trophies José Mourinho redraws the lines of what constitutes success.

José Mourinho: riding his way to half-glories.
camera.png José Mourinho: riding his way to half-glories. Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images


Football Weekly’s Euro Not 2020 preview special is still here.


Speaking of which, a few tickets are still available for Football Weekly Live’s EN 2020 preview special on 10 June.


“I was listening to a bit on TalkSport about something or other to do with Luton Town. As always, the gushing advocate talked about the fantastic, amazing set of fans. Are there any other kind? Every club is apparently blessed with these fantastic, amazing fans. Just once I’d like to hear about a fairly crappy set of indifferent fans, who blow hot and cold dependent of the direction of a variable wind. Anyone know of any?” – Marten Allen.

“To add to Phil Smith’s tenuous stretching of the new Euro pot (Fiver letters passim), may I venture to wonder if the competing teams will be drawn in ‘pots’? In other words, Tintin Tin-Pot pot pots?” – Rod de Lisle.

“Surely new commercial partners will be sought for the competition – providing opportunities for companies so far underrepresented in football sponsorship eg dog food, and perhaps a well-known UK meal substitute (possible the same company), which would give us the Rin Tin Tin Tintin Tin-pot Pot-Noodle Pot” – Steve Malone.

“It seems the only culture The Fiver knows is to be found in yoghurts at Big Website’s canteen. Contrarily to the assertion contained in Phil’s missive, Tintin is not a detective but a journalist! Shame on you!” – Roland Dehousse (and no other disgruntled Belgians).

Send your letters to [email protected]. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Steve Malone.


The six naughty €nglish $uper £eague rebels have agreed a settlement with the Premier League that will see them pay an expected £20m between them to grassroots causes. That’s really going to sting, eh?

Uefa’s ticketing app triumphantly appears to let fans resell tickets on multiple occasions, opening the door to touting and possible crowd problems at Euro Not 2020.

Harry Maguire’s ankle is still too knacked for him to take part in England training sessions. Meanwhile, fans attending the opening game against Croatia will be able to use a “vaccine passport” for the first time, Uefa suits have confirmed.

Team GB will face Zambia in a Big Sports Day warm-up match in Stoke that 7,000 fans will be allowed to attend. “I’m delighted that we have secured a match on home soil which allows fans to watch us play before we depart for Tokyo,” cheered manager Hege Riise.

Team GB pose in front of a Japanese-style pagoda in, um, Birmingham.
camera.png Team GB pose in front of a Japanese-style pagoda in, um, Birmingham. Photograph: Naomi Baker/Getty Images for British Olympic Association

Joey Barton’s trial over accusations he assaulted Daniel Stendel has been put back to November after video-link translation shenanigans.

And Lazio have all but confirmed the appointment of Maurizio Sarri as their new boss by posting a ciggie emoji on Social Media Disgrace Twitter. Won’t somebody think of the children!


Speaking of which … we’ve got a competition for younger readers of The Fiver.

Barney Ronay offers his Euro Not 2020 scene-setter, at which football can still save the game from itself amid the greed and corporate circus

Steve Clarke gets his exclusive chat on with Ewan Murray about his hopes for the Euros, escapades watching Scotland as a boy and shutting out the noise of the England rivalry.

Strong background.
camera.png Strong background. Photograph: Gonzalo Arroyo/Uefa/Getty Images

Get yer latest EN 2020 team guides: today, Spain and Sweden.

Get yer latest EN 2020 player profiles: today, Rodri and Kristoffer Olsson.

Fans from all 24 EN 2020 teams preview the tournament.

Andy Brassell on how Portugal became a European superpower.

This week’s Knowledge runs the rule over teams bouncing back from relegation to win Big Cups and Vases, quickfire red cards and more.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!


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Paulo Fonseca in advanced talks with Spurs. Jesus he must of been what their 5th choice… Likes of Naglesmann, ten Hag, Pochettino and Conte all wanted/approached before him.

Hope their managerial search keeps going for a few weeks yet. And the longer it does go on, the even more likely that Kane will leave them I think. Conte or Pochettino were probably the only 2 managers on that list who could encourage him to stay or at least have a higher chance. 

Even that big lump Mido that used to play for Spurs in 2004-7 is tweeting criticising Daniel Levy questioning him and saying he’s more interested in making money than bringing Spurs on another level. 🤣


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17 minutes ago, OneMoSalah said:

Paulo Fonseca in advanced talks with Spurs. Jesus he must of been what their 5th choice… Likes of Naglesmann, ten Hag, Pochettino and Conte all wanted/approached before him.

Hope their managerial search keeps going for a few weeks yet. And the longer it does go on, the even more likely that Kane will leave them I think. Conte or Pochettino were probably the only 2 managers on that list who could encourage him to stay or at least have a higher chance. 

Even that big lump Mido that used to play for Spurs in 2004-7 is tweeting criticising Daniel Levy questioning him and saying he’s more interested in making money than bringing Spurs on another level. 🤣

Apparently Fonseca is the main choice of their new DoF Paratici.

But overall, Levy has been one confused man in all of this. He said last month that he wanted a manager that plays attacking/entertaining football and uses players from the academy but then suddenly tried to get Conte, even though we all knew that it will never happen for obvious reasons. At least the other names sort of fit into that bill but whoever takes that job is gonna have a tough job on their hands. 

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