Cross the Line – Book Review

What does it mean to be a professional footballer and to believe in God? English and international players answer this and other questions in a recently published book. Read more →

Red Star – Niort FC

Mid-table Red Star host bottom team Niort FC on a Friday evening kick-off. While the hosts have found their momentum again, Niort are sinking slowly. Read more →

Second Season Syndrome for Magdeburg?

Winning promotion is one thing, sustaining the level in the new division another. Last season FC Magdeburg surprised many and probably themselves and finished fourth. The second season is something entirely different. Read more →

Germany’s World Cup Goals

Ever wondered who scored all these goals for Germany at the World Cup? The video shows in roughly 62 minutes every goal scored since 1954. There is one omission though, East Germany beat West Germany in 1974 and the goal is missing. Besides this arguably disputable fact this is a very good collection.

Sporting Heroes: Paul Breitner – The Revolutionary German?

Paul Breitner has divided opinions in Germany like no other. A genius of a player, he once flirted with Marxism and sported an Afro. Leslie Crang, an Arsenal supporter from London looks back at the career of one of his sporting heroes. Read more →

Red Star FC 93 – AJ Auxerre

The curtain raiser for Red Star at Stade Jean Bouin on a Saturday afternoon in late July. Today’s visitors were AJ Auxerre from the Bourgogne, south of Paris. Read more →

Wandering Red Star

After the Euro 2016 finished three weeks ago, there was all of a sudden no football to watch, talk about. After a few moments of confusion though, the focus soon switched to league football. Here we go again: It is late July and the season kicks off. For Red Star it means getting used to another stadium. While their heart and soul will forever be at Stade Bauer in St-Ouen, the brain and the bureaucrats demand that the club play in a stadium fit for the purpose of Ligue 2. Whaetever this encompasses, it meant that Red Star had to play as far away as Beauvais during the last season, meaning fans had to travel almost 100km to the north of Paris to support their beloved club.

For the new season, the club almost return home. Its origins are in Paris, in fact they played near the Eiffel Tower in their early days before the area became interesting for property developers. The Stade Bauer, just outside Paris in St-Ouen became their new home from 1909. It was the Stade de Paris, dubbed Stade Bauer after the name of the street: rue Dr. Bauer. However, the stadium is in no state to host the prestigious Ligue 2. There is an ongoing debate about where to play in the future or whether to renovate Stade Bauer. The fans prefer the latter and have been campaigning for decades to get their point across. So far, unfortunately, to no avail. Though it seems that there is some re-thinking taking place and the city has offered to participate in the renovations costs. Therefore, Red Star will travel for the foreseeable future. For 2016/17 they are back within the boundaries of Paris and have contemporarily landed in the 16. arrondissement to play at Stade Jean Bouin. This little ground is located directly next to the might Parc des Princes where PSG ply their trade. The ground was built in 1925 and currently holds 20000 people. Originally used by CASG Paris, it is now home to the Rugby club Stade Francais and has been used for the IRB Sevens World Series in 2015/16. Jean Bouin was a long distance runner and won the silver medal at the 1912 Olympics. After a refurbishment in 2010/11 the running track has been removed and the ground is used for playing sports only. In June this year the mayor of Paris and club signed an agreement that their home matches will be played at Stade jean Bouin. Once more, the club are moving as the situation about their ground has been ignored and neglected for too long.

© for the image of Stade Jean Bouin: Liodartois via WikiCommons under CC BY-SA 4.0

Biggest Football Payout of all Time

Every next year football attracts more and more money through player transfers, sponsorships and bets, so here are some of the biggest football payouts of all time. Read more →

A Cut Prize Manager

After a surprisingly short Euro campaign in which England were beaten by Iceland, the FA, surprise, surprise appointed Sam Allardyce as new manager. While Allardyce has made it clear that he always wanted the job and that it is the best job in English football, the salary for his services is reported to be less than his predecessor in office. The press were quick to point out that £3m a year is a sorry amount for an England manager.

In the Wikipedia page for delusion this condition is described as

a belief that is held with strong conviction against superior evidence to the contrary.

Reading reports about the annual salary of Sam Allardyce in his new position as England manager, one cannot but think the England football media establishment is suffering delusion. It is important to look at the performances of the team at the most recent tournament in France. England dominated Russia yet failed to get anything out of this game except a mere point. Against Wales luck was on their side to turn the game around. This was followed by a dull game against Slovakia. OK, three matches in ten days are excruciating, though professional footballers should be able to adapt to such circumstances. Moreover, the Premier League often has the same rhythm. It is therefore astounding to see the team stumble at the first hurdle, in this case against Iceland. England’s qualification for Euro 2016 was impeccable: ten games, ten victories. At this stage, the salary for Roy Hodgson was partly justified.
At his presentation as new England manager Sam Allardyce said it was time to deliver. From the beginning there is pressure on him and he knows it.
Some media reports say that the salary is said to be less than his predeccor’s but still £3m per year. It is the highest salary in international football. Here is where delusion is diagnosed. The evidence of England’s performances in the last six years suggests a stagnation after a decade of reasonable performances at two World Cups and the Euros, with missing out on 2008 being the exception.
As a comparison the German national coach Jogi Löw’s salary is looked at. His current contract sees him earning €3,3m per year. On top of that he has a contract with Nivea for men’s toiletry products. Could we imagine Big Sam in a Nivea ad? Löw has managed Germany for ten years now and has reached two finals, won the World Cup and his teams have always reached at least the semi-finals in every tournament since 2006. A few other figures will give an even better picture. The Portuguese coach Fernando Santos earns €1.2m, the French coach Didier Deschamps €2m a year. Roy Hodgson was the highest paid coach at Euro 2016. It is staggering what the FA are willing to pay for their managers given the performances of players and coach.

The last big Tournament?

With Portugal the winner of the Euro 2016, a short reflection on the state of Europe as it was mirrored in football during the past four weeks. Read more →