Football Tactics for Beginners- The Sweeper Keeper: From Lev Yashin to Manuel Neuer

Germany’s Manuel Neuer has been widely credited as one of the finest goal-keepers of his generation, and quite rightly too. The Bayern Munich shot-stopper...

Latest Posts

Do Premier League Players Have a Say in Their Transfers?

Americans know that in sports, there is a widespread culture where players don’t have a final say in their destinies, with exceedingly rare exceptions.However,...

The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and it’s impact on Football

Not in Kansas AnymoreA century ago, amidst the poultry and pig farms in a small corner of Kansas, a local doctor became inundated...

The Best Football Books of 2020

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2021, we have compiled a list of the best...

Big Sam’s tactics against Liverpool show the template to stifle Klopp’s side

Two complete opposites came up in the congested Christmas fixture list, as Liverpool in great form sitting at the top of the table look...

The Meteoric Rise of RB Leipzig: From Tier Five Football to the Champions League

The best football clubs in the world usually have a storied history, years of success, and generations of fans. However, one of the best...

4 players Man United can target in January transfer window to challenge for the title

Manchester United after an up and down start to the season find themselves 5 points behind Liverpool with a game in hand. After being...

The Return of Strike Partnerships in the Premier League? Part 1

No matter the make-up, the notion of a strike partnership – two out-and-out attackers, often with very different strengths and calling cards, working seamlessly...

Football Books

The Best Football Books of 2020

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2021, we have compiled a list of the best...

Foul- The Beautiful Game, An Ugly Truth [Book Excerpt]

The clip-clop of football boot studs on concrete echoed through the tunnel over the hum of distant crowd noise. A drenched team of players...

Best Football Analytics Books

We have compiled a list of the best football analytics books for the casual football fan. Football analytics and data science/machine learning in general...

The Best Football Books of 2019

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2020, we have compiled a list of the best...

The Best Football Books of 2018

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2019, we have compiled a list of the best...

Foul- The Beautiful Game, An Ugly Truth [Book Excerpt]

The clip-clop of football boot studs on concrete echoed through the tunnel over the hum of distant crowd noise. A drenched team of players wearing black kits with gold trim plodded towards their dressing room. Not a word was uttered amongst them. All eyes were down except for one pair. Gunnar Magnusson, the number four – a six foot four stubbled Man of Steel lookalike – glared at the back of the number seven, Casemiro ‘Cas’ Velasquez – five six, tipping nine and a half stone with a solid meal in his stomach. Cas scraped his wet, mousey hair out of his eyes. He kept facing forward but his gaze involuntarily flickered in Gunnar’s direction. He felt the glare almost burning through his jersey.

You can buy Foul- The Beautiful Game, An Ugly Truth at Amazon.com(US) or Amazon.co.uk

As the team and some of the coaching staff filed into the dressing room, Cas made his way towards his locker area. Even in this gargantuan old stadium, the dressing room was somewhat modernised. ‘Lockers’ were now more like shallow, doorless wardrobes. As Cas was just about to reach his portion of the bench, a teammate’s crumpled shirt zipped past his feet. Its golden Spartan badge faced upwards. He did not look around to see who had hurled it.

Cas sat and slumped his head into his hands. He felt the bench to his right give. A moment later, he was jolted out of his personal darkness as something soft hit his hand, immediately followed by a jingle. A towel rested against his right hand and a set of Range Rover keys had dropped to the floor below. A large pair of feet wearing Copas stood by them. He scooped the keys up and, without looking to his right, set them back on the towel. Then he swivelled to his left and unlaced one of his boots. Beside him, the shirtless Gunnar picked up his towel and started scrubbing his hair dry, disgust etched deep into his face.

A yell came from a player having his knee examined by a physio on a treatment table in the middle of the room. ‘How many times have I fucking told you? I’m sick of you fannying around with your daft gadgets and your exercises. You don’t look like you’ve done a rep in your life and you keep telling me it’s gonna work. It fucking hasn’t. I want the real shit,’ said Krugg, loud enough for everyone to hear.

‘It is the real shit if you listen and do as I say,’ replied the physio, nudging his thick-lensed glasses back up his nose.

‘You do realise you work for us, don’t you?’

The physio nodded, resigned. ‘What, so the customer’s always right?’

‘There we go. You get it, Goggles,’ said Krugg, a smirk spread over his face.

The physio rubbed his smooth scalp for a moment as he thought, then reached into his treatment back and pulled out a vial and a syringe.

Krugg laid back, hands clasped behind his head, victorious. ‘There’s a good boy.’

Gunnar’s booming voice suddenly filled the room. ‘You call yourself a man, turning your back on me . . . on us . . . and pretending nothing’s happened? Say something, you little prick.’ He rose to his feet, towering over Cas, who had now turned away, frantically stuffing his clothes into his holdall. Something jingled as he forced the last items in.

‘This is on you, you spineless cunt.’

Wascoe, the number three, shouted over from across the room. ‘Gunnar! Tonight’s been bad enough. Leave it.’

‘For when?’

Wascoe clammed up.

Gunnar walked to the centre of the floor and addressed the team. ‘We’d be champions right now if he’d done his job . . . fucking Little Sculptor . . . he’s infected this team. He’s turned a pack of winners lame, and you stick up for him? Fuck that.’

Cas, still in his full kit, now with trainers on and his boots in one hand, threw his holdall over his shoulder and scuttled towards the door. Gunnar, seeing this escape attempt, lunged towards Cas, grabbing the back of his collar and giving it a vicious yank. The second tug ripped the front open, exposing Cas’s skeletal chest. Gunnar spun the startled Cas around, deftly stepped his leg behind one of Cas’s and – with another pull of the shirt, which was now twisted around Cas’s neck – tossed him to the floor with a thud.

Wincing, and nursing his right rear ribs, Cas squinted. Rattled from the impact and flushed with adrenaline, his ears rang. Everything seemed at half-speed. Gunnar, almost foaming at the mouth, loomed large and was moving in to do some damage. Cas planted his feet and hands against the cold, hard floor and slid himself away. It was like a nightmare he could not wake himself from; as fast as he moved, he could see it was not fast enough as his attacker got closer still. He watched Gunnar shape up, like he had countless times before to smash a crossfield pass. The irony was that all he could do was ball up to protect himself. Yet after what seemed like an eternity, still no boot came. Like a sea turtle checking if a nearby shark was still lurking, Cas poked his head out of his hands. Wascoe and six other teammates were restraining the rabid Gunnar, who was trying to break through them with everything he had.

Glassy-eyed, Cas snapped out of his stupor, scrambled to his feet, clasped his bag and ran for the door.

‘You don’t deserve that shirt, you cocksucking bottlejob! I’ll make sure you never wear it again!’ bellowed Gunnar, still tussling with his other teammates.

Cas flung the door open. In front of him stood the team’s manager, Cedric Johnstone. Mister Johnstone, as Cas called him, was a portly man, hardened from decades in the game. It was as if his face wore a wrinkle for every dropped point.

‘Where d’you think you’re going, son?’

Cas sheepishly broke eye contact with him, brushed past him and sped away down the tunnel.

‘—Cas?!’

Cas darted along the tunnel, ignoring the shout, and nipped through a side door. His footsteps reverberated down a metal staircase before he navigated his way into a winding dark corridor lit only by red fire alarm LEDs. He fished for something out of the top of his bag. As he reached the stadium’s subterranean players’ carpark, he pulled out a set of keys.

He hurried towards a white Range Rover, paused, and glanced over each shoulder. Coast clear. He unlocked the car and checked again for good measure. Dropping the keys and boots, he took his holdall from over his shoulder, gripping it by its long strap with both hands.

Like a track-and-field hammer thrower, he swung the bag away and back then arced it up above his head and rotated it over and down – crruunncchh – smashing it down onto the bonnet of the car.

He dragged it off, revealing a hefty dent, and swung again. Crrruunncchhh. What he lacked in size he made up for with fury. He thrashed his bag down over and over until the bonnet barely hung on. Eventually, he dropped his bag. Exhausted, he bent forward, put his hands on his knees and sucked in some deep breaths. After a guttural sigh, he picked up a boot then stepped around the side of the car. Chsssshhhhh! He smacked the studs of the boot against the rear passenger window. It chipped but held. He wanted more. He thwacked his boot against it, harder each time, until at the fourth attempt it shattered, glass spraying all over. Eyes wide with the adrenaline, he dropped the boot and surveyed the damage. After gently pressing his lips closed, he inhaled slowly and deeply, held the breath for a few seconds and exhaled a sigh even louder than before.

Cas gathered up the boots and keys, opened the car and walked around to the driver’s door. He climbed in and threw his gear onto the back seat and started the engine. Beyond the battered bonnet, Cas sat expressionless. With his anger beaten out, or at least beaten down, he slowly pulled the car out of its space past a nearby black Range Rover with the license plate ‘GUNN4R 1’.

You can buy Foul- The Beautiful Game, An Ugly Truth at Amazon.com(US) or Amazon.co.uk

Related

The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and it’s impact on Football

Not in Kansas AnymoreA century ago, amidst the poultry and pig farms in a small corner of Kansas, a local doctor became inundated...

The Best Football Books of 2020

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2021, we have compiled a list of the best...

Big Sam’s tactics against Liverpool show the template to stifle Klopp’s side

Two complete opposites came up in the congested Christmas fixture list, as Liverpool in great form sitting at the top of the table look...

The Meteoric Rise of RB Leipzig: From Tier Five Football to the Champions League

The best football clubs in the world usually have a storied history, years of success, and generations of fans. However, one of the best...

Who is likely to be in the Premier League next year?

As we approach the Christmas period, which traditionally marks the halfway season in the Premier League, many fans will be starting to do one...

How Manchester City became one of the best clubs in England

Manchester City remained a mediocre club for a long time in England. They couldn’t dream of winning the Premier League title and finishing in...

The Return of Strike Partnerships in the Premier League? Part 1

No matter the make-up, the notion of a strike partnership – two out-and-out attackers, often with very different strengths and calling cards, working seamlessly...

Man United expected lineup, tactics against City: Solskajer to go back to 4-3-3 formation

Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are under tremendous pressure after their disastrous performance against RB Leipzig which saw them drop out of Champions...

France Boss Didier Deschamps Seems To Be Confused Over Chelsea Striker Olivier Giroud

Less than a month after warning Olivier Giroud he could lose his spot on the France national side if he doesn’t play more minutes...

Latest Posts

Do Premier League Players Have a Say in Their Transfers?

Americans know that in sports, there is a widespread culture where players don’t have a final say in their destinies, with exceedingly rare exceptions.However,...

The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and it’s impact on Football

Not in Kansas AnymoreA century ago, amidst the poultry and pig farms in a small corner of Kansas, a local doctor became inundated...

The Best Football Books of 2020

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2021, we have compiled a list of the best...

Big Sam’s tactics against Liverpool show the template to stifle Klopp’s side

Two complete opposites came up in the congested Christmas fixture list, as Liverpool in great form sitting at the top of the table look...

Don't Miss

What if Pep’s Barcelona played against Sacchi’s AC Milan?

Pep Guardiola has re-invented football so much in the past decade that one wonders if the game is still the same that was played...

Forgotten Superstars-Matthias Sammer

Most football fans who consider themselves to be experts will expect to be able to name a long list of recent Ballon D'or winners....

The long & bizarre history behind why Red Bull chose Leipzig as the hub for their football club

When Red Bull tried to set foot into German football for the first time, they initially tried to use the same method they had...

Hungary – The Golden Team that never quite made it.

When you look back at the history of past World Cup winners and European Championship winners the usual names by in large stand out....

Barcelona Vs Real Madrid:The Dream Team vs The Galacticos

An imagining of a match between two famous El Clasico sides. The 1992 European Cup winning Barcelona team, known as “The Dream Team” versus...

Football History

Descent into darkness: Osvaldo Zubeldia and the era of antifutbol

EVEN if Billy McNeill was really nicknamed Cesar rather than Caesar, there was no denying that the scene on May 25, 1967, was one...

A brief history of the footballing aesthetic (and its gradual death)

The death of football at its most beautiful peak, is nigh ‘Football is the beautiful game.’ A statement we have heard since childhood. Words which...

Football And Alcohol

“When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”Football and booze go a long long way back, in...

Lifted Over The Turnstiles: Scotland’s Football Grounds In The Black & White Era

This most comprehensive book about old Scottish football grounds ever published, Lifted Over the Turnstiles contains almost 200 photos of 42 football stadiums here...

The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and it’s impact on Football

Not in Kansas AnymoreA century ago, amidst the poultry and pig farms in a small corner of Kansas, a local doctor became inundated...