How will Watford cope with being in the FA Cup Final?

This Saturday 18 May, the Watford FC manager, Javi Garcia, will lead his team who are the underdogs against the Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team. The fact that the Hornets have not been in a major cup final since 1984 will add a layer of vulnerability to the Hertfordshire team as they face a team that has won 8 major titles in the last 8 years alone.

So how will Watford cope psychologically with the prospect of potentially lifting the FA Cup trophy? One can only imagine the excitement and anticipation that the Watford players are going through as they count the days down to the Final at Wembley Stadium.

In a recent interview with Betway, sports psychologist Dan Abrahams explains, the referee’s whistle signalling the start of a career-defining game and is a feeling that any player will relish and perhaps be anxious about.

“The implications of the different atmosphere can bring performance anxiety, which can be crippling,” says Abrahams, who works on a consultancy basis for AFC Bournemouth and Swedish top-flight side Ostersunds, having previously worked with the FA, PFA, LMA and a host of Premier League and Championship clubs across his 19-year career.

Every second of the game matters in these fine margin games, it has to be a give it all mentality and focus non-stop for all the Watford players, especially against a winning team like Manchester City who can destroy you if you fail to anticipate their next move.

Abrahams adds “as the name performance anxiety suggests, players can experience psychological anxiety and physiological stress response,” he continues: “players develop tunnel vision, where they no longer see a 360-degree view of the pitch. It will make them feel lethargic and flat, so they’re slow to anticipate and are slow to make decisions.

With the 34-year-old Watford defender José Holebas now clear to play in Saturday’s FA Cup final, after his red card against West Ham was rescinded. There is no doubt Garcia will count on his maturity and experience, but there is no doubt that other physiological factors come into play, according to Abrahams “there’s an increase in bloodflow to the front part of the brain and a greater amount of oxygen-rich blood flowing around your body,”.

He adds that “players also release hormones such as testosterone and adrenaline – the building blocks of power, strength and speed – as well as dopamine – your interest chemical – and endorphins, which are your feel-good chemicals, in the appropriate amounts.

“That would result in a player being quicker to anticipate, make faster and maybe more accurate decisions. They will be quicker, stronger and more explosive. Obviously those are the kind of things you want.”

Should Watford be able to surprise everyone with a win against City this Saturday, there is no doubt that overcoming the psychological barrier will be one of their greatest feats.

Real Madrid To Sign Chelsea Star Eden Hazard After Season Ends

Zinedine Zidane’s return to Real Madrid within less than a year of leaving the club has left fans and sports betting enthusiasts really excited. Betting followers on Stakers.com never happened to miss any live matching odds provided an easy user interface and a comprehensive coverage of the statistics involved in the match-play. And a back-to-back defeats of Madrid to Barcelona was the most popular among all.

However, the return is not all glamorous for the 46-year old Zidane. Real Madrid has been really suffering after Cristiano Ronaldo left for Italian club Juventus back in July 2018.

Even though Zidane has previously led Real Madrid for 3 consecutive Champions League trophy victories, the team needs some major shakeup to get back in form for the next season.

Zidane is keen on making some quick changes to the club to gain back its form. And recent news reveals that one of his top priority motives is to bring Chelsea star Eden Hazard to the team.

Hazard joined Chelsea back in 2012 and has one more year of his contract pending with the club. However, Real Madrid is currently in extensive talks with Chelsea to release Eden Hazard as soon as the current season ends.

Even though Chelsea are expecting to receive €140 million as transfer fee for the 28-year old Hazard, no official asking price has yet been reported. However, as per Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, Hazard will break all previous transfer records of the club.

Reports also claim that Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri along with others in the hierarchy is aware of Hazard leaving the club soon. The deal is expected to be made official by the end of May, as soon as Europa League ends.

Acquiring Hazard is part of Real Madrid’s plan of rebuilding the team. The club is expected to spend over 500 million euros in acquiring new players and renewing player deals.

Previously Madrid had signed 21-year old center-back Éder Militão for €50 million in March, which is the first player acquisition after Zidane’s return to the club.

If everything goes right as part of Zidane’s reformation plan for Real Madrid, Luka Jovic, Paul Pogba, Christian Eriksen, and Tanguy Ndombélé will also join the club.

Just as Hazard is going to make his way to Real Madrid, talks are in place with Manchester United to let go of Pogba. Even though Zidane is very much interested to take in Pogba, whom he admires a lot, the deal is expected to be quite expensive for Madrid.

Manchester United is not expected to let go off Pogba for anything less than €150 million, and to make the deal financially viable, Madrid is expecting Pogba to take a wage cut off the €18 million that he currently makes back at Old Trafford.

However, finances don’t seem a problem for Madrid as they already have about €150 million at their disposal and can make some big money through player sales as Mateo Kovacic, James Rodríguez, and Gareth Bale are marked for an exit. Moreover, an upcoming deal with Adidas, who has been a long-time kit supplier for the team, is expected to fetch in another €100 million per year.

Apart from the available funds, Madrid will also be taking a huge loan to support their spending spree. They have already taken another €575 million in order to back the development of their home stadium at Santiago Bernabéu.

The best Premier League teams to suffer relegation

With the business end of the 2018/19 Premier League season on the horizon, those teams flirting with relegation will need to up the ante and haul themselves away from the dreaded drop-zone. The financial implications of slipping down to the second tier can be catastrophic for some clubs, whereas others can re-build and come back up a stronger outfit.

Since the Premier League’s inauguration in 1992, 40 different teams have fallen through the trapdoor and although the vast majority weren’t strong enough to sustain their position, some clubs really should have avoided the cut.

Here, we take a look through some of the best Premier League sides to taste relegation.

Newcastle United 2008/09

After 16 successive seasons in the Premier League, Newcastle United were relegated to the Championship on the last day of the 2008/09 season. The Magpies made an okay start to the campaign, but things quickly went sour after manager Kevin Keegan left his role, citing backroom interference as his main gripe.

In fact, Newcastle hardly stood a chance after they swapped manager on no fewer than five occasions throughout the season. Owner Mike Ashley, who still owns the club to this day, admitted it had been a “catastrophe” for all involved but the squad was rich with talent and should not have been in such dire straits. The likes of Michael Owen, Mark Viduka, Obafemi Martins and Fabricio Coloccini were all part of the team that season.

Leeds United 2003/04

Three years prior to Leeds United’s relegation from the Premier League, the Whites were jostling with Europe’s best and almost made it to the Champions League final. However, failure to qualify for the tournament next year had massive financial implications on the club. A whole host of talent was shipped out of West Yorkshire to help balance the books and although this worked for the next couple of years, it was third time unlucky for the Whites.

With debts nearing the £100 million mark, there was only one outcome for Leeds United and although they still boasted a squad that should be nearer mid-table, the turmoil behind the scenes proved too much. 25 players left Elland Road that summer, including: Paul Robinson, James Milner, Ian Harte, Alan Smith and Viduka.

Middlesbrough 1996/97

Arguably the most entertaining team to suffer relegation as well as being one of the best, Middlesbrough fans will never forget the 1996/97 campaign. It all started so well, with the expensive captures of Fabrizio Ravanelli, Juninho and Emerson all playing their part as Boro were fourth in mid-September.

A 2-0 defeat to Arsenal meant the Teesiders went on a 12 game winless run after their bright start, ultimately paving way for their return to England’s second tier. Things weren’t made any easier when Boro postponed a game against Blackburn Rovers, owing to a large number of players being injured or unwell. This resulted in a three point deduction which would be huge come the end of the season. To make matters worse, Boro lost in both domestic cup finals at the end of the season.

West Ham United 2002/03

Even today, the most hardened Premier League fans will still scratch their heads in disbelief as to how this West Ham United squad suffered relegation. The East Londoners had up to six current/future England players in their ranks and had maverick Paulo Di Canio to rely upon up front.

The season before saw West Ham finish seventh, but their winless run at the start of the 2002/03 campaign made it nigh-on impossible to relinquish their European aspirations. The problems worsened when manager Glenn Roeder was taken ill after a game against Middlesbrough, with Sir Trevor Brooking filling the void and almost keeping the Hammers afloat. A last-day draw to Birmingham City confined West Ham to their first relegation in ten seasons.

Who are your picks for the drop this year? Check out the latest English Premier League relegation odds right now.

Will Liverpool Win the Premier League This Year?

With the end stages of the English Premier League drawing closer, it is interesting to look at some of the teams that are at the top of the league right now. Liverpool FC have put on a relatively good performance so far but are they good enough to win the title? Here we are going to explore that, so keep reading to find out more.

Their Performance So Far

This season so far has seen some highs and lows for Liverpool FC, as they are currently at the top of the table with 82 points and 25 wins under their belt. They have only managed to lose one match as of current but they have drawn seven over the entirety of the season. This shows just how well they have been performing in comparison to the other teams in the league.

In total, they have managed to score 75 goals across the season and have only conceded 20 goals. This is due to the impressive squad that this team has on the pitch including top goalkeeper Alisson. Without their top players, Liverpool wouldn’t have got quite this far this season.

If you were to place a bet on the winner of the Premier League right now, then a good place to start would be the team that is at the top of the league table. Liverpool are currently in the top spot and so sites like sport.netbet.co.uk are offering odds based on the fact that Liverpool are very likely to win. Of course, it is not always easy since being at the top in the final stages of the competition means there is a lot of pressure to succeed.

Top Players

When considering whether Liverpool will end up taking home the title or not, it is interesting to look at the top players on the squad. One of their best players right now is goalkeeper Alisson, who has made 33 appearances and has 17 clean sheets under his belt.

One of their best players right now is goalkeeper Alisson, who has made 33 appearances and has 17 clean sheets under his belt.

The top goal scorers for Liverpool this season have been Mohamed Salah with 18 goals and Sadio Mané with 17. Other notable players on the squad include Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson and James Milner.

These players have contributed to the success of Liverpool so far and plan to take them all the way to the final.

Other Contenders

Liverpool FC might be at the top of the league table right now, but there are plenty of other teams that are close behind. While Liverpool have 82 points, Manchester City are sitting in the second spot with 80 points. Next on the list are Chelsea with 66 points and Tottenham with 64 points. With more matches still to be played, it is possible that some of these teams could creep up the league table and give Liverpool a fight for the trophy at the end of the season.

Final Verdict

It is impossible to say with any certainty at this point if Liverpool FC will end up winning the Premier League this year, however, they do have a good chance of taking it home. Manchester City are close behind, but we could end up seeing these two teams in the final when it comes along. Keep an eye on the performance of this team as they might just be able to win.

Alternative Candidates for PFA Player of the Year 2019

The PFA is set to make its announcement of PFA Player of the Year in the coming days, which will undoubtedly be greeted with the usual grumbles of the award being handed out with so much of the season to run.

Regardless, of when it is handed out, the voting is usually spot on. The bookies odds for the current favourites for the gong are heavily weighted towards Manchester City and Liverpool players: Virgil Van Dijk 4/11, Raheem Sterling 7/2, Sergio Aguero 16/1 and Sadio Mane 40/1 (prices from Bet365). There are odds for a host of others, but those are the frontrunners.

However, great players can miss out on the award. Paul Scholes, for example, never got the nod from his fellow professionals, despite arguably being the most talented English player of his generation. “Paul Scholes is a role model. For me – and I really mean this – he’s the best central midfielder I’ve seen in the last 15, 20 years.” Was Xavi’s take on Scholes. “Toughest opponent” according to Zinedine Zidane.

Bernardo Silva has been a revelation at City

But what about current players who have been doing well this season? There are a few who have been going under the radar when it comes to award season. Their talent, of course, means they aren’t compete unknowns, but perhaps they deserves a little bit more recognition.

Top of that list comes the brilliant Bernardo Silva, who is regarded alongside Sterling as Man City’s best player this season. Despite being 24, Silva and Sterling are actually in the running for the Young Player of the Year. You can back Silva at 12/1 with BetVictor, a bookie covered with this guide to free bets. Sterling is the 1/6 favourite, but players might unconsciously split their vote with the main award when it comes to the England man.

Regardless, Silva is a wonderful player, about whom City fans wax lyrical. In recent weeks, as City make their push for the title, Sterling has been taking most of the headlines after his goalscoring exploits, but it is Silva who have been crowned Player of the Month for the club.

Alisson contributes to Liverpool’s mean defence

Liverpool have the best defence in the Premier League so far this season, with much of the credit going to Virgil Van Dijk. The big Dutchman’s performances have put him as favourite for POTY, but he should also thank the man behind him – Alisson Becker.

The Brazilian No. 1 has been terrific since arriving from Roma. Keepers don’t usually get the PFA gong – Peter Schmeichel famously missed out – but Alisson would be a worthy candidate. He’s in the conversation, at least, with some bookies quoting 200/1 (Sky Bet) he gets a shock win.

Son Heung-Min is adored by Spurs fans, his tenacious performances and knack of scoring important goals have seen him become a kind of cult figure in North London. He has had to lead the Spurs attack during the prolonged periods of injury to Harry Kane, and he has done so with aplomb. 12 goals in the league and five assists might not seem like headline figures for a striker, but Son is a difference-maker, as evidenced with his crucial equaliser in the Champions League against Manchester City.

A final note on some player who probably shouldn’t be in the running for the POTY, but nevertheless have been having excellent seasons for their clubs. They include: Gylfi Sigurdsson, who has been quietly brilliant at Everton, Luka Milivojevic, whose goals have led Crystal Palace to safety, and Alexandre Lacazette, who has really found his feet at Arsenal.

Emery and Sarri Should Embrace FA Cup

As the teams started appearing out of the proverbial hat for the FA Cup for the 3rd Round Draw, you would have forgiven the likes of Unai Emery and Maurizio Sarri for shrugging and returning their attention to seemingly more important matters. Both managers have around seven or eight games to play before they encounter lower league opposition in what will be their first ever FA Cup matches.

The Premier League, of course, has a lot of business to do over the Christmas period, a time which is usually cited as season defining for many teams. On paper, there are four or five clubs in the hunt for the Premier League title – Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs. That’s on paper though; in reality, only Liverpool are in with a chance of catching Pep Guardiola’s men – and even that is unlikely.

City odds-on to retain Premier League title

Don’t be fooled by the sometimes-hyperbolic marketing of sports broadcasters when they talk of title deciders. Consider how the bookmakers have priced up the title race: with less than half the season gone by, the best price you can get on Man City for a second successive title is 2/9 (Coral). Despite being in 3rd place, Chelsea are 50/1 (Unibet). Arsenal and Spurs are 60/1 and 80/1 respectively. For the bookies, the decision has been made.

The FA Cup betting is a totally different matter though. Bookies must weigh up that clubs will balance their needs against the Premier League and European competition. City are still favourites of course, but the odds of 5/1 from 888sport reflect that it won’t be as easy as the league. Chelsea come in at 7/1, with the North London clubs, Spurs an Arsenal, both at a tempting 10/1.

Chelsea and Arsenal are both involved in the Europa League, and certainly doing very well. Emery – seen as a Europa League specialist – will carry the weight of expectation from Arsenal fans. However, this shouldn’t be seen as the only route to rebooting the fortunes of the North London club. Nor should Sarri throw all his eggs in the Europa League basket come spring time.

Handy FA Cup draws for London clubs

Indeed, the FA Cup draw was kind to Chelsea and Arsenal, with the former drawn at home to Nottingham Forest and the latter getting an easy tie away to Blackpool or Solihull. Spurs – who could also do with some silverware under Mauricio Pochettino – also got non-league opposition in the form of Tranmere or Southport.

The point is that each of these three clubs could be in within a few games of an FA Cup final before the knockout phase of the Europa League begins (Spurs’ Champions League fate has not been sorted at the time of writing, but they could easily join Chelsea and Arsenal in Europe’s secondary competition this spring).

In that scenario, the managers are going to have to start prioritising competitions. Of course, Champions League ambitions for the 2019/20 season will come first, so you could see the managers focusing on a Top 4 finish or Europa League Final. But clubs can also feel like they are stuck in some kind of existentialist loop, just doing enough to qualify for the Champions League, failing and repeat.

Sarri and Emery would do well to remember that there is more to English football than European qualification or the Premier League. For contrasting, yet compelling, reasons, the FA Cup might be the perfect way for them to signal their arrival at their new clubs.

 

Club Manager 2019 – The Ultimate Manager Game

When the year began, no one could have envisaged that anyone other than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo would win the 2018 Ballon d’Or. I mean the two larger-than-life figures have after all utterly dominated the game over the last ten years; winning a staggering five Ballon d’Or trophies apiece.

Luka Modric has however broken the glass ceiling by winning this year’s edition of the Ballon d’Or, becoming the first player other than Messi or Ronaldo to clinch the award in more than a decade.

Although Luka has managed to claim the award during the Messi-Ronaldo era, deservedly so having had a tremendous run in the UEFA Champions League and subsequent 2018 FIFA World Cup, that does not in any way usher in the end of Messi and Ronaldo—as either of the two will probably still win it in future.

It’s hard becoming a top footballer and even harder to be feted as the best in the game. The numbers grow even slimmer for managers, as very few of them ever get to leave an enduring mark in the game.

That however shouldn’t impede you from collecting an accolade of your own in the sport, as you can experience the full swirl of emotions that comes with being part of a football team by playing Club Manager 2019. Designed to offer the ultimate pick-up-and-play club manager experience, you will oversee a football team as seen through the eyes of a manager.

The game is ideally based on cards and you’ll be required to open card packs in order to further the chances of acquiring better players, items and upgrades for your club. You will be able to play a number of matches such as division matches, competition matches and exhibition matches on a daily basis; with the surety of receiving free manager cash (in-game currency) after every match, even when you lose.

Beginning with a relatively simple team, your primary goal will be to not only manage it, but also inculcate whichever tactical approach that you feel will instill your team’s place in history by securing both league and cup competitions.

Club Manager is such a simple game to master as it has an easily accessible user interface and in-game assistance fitted with notifications meant to guide you throughout the game—not to mention the in-game chatting system to thrillingly keep in touch with friends and other players.

As you grow in stature, you can also elevate the status of your club by increasing the stadium capacity which will in turn generate more financial bonuses for home games, whereas upgrading on the quality of the turf will lower the chances of costly injuries being sustained by indispensable members of your squad.

Quite the convenience is the fact that Club Manager will be made available across all major platforms such as PC (desktop or via browser game) iOS and Android, so you won’t ever feel secluded from any of your friends or other players.

Upon its release, Club Manager will without question be the best football manager game on the planet!

 

Could we about to see the return of Wenger?

Since departing the Emirates as Arsenal both, those close to Arsene Wenger have said he has a new lease of life, a pep in his step and a fresh enthusiasm for football – however this could be about to change, with the full force of the PSG project reportedly seeking his services.

Arsenal’de Arsene Wenger dönemi bitiyor
“Arsenal’de Arsene Wenger dönemi bitiyor” by spor kolik ( )

A storm has been brewing since Paris coach Thomas Tuchel arrived in the French capital to take over from Unai Emery.

Tuchel and PSG sporting director Antero Henrique are said to be locked in a furious row over the past summer’s transfer activity, rather lack of.

The capital city club are currently flying in Ligue 1, well on track for their sixth league title in the last seven but, with European success is the barometer on which the side marks its progression, Tuchel isn’t happy with recruitment.

In their Champions League defeat to Liverpool at Anfield, a side 9/4 to win the Premier League with William Hill, Tuchel deployed wide-man Angel Di Maria and centre-back Marquinhos in a midfield trio next Adrien Rabiot, perhaps a message to PSG’s hierarchy.

According to reports in France, Wenger has been linked with replacing Henrique as PSG sporting director but moved to a more lofty position closer to Qatari chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi – this would not only overseeing recruitment, but the entire direction of the club.

Wenger hit the ground running in the Premier League, bringing with him new working methods and had a superb eye for a player. However, later in his Arsenal things began to unravel and his coaching seemed to become less effective.

The French manager practically built the Emirates from the pitch onwards, adhering to strict budgets while remaining in the CL. However, with PSG’s budget behind him, not having to worry about day-to-day coaching, this could be the perfect role for the football veteran.

It was the great Neymar – Meunier hails PSG star
“It was the great Neymar – Meunier hails PSG star” by Dickson Dagogo ( )

Wenger has long been thought of as much more than a manager, a football philosopher with his hand on the pulse, anticipating the way football was heading – taking a long term approach that PSG could benefit from.

In their search of European domination, the Parisians have pulled the trigger on big buys like Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, but are now without depth, having to sell players to conform with Financial Fair Play.

In their search of European domination, the Parisians have pulled the trigger on big buys like Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

Under a potential new regime under Wenger, you would expect him to steady the ship and build slowly, trusting youth and team chemistry above star-power.

PSG might reportedly want Wenger, but does Wenger want to step back into the relentless and ruthless football business so soon after leaving North London?

He seems to be enjoying flying around he world in a sort of football ambassadorial role and is unlikely to step into management, so a move upstairs into the organisational side of things could appeal.

However, PSG just doesn’t seem like the right fit for the 68-year-old. With unrest at Monaco and Leonardo Jardim reportedly on the verge of leaving the Principality club, don’t be surprised if Wenger is linked with a move back to the Stade Louis II, with a board role.

Questionable Endorsements: Are Footballers Playing Fair in the World of Business?

Another year, another scandal involving one of the most famous football players in the world. As you might expect, the subject of the scandal is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, currently playing for the LA Galaxy – the team said to be the retirement home for aging British footballers.

The thing that sparked the latest controversy surrounding the player is Zlatan’s involvement with a betting firm – he didn’t only sign a sponsorship deal with BetHard, becoming the company’s brand ambassador, but he has also bought into it, becoming the co-owner of the Malta-registered company. “I have obviously been intensively courted by betting companies throughout my career, but up until now I have not been presented to anything that has triggered me,” the player told SportsPro Media this March.

“With Bethard, there was something different. It’s a company with Swedish roots, the founders are from my hometown and they are true challengers who really want to do things differently.” There is a lot of controversies surrounding this decision, with the player being criticized by players, regulators, and Sweden’s Gambling Minister alike.

“I have obviously been intensively courted by betting companies throughout my career, but up until now I have not been presented to anything that has triggered me.”

Zlatan is not the first athlete to get involved with a questionable partner. Some of the endorsements we’ve had the chance to see in the past raised just as many eyebrows – yet most of them were on the funnier side.

One of the most interesting examples was the apparent relationship between quality football and dry-cured bacon promoted by former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel. Born and raised in Denmark, Schmeichel obviously chose a business from its home country to become the face of. Apparently, the ad campaign was successful – the original ad involving questionable vocals by the (pretty hungover) goalkeeper resulted in a sequel filmed a decade after the first.

Rush ahead a decade or so, and you’ll stumble upon another well-known player promoting a product that shouldn’t be consumed by athletes – let alone kids, who are the most impressionable audience for sports and ads.

Emmanuel Adebayor is a Togolese professional footballer who played for a series of Premier League clubs, including Arsenal, Man City, and the Spurs. In 2012, though, he entered the playfield for another team – Power Horse. Adebayor didn’t perform as great on the small screen as he did in the playfield – his performance as the face of the energy drink is remembered as weird at best.

The history of professional football is filled with goofy, tone-deaf, and often funny advertising stunts – yet none of them are as controversial as the one involving Zlatan.

12 Things We Miss About Football in the 90’s

Football is the national obsession – and with good reason. We love watching it, talking about it, betting on it and – when we can get our dodgy knee moving – playing it.

But, you know what? There’s plenty of things we miss about the way things used to be (and that’s not just having a better knee). It’s time to don the rose tinted glasses and take a trip down memory lane to celebrate the great things we miss about football in the 1990s.

When foreign imports were new and exciting

The likes of Eden Hazard and Sergio Agüero are still exciting – and there are many great things about the fact that the English Premier League attracts the best and brightest talent from across the world. However, nothing will quite top the novelty that surrounded Bergkamp, Zola, Yeboah and even Jan Age Fjortoft – the exotic and exciting foreign talent fielded by every top tier team in the brave new era of the Premier League.

Old grounds

Shiny new stadiums are all well and good but they lack the rough-and-ready charm of the grounds we knew and loved in the 90s. Highbury, the Old Wembley, Highfield Road, The Dell and Roker Park are all sadly missed in that regard.

Dodgy barnets

This current batch of footballers are just too stylish. While the outrage surrounding Paul Pogba’s haircut from so-called ‘proper football men™’ is laughable, we can’t help but feel nostalgic for the genuinely dodgy barnet of the 90s. Give us a Barry Venison mullet, a Romania 98 bleach or, best of all, a Jason Lee pineapple any day.

Footballers who looked a bit more like us

It wasn’t just the hair we loved about 90s footballers – it was also the fact that they just looked a little bit more like us. Today’s bunch are finely tuned super-athletes capable of physical feats beyond us mere mortals. The 90s, however, gave us Jan Molby and an aged John Wark and Alan Cork. They were almost certainly much fitter than us, but at least they didn’t look it.

When money wasn’t completely everything

It felt like a big deal when Manchester United broke the transfer record to spend £7 million to sign Andy Cole from Newcastle – and an even bigger deal when Newcastle more than doubled that a year later to snap up Alan Shearer from Blackburn. Yet now those numbers seems pretty quaint – and the sort of figures that buy a back up full back for Man City. From transfer fees to ticket prices, it feels as though money has spiralled out of control since then.

Goalkeeper kits

There were some pretty special kits in the 90s – but the brightest, boldest and best were reserved for the goalkeepers. Whether it’s the Newcastle kit sporting the city’s skyline, the Sunderland shirt with a pair of goalkeeping gloves on the front, the Manchester United shirts from 92/93 that resembled impressionist paintings or – best of all – David Seaman’s Euro 96 ‘Refreshers’ shirt – the keeper kits of the 90s were gloriously weird and wonderful.

Football Italia

The super smooth James Richardson sitting outside a café leafing through the Italian papers with an alluring gelato, the goals from George Weah et al and ‘that’ music (goooolazzo), Football Italia set the bar when it came to covering foreign football. Nothing now quite captures the fun of Channel Four’s Italian adventure.

Fantasy Football League

Football Italia wasn’t the only TV show we miss from the 90s, however. David Baddiel and Frank Skinner’s Euro 96 anthem ‘Three Lions’ might have enjoyed a new lease of life this summer as Gareth Southgate’s men marched on to the World Cup semi finals – but their 90s TV show Fantasy Football League deserves similar acclaim. Across three series, the comedians – and Angus ‘Statto’ Loughran – welcomed a series of guests to their sofa in a show that blended the new found love of fantasy football games (which are now, let’s face it, a bit old hat) with a chat show format. Regular skits included Phoenix From The Flames – which saw famous moments recreated – and Jeff Astle Sings – in which the West Brom legend would perform a classic track over the closing credits.

The celebrations

Dele Alli might have caught the eye with that funny celebration that people are struggling to get their head around – but unusual celebrations like that are all too few and far between now. The 90s gave us Klinsmann’s slide, Ravanelli’s ‘shirt over the head’, Gazza’s dentist chair and – best of all – Aylesbury Town’s duck celebration when they made the third round of the FA Cup in 1994. Schools and parks across the country saw these classics routines replicated with joy.

Matt Le Tissier

The Premier League is blessed with an abundance of superstars – and a regular array of breathtaking goals – but that doesn’t mean that we don’t miss the one man highlights reel that was Matt Le Tissier. Sure, there are good strikes most weeks now – but ask yourself how many would make the Saints star’s top goals list and you’ll realise why we look back on ‘Le Tiss’ so fondly.

Mad characters

Le Tiss brought the goals – but there were a host of other players who brought the madness to the party. Eric Cantona (and his infamous kung fu kick at Crystal Palace), Julian Dicks, Vinny Jones, Roy Keane and Duncan Ferguson were the sort of stark raving bonkers characters that we just don’t see any more.

Big clubs

Aston Villa, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest – we miss you being good.

Our obsession with football shows no signs of abating – and there’s plenty to keep us entertained in the modern day – but there’s little doubt that the 90s had a lot going for it. Football in the 1990s had a glint in its eye and a sense of silliness and humour that the present day could learn a thing or two from.

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