Some of the best football writing to be found online from the past week, including why it’s gone so wrong for Alexis Sanchez at Old Trafford, Roy Keane’s incredible performance against Juventus 20 years ago, and Howard Gayle on racism in the game.
Is there any future for Alexis Sanchez at Man United?
A quick read from Andy Mitten for ESPN on Alexis Sanchez and his disastrous time at Manchester United, includes this exceptional paragraph that reveals so much in one small example:
“When the cold air from an open fridge door was drifting in his direction at the training ground earlier this season, he asked for the door to be changed so that it opened away from him. This was done without question.”
Piece on A Sanchez. For ESPN.https://t.co/z9hwYPrugE
— Andy Mitten (@AndyMitten) April 19, 2019
Choose your own Spurs adventure
Jonathan Liew has put together this creative and typically hilarious piece for the Independent following Spurs’ madcap match with Man City in the Champions League last week. The reader gets to choose the outcome of this story, which includes such potential outcomes as this:
‘On the morning of June 1, North Korean troops cross the 38th parallel and launch a surprise land and air assault on South Korean territory. As international leaders line up to condemn the unprovoked attack, a state of emergency is immediately declared in South Korea, with all males under the age of 40 – including those living abroad – immediately conscripted into the national defence forces.
‘When Tottenham’s players gather for breakfast in their Madrid hotel ahead of the Champions League final against Barcelona, one player is conspicuous by his absence. A club official is quickly despatched to Son Heung-Min’s room, and finds it completely empty except for a plate of discarded, half-eaten room service tagliatelle. On closer inspection, however, the tagliatelle appears to have been arranged in a deliberate pattern. When the sauce is cleared away and the plate rotated, clearly written in pasta are the words: “Send help.”
‘With Harry Kane out injured after a recurrence of his freak lighting rig injury, you’ve got a choice to make.’
Read: Pep’s wretched away record in the Champions League latter stages at the heart of repeated failures
Roy Keane’s finest hour for Manchester United
Adam Bate looks back on that Roy Keane performance against Juventus in the 1999 Champions League semi-finals in this great piece for Sky Sports:
‘Keane’s goal was the catalyst for United’s comeback but it was the booking that made his individual performance the stuff of legend, lending the night its most enduring narrative. The captain, the man who had done more than anyone to get them there, would be denied.
The incident itself was sparked by Jesper Blomqvist’s loose pass. “He didn’t speak to Jesper for about a month after that,” said Cole. “I think Jesper was worried about coming to training because he thought Roy might do a two-footer on him.”
The television cameras caught Keane screaming at Blomqvist in the aftermath, urging him in no uncertain terms to pass it forwards not square. In truth, he was not to blame. Keane’s subsequent first touch had not been great, his lunge on Zinedine Zidane desperate.’
Twenty years since Roy Keane delivered “the most emphatic display of selflessness seen on a football field” when he broke Juventus in Turin. Watched it back and wrote about it here. https://t.co/rh5yTa0hqE
— Adam Bate (@ghostgoal) April 21, 2019
Liverpool, Howard Gayle and the harsh lessons football can still learn from his story
In the wake of Tommy Smith’s passing over a week ago, Simon Hughes spoke to the man he racially abused when they were both at Liverpool in a piece for the Independent:
‘When John Aldridge said on Friday that Smith was a “what you saw was what you got” sort of person, that meant he was a tough, uncompromising, fiercely proud Liverpudlian and as I got to know Howard I came to appreciate that he possessed similar characteristics but with one key difference – he was black and, understandably, he was never going to apologise for that. “My brothers,” Howard told me, “said that the only way of defeating racism was to stand up for yourself by whatever means.”’
Howard Gayle’s story and why it is relevant to modern Liverpool, modern football and above all, modern society. https://t.co/rovpZXSZGM
— Simon Hughes (@Simon_Hughes__) April 16, 2019
The idea of ‘proper football men’ is an outdated myth
You probably know ‘Old Firm Facts’ for his satirical take on all things Scottish football on Twitter, but Adam Miller also writes a regular column for the Daily Record. This past week he wrote brilliantly on the need for Scottish football to leave behind the PFMs and think more progressively, with Malky Mackay one of the favourites to take over the Scotland job following Alex McLeish’s sacking:
‘No one is more adept at exemplifying the difference between Scottish football fans on Twitter and Scottish football fans on Facebook. Twitter may be a dilapidated playground for insecure teenagers, snarky 20-somethings, jaded 30-somethings and 40-somethings who aren’t sure if they’re still in a band.
‘But at its most stupid and ignorant it can only ever muster a hundredth of the stupidity and ignorance that Facebook deals in.
‘Post a statement about the SFA’s performance director, specifically relating to the sexist, racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic texts, and you’ll see widespread condemnation of him on Twitter. Post the exact same statement on Facebook and you’ll be greeted with a barrage of “I’d like to see the messages on YOUR phone” and “It must be great being so perfect”.
‘I’m speaking from experience here.’
— Oldfirmfacts (@Oldfirmfacts1) April 20, 2019