Category Archives: Stephen Longridge

The Demise of the Fullback

This is an issue which may initially seem quite low down on the list of things wrong with football and while racism, homophobia, the poor quality of refereeing, the price of a hotdogs and the development of young English talent are all important, I feel that no-one is worried about the demise of the once noble position of fullback.

When I started watching football there were fullbacks such as Stuart Pearce, Paulo Maldini and Paul Parker: players whose first priority was defending and who could tackle hard when required.

When it was possible they would venture forwards to support the winger and make the occasional cross into the box. These players were fairly anonymous and this was to their credit – they did a functional job for the team. Great partnerships were formed between fullbacks and their wingers – one of the best being between Beckham and Gary Neville who defended and attacked together. Continue reading

Football tourism – the Beautiful game from the land of the rising sun

I’ve been interested in the idea of football tourism for a while now. The concept was introduced to me by a Spaniard at Craven Cottage who had, over a couple of weeks, taken a mini-tour of English football with games at Chelsea and West Ham. While I cannot condone anyone going to see Chelsea I thought I would enjoy a similar tour of maybe Spain or Germany taking in a different football culture. But my first foray into football tourism took me a little further afield into the Japanese J-League during a two week honeymoon with my wife (yes I have a very understanding wife) and a chance to experience how our far Eastern cousins enjoy the global game.

The J-League is still a young league.

Founded as Japan’s first professional league only in 1992 it can already deemed to be a success with gates of around 30,000 for most top flight games, supplying the majority of players for a successful Japan team and providing five winners of the Asian Champions League. Continue reading

Will we get the chance to see if Rodgers can be successful?

free wallpapersLiverpool made a bold managerial appointment in the pre-season. They went for a young, relatively inexperienced manager with a clear philosophy on how football should be played.

When Rodgers was appointed he spoke of playing ‘offensive and attacking football’. This is a style he adopted with great affect at Swansea. I was at Craven Cottage when Swansea demolished Fulham 3-0. That day Swansea passed Fulham off the park and looked as accomplished and technically gifted as any top Premiership team.

Rodgers’ footballing philosophy was clear to see in everything that Swansea did. Pass-pass-pass from goalkeeper to centre back to midfield to attack.

But with the average tenure for a premiership manager being two years will Rodgers be given the chance to succeed?

The current team with the most obvious philosophical imprint on its play is Barcelona. The game between Barcelona and Real Madrid in November 2010 provided one of the greatest club performances of all time as Barca ran out 5-0 winners. Continue reading