March issue available now online and in store
The new WSC is out now available from all good newsagents or to order now from the WSC shop with free UK delivery.
Lockdown matches: Fury and silence at Middlesbrough | Being a scout during Covid
Justice in football: What to do about tactical fouls
Tribute to Colin Bell | Celtic in chaos | Charitable work | Why I chose Notts County | Dick Advocaat bows out | Crowds back in Australia | Brighton: a football city at last? | Social media firms must act on racism | Matchday backdrops | Super League strikes an imbalance | Ex-players taking requests | Taking a piece of The Valley home | Focus on Ken Monkou | Surprise champions in Portugal
Sphere of influence The rise of the footballer-philanthropist
When health secretary Matt Hancock took aim at footballers in the early days of the Covid pandemic he failed to appreciate the efficiency with which modern players counter-attack. The government has been floundering against Marcus Rashford’s pressure ever since. The latter’s relentlessly good-natured campaigning philanthropy has triggered a bizarre response from the government: hey, Marcus, thanks for forcing us to feed poor kids. Now have an MBE and shut up.
Middlesbrough 0-1 Birmingham City Familiar faces return to the Riverside
On the eve of the first lockdown, a bus driver described the centre of Middlesbrough to me as “looking like the zombie apocalypse, only without the zombies”. Ten months later, if anything the scene is even more baleful. The only shops with lights on seem to be the pawnbrokers, the sole person I see is pacing furiously up and down by the Middlesbrough College “trim trail and events area” carrying out a bitter argument with an invisible foe. In the underpass at the station the police posters warning against anti-social drinking seem like mementoes of gladder days.
Crime and punishment Time to rethink football's sanctions?
The phrase “committing a good crime” is unknown; “a good foul”, however, is part of the present-day game. It’s otherwise known as “taking one for the team” and it’s eating away at sporting ethics, spectator enjoyment and footballing justice. In the recent Manchester United v Liverpool FA Cup tie I saw Victor Lindelof pull back Divock Origi by the shirt to stop a possible break and receive a yellow. A couple of minutes later Paul Pogba fouled Curtis Jones on the edge of the box. “It’s not so much the booking that’s the problem, it’s the fact that Liverpool have this free-kick,” said commentator Guy Mowbray. To be fair to Pogba, at least he was somewhere near the ball.
Watch and learn Scouting during Covid-19
It starts with an email. Attached to it are a number of documents, some of which are written by people who haven’t realised the inverse correlation between the length of a document and the likelihood of someone willing to read it. No detail is left unprinted. However, read it I must and 110 pages later, I tick the electronic box to confirm I now know the disinfecting regime for the corner flags. I return some key information: car registration, headshot, job title, blood type. The confirmation email contains maps for parking and indicating which parts of the stadium have been designated the Green Zone, open to all of the operational staff on a matchday, the exclusive Red Zone, set aside for the players and technical staff of the participating teams, and the Amber Zone, which is for the media and people like me, visiting scouts.
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