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Sunderland ‘Til I Die : Lockdown Review

Fantasy Football – Gameweek 36 Review 2009/10

All or Nothing: Manchester City – Review (Amazon Prime)

All or Nothing: Manchester City (Amazon Prime)

Written by @JamesMartin013

There’s no football of any description – fantasy or otherwise – for at least the next few weeks, which leaves a desperate need for a sports fix. Belarusian league aside, most people are finding the best option to be sports books and documentaries. In the first of a new mini-series, James Martin suggests ‘All or Nothing: Manchester City’ might not be the answer…

There was much understandable excitement when Amazon Prime promised a behind-the-scenes look at Premier League champions Manchester City, but viewers were instead subjected to an eight-hour PR video.

The unrivalled access proved to be the only real draw of an otherwise drab eight-part series, which left a profound sense of dissatisfaction. While the footage did capture areas not usually open to the public, every shot seemed carefully curated to cultivate an image acceptable to the powers-that-be at The Etihad.

Some of this blandness undoubtedly derived from the relatively routine manner of much of City’s on-pitch success in the 2017/18 season, but even when things went wrong for the super-club the documentary failed to engross.

After the transfer team missed out on top target Virgil van Dijk to rivals Liverpool, the programme cut to the sporting director Txiki Begiristain ‘candidly’ musing that the eventual price paid was far too high to be good business. The episode entitled ‘Welcome to Hell’, dedicated to their Champions League exit at the hands of Klopp’s side, promised more. Even this was used to push the club’s agenda, however, placing huge focus on the bottles thrown at the team bus rather than the ultimate shortcomings on the pitch.

It is an inevitability that behaviours will be to some extent altered when cameras are pointed, but in a world where everyone is used to constant scrutiny it was reasonable to expect that the documentary would at least manage to give a relatively genuine and insightful portrayal of players and staff. Instead, I was constantly half-expecting manager Pep Guardiola to turn to camera, The Office-style, and deliver a well-worn cliché.

That is not to question his managerial talents, which shone through even in the sub-par production, but everybody choosing to watch this would have already been well aware of the gifted personnel lured to Manchester City following the 2008 takeover. The fundamental question about All or Nothing duly remains, even after eight long hours: what was the point?

The answer to that question may well lurk under the tailored veneer, and it is a worryingly insidious one. Miguel Delaney of The Independent has written at length on Manchester City’s so-called ‘sports-washing’. This is defined by Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, as: “wealthy regimes… [using] sport as a means to polish up their own tarnished images.”

Sheikh Mansour, City’s owner, is an Emirati royal prince. Nobody will watch the documentary and instantaneously forget that numerous human rights organisations have roundly condemned the UAE, but that is not the point of sports-washing. Rather the viewers are presented with a team that is forward-thinking in all aspects of its day-to-day running, and over time begin to associate this with Mansour and his family instead of what Human Rights Watch describes as ‘arbitrary detention’ and ‘forcible disappearances’.

The programme even depicts a progressive coach who stands up for political freedoms. Pep Guardiola can be seen wearing a yellow ribbon in protest at the denial of a Catalonian independence referendum – on a subconscious level, those watching start to doubt whether the people from whom he takes his salary can really be that bad when it comes to human rights.

All or Nothing was never going to delve into such waters. This does not automatically make it a failure, and precious few football clubs in the modern game can boast immunity from moral criticism, but soft propaganda rarely makes for enthralling television. There is only so long that viewers can be blinded by the veil being drawn back on the operations of a Premier League club – eventually they will notice that there is precious little substance.

This has only become more obvious in the time since the series was released. It did at least re-emphasise the strong appetite for sports documentaries, and Netflix went on to produce Sunderland ‘Til I Die: this was a truly compelling, raw insight into the heart and soul of a football club. The contrast to All or Nothing could hardly be more stark – true emotions were captured as viewers felt the anguish of Sunderland’s fans and saw it contrasted with the relative indifference of some of the senior professionals.

The unique opportunity to watch John Stones singing Wonderwall just doesn’t quite stack up in comparison.

Review written by James Martin

James is a sports journalist with a focus on football. He began writing for LFC Fans Corner over seven years ago, and has since been featured on the club website and The Independent among others. He graduated from Oxford in 2019, and holds the Gold Standard NCTJ Diploma in Journalism.
His portfolio can be found at http://jamesmartin013.journoportfolio.com

Board Games, Fantasy Football and an Arsenal Postponement

Dear Readers,

We’re 29 weeks into the FPL season and we all continue to aggressively impersonate actual football managers on Twitter – and yet, within that, we are a family.

Ludicrous to think just how much the FPL has impacted our lives without only really giving a handful of us “full-time” roles doing it! There’s no way of describing FPL to outsiders without sounding like big kids is there? Big kids perhaps, but big kids with big ambitions. There’s ego to FPL, cockiness in success and cowardliness in defeat. We have the ups and downs experience like that of the Grand National at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which, we all unashamedly love.

We’re one massive playground of #FPL Twitter accounts pretending to be the popular kids in the playground when really, we’re the ones who stay indoors and discuss tactics and transfers after school like a Warhammer x Football crossover (with less painting).

So for the kids within us all, this weeks review will be shoehorned into Board Games – squeezing the 10 FPL games from GW29 into our most beloved games from times gone by……Enjoy!

Written by @JackAGoodwin

Liverpool 2 – 1 Bournemouth

RISK: A Game of strategic conquest. Liverpool have been the Mongol Horde of the 2019/20 season, the Grand Armee, the Romans…(I’m not going to say Nazi). The absolute best at strategizing their way through any obstacles put in their path. But now, complacency is their nearest most intimidating opposition – crashing out of the FA Cup & now very recently the Champion’s League they’re playing a dangerous game of Slippy Gerrard. Still, Klopp rolled the dice during his turn against Bournemouth and claimed another territory even if a little unconvincingly. Bournemouth are now in the relegation zone and need buck up, quickly, as the odds are stacked on top of them (but that’s another game altogether).

Arsenal 1 – 0 West Ham

JUMANJI: Honestly, what do we do with Arsenal nowadays? Literally the definition of playing Jumanji, an unknown adventure you never even knew you were meant to be a part of. Complete with jungle-based hazards such as frogs (Ozil), snakes (Xhaka) and unidentified creatures (David Luiz). You turn up to a game not knowing whether the Gunners are going to roll a double and breeze past an obstacle or land directly on the mystery square and end up in a fight with a pack of monkeys attempting to steal the club bus, all whilst Robin Williams keeps interrupting proceedings by trying to make a light hearted joke out of the absolutely terrifying things happening around you…..Arsenal JUST escaped West Ham who are dangerously close to the Jumanji sequel (Jumanji 2: The Championship). Side note; there will certainly be a Judy and a Peter working for Arsenal.

Crystal Palace 1 – 0 Watford

SNAKES & LADDERS: Last week Watford climbed a massive ladder, a hidden ladder which gave them a shock victory over Liverpool. They were so high you could see the bottom of Deeney’s boots which still had the Sports Direct sticker on them (£19.99). Strolling around the board this week they had Crystal Palace infront of them and a teeny jump would’ve seen them climb closer to them in the league. So they lined up, rolled the dice and sprinted at Palace (more shots, more possession, more yellow things). They thought they’d done enough until they slipped on a small Jordan Ayew looking thing, Watford falling right onto a massive snake (not Xhaka, a real one) and squandering their chances of climbing the board

https://soundcloud.com/user-36523528/week-30-preview-the-double-gameweek-that-wasnt-a-double-gameweek

Sheffield United 1 – 0 Norwich

JENGA: Jesus look how high Sheffield are right now?! Imagine, if you must, Sheffield are the Jenga tower. At the start of the season they were solid, nothing fancy nor tall enough to cause concern. Now we’re 29 “turns” in to this season the Sheffield tower is massive. Each game is a risky move that somehow, they manage to pull-off and climb that one block of wood higher. There are gaps all over the show, you look at them in disbelief how they’ve got so high without falling. This is a very impressive game of Jenga indeed. Norwich this past GW was as easy obstacle, one of those loose-bricks you can wobble out with no fuss at all and look smugly at your nan because it’s her turn next. Next up is Newcastle for the Blades which may require a fancy flicky manoeuvre.

Southampton 0 – 1 Newcastle

BATTLESHIPS: Danny Ings has been the destroyer for Southampton this season – the unstoppable force which is so hard to take out of a game even after you do so much damage to the team. Danny Ings recently replaced his destroyer with a dingy (he named it Dingsy). Now, teams take Dingsy out of the game with one strike – this week Newcastle hit it with the Saint-Maximissile, a strange munition with a Gucci headband on it.

Wolves 0 – 0 Brighton

UNO: Why? Because Nuno. This opportunity was too good to let slip (lol, Gerrard). Similarities are there however with Uno and Nuno; both are subject to change without any warning, both quite fun, both colourful and both can easily turnaround a game with one action. Brighton however are a dab-hand at Uno and kept a few cheeky cards in their hands. Each time Nuno placed his +2 or +4 cards, Graham Potter instantly hit back, just when Nuno thought he’d called UNO, Potter planted the skip card. The game ended a draw, which, we all know is impossible – some suggest that Potter just left the game because Nuno kept yelling NUNO instead of UNO every time he placed a card (even when he wasn’t on UNO at all) which pissed off everyone involved.

Burnley 1 – 1 Tottenham

BUCKAROO: How many more random items (aka poor performances) do Spurs (the Buckaroo) have to have placed on them (by Jose) before they kick-out and get rid of the Portuguese baggage? The team are phenomenally challenged by not only injuries, but lack of direction with the ever-losing-his-marbles Jose at the helm. Was Poch worse than this? Sure, credit where due, Dyche’s Burnley are now just 2 points behind Spurs and have had a really good season so far…They were likely to place another cowboy hat or suitcase on the back of the Spurs Buckaroo.

Chelsea 4 – 0 Everton

CONNECT FOUR: A simple analogy with this one. Frank Lampard is still down with the kids, knows his way around a Hasbro game. Ancelotti not so much, his fond memory of gaming is tic-tac-toe or whatever they played during World War One. Frank battered Carlo. The easiest game of connect four you’ll ever witness. Chelsea literally popped 4 counters (goals) in a row without Everton even responding – Carlo was too busy scowling at everyone to recognise what was unfolding. A tough loss to take for Everton who now seem all but out of the race for European football next season.

Manchester United 2 – 0 Manchester City

CLUEDO: So, who’s to blame for the Manchester City loss? It’s all a big unknown to be blunt. It’s a Cluedo board of fault with Pep himself one of the “suspects”. There are hundreds of questions, how the hell can Man United beat Man City? The Bruno Effect? Ole passed his driving test? Pep Roulette taking its toll on player morale? All I know is that Professor Pep was seen in the Ball Room with a Lead Pipe. That’s all I am saying.

Leicester 4 – 0 Aston Villa

GUESS WHO: Who is this kid? Guess Who Harvey Barnes Edition coming soon! Seemingly out of nowhere he’s storming the FPL since GW23 with 5 goals and 51 points in just those 7 games. What did you expect from the son of Paul Barnes (90s York FC LEGEND). Villa were not prepared at all, and are left (like us all) still working out just who Harvey Barnes is.

The Gameweek Review: Yes It’s Late, Yes Liverpool Actually Lost

Liverpool, Burnley and West Ham Make The Preview!

Liverpool, Chelsea and Southampton March On In The League

Mane or Salah? Liverpool Fan Picks Both in Fantasy Shocker!!

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