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Author Archive for Jonathan Wilson

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Champions League is back – but don’t expect a real match until February | Jonathan Wilson

The group stages have become predictable and merely reinforce financial inequalities between the biggest clubs and also-ransI n the distance the anthem swells. Inappropriate advertising hoardings are covered up. A continent prepares to give thanks to G…

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Shift from power to possession allows Chris Wilder to set centre-backs free | Jonathan Wilson

Sheffield United’s innovative tactics are derived from the influence of Pep Guardiola and changes in the lawsL ast Saturday, Rochdale scored a brilliant goal against Southend, working the ball from front to back in 16 rapid passes. As is the way of thi…

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Turning our clubs into global brands means there will be more Burys | Jonathan Wilson

The concentration of wealth and attention on a tiny number of globalised superclubs is leading to moments of remarkable drama and quality – but at a terrible priceA recent Set-Piece Menu podcast eloquently made the case for fandom as a broad church. Wh…

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Continent’s big four may falter but their striving for super-league is ever stronger | Jonathan Wilson

Barcelona, PSG, Bayern and Juventus have won 25 of the last 28 league titles. Europe has become the only testing groundD id you feel it? The great disturbance in the force, as though millions of voices cried out in hope? Last weekend, something remarka…

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Shortcomings of Lampard the manager echo those of Lampard the player | Jonathan Wilson

The midfield problems at the root of Frank Lampard’s early defeats as Chelsea manager will have been familiar to anyone who followed the ups and downs of his playing careerC enturies from now, when the world is a wasteland and football exists only in t…

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How Hungary’s stars left their football mark with Olympic success | Jonathan Wilson

In an extract from a new book Jonathan Wilson recalls the journey of Hungary’s Golden Squad, inspired by Ferenc Puskás, to glory in 1952It would be wrong to assume that Ferenc Puskás, just because he was cheery and relaxed, did not think about the game…

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Steve Bruce sees wish come true but Newcastle’s spirits may wreak havoc | Jonathan Wilson

While the Magpies’ manager is a returning local hero, he is an underwhelming appointment that smacks of appeasementO nce upon a time, perhaps, many years ago when he was still a teenager living in Walker, east of the centre of Newcastle, Steve Bruce fo…

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Steve Bruce sees wish come true but Newcastle’s spirits may wreak havoc | Jonathan Wilson

While the Magpies’ manager is a returning local hero, he is an underwhelming appointment that smacks of appeasementO nce upon a time, perhaps, many years ago when he was still a teenager living in Walker, east of the centre of Newcastle, Steve Bruce fo…

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Harry Maguire exudes control and authority – exactly what Manchester United need | Jonathan Wilson

The defender looks to be the right fit for Old Trafford, but the deal should have been pushed through earlier in the summerIn May, Ed Woodward asked Leicester City how much they wanted for Harry Maguire and was told £80m. On Monday, the master of negot…

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Premier League’s chasing pack can threaten weaker members of ‘big six’ | Jonathan Wilson

Everton, Leicester, West Ham and Wolves are building strong identities and deep squads, and could overhaul stragglers among the top flight’s leading half-dozen clubsWhen the Daily Mirror previewed the 1971-72 season with a weary reference to “superclub…

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Community Shield win would aid Liverpool’s pursuit of Manchester City | Jonathan Wilson

Jürgen Klopp’s side may be kings of Europe but a difficult summer means they could struggle at WembleyThe Community Shield is an octagon 58cm across, spun from 4.2kg of sterling silver. It is also whatever you want it to be. It is, as the cliche has it…

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BT’s season predictor shows data leaves football bedevilled by details | Jonathan Wilson

Using AI to script the coming season is novel but data should not be viewed as a deeper magic underpinning the universeOn the morning of 1 April 2000, the Test Match Special commentator and Manchester United fan Dan Norcross woke up next to the West Ha…

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Gareth Bale could be a Real Madrid cult hero so why has it gone so wrong? | Jonathan Wilson

Bale is not exactly a victim but this sorry story of the modern super-player is fundamentally of Madrid’s own makingOn the one hand, the massive imbalances of wealth within football are a terrible thing. On the other, they can lead to deliciously ludic…

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Brazil break free from the Neymar imbalance to win Copa América | Jonathan Wilson

The Brazil coach, Tite, was finally able to play his form of pressing game without the PSG forward and it led to a first major trophy in 12 yearsBrazil winning a Copa América at home cannot be said to be a surprise. They have hosted the tournament five…

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Ricardo Gareca bids to join rare group by leading Peru to Copa América title | Jonathan Wilson

Peru were well beaten by Brazil in the group stage but victory over them at the Maracanã would give them a third triumph Related: Peru set up Brazil clash in Copa América final after resounding win over Chile Jack Greenwell was born in Crook in the Dur…

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What is a foul? Lionel Messi’s anger highlights controversy surrounding VAR | Jonathan Wilson

The thought that VAR may end dispute over decisions has proved laughably misguided, if anything football is more controversial than everThere was a time before VAR. There may be a time after VAR. But this is the age of VAR and nothing can ever happen b…

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England crash out after shift in tactics and failure to fix defensive flaws | Jonathan Wilson

USA capitalised on cracks that had been papered over earlier in the World Cup and on Phil Neville’s switch to 4-4-2One of the great puzzles of the World Cup was that England had managed to get through the first five games conceding only one goal. Fluen…

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Brazil and Argentina should fear Copa América giantkillings | Jonathan Wilson

Brazil face their old enemies Paraguay in the quarter-finals and Argentina have no cause for confidence against VenezuelaHello nemesis, old friend. For Brazil and Argentina, the Copa América quarter-finals feel as if they are playing out of a series of…

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Argentina are floundering and the Messi problem is not the biggest one

Copa América struggles demonstrate that more important are a lack of leadership and shrinking pool of high-class talentThe only positive for Argentina, and it is a dubious one, is that it could have been worse. A draw against Paraguay means they will p…

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Argentina’s chaotic Copa América planning puts Brazil in driving seat | Jonathan Wilson

The hosts are tipped to win the tournament but, as we saw in 2014, the pressure of the home crowd can cause them problemsThe good news for Argentina is that Conmebol have handily arranged another Copa América for next year, one they will co-host with C…