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31.08.2015
The third book from The Secret Football takes a different approach from his first two, almost deliberately light, seemingly designed as a stocking filling with a mixture of short bursts of gossip, analysis and opinion. Whereas the first book was an expansion of his Guardian columns and the second book an enjoyable update with more anecdotes, The Secret Footballer’s Guide to the Modern Game is like a collection of intelligent pub conversations for the football fan. Training drills and fitness regimes are interesting detail for those of us immersed in the game but who don’t work in professional clubs.
At its best the book has The Secret Footballer in full flow with his thoughts on the game itself, notably the lack of intelligence of many that still demand that players dive in to chase the ball on the pitch or don’t have patience to understand about the creation of space by either movement or positioning. Keeping his identity secret is no longer the priority, and after the last book there were enough clues for a few internet searches to cross-check the detail and give a reader who wants to work out who the managers he cites are. It is a good read for fans but still has enough about it to show that most players live in a different world in most part from the paying punter; one anecdote about Mark Viduka shows there is a lack of understanding that the game wouldn’t be as marketable with people who pay to fill stadiums, create an atmosphere and contribute to important match-day receipts and merchandise.
A football supporter doesn’t want to hear excuses about unmotivated performances, see players boasting about wealth and don’t want to listen to moaning about progressive taxes on mansions in an economic climate where food banks are on the rise.
Mel Gomes is the author of the e-book Glory Nights from Wankdorf to Wembley which documents Tottenham’s return to the European Cup.
100% ultracotton white t-shirt with an original two-tone print by Lilly Allen for The Substantive.
With echoes of Glory from American Cinema to Bruce Springsteen, and full of the flavour of Escape that European Travel brings, The Substantive Columnist Mel Gomes’ e-book ‘Glory Nights: From Wankdorf to Wembley‘ is available from Amazon and Smashwords. With TSF due to release a book and plenty of new clues, the speculation is rife once again and there are some new names being banded around. Lots of people on the guardian mentioned that Dave Kitson fitted all of the descriptions, including a youtube video of him being knocked down by Antonia Valencia which he mentioned (and exaggerated in one of the articles).
Another clue which matches up to him which I have seen no other reference to is that of the Dog and Duck pub which he makes mention of a couple of times, and mentions that the manager at his first club also referenced it when talking to players. It’s not Andy Cole because he mentions being taken into the circle of black players when he joined one particular club and how they were racially abused by the little boy of one of the supporters, plus the player is still currently playing and Andy Cole retired a couple of years ago.! The more I read about Dave Kitson and hear previous interviews (and compare to TSF interview on R4 today), the more I think it could well be him.
Kitson also got relegated with Reading on the last day of the 2007-2008 season and then left for Stoke as their record signing. All the other links add up other than the supposed daughter but not seen where he mentions that. I have spent a long, long time researching this, and I am absolutely 100% certain that TSF is Dave Kitson.
Interesting to note that on that 2007 Guardian interview Kitson talks about footballers and their washbags. Obviously you can’t discount him because he has a son rather than a daughter, or because he supported a different team as a child, or whatever. Just to add to the above: the tone and language in the very helpful link from the staffordshire paper seems very close to the tsf column. Also we know he is from a small town, Hitchen being one, and his history as per his wiki entry matches his comments about not doing YT at a pro. Becoming a professional footballer is something many people dream of and aspire to be from a young age. Premier League players can sign one contract, which is usually the length of three to five years, and this will sort them out financially for the rest of their careers and lives.
If it is the latter, then the player will be on a 44-week contract, which means he will be paid for only the length of the season and not a full year’s pay. It is very rare to see a lower-league player sign a three-year deal unless it is a promising youngster who the club insist on committing their future to and feel that they can sell on to a bigger club to make money. And when it comes to January and February, you find yourself in the last couple of months of the season panicking and unsettled as you don’t know if your contract will be extended. In my experience in lower-league football, I have gone from being on a month-to-month contract as a first-year professional to a deal that extended to three months. But being an older pro, the first thing I need to be sure about is that the mortgage gets paid every month.
But when a club in the Conference offered this length of contract, I had no qualms about accepting it. Why don’t non-league footballers just save these wages they earn and also do a part-time job as i’m sure all you have for football is training a few times a week and maybe 2 games?
After Chelsea’s worst start to a season in the Roman Abramovich era, manager Jose Mourinho is under serious pressure, the like of which he has never faced at the club before. The abysmal start to the campaign has caused the wheels to well and truly fall off, leaving Mourinho looking as though he’s wearing a tin-foil hat in order to fend off imaginary foes. In this case, those pesky referees, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and pretty much anyone in his line of sight. Direct parallels can be drawn with his final term at Real Madrid, when he turned into an incredibly distasteful character, burning almost every bridge as he left the Spanish capital.
He is a motivator, able to lift players above what they believed they were capable of and make them into champions. The problem for Mourinho, though, is that this has proved to be effective only over a short period, normally two or three years.
When the ship has started sinking at his previous clubs, he has been unable to find answers, unable to remotivate his players and, ultimately, unable to find the long-term success that he has always wanted.
Mourinho has never been able to build anything sustainable and, unless he can change his ways, he will be consigned to spells of two to three years at each club, burning more bridges as he goes. As Jose Mourinho presided over Chelsea’s Capital One Cup exit at Stoke City on Tuesday night, 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, there seemed an ever-growing inevitability that he won’t be in charge at Stamford Bridge come May. The Blues have endured a train wreck of a start to the season, crashing out of the League Cup, getting smashed 3-0 at rivals Manchester City and falling to 15th place in the Premier League.
And after footage emerged of him involved in an apparent altercation with members of the public, the 52-year-old is visibly cracking under the immense pressure. Mourinho has already been involved in an allegedly sexist episode, involving former club doctor Eva Carneiro, and he has continued to take regular swipes at referees and the Football Association.
Having suffered five defeats in ten games in the Premier League, Mourinho has faced critics on all fronts since the start of the 2015-16 season. The West London side are in crisis and, with every Chelsea match, the pressure seems to increase more on Mourinho.
Even their 2-0 victory over Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge earlier this month provided little in the way of respite for the two-time Champions League winner.
Players who were world-class last season are proving blunt and ineffectual now, with Diego Costa and Eden Hazard taking a lot of the criticism.
During the 2-1 defeat at West Ham United last Saturday, Mourinho found himself sent to the stands, alongside assistant first-team coach Silvino Louro.


Chelsea also picked up six bookings and a red card for Nemanja Matic – an astonishing display of self-destruction all round. The Dr Eva Carneiro debacle at the start of the season is just one obvious example, when Mourinho refused to back down over a medical decision that he was clearly unqualified to make. Yet it will also tell you that the former Inter Milan and Real Madrid coach isn’t blessed with an owner, Roman Abramovich, who may grant him the time to reverse the slide.
And whether or not the egotistical Mourinho is willing to stand and allow his reputation to take hit after hit is a different question. Mourinho seems, once more, to be in a negative spiral, generally indicative of an imminent departure from a job.
As Chelsea fan, I am really getting fed up of total disrespect Chelsea FC and Jose are getting. Years ago, it would have been unthinkable: an Arsenal player calling a Manchester United player for help.
The surprise move came about after Scholes’ appearance as a pundit in the televised match between Arsenal and Swansea City, in which he gave a withering assessment of not only the progress that Wilshere has made as a player but also the credentials of Arsenal as a title-challenging team.
During a brutally honest post-match critique, Scholes claimed that Wilshere had not improved since the age of 17, something that led Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, to question Scholes’ coaching credentials.
And it’s easy to understand why; after all, when does Scholes say anything about anything?
Wilshere, however, to his eternal credit, was intrigued and rang the former United midfielder in an attempt to improve both his performances and his injury record. Aside from desperately wanting to know which players Wilshere thinks are rubbish, and despite the fact that Paul Gascoinge would have a huge claim to be the greatest English midfielder of all time, Wilshere’s ability to swallow his pride and contact Scholes has really impressed me. Whether you’re in the Gascoigne or Scholes camp or neither, it cannot be denied that Scholes was one of the finest players that this country has ever produced. Criminally misused by England in order to get two other central midfielders who were not on Scholes’ level into the team, he nonetheless caught the eye with some big goals and intelligent use of the ball at international level.
It will come as no surprise to anybody who has read my first book that Scholes is something of an enigma for me.
When I got to the Premier League and played against United, I stood in my own half and watched him warm up for 15 minutes.
I had the unenviable task of trying to disrupt Scholes’ game in a match that I played against United.
If the ball came in to him and I was close enough to nail him should he choose to control it, he’d simply bounce it first time to a team-mate. And that was the part of his game that Xavi, the legendary Barcelona midfielder, so admired. He didn’t play to the crowd, he did exactly what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it and that is what marks him out as unique in the history of English footballers.
Personally, I think that Wilshere has at least another gear and that what Scholes was trying to say was that most of us in the game had expected him to find it by now.
The Arsenal midfielder has a long way to go to get anywhere near Scholes but, then again, it isn’t a contest.
And that is, if you managed to put a strong challenge in on Jack, then there was a good chance that he would not withstand it. Who knows, for the sake of a phone call, this might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to Jack Wilshere. Gazza was very talented, but injuries and his lifestyle mean you cannot mention him in the same breath as the likes of Scholes.
One thing for sure, unless Wilshire learns to pick and choose his tackles a little, he is not long for the game.
Punters pay good money to watch often bad football and are entitled to voice their displeasure. Yet how can the booing of the Champions League theme tune, as Manchester City fans did before the 2-1 home win over Sevilla last month, be deemed to be possibly offensive by Uefa? Watford (in the 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United) conceded in the first half of a game at Vicarage Road for the first time since January 2015 versus Blackpool.
Joshua King, of AFC Bournemouth (in the 2-2 draw at Swansea City), was the 35th different Norwegian to score in the division. Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur): Has had an in-and-out-season, if not an in-and-out career. Daley Blind (Manchester United): Superbly taken goal against Liverpool and important block tackles at the back, too. Ikechi Anya (Watford): More comfortable flying solo in the left-wing slot but still managed to get forward from left back against Swansea. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City): Stunning second-half display against Villa when switched to more central role. Ryan Mason (Tottenham Hotspur): Always available in the Tottenham engine room and just as well. Steven Naismith (Everton): A ninth-minute sub against Chelsea, scored eight minutes later and went on to grab a hat trick. It is arguable that the info graphics about twitter followers and retweets and subjective lists on players and goals add little to the book, but when writing on the wider subjects, notably the workings of FIFA, the strategy of sponsors and tactical approaches, make an easy read. There are more personal anecdotes here, that continue to give the impression of an intelligent player who loves the game, with a cultural football upbringing of watching Hoddle and Gascoigne, while being wise to the forces that use the sport as nothing more than a commodity.
As well as the e-book, you can also buy the t-shirt, with all proceeds put towards the running of the site. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez. Never played for Man Utd and in the book he says things like he’s been stopped in the street and parents say their kids want to be him.
Book mentions a fallout with a manager slating him in the press, then SF got revenge in a paper.. He was known for some pretty bizarre behaviour like throwing buckets of cold water over the players before games and was sacked after falling out with the chairman despite being their most successful manager. Maybe this was the period when he suffered depression as his performance level certainly dropped to the point of being unrecognisable as the player he was at Reading. In the column regarding relegation TSF mentions that during that relegation season a poor headed clearance of his was volleyed straight back in for a goal. I can’t find any reference to Dave Kitson being captainy at any of his clubs, am I missing something or does this rule him out as TSF ? I found a gem of an article that gives it all away, but I will wait for you all to find it, to make it more interesting. Then you have just a few days ago TSF answering question in the Guardian, and he also seems bothered by these washbags.


Was worried it was just going to be all the articles he wrote one after the other but he’s gone to the trouble of updating, joining together and talking around the pieces he wrote previously.
Details like that are bound to be changed to try to hide the identity, plus he may well have added in a few anecdotes that actually happened to other players as if they happened to him.
The insecurities in non-league football appear to be growing hugely and, in recent years, money in football has dramatically escalated, which has had an even greater impact on the game. However, a non-league footballer, on average, will sign a one-year deal, depending on whether his club is full-time or part-time. This is something that players have to deal with and, when security is needed for paying bills, mortgages and providing for one’s family, the player will have to earn money elsewhere or have a partner who can cover these costs. Quite embarrassing, the reason being the length of my contract … or should I say the lack of it. The worrying part in signing just a one-year deal is that your mortgage may be paid only for that year.
I was even sceptical about signing this as I could have waited until the end of the season and gambled on signing a more lucrative deal elsewhere, knowing that I was going on a Bosman. I understand that its a full time job, but in football, surely that doesn’t mean 9-5??
Then after a few years you can put a good deposit down on a house, the getting more favorable treatment from the banks for a mortgage to pay off the rest? He had made enemies of almost everyone, from opposition coaches to his players and club coaches. We a current Primership champions, yes we have started not that great this season, but for none Chelsea fans and stupid journilts to condem us like this is getting really petty it just show how jelous people have become, and the fact that top players still want to join despite us being in the position we are in mind be eating at fans.
But on Wednesday, we learnt that that’s exactly what happened when the Gunners midfielder Jack Wilshere called United legend Paul Scholes to ask for some career advice. And in that 15 minutes, I realised that everything that I knew about what it takes to be a great footballer was wrong. However, Wilshere is certainly easier to play against and he also has a very serious weakness that Scholes also recognised and that was never lost on any of the teams that I played for in matches against Arsenal.
His horrendous tackling was held up as his only weakness but, thinking about it now, it may have been his biggest strength because nobody in our teams ever wanted to go in for a tackle with him if the ball broke loose. It takes a big man to ask for help and admit that he has something to learn, especially if you’re already at a big club and playing regularly. My anonymity let’s me tell you how it is, from inside the game without the shackles of pre-conception or fan bias. His injuries will continue to pile up until he is out of the game by 25, both ankles are suspect already. I’m not saying there was intent to injure, but that approach is inevitably going to result in some mis timed tackles which will end in disaster. He has to rid himself of the many hangers-on who keep flogging photos of him to the tabloids – they can’t be friends and, believe me, they don’t give away the pictures for free – and knuckle down in training. You know, when the loyal volunteers who have kept the outfit going for many years finally give up the ghost through becoming disillusioned with the management off the pitch and the lack of success on it. Got all the T-shirts - TV, radio, PR, papers weekly and daily, glossy mags and now the worldwide web. Still strange why England manager Roy Hodgson didn’t give him a run-out against San Marino or Switzerland. I have won back-to-back player of the year awards, trophies and played against all the big-name players that the Premier League can offer” Loads on that statement?
Kitson is articulate, considered, well read, always shunned the limelight and openly talked about wanting to be a writer (a thing that the TSF was keen to stress in the R4 interview today). His lack of ready cash might be due to not getting paid by Portsmouth or the tax bill he got that nearly bankrupted him.
And the article in the Guardian I have included a link for goes on about him wanting to reveal the truth about footballers. Fans who follow their clubs in non-league are feeling the effects of the rising costs involved in attending matches and this is resulting in players facing the consequences. They said I couldn’t prove earnings for any time past my contract, therefore I was a liability. Security is something everybody wishes to have but, in football, it’s hard to predict what will happen next week let alone, in some cases, next year. When you see the players on TV, they have 2 games a week and then come in for training most mornings, but still have loads of time to play golf and go shopping with the WAG. And aside from that, he scored goals, lots of goals … and with every part of his body. Or maybe even as an outside bet with the England Euros squad, having changed his allegiance to the country of his birth. Otherwise, a potentially rich talent will fade from the big stage, with Villa let alone England.
Thankfully, the sport’s European governing body saw sense – I know, a rarity – and “decided to close the disciplinary proceedings”. Cue Reading Town – yes, the Berkshire town does have a second club – in the Hellenic League Division One East. In the most recent home game at their Scours Lane ground, the amount of goals exceeded the crowd. If it is him I guess the column might not be around much longer unless Palace, Charlton or whoever sign him up. I have every confidence in my team that we will turn this around we have the best manager and players to do this. It is only when the line is crossed, when the reaction descends into the dark areas of obscenity or personal abuse, that the right to criticise is lost. Town are bottom of the table, having lost all ten league matches this season and accrued a goal difference of minus 39.
Remember Chelsea haters form is tempary class is permanent and we will still finish top four and have a great Champions league run.
Grealish is now training with Aston Villa’s under-21s, banned from the first team until further notice after an apparently booze-laden night out last weekend.
Disrupting a minute’s silence or disrespecting national anthems are particular dislikes of mine.



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