Thoughts on: The Summer

And so this is summer. And what have you done? Another season over. A new one still 68 days away. The FA Cup Final marked the end of the domestic football season and, while we still have the small matter of the Champions League Final to look forward to on Saturday, the summer has now officially begun. Monday’s edition of the Times carried just two pages of football news, squashed uneasily between five pages of cricket and two pages of athletics. Two! It’s all over.

Of course, some of you might welcome this momentary pause in the madness, and that’s a view with which we can sympathise. Football coverage has reached saturation point, the news cycle spins like a Catherine wheel, every day brings a new controversy that begs our opinion. A period of quiet reflection would surely be welcomed. But just you wait. You’ll have two, maybe three weeks of respite and then you’ll be pining for it. Wave after wave of transfer bobbins will crash over you and you’ll be flailing, begging for some actual, real life football to come in and rescue you. You, my friend, are exactly the sort of person who watches a televised pre-season friendly and considers it a form of scouting.

So what can you do to stave off the madness this summer? Here are a few suggestions.

RELIVE THE WORLD CUP!

Why not re-watch the entire World Cup all over again? Because it would be absolutely insane. But you could be forgiven for taking in a few of the better matches. They’re all on Youtube, captured in their entirety. Look! Here’s the extraordinary demolition job that Holland did on Spain.  And here’s the astonishing obliteration of Brazil by Germany in the semi-finals. And if you’re really pushed for time, you could just watch the ten best goals.

And if you’re going to watch old World Cups, you might want to consider the FIFA movies as a good starting point. Here’s the 1998 tournament, one of the best of the modern era. Here’s the 1986 tournament, for vintage Diego Maradona. And finally, here’s the 1970 tournament for lashings of hot Pele.

LISTEN TO STUFF!

Over at Backpage Press, Graham Hunter has been producing some excellent long-listen podcasts. Here he is with Jamie Carragher and he is again with Gary Neville. More of this, please. For something even longer, you might want to invest in the History of the World Cup, written by Brian Glanville, but narrated by Bob Wilson. It’s glorious.

READ SOME BOOKS!

Give us a sun lounger, give us a steady flow of drinks, give us a pile of paperbacks and we shall show you pure happiness. The summer is the perfect time to catch up on your reading. You know those books that you’ve never got round to tackling? Let’s tackle them.

Everyone says that Arthur Hopcraft’s ‘The Football Man‘ is one of the first great football books and everyone is right. Published in 1968, it’s a perfectly formed time capsule packed full of interviews with the likes of George Best and Sir Matt Busby. Start there and then fill some gaps in your knowledge with biographies on lesser-celebrated great managers like Stan Cullis and Harry Catterick.

For foreign football, check out reliable old stages ‘Morbo‘ for Spain and ‘Tor‘ for Germany, then grab a copy of Sid Lowe’s ‘Fear and Loathing in La Liga‘ and get an advance order in for Rafa Honigstein’s ‘Das Reboot.’

For club/region specificity, Michael Walker’s ‘Up There‘, a study of football in the North-East is brilliant, as is Simon Hughes’ ‘Men in White Suits,’ a bitter-sweet study of Liverpool in the 1990s. And if you still need more, check out our resident book reviewer Alex Stewart for his favourites.

PLAY GAMES! 

You know all about Football Manager, FIFA and Pro-Evo, but what about the other excellent football games on offer? We’re very excited about the arrival of Tiki-Taka Soccer this week, which looks like a glorious blend of Sensible Soccer and New Star Soccer.  And they keep making improvements to Title Challenge, which we loved even in its earlier incarnations.

We’ve also really, really enjoyed getting back into Championship Manager 2001/02 and all details for reviving or even updating that one are over here.

For those of you who wish to follow the commandments of 1980s TV show ‘Why Don’t You’ and turn off your television and do something more interesting instead, there is always Subbuteo. That certainly gets interesting if you try to play it after several cans of Camden Pale Ale, but the good news is that it’s practically impossible to break the players now.

If you have any ideas for things to do this summer, do let us know. Write to us: [email protected] God knows, we need the company. 

Thoughts on: The Summer
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