The Briefing (29/02/16)

Good morning. Here is your briefing. Let’s start with some news.

Arsenal’s failure to beat the Manchester United development squad is one of the stories of the weekend. The Mirror’s John Cross was not impressed by their ’embarrassing’ collapse.

The Daily Mail’s Martin Samuel is in irascible mood. Wahbi Khazri and Sam Allardyce take the brunt of his firepower today, but there’s still plenty of hurt left for Gianni Infantino, Guus Hiddink and Liverpool’s supporters.

Barney Ronay has been taking flak all night for the headline that suggests he thought Raheem Sterling was quite good on Sunday. The actual article is a little more nuanced than that. And it’s well worth a read.

And speaking of the League Cup Final, new ESPNFC signing Tony Evans was there to see it play out.

And there’s no plucky loser stuff from Sarah Winterburn on Football 365. Liverpool need extensive surgery.

ON YOUR TELLY THIS WEEK (Assuming that you live in the UK) 

Right, strap yourselves in. This week is total football. You cannot repel football power of this magnitude. You will be sick of football by Wednesday. You will shudder at the sound of the word. You will want to curl up in a corner with a book that isn’t about football. Maybe a book about wizard detectives. Anything really, as long as it isn’t football.

It starts tonight and it starts early. You can gorge yourself on an Italian football double bill by watching Lazio vs Sassuolo at 1800 and then Fiorentina vs Napoli at 2000, both on BT Sport Europe. But you might want to keep it English. You might want to watch Brighton vs Leeds on Sky Sports 1 at 1945. Fair play. I respect that. But what if you want to plough your own furrow. What if you want to see if Sporting can extend their lead over Benfica by beating Vitoria Guimaraes? Well, you can find it on BT Sport 2 at 2000.

It’s not just the English who have scheduled midweek league fixtures. It’s everyone. Check Tuesday out for size. There’s Bournemouth vs Southampton on BT Sport 1 at 1945. There are two Bundesliga games, Hannover vs Wolfsburg and Ingolstadt vs Cologne and they both start at 1900 on BT Sport Europe and BT Sport 2 respectively. On Sky Sports 1, it’s the second leg of the Coppa semi-final between AC Milan and Alessandria at 2000. There’s La Liga action too, Atletico Madrid vs Real Sociedad at 2000 on Sky Sports 2 and Las Palmas vs Getafe on the red button at 2100. There is SO much football.

Wednesday is preposterous. It might be the busiest Wednesday ever. It appears that almost every sports channel is doing football at once. BT Sport is the home of the Bundesliga and you have three choices. Schalke vs Hamburg on BT Sport 2, Darmstadt vs Borussia Dortmund on BT Sport ESPN or Bayern Munich vs Mainz on BT Sport Europe. Sky have got La Liga covered. At 1900, you can use the red button to watch…*takes deep breath*…Athletic Bilbao vs Deportivo, Celta Vigo vs Villarreal or Sevilla vs Eibar. At the same time, Malaga vs Valencia will be on Sky Sports 3. At 2000, Levante will frustrate Real Madrid. It’s all going off. There’s also the small matter of Internazionale vs Juventus in the second leg of their Coppa clash. That’s on Sky Sports 2 at 1945. Oh, and you can watch Liverpool vs Manchester City again, if you like. They meet in the league on BT Sport 1 at 2000. Can you handle this? I don’t think you’re ready for all of this football jelly. And we’re not finished yet.

No, you cannot switch off. You cannot hide. There is more football on Thursday. If you like one-sided punishment beatings, there is Rayo Vallecano vs Barcelona on Sky Sports 5 at 2000. More balanced encounters can be found on the red button at 1900 when Granada take on Sporting Heehon and at 1930 when it’s Espanyol vs Real Betis. Birmingham City play Hull City on Sky Sports 1 at 1945, that should be an interesting game. But not as interesting as St Pauli vs Eintracht Braunschweig on BT Sport Europe.

Sit the fuck down, we’re not done yet. Friday. We’ve still got Friday and if I’m typing it, you’re reading it. At 0045 it’s the SheBelieves Cup on BBC 1 and it’s USA vs England. Watch that, get some sleep and then set yourself for the final furlong. Middlesborough take on Wolves in the Championship on Sky Sports 1, Roma try to do over Fiorentina on BT Sport Europe. Caen come at Monaco with fire in their eyes, that’s on BT Sport ESPN. And you can watch Forest Green Rovers vs Grimsby on BT Sport 2. And then it’s the weekend and it all starts again!

Full TV listings can be found over here on the Live Football on TV page. 


For actual genuine reasons, John Gregory’s autobiography has been on the reading list this week, and it’s really rather good. Younger readers probably won’t believe this, but there was a time when former European Cup winners Aston Villa were so bad that they were in danger of being relegated out of the Premier League. Boss Brian Little left and chairman Doug Ellis made the sort of appointment that would be met with social media meltdown nowadays; he hired the Wycombe manager. Not only did Gregory pull Villa back up the league, but the following season he had them topping the table in the winter. It didn’t last, but for a time, Gregory was doing so well that he was mooted as a future England manager. How swiftly things changed. 


Bonnie Greer listens to Pet Sounds for the first time. Brilliant for Bonnie’s bits: “Surfin’ USA was their theme, not mine. If my friends and I were going to the beach in those days, it was to de-segregate it.” Brilliant for Martin’s bits: “A fella has saved his band by suggesting they write a song about a relatively niche pastime – surfing. In fact, it’s so niche that 80% of the band have never done it before. Even though it sounds like the worst idea ever, EVERYONE thinks it’s the best idea ever and the band are then called The Beach Boys for the REST OF THEIR CAREER!”


Last week, Mike Calvin announced that he was working with Joey Barton for what will surely be one of the most eagerly awaited football books of the year. We caught up with him in 2015 for the Vox in the Box series and chatted about journalism, his career and his latest book, Living On The Volcano.

If you’d like to recommend something for next Monday’s briefing, get in touch by emailing [email protected] 


The Briefing (29/02/16)
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