Depending on how long you’ve been following football, you’ve undoubtedly listened to, read or watched hundreds if not thousands of stories about the world’s game. But stop for a moment and think when was the last time one of those stories actually taught you something you didn’t already know about your favorite sport?
Most mainstream sources of football coverage, whether they be newspapers, TV networks or radio, are in business to first make money and second, to entertain. Educating its audience is often the last thing on the minds of the executives within the media organizations.
Without a doubt, books are the best source for intelligent football coverage. Classics such as Among The Thugs, Fever Pitch and The Glory Game are just a few of the must-reads that examine football from a variety of different levels.
But instead of focusing on books, EPL Talk has listed the top ten sources for football coverage from other types of media. Our list includes TV, podcasts, blogs and even a print magazine.
- World Soccer Magazine (IPC Media). The dry but informative magazine is an institution in football featuring acclaimed writers such as Brian Glanville, Paul Gardner, Tim Vickery, Gavin Hamilton and many others. The monthly magazine is available on newsstands worldwide. Avoid their terrible website, though, which does their name severe injustice.
- World Football Phone-In Show (BBC). When you get Sean Wheelock and Tim Vickery on a show together and you throw in intelligent questions from football fans who have literally been ‘up all night,’ you’re served with a lethal combination of football geekdom. Skip the Alan Green version of World Football and make the phone-in show part of your regular podcast listening experience.
- The Game Podcast (The Times). Co-hosts Gabriele Marcotti and Guillem Balague make a conscious effort to impart their wisdom and opinions on the listening audience. Their discussion of tactics and formations is fascinating, which is a topic you don’t hear enough of on rival podcasts. Plus, their access to top football managers and players allows for insightful interviews.
- Alan Smith (The Telegraph). I’m a sucker for tactical analysis and the best example of this is the relatively new 3D feature from The Telegraph that combines computer animation of key moments in games with voiceovers courtesy of former footballer and now columnist Alan Smith. The former Arsenal striker almost always seems to reveal things that the TV commentators missed.
- Simon Kuper (The Financial Times). The daily financial newspaper is probably the last place you’d expect to find quality football coverage, but writer and author Simon Kuper does a wonderful job. His literary style is superior than any other football writer I’ve read. And he always seems to provide some fresh perspective on even the most written about stories.
- Neil Warnock (The Independent). Few people would predict that the former Sheffield United gaffer and current Crystal Palace boss could wax so poetically about a week in the life of a football manager and what the lessons he learns. But Warnock does it splendidly by offering just enough insight as well as mixing it with personal accounts of his family life, which makes him even more quite endearing.
- The Sunday Supplement (Sky Sports). For many of us, this is a rare opportunity to see and hear top English football journalists in the flesh. The format of top journos sitting around a table discussing the week’s top stories is very conducive to a great debate. Special guests such as Patrick Barclay and Oliver Holt are especially enjoyable to listen to and watch.
- Fox Soccer Report (Fox Soccer Channel). First, a disclaimer. The North American show thoroughly deserves to be in the eighth spot but only on the nights when the genial Scot Bobby McMahon is sitting in the football analyst’s chair. His encyclopedic knowledge of the game is impressive, but rather than sounding like a know-it-all, McMahon is a cheerful and dynamic individual that you could listen to for hours.
- Pitch Invasion. For those of you who haven’t experienced Tom Dunmore’s blog, you’re missing a wealth of fascinating and informative articles on unique aspects of the world’s game. Recent topics included the marriage of watercolors and football, the passion of watching Peruvian soccer and the schizophrenia that some Arsenal fans must feel. But the asset that makes Pitch Invasion more remarkable and intelligent than any other blog is their collection of mindblowing photography.
- The Global Game. John Turnbull’s blog is as fascinating to read as it is beautiful to look at. The articles cover football stories from every corner of the globe. But rather than focus on topics such as where Ronaldinho partied last night, The Global Game writes about stories you won’t find elsewhere such as amputee soccer players in Liberia, the connection between Queen of the South football team and the bible, and remembering New Jersey’s soccer immigrant past.
If you’re like me, we all have one thing in common: A thirst of knowledge to learn more about the beautiful game. Please feel free to share your sources for intelligent football coverage that I may have missed in the comments section below.