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Top 10 Sources for Intelligent Football Coverage

world-soccer-magazine.jpgDepending 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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  1. football gifts

    May 8, 2010 at 5:08 am

    A great resource, thanks for posting this list.

  2. Pingback: Top 5 Sources for Adult-Only Football Coverage | EPL Talk

  3. Ivan

    April 25, 2008 at 3:09 am

    Guardian podcast is my personal favourite entertaining and informative…sid lowe’s column is how footballer writers should do it. Big fan of SA expert Tim Vickery. Got issues with The game podcast..balangue can blow his own trumpet and at times the liverpool fan club makes me sick . Balangue on other topics is very good but on liverpool inherent bias but he does offer some good insight into rafa. Marcotti has always been very good.

  4. Ryan

    April 24, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    I’m looking for others opinions on Fever Pitch, I just finished it and I thought it was good and mildly humorous but not fantastic and hilarious like a lot of reviewers say.

  5. The Gaffer

    April 24, 2008 at 3:49 pm


    The Guardian is one of my favorite newspapers to read, but in the list I created, I’m trying to identify specific writers. It’s too easy to say just “The Guardian,” but it’s a lot harder to pick someone who regularly writes intelligent articles that help soccer fans learn something.

    442 is a good magazine, but it’s more commercialized than World Soccer.


    I considered David Pleat, but his TV commentary is awful at times which makes me question his analysis that he writes in his newspaper column for The Guardian.

    The Gaffer

  6. Alex Hleb

    April 24, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    gaffer, what about the guardian? what about four four two?

  7. Fsquid

    April 24, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    David Pleat started the demise of Sheffield Wednesday

  8. eplnfl

    April 24, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Thats Bobby not Booby, but it may work for him!

  9. NC

    April 24, 2008 at 11:26 am

    David Pleat?

    Is that David “i can’t pronounce or remember most player’s names” Pleat?

    The only analysis that he should be doing is of his pension book. His commentary is cringeworthy.

  10. eplnfl

    April 24, 2008 at 11:02 am

    The World Football Phone In, is a classic. Good to see it up there at the top of the list.

    So, I guess the thing we should be pushing for is to have Booby McMahon on the World Football Phone In and then everyone can be well informed!

  11. Fsquid

    April 24, 2008 at 9:05 am

    I enjoy the FourFourTwo magazine. Mainly for their historical articles and then their monthly feature on a soccer rivalry (The Israeli one was eyeopening).

  12. John Turnbull

    April 24, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Thanks very much for the overly kind mention. It should be clear that the interesting article on watercolors and football that you cite is by Jennifer Doyle, who writes a literary football blog – From a Left Wing ( – that is well worth reading, as are the other sources you include. I think that Alan Green’s World Football program can be quite good, although listening to Green’s pontifications can be grating.

  13. Phil McThomas

    April 24, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Can I add David Pleat to the list? He can be found on the Guardian website and as a co-commentator on one of the weekend’s games (for international fans). Good tactical analysis.

    I find Alan Smith to be the opposide of Pleat – too often the “if you see it, say it” approach. E.G. “Well, the winger crossed the ball in…and the striker jumps above everyone else…gets his head to the ball…and it’s in the back of the net”.

    That’s why I panned the Champions League 3D a bit on my blog the other week:

  14. Pork Romeo

    April 24, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Gaffer, thanks for the list. From time to time you post such blogs, please continue to do so.

    The World Football Phone In I can vouch for as well. Always informative and V ickery, Wheelock and others are very generous with their time.

    Shoulders with Kyle, The Ball is Round is a goodin..

  15. NC

    April 24, 2008 at 6:22 am

    I hate world soccer magazine. Glanville et al always seem to be trying *too* hard to be controversial and slag off players and management. This detracts from any, if any at all, good football analysis.

    Sunday supplement is OK for english football, but for scottish and other european football it is rubbish. jimmy hill and his middle-class mates sitting around drinking orange juice and eating pastries and croissants. What a load of trash.

  16. Kyle

    April 24, 2008 at 3:50 am

    Left off of your books list is David Goldblatt’s The Ball is Round. I’m halfway through the 900+ page paperback and am very impressed so far.

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