The Guardian newspaper launched a redesign of its football site today. As sport editor Sean Ingle said, “Finally, it’s our turn.” Maybe he meant “my turn” because that’s precisely the problem.

Let me explain. The new design is definitely a welcome change from the narrow one column format that we’ve grown to be accustomed to over many years. The new format looks modern and has far more of a breezy, clean look about it. To me, it looks almost too clean though. I can imagine some of the peculiar and pedantic readers of The Fiver, their daily tea-time newsletter, finding the redesigned pages too mainstream.

If one of the goals of the redesign was to make the reader feel as if there’s a ton of content on The Guardian football site, the newspaper has succeeded. In reality, it’s approximately the same amount of content that was on the site in the past. Now it’s only designed better.

Some of the nice touches of the redesign include the recent headshot of Kevin McCarra (with much less hair than his previous picture; what happened Kevin?), a photograph from inside The Guardian Pod with James Richardson looking very relaxed, larger images throughout the site, a more professional looking archive of previous Football Weekly episodes, as well as a pleasant ‘Editor’s Picks’ section with tabs to select between videos, photo galleries and regular sections of The Guardian such as The Fiver and The Knowledge.

Despite the new look and feel, there are changes that I’m not impressed by. The navigation bar and advertisements take up far too much real estate at the top of the Football section. With the old design, you could read the headlines for five different stories “above the fold” (at least on my browser). Now you can only read the headlines for two stories.

The news ticker near the top of the page is unnecessary and annoying in my opinion. If the content on the site is that good (which it is, of course), we as readers will scroll down the page and will find those news stories.

Blink and you may miss the most popular sections of The Guardian site, which is the blogs. They’re now blended in so well with the design of the main football site page that you may have difficulty finding a direct link to the section. Meanwhile, the link labeled “Best Football Comment From Our Blog” is misleading. I was hoping to actually see the best comment from the Guardian’s football blog, not just to be transported to the blog section.

Despite all of the new design improvements, The Guardian has lost its soul. Take a look at their chief competitor, The Times, and tell me that The Guardian didn’t sit down during their web redesign meeting and said “how can we make our site look like theirs?”

That’s the problem with the redesign. The Guardian has lost its character. It now looks just like every other squeaky clean web 2.0 website. The brilliant writing and sharp wit The Guardian is known for seems out of place in this design.

The more challenging but rewarding thing to do would have been to create a remarkable design that differentiated itself from its competitors and played up the creativity that we know exists within their corporate offices. A site more inspired by a Barry Glendenning than a Sean Ingle.