League 2


Arsenal & Tottenham Hotspur plotting summer swoop for teenage sensation

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Arsenal and close, bitter north-London rivals Tottenham Hotspur are allegedly set to lock horns in...

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Bradford turning the tide

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Next month Bradford City will welcome Arsenal to Valley Parade for the quarter-final of the Capital One cup after knocking out Wigan Athletic on penalties last night. The visit for Arsenal should have Valley Parade filled to its 25,000 capacity for the first time in ten years.

The occasion can hopefully act as a catalyst for Bradford's League 2 promotion push.

The Monday Profile: Nick Powell

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In our recent analysis of the PFA awards, my fellow blogger John McGee highlighted the disagreement that can ensue when debating the worth of leading young players. With Jordan Rhodes valued by the press as a knee jerk £6 million, John pointed out that Adam Le Fondre, the man whose two goals fired Reading to victory over Southampton in the Championship's recent summit meeting, cost a mere £350,000.

League 1

Another set of half-baked proposals from the Football League

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Two summers ago, I stood on the stoop of a pub in Oxford and was interviewed over the telephone by the We Are Going Up podcast about the proposals to introduce reserve teams of Premier League clubs into the Football League.

Met with a volley of outbursts and snorts as it was, the idea was given short shrift in most quarters (aside from Mark Warburton – a man who .

We Are Going Up! Interview: Podcasting the Football League

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[H]aving made a number of appearances on podcasts in recent years including Two Footed Tackle andThe Tilehurst End, our founder writers Lloyd and Lanterne Rouge are perhaps inclined to go in the corner and hide, such are the demands of stationing oneself behind the microphone. Hence, we are in admiration of anyone who has stuck at it, let alone done it really well indeed.

Alcohol and Football: It’s Time To Let Football Fans Enjoy A Drink

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[S]o many aspects of modern football are nonsensical. The vast web of ethical and logistical issues surrounding the inherently flawed decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar is a topical example. So, too, the negligence of so many directors in steering their clubs headlong into financial catastrophe, despite fully understanding the risk they take in offering players wages that far exceed their clubs' ability to generate revenue.

Book Review: Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters

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Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters by Daniel Gray Published by Bloomsbury 2013, £12.99 ... [A]t times reading Daniel Gray's Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters is, despite the ugliness of the title, a joyous experience; an author who clearly enjoys using language talking with warmth and wit about football, people and social history.

Academies and the EPPP: Can the Footballing Authorities Do More?

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[T]wenty one months ago, we relaunched a redesign of our site with a post from John McGee on the Elite Player Performance Plan - still to this day one of most talked about and read articles. However, coverage of the EPPP has been greatly diminished in recent months and a degree of normality has settled in.

The Two Unfortunates/Cult Zeros Crossword Winner

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[W]e are very pleased to announce the winner of The Two Unfortunates/Cult Zeros Cryptic Crossword competition which we launched in April. Although it took our co-founder Lanterne Rouge four months to complete a mere quarter of the puzzle and fellow blogger Lloyd completely unable to answer a single clue, we are pleased that Jamie Upton was far more fleeted in the brain matter stakes – and Jamie is our worthy winner.

2012-13: An Elegy

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[H]aving seen our original brief cast asunder when one of our teams was promoted to the Premier League a year ago, equilibrium has been restored and it's with a mood of keen anticipation that we look forward to blogging about the Football League and other topics in the new season. For now, however, we have decided to sign off for a month's rest - but not before Steve Wright of the Nottingham Forest blog Mist Rolling in from the Trent supplies us with a few final words as well as a note of hope for the future.

A Football League SWOT Analysis: The Threats

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[T]he stethoscope we have applied to the Football League over the past week has revealed a not altogether satisfactory heartbeat and the fact that the weaknesses section of our study has been easily the most read does indicate that there is concern for the competition's health among supporters.

A Football League SWOT Analysis: The Weaknesses

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[O]f course by its very definition the Football League is weak – comparatively. While it's true that West Ham and Southampton skilfully negotiated the step up to the Premier League this past year, both enjoyed wage structures and transfer budgets way beyond the scope of second tier clubs. Yesterday's opening post on thisfour day SWOT analysis salvo perhaps painted too rosy a picture of the League's attributes.

A Football League SWOT Analysis: The Strengths

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[A]s the three divisions of the Football League steel themselves for life without npower and this website prepares for a month long summer break, we thought it would be appropriate to give the competition as a whole a health check, minus thermometers, but deploying that now established method of the SWOT analysis – beloved of the world of Business but pretty much applicable for any large organisation.

Sponsoring the Football League: A Short History

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[W]hat's in it for them is a commonquery that springs to mind when assessing football sponsorship and indeed, since the financial crisis of 2008 kicked in, one might ask the question more forcibly? Why did Coca-Cola, for instance, feel that a wet Tuesday evening encounter between Crawley and Stevenage or a juddering tackle from Stephen Hunt would help them sell more bottles and cans of their precious elixir?

Once More Unto the Breach: The Football League Season Draws to a Conclusion

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[T]onight, Watford travel to Leicester City at the onset of a nail biting weekend of Football League fixtures. With a great many issues still hanging in the balance, our two founding bloggers, Lloyd and Lanterne Rouge convened to discuss the prospects: ... Lanterne Rouge: As a Plymouth fan, you've mentioned to me that you are still worried about the drop - it's quite possible mathematically but will take a chain reaction of perhaps sub-nuclear proportions for Argyle to go down to the Football League.

The Football League Awards and Fried Egg Sandwiches

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[H]aving somewhat nervously accepted an invitation to Sunday Night's Football League Awards, my tension was only heightened as I negotiated a cabal of smartly turned out livery men to enter into the Xanadu like surrounds of mega-venue The Brewery, at the heart of the City of London, a few paces south of hip Whitecross Street.

Top 5 Unheralded Managers in the Football League

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[W]ith the managerial merry-go-round operating at warp speed over the Christmas break, and the recruitment seemingly limited to just Michael Appleton and Sean O'Driscoll, we thought that it was time that some of the lesser-touted managers of the Football League received some attention. Many readers will no doubt want to nominate other deserving individuals, but, to get things started, here is our list of five gaffers achieving great results with limited resources.

Blogging the Football League

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In the summer of 2011, we clubbed together with the now sadly retired The Seventy Two and decided to create The Football League Blog Network. This allowed for links of the best club blogs covering the NPower League to be gathered together in one place. Blogging is rarely, if ever, a full time occupation and finding the time to maintain a website can be difficult.

Stepping up: negotiating a multi-division jump

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[W]andering around Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok in a jet-lagged haze last November, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a club shop selling merchandise for an English football team. Nothing too surprising in that, you might think - after all, the Premier League is hugely popular in South East Asia, and we had been welcomed to Thailand by Singha Beer in association with Chelsea and on our drive into the city centre were confronted with tower-block-high adverts featuring Wayne Rooney's pasty bonce.

Ten Reasons to Love the Football League

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So Football is officially dead then – beside images of sideburns, NHS celebrations, Kenneth Branagh in a top hat, a Somali-born hero, David Rudisha, the lightning bolt and the tranquil surrounds of 'Eton Dorney', the game has lost its sheen – embattled as it was when Freddie Flintoff inspired an Embrace song in 2005 and Jonny drop kicked that ball two years before.

Introducing The Seventy Two Archive

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As many of you will be aware, recent weeks have witnessed the closure of The Seventy Two - a blog also devoted to matters football league and a resource that proved to be incredibly popular in the two years of its operation. Before David Bevan launched the site in 2010, The Two Unfortunates had bumbled along rather - in our first year of existence, we covered the Championship alone but took a very laissez faire attitude towards publicity - aside from our then handful of contributors, my dad was pretty much our only regular reader.

Finance in English Football: Wage Disparities Between the Divisions

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Finance in English Football: Wage Disparities Between the Divisions - originally posted on Soccerlens.com

As the money involved in football increases, so does each individual player's salary. According to a study, a player at one of the top-flight teams in England earns £1.5 million a year.


Friends reunited as Flitcroft and Hill face off in derby

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[I]n a curious quirk of fate, last Friday night's match between Bury and Rochdale not only involved two clubs located little more than five miles apart, but also two men who've spent much of the last fifteen years considerably closer to one another than that. In the visitors' camp: Keith Hill. In the home dugout: David Flitcroft, who played with Hill at Spotland before working as his assistant both there and at Barnsley, taking charge at the Tykes after Hill's dismissal.

Keith Hill and the ‘never go back’ maxim

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[T]hese quiet mid-January weeks used to be devoted to anticipation while we waited between rounds 3 and 4 of the FA Cup andif many will have you believe that matters Premier League and transfer window are the only ones worth thinking about as Burns Night approaches, quite a few of us still hark back to the old days.


Book Review: York City: Fighting Back

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York City: Fighting Backby Dave Flett Published by Amberley Publishing 2013, £14.99 ISBN: 978-1445614083 [L]ife as a York City fan has largely been a predictable state of affairs down the years. Turn up, watch them be moderate to crap for 90 minutes, go home – simple. The glories are fleeting and to be clung to for far longer than is probably healthy and for the most part of the club's existence, the lowest low was applying for re-election, something which was never realistically going to be refused.

Relegation From the Football League is Not the End of the World

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[T]his year's League Two relegation battle is quite remarkable. Not just for the closeness of thefight, but for the teams involved. All bar one have recently spent time in the Conference and all bar one have gained promotion to the League since two-up two-down was introduced from non-league's top tier.

4-4-2 Managers and 4-4-2 Fans

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[I]f you,as a football fan, recognise the shortcomings of 4-4-2 (the system, not the magazine), then that leaves you a few genes short of being a 'proper bloke' and certainly unpatriotic in the extreme. Here, we welcome back John Dobson, a regular chronicler of Yorkshire football, to point out how fan pressure must not be allowed to hold sway atBootham Crescent.

York Call a Halt to the Oxford United Sprint

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Following his analysis of York City's prospects in our Season Preview fortnight, John Dobson was present as the Minstermen put an end to Oxford United's strong start at the weekend. Here are his impressions: The last time Oxford United and York City met was in a downpour at Wembley in a Conference play-off final just over two years ago.

AFC Wimbledon

Getting AFC Wimbledon Fit for The Football League

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[T]oday, we are delighted to welcome back Chris Lines, curator of the long established Narrow The Angle, one of the best football websites in business. Chris is a season ticket holder at AFC Wimbledon and in between mops of his brow with a handkerchief following fellow Two Unfortunates' contributor Jack Midson's nerveless spot kick against Fleetwood, he took time to reflect on Neal Ardley's impact at Kingsmeadow.

What (And Who) Next For Wycombe?

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Interminable rain outside, and Wycombe shifts uneasily under its sodden valley floor;a day afterWycombe Wanderers' 125th anniversary, it's time yet again to contemplate another new face for the club. It has come as no huge surprise that Gary Waddock, manager ofthe clubsince 2009, has been sacked.


Are Rotherham United Really in the Wrong Division?

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At the start of 2012-13, Rotherham United were very much among the favourites to escape League Two come the end of April. Currently in sixth place, there is still a chance that the scenario could come to pass of course although the visit of Exeter City to the New York Stadium tonight will go some way to defining this.

Evans above contrition, but not the law

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"It won't change the passion and the drive and commitment that I have". Rotherham manager Steve Evans there, speaking of the result of his latest brush with the FA, the small matter of a six-match stadium ban and £3000 fine (not a six-month ban, as the Independent seem to be reporting - nothing like a good sub-editor, is there?

Rotherham United: Two Stadia; Two Identities

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In April, David Rawson caught the imagination of football's online community with a striking post following the arrival of Steve Evans at Rotherham United. Here, with the Yorkshire club about to take up residency in a new stadium and with the new season a month away, David is in wistful mood: 'If this were a manufacturing company, I'd have shut it down as soon as I walked through the door.

port vale

Which of Port Vale’s Players Can Step Up?

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[H]is previous appearances for us have seen Tom Bourne chronicle the recent, decidedly torrid financial history of Port Vale Football Club. After entering administration just over a year ago and suffering the requisite ten point penalty, the unease at Vale Park was lessened when Paul Wildes took over the club in November.

Gareth Ainsworth as Warrior-King

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Lying deep in the recesses of the English mind and our claggy sod, a battle-hungry liege has long waited to be discovered. After weeks of speculation and careful assessment, statistics have shown that the gaunt, scarred frame is no less than a lost English king. The car park from which he emerged, however, is not in Leicester but at the end of an industrial estate by Adams Park, and the king is not from York, but Lancashire.

TTU Season Preview 2012-13: Increasing Woe at Port Vale

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One of the highlights of our Turmoil Week series of posts back in January was Tom Bourne's analysis of the financial shenanigans at Port Vale, although Valiants fans will have been little cheered. Since then, events at Vale Park have become yet more labyrinthine and uncertainty remains ahead of Barnet's visit tomorrow afternoon.

oxford united

Calm Determination at Exeter City

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A fortnight ago, I wrote effusively of Oxford United's strong start to the season; Chris Wilder's charges having reached the summit of the League 2 table with a win over Plymouth. But with Wilder installed as the bookmakers' favourite for the vacant Coventry City job, York City having ended the Us' unbeaten run last Saturday and Exeter City plundering a terrifically impressive 4-2 win at the Kassam at the weekend, the situation is now less rosy for the Thames Valley Club.

Oxford United Sitting Pretty

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Despite quiet confidence in advance of this season's opening salvos, a tough sequence of fixtures added to the absence through injury of midfield playmaker Peter Leven will have left Oxford United fans cautious before the Capital One Cup visit to Bournemouth on August 14th. But their divisional betters from Dorset were seen off on penalties and the League campaign has started no less auspiciously – two of the favourites, Bristol Rovers and Southend have been vanquished and the performance in the latter game in particular was notable for its ease.

The Rest

Morecambe’s Cloth Cutting Strategy

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[W]hen we previewed the new League Two season back in July, the Shrimps of Morecambe FC were about as popular with our pundits and the bookies as they would be chez Roy Keane. The Lancashire club had been open and honest with the playing personnel throughout the summer and with gates in 2012-13 averaging out at a meagre 1,954, the likes of Will Haining, Gary McDonald and Lewis Alessandra were advised to seek career opportunities elsewhere – not because of any lack of ability; more because the club simply couldn't afford to keep them.

Bradford City: The Hangover Part Two?

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[T]he story of Bradford City's journey to the League Cup final has been one likened to a fairy tale and, in a way, it ended that way too as the Bantams were beaten 5-0 by Swansea City. In this particular fable, Jack climbs the Beanstalk to find his bride who has been taken by a giant, only to discover that - after his admittedly impressive adventures - that the ogre is not an evil, gnarled beast but rather someone who is a reflection of himself, standing to his full height.