Heroes of Gothenburg. Alex Ferguson and Archie Knox celebrate victory over Real Madrid in the 1983 Cup Winners Cup Final © Aberdeen FC

Football is a game of perception, and no-one knows that more than Archie Knox, that grand old man of Scottish football at the age of 71.

As a trusted Assistant Manager of Sir Alex Ferguson, Walter Smith and Craig Brown he’s contributed to some of the great nights of Scottish football at home and in Europe.

And he’s also seen the other side of the game too, in tougher times at the likes of Forfar and Dundee and at Everton, Millwall and Livingston. …

Fans of a certain age will remember those great sporting powerhouse teams and players of the former Soviet Union or those hot-housed talents athletes and gymnasts of the Eastern Bloc. But in the post Cold War climate, and especially in Western Europe, there’s been a marked move away from state intervention in sports.

The notable exception is Germany’s root and branch development plan that followed a disastrous France 1998 and climaxed with a World Cup win in 2014.

But elsewhere in Western Europe, there are bigger fish to fry. With more pressing social and economic issues, a lack of collective…

Here’s how I introduced VAR for How To Watch Football in March 2017. Now in the midst of World Cup 2018 the picture remains as unsatisfactory as ever.

By Greg Gordon
On 2017–03–04

Referee Viktor Kassai utilises video replay technology at the Club World Championships in Japan 2017

You can see the thinking. Experiments with video assistance for referees have already started as part of the fulfilment of Infantino’s election promise that FIFA get back to the business of football after years mired in negative publicity and allegations of sleaze.

Live experiments are taking place in around 20 competitions this year, including the Confederations Cup in Russia which serves as the 2018 World Cup test…

Scottish football reviews and articles View all posts by purefitbaw

Written by Greg Gordon for Pure Fitbaw.

Just one week into the Finals tournament and Russia 2018 has already become The Setpiece World Cup. Freekicks, corners and VAR-assisted penalties are overshadowing goals from open play in a competition made overly evenly balanced by the intervention of the officials in the video control room.

With all 32 teams having now played their first games and Australia having drawn with Denmark 1–1, after a controversial VAR-assisted spot kick equaliser, the pattern is clear.

Penalties, free kicks and corner kicks have led to…

The years when every top English side had a nucleus of world-class Scottish players is due in no small part to two ‘super scouts’. At Leeds and Man United, John Barr and Jimmy Dickie were rivals competing for talent north of the border but their friendship and integrity prevailed. By Greg Gordon

This feature originally appeared in Issue 8 of Nutmeg, the Scottish Football Periodical © Nutmeg

Now that Britain’s biggest clubs scour the world for stars, the prospects can seem limited for Scottish talent. On the wider stage Scots players have taken on the cast of poor relations. But it wasn’t always the case. …

If you’re looking for a scapegoat, an explanation for the gulf in class between Liverpool and Real Madrid, then the search begins and ends with a journeyman Belgian midfielder.

By Greg Gordon
On 2018–05–30

Allan Kennedy celebrates his European Cup winning goal v Real Madrid in Paris, 1981 © Liverpool Echo

Paris in the Spring, Liverpool v Real Madrid in 1981. This is the very stuff of nostalgia.

Steak lunch, tea and toast at their hotel. Reds’ players with their Umbro shirt branding obscured by tape at the TV broadcasters’ request and left back Allan Kennedy ghosting in from the left flank, ball glued to his feet, to win a tense Final 1–0 in the 82nd minute.

After the Debacle of Kiev, Loris Karius may never really recover as a keeper and almost certainly not as a Liverpool player. But that still may not make him the most notorious goalkeeper in British football history.

A devastated Karius Loris at full time in Kiev © Sky Sports

And there it is Real Madrid are Champions League holders for a record-breaking third consecutive season. But the bare match facts of a 3–1 win over Liverpool in Kiev barely do the game justice.

Liverpool had already suffered the devastating blow of losing top scorer Mohamed Salah in the first half — with a shoulder injury sustained in a challenge with Real Madrid…

The Real Madrid boss can establish a dynasty in the Spanish capital. But he must be given the time to plan for a time when Ronaldo’s powers have fatally waned.

Zinedine Zidane was appointed Real manager in January 2016, after the dismissal of Rafa Benítez, and in two years since has led Madrid to one La Liga title and two Champions League victories.

Despite a lack-lustre showing in domestic competition this season — Los Blancos trailed in third in La Liga, a massive 17 points shy of Barcelona and three short of city rivals Atletico — the French boss stands…

Old Trafford fans grew spoiled by success in the Sir Alex Ferguson era as United dominated the Premier League © Paolo Camera

It is hard to believe now but way back in 1989, Manchester United diehard Pete Molyneux unfurled a controversial banner calling for the club’s manager Alex Ferguson to resign (below). Even harder to believe is that its sentiments very much captured the mood of the times amongst United’s fanbase.

Almost 30 years on, it is a banner that has a special place in the folklore of the Old Trafford club — and the football of my lifetime. …

The official line will always be that dissent does not change an official’s mind. But players know that arguing has an incremental impact, promoting doubt and shaping subsequent decisions.

By Greg Gordon
On 2017–12–27

Jose Mourinho Manager of Manchester United speaks with Referee Michael Oliver at the end of The Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on March 13, 2017 in London © Eurosport

Amidst all the fall-out from the acrimonious Manchester derby with Manchester United in December, The Football Association’s request that Jose Mourinho explain his pre-match comments about referee Michael Oliver, passed largely without comment, swamped as it was by the post-match fracas that followed City’s 2–1 win.

Mourinho had used the build-up to the derby clash at Old Trafford to remind Oliver to clamp down on what…

Greg Gordon

Greg Gordon is a Next Opponent analyst and journalist whose work has appeared in The FT, The Observer, The Sunday Times and leading international publications.

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