Cultured Football #108
How good is Xabi Alonso, the manager? And more.
By Ryan O'Hanlon for ESPN
There has been an outsized level of attention being paid to Wrexham AFC who currently sit atop the National League and stand just two or three games from automatic promotion to the Football League for the first time since 2008. It is clear that their owners have big dreams and see this as a first step. But how high can they go?
By Will Magee for Kult
Bedlington Terriers FC, a football club in the north-east of England, reflects its industrial heritage with a wonderful club badge featuring a colliery headframe, a symbol of the town's former mining industry. The club's ground, Dr Pit Welfare Park, was once home to the annual Northumberland Miners’ Picnic, an event that gave the town a special place in the north-east's popular imagination. Their most recent history, however, is filled with the struggles typical of the whole region. Yet, while many miners’ recreation facilities were redeveloped or shuttered, Dr Pit Welfare Park thankfully still serves as a football ground bring a sense of meaning to the community.
Leyton Orient’s promotion is down to ‘good-guy’ owners, the remarkable Richie Wellens, and a dash of romance
By Daniel Storey for iNews
In 2013, Leyton Orient suffered two remarkable collapses that saw them fall from the top of League One to third place and ultimately relegated to the bottom tier of English football. After spending two seasons in the bottom tier, they were relegated again, and for a time it seemed they might disappear altogether. But out of hopelessness, recovery was born, and the club managed to come back up to League One, with the help of remarkable Richie Wellens, who is continuing the work of former manager Justin Edinburgh, and the club's owners Nigel Travis and Kent Teague.
by Ed Aarons and Kale Stockwell for the Guardian
There has long been a sense of unease among Watford fans over the close ties with agent Mogi Bayat. Now, with the agent facing trial in France and Belgium over fraud, that questions over the nature of his relationship are increasing.
By Luke Bissett for The Analyst
Of all the managerial changes to happen this season, two have worked better than most. One is Unai Emery. The other is Xabi Alonso. The latter - his first serious managerial job - has attracted plenty of attention particularly among fans of his former clubs who see him as someone who could eventually take over.
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Something Else I Loved This Week
Gabriel Martinelli is one of my favourite players who does not play for the club I support. Whatever happens to Arsenal between now and the end of the season, it has been a wonderful campaign for him and, at just 21, he is going to be an absolute star.
Dan Leydon happens to be one of my favourite artists (don’t know how old he is but he, too, is an absolute star) so when he shared this drawing of Martinelli, it was an obvious choice for something different to share this week. Leydon also does these great short videos that show the process he goes through when drawing something which I also love seeing and hope you will too.
Last Week’s Most Read: KRC Genk – The Belgian academy producing some of football’s biggest stars
By Mark Sochon for Football Paradise
Disappointment at the World Cup seemed to signal the end of Belgium’s golden generation. But, whilst it is true that many of the players are now getting on, there are also other coming through to take their place. As was bound to happen in a country where there are clubs like KRC Genk for whom developing players is a way of life and who are looking to win the league with a 21 year-old goalkeeper and an 18 year-old midfielder - both home products - playing a starring role.