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These Football Times

Traversing the world of football in search of the stories that matter, brought to you by expert journalists and guests. Check out our award-winning print magazine.

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The philosophies that changed football forever

Football is an ever-evolving sport, often shaped by the minds of a few. The dreamers. The thinkers. What we have today is the result of systems that have transcended borders and time to give us the greatest sport in the world. This is an exploration of those philosophies.


24 Jul 2018

Rank #1

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How to identify talent and the use of statistics

Host Jim Hart, senior writer and coach Jon Townsend and commentator and analyst Juan Arango examine how players are evaluated during the development stage, what methods are used and whether statistics are the answer.

1hr 1min

28 May 2017

Rank #2

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Deconstructing American Soccer (Part I)

What is the reality behind the state of football in the US? With MLS deemed by many to be quickly becoming one of the best leagues in world football, and talked up by Commissioner Don Garber as having the potential to be a world leader by 2022, what are the challenges hindering progress? Jon Townsend, Jim Hart and Nate Abaurrea break down the US game in The Lob: Deconstructing American Soccer.

1hr 6mins

11 May 2016

Rank #3

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Political Football: the compelling world of FIFA

With one hand, FIFA have helped make the game truly global, giving the fans a sport like no other in the process. But with the other, they've often taken away its soul, leaving behind a sport riddled with corruption and deceit. To conclude the Political Football series, FIFA comes under the microscope.

1hr 4mins

30 Oct 2018

Rank #4

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Spanish football in the Franco years

Following the Spanish Civil War, Francisco Franco’s nationalist forces took control of the country and introduced a reactionary government, centred on traditional values, the church and a centrally dominated, unified state. His dictatorship lasted until his death in 1975, and in that time all of Spanish life came under the purview of his Movimiento Nacional. Football was no different. In this pod, we discuss the implications for players, clubs and the national team during these turbulent times. It's a tale of contrasts and divisions, exploring how football struggled to survive sociological upheavals, an autocratic dictatorship and how the regime wrapped itself around the glory of Real Madrid and La Roja.

1hr 20mins

28 Jan 2019

Rank #5

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The Lob talks to Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan Wilson is the acclaimed author of Inverting The Pyramid, The Outsider and Angels With Dirty Faces, as well as the founder and editor of The Blizzard. Join host Jim Hart and senior writer Christopher Weir as they sit down with the affable and knowledgable Wilson to discuss all things football in this wide-ranging conversation.

1hr 2mins

20 Nov 2017

Rank #6

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Uli Hesse and the state of German football

Uli Hesse is the best-selling German author of Tor!, Bayern Munich: Creating A Global Superclub and Alles BVB. He sat down with Jim Hart and Luca Hodges-Ramon to discuss the Bundesliga, the German national team and a bit of baseball.

1hr 12mins

18 Sep 2017

Rank #7

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The Football Italia Years

To accompany our series The Football Italia Years, host Jim Hart caught up with calcio writers and experts Blair Newman, Luca Hodges-Ramon - authors of the series - and Dominic Bliss to talk about the Italian game in the 1990s, how it ruled the world, and the legacy of Channel 4's excellent coverage in the UK.

1hr 5mins

19 Sep 2016

Rank #8

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The story of football's lost wonderkids, with author Ryan Baldi

Every club can boast one: the gifted youngster who defied expectations by not becoming the next George Best or the next Paul Gascoigne. Fated for greatness, only to fall by the wayside. On the latest episode of The Lob, we speak to author and journalist Ryan Baldi about his book The Next Big Thing, where he collaborated with a number of current and former players to tell the story of football's lost wonderkids.

1hr 5mins

3 Jul 2019

Rank #9

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My Side: how Arsène Wenger's fearless Arsenal became the iconic Invincibles

Chris Weir talks to us about Arsenal's historic Invincibles campaign, which saw them match Preston North End's record of going an entire league season unbeaten. From a ridiculed statement of intent by Arsène Wenger to a nerve-wracking final day victory at Highbury, this is the story of the most historic Premier League campaign.

1hr 21mins

6 Oct 2019

Rank #10

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Stateside Soccer: a history of the beautiful game in the United States

Football in America has been eclectic and polarising from the very start. From the pre-Wall Street Crash boom to Major League Soccer, via the incorrigible NASL, it has a marvellous story to tell, which so much of the world is unaware of. The Lob speaks to Tom Scholes who tells that story in his book Stateside Soccer.

1hr 30mins

8 Dec 2019

Rank #11

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Political Football: How football overcame brutal military juntas in Argentina and Chile

At a time when brutal military regimes were stifling society and the economy, football underwent vast changes in Argentina and Chile. From the decline of La Nuestra in Argentina to their World Cup glory of 1978 against the backdrop of torture just metres away, to the rise of Chilean football and how a select few stood up to the junta in acts of eternal defiance, this is the story of a murky relationship between fútbol and politics in these South American giants.


11 Sep 2018

Rank #12

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The Coaches' Forum talks to Saul Isaksson-Hurst

Jon Townsend talks technical development for players of all ages with coach Saul Isaksson-Hurst, a one-on-one coaching specialist whose clubs include Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, as well as the founder of My Personal Football Coach.


17 Dec 2017

Rank #13

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How Guardiola's Barcelona produced a season of exquisite refinement in 2010/11

Tom Scholes talks to us about how Pep Guardiola's Barcelona plan was crystallised into a single season which saw them finish above José Mourinho's Real Madrid in the league, as well as defeating them over two classic semi-final fixtures to set up a date at Wembley against Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United. It was a season of domination from a team that continued to refine the modern game.

1hr 14mins

16 Sep 2019

Rank #14

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The uncertain future of Catalan football

It's tough to predict what the future of Catalan football holds. In a region dominated by talk of political independence, host Euan McTear and special guests Alexandra Jonson, Samuel Marsden, David Cartilidge and Igansi Torné look at the state of FC Barcelona and La Masia, the rise of smaller regional teams, and wider issues from a spectacular football landscape.


11 Nov 2016

Rank #15

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Deconstructing American Soccer (Part II)

Deconstructing American Soccer (part II) is a discussion of the economics of the American version of the game. Joining us is award-winning economist from the University of Michigan and author of Soccernomics and Money and Soccer, Stefan Szymanski. This in depth interview, hosted by Jim Hart and Jon Townsend, takes a look at why Major League Soccer is structured so differently than most other leagues from around the world. Stefan walks us through the issues facing MLS methods and the challenges it faces in an ever competitive landscape.


16 May 2016

Rank #16

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The art and science of player development and coaching

How do the professionals go about their business in the areas of analysis, scouting, coaching and player development? We find out by speaking to Jed Davies (consultant to an international head coach), Kevin Nicholson (Cardiff City under-21 manager), Johnny McKinstry (Rwanda national team manager) and Joey Lombardi (regional talent manager for the Canadian Soccer Association).


23 May 2016

Rank #17

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The controversy and corruption of CONMEBOL

CONMEBOL is one of FIFA's six continental confederations and, as they cover the South American region, it's also one of the most important, having World Cup winners Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, amongst other countries, plus the Copa Libertadores, within its remit. However, a never-ending mist of controversy, corruption and maladministration swirls around its activities. South American football expert Frederick Clayton guides us through the oft-tangled web of the organisation's activities and discusses its past, present and possible future.

1hr 21mins

21 Nov 2019

Rank #18

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Euro 2020 or the UEFA Nations League? A debate about international football on the continent

With the Euro 2020 qualifiers about to begin - six months later than traditionally the case due to the advent of the polarising Nation League - what's better for the continental game's fans, players and clubs? Should we advocate change or stick to the traditional, successful tournament-style qualifiers and finals?

1hr 4mins

17 Mar 2019

Rank #19

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How populist politics is changing the world of football

Across the world, populist politics - the idea that society is separated into two groups at odds with one another: the "pure people" and the "corrupt elite" - is often centred on placing the blame on what is perceived to be outside influence, and it's becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Unsurprisingly, this is having an effect on football and how the game is both perceived and being used. What are the implications for football and can it lead to a return to the darker days of the game?

1hr 9mins

11 Dec 2019

Rank #20