cover art for The Dark Arts…

The Game Football Podcast

The Dark Arts…

Are footballers stupid? Why do footballers cut holes in their socks? And how to write a match report in 2 minutes.

Martin Samuel, Jonathan Northcroft, Gregor Robertson and Tom Clarke discuss the dark arts of football and sports writing.

On the pitch they were exemplified by Porto on Tuesday night.

But what are the dark arts of the press box? How do writers produce a piece when the result turns around in the final minutes?  Martin recounts the Nou Camp in 99’ – from “Poor old Fergie gets his tactics wrapped around his neck..." to "Arise Sir Alex!…” And facing a deadline, Jonny McNorthcroft found himself hoping Scotland didn’t score.

Gregor had a surprising response to his article on ‘Why do footballers cut holes in their socks?’ Which led to another question - are footballers stupid?

Finally – its FA cup weekend.

More episodes

View all episodes

  • Managers on the move and a Ten Hag triumph

    On Friday Erik Ten Hag was supposedly out of a job. By Saturday evening the jury was out again. After a gripping FA Cup final, with a performance and result which surprised almost everyone could Ten Hag still be the man for the job?A very busy Manchester reporter Paul Hirst joins James Gheerbrant, Gregor Robertson and Tom Clarke to look at what happens next at Old Trafford? There seems to be a four-man shortlist, but none of the candidates convince the panel…Gregor was at the richest game in football as Southampton beat Leeds in a tight play off final. Will Russell Martin be in contention for any of the managerial vacancies? Finally, who is on Chelsea’s shortlist? McKenna was, now he isn’t; but would any ambitious young manager want to step into the chaotic situations at Manchester United, Chelsea or Bayern Munich?
  • Managerial merry-go-round and how to beat City…

    Two minutes in and player of the season Phil Foden puts City one up. Title race over. Great player, great team. Tom Clarke, Alyson Rudd, Tony Cascarino and Gregor Robertson consider why City are so good, how other teams can compete and if Foden and Bellingham can play together for England.After a very good season, where do Arsenal go next, a striker, a left back…? Gregor is off to watch the championship play off final, often a cagey affair; will Leeds Southampton buck the trend? After the break a thorough look at some big impending managerial changes. De Zerbi leaves Brighton, could he end up at Man Utd or will Ten Hag be given more time. Poch appears very unsure of his future at Chelsea and how will Slot compare to Klopp…? We’re having a break on Thursday. We’ll be back on Monday to review the FA cup final and play off final.
  • Is it ever ok not to support your team?

    When is a fan not a fan? Tom Clarke, Tony Cascarino, Martin Samuel and Gregor Robertson discuss the bizarre atmosphere at the Tottenham stadium on Monday night as some Spurs fans struggled to cheer on their team against Man City.After Spurs didn’t do Arsenal a favour, could West Ham in the final game? In a word the universal opinion is… no.Premier League clubs meet next week to discuss the future of VAR…Martin has a simple solution; we need better humans. The discussion gets heated, proving the point that it is a very subjective business.Finally, Tony belatedly offers his alternative team of the season.
  • The best alternative team of the season ever!

    Arsenal have taken the title race to the final week of the season. But as Man City find their form on the run in, will it matter…? Aside from the title race Manchester United kept the score respectable at Old Trafford, but it was yet another lamentable performance from a club in the doldrums. What now for Casemiero et al?Tom Allnutt is confident that most Spurs fans will not want them to beat City, so handing Arsenal the title…Alyson Rudd isn’t so sure.Gregor Robertson witnessed the discontent at the City ground as Forest stay up but almost because of three worse teams then because of their own efforts.After the break it is ‘Tom Clarke's fun time’ as he makes everyone pick an alternate team of the season with a player from eleven different teams…which one player will make it from City and Arsenal and where will the other nine come from…?
  • Ancelotti masterless; Ten Hag car crash.

    Madrid do it again. Do they have better players, a better coach? Is it the ground, their history or all of it rolled together? Martin Samuel, Jonathan Northcroft and Gregor Robertson join Tom Clarke to look at just how special Real Madrid are.Mbappe ends his time with PSG with a whimper, where now for the French star? Domestically Crystal Palace are reborn under Oliver Glazner. Which of their team have a chance of the euros, Olise, Eze, Wharton..? On the receiving end of the Palace trio were a sorry Manchester United. With a cup final on the horizon, is there any hope for Ten Hag and his tenure at Old Trafford?Lastly, a reflection on David Moyes parting of the ways with West Ham
  • What's the future for Ange-ball and are Chelsea good?

    Tony Cascarino and Alyson Rudd took a road trip to see Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp’s penultimate home game in charge. Whatever happened in the car stays in the car. Tom Clarke and Gregor Robertson quiz them on Spurs’ alarming dip in form, and the performance of Harvey Elliot. Tony finally got to ask Klopp a question…In the title race Haaland and Rice are purring, Gregor is very impressed with the all round contribution of Declan Rice on and off the pitch. Tony thinks Haaland leaps like a salmon!Elsewhere Chelsea are starting to look like a real team…will it last? And West Ham have agreed personal terms with Julen Lopetegui…Is relegation now all done and dusted…? And what does it take to survive in the Premier League for promoted teams? 
  • Can Sancho and Dier make Euro squad?

     English players star in Europe, but not the ones you might think. Martin Samuel, Gregor Robertson and Tony Cascarino join Tom Clarke to discuss the fluctuating careers of Eric Dier and Jaden Sancho. Will either make the England squad? And why couldn’t Man Utd get the best out of a gifted player?Hindsight is twenty twenty but Kai Havertz now looks like a bargain at sixty million…Martin thinks he saw it coming. Ipswich are on the verge of back to back promotions, where does the achievement of Kieran McKenna rank? With plenty of big clubs looking for new managers will he be near the top of their lists?A big manager leaving is Jurgen Klopp, what do the panel feel about his final season?And from a manager whose team amassed 97 points and were runners up, who were some of the greatest teams to finish second…?
  • Title down to two and will Salah leave?

    And then there were two… It’s no longer a three-horse race, much to Alyson Rudd’s regret. Alyson joins Tom Allnutt, Gregor Robertson and Tom Clarke to pick over the bones of good wins for City and Arsenal, and touchline altercations for Liverpool and Mo Salah. Could this be the end of the ‘Egyptian King’ at Anfield?The race for fourth continues to ebb and flow, Villa threw away a two goal lead, but still gained on Spurs. Chelsea and their midfield in particular, confound the panel…again.Andoni Iraola has taken Bournemouth to their highest ever points total, does he deserve manager of the season? To finish, its two from three at the bottom. Forest showed form in defeat against City, do Luton have one last push in them? And Burnley, too little to late, or in with a shout…?  
  • Klopp crushed

    Martin Samuel and Tom Allnutt join Gregor Robertson to console Tony Cascarino as Liverpool’s title challenge hits the buffers. What can Liverpool’s bad form be put down to, fitness, desire, off field issues? Tony has a hunch… And is Arne Slot the man to right the ship…?Arsenal have the wind in their sails again can they now go unbeaten for the rest of season…? Chelsea, are a mystery to the entire panel. What will happen to Poch and his erratic team come the summer?Erik Ten Hag may not be embarrassed but is his tenure coming to an end? Martin can understand his response to the media, Tom isn’t so sure…