Posts Tagged ‘ Leeds United ’

Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King

cantona book pic

Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King, Philippe Auclair

Eric Cantona is one of my favorite Manchester United players and over the years I have come to enjoy Philippe Auclair’s perspective on soccer.  The combination of these two created a stunning book that I cannot recommend highly enough. Auclair’s offering is part football history, part social commentary, part psychology and it’s all amazing.

The narrative examines Cantona’s life in total, from his days as a talented youth, to his mixed time in France to the culmination of his reign at Manchester United. The precociously talented youth was formed by several coaches, namely Guy LeRoux and blossomed at Auxerre. Controversy was never far from the Frenchman and Auclair mentions these incidents to set the stage for future events.

I learned so much about French Football history, in particular the politics and success of Marseille in the early 90’s. The failings of the French National Team before the emergence of Zidane and others are also discussed. Although Cantona never found success at international level, he did contribute to the rise of the team that eventually won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championships.

Moving on from there Auclair contextualizes the early days of the Premiership and how Cantona rose to fame on foreign shores. Eventually shown the door at Leeds United, he arrived at Old Trafford, the perfect platform for the player, and ushered in a period of dominance harkening back to the days of Sir Matt Busby and the Holy Trinity.

Reading about the club’s success after years of failure always brings a smile to my face. These were the days when I first found the club and Auclair allowed me relive those moments of the first Premier League title and Domestic Double. Cantona was a key part of those early titles as he was the catalyst for this group of players and also helped develop Fergie’s Fledglings.

Cantona’s rush of blood at Selhurst Park is discussed at length and it is here that the author shines. Throughout the book, Auclair explores how Eric responded to both success and failure. His reactions varied from rich veins of form to tension filled conflict with his clubs to moments of madness. His actions against Matthew Simmons put the wonderful player on the sideline for several months, but Auclair also recaps how Le Roi would rise triumphant in the 95/96 season.

Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was how Auclair fleshed out the player as artist. Eric had a unique personality and philosophy and these are what contributed to his actions, both good and bad, and his greatest moments on the field. In the end, he chose to walk away, still with more to give with his body but not with his heart.

The prose of the book moves the story along and the main character contributes to wonderful tale. I had a hard time putting it down, have read it twice, and can’t wait to read it again. Auclair presents a well- rounded philosophy of the player and his contribution to the history of Manchester United.


For a full list of my book reviews, please visit the Recommended Reading page. And reach out to me with your suggestions as well.

Strip Club–Best (and Worst) of 2014/15

Over the last couple of years I have done some sort of post focusing on the best and worst kits for the upcoming season, and this year is no different.  The 2014/15 campaign has started and I’ve tried to cast my net pretty wide, looking at shirts from as many leagues as possible.  Here is a sampling of what I found.

First, the worst.

Porto switched to Warrior for the upcoming season and after horrific designs for Liverpool (and mixed results for Sevilla), my expectations were low.  And Warrior didn’t disappoint.

The Home shirt is fine.  Standard blue and white vertical stripes, featuring 11 subtle sublimation lines that score the bold blue stripes, representing the 11 players on the pitch. These divide the blue stripes in 12, representing the 12th player, FC Porto’s supporters. (Courtesy Football Fashion).

The Away and Third shirts are eye sores.  The Away shirt uses some sort of camoflauge pattern, which has creeped into kit design (Napoli and Everton come to mind).  It’s distracting and takes away from a shade of navy blue.

As for the Third shirt, Warrior went with a pink hue that bolsters the flamboyant footballing style that the two-time European Champions are known for. The firm believes that it has designed a kit that breaks with convention while harnessing FC Porto’s unbridled passion. (Courtesy Football Fashion)

Warrior still has a long way to go, although they are way ahead in the race to push the boundaries.

(Photo courtesy of Footy Headlines)

Pete Nowakowski‎ (@petenowakowski) brought to my attention the set of jerseys that Wolfsburg will be wearing this season.  The European kit is especially atrocious.  Kappa created kits that use a X-shape, which the team states, is meant to represent Wolfsburg’s self-confidence and will to win. (Courtesy Football Fashion)  Have to say go with the obvious and say X does not mark the spot for this kit. (Photo courtesy of Football Fashion)


Finally there is Blackburn Rovers.  The shirt has come under some criticism because it is not the typical royal blue but instead Nike used a much lighter shade of blue, which is officially called University Blue. Blackburn previously had worn a white / light blue home shirt between 1990-1992 and in the early years of the club. (Courtesy Footy Headlines)  But the real problem with the kit is the commercial used to launch it, #birdysdate.  Beware: it’s awkward and awful.

Now for the best

Nike has taken the sash that has been a recent trend in kit design and added it to the Zenit Away kit. The result is a simple shirt with a hint of flair, using something that I have not seen—the two tone sash.   The bottom half is the marine blue of the home kit with the top half a slightly darker blue. These colors are also used in the collar. Football Fashion provided this additional note: According to the club’s website: The new away kit has a contrasting stripe, similar to the belt that decorated the army uniforms of Peter the Great’s army. Overall very sharp.  (Photo courtesy of Footy Headlines)

Adidas is using the sash as well, adding it to the Anderlecht Home shirt. I’m not familiar with Anderlecht kits but know that the rich purple is the one of the main colors of the club. Typically the home shirts are white with purple accenting but for this season, adidas inverted the colors. I think this shirt works with the sash bringing attention to the club badge.  (Photo courtesy of Football Fashion).


The Leeds United kit came to my attention as I read The Damned United again this summer. Their iconic all white home kit, introduced in 1961 by coach Don Revie in hopes of emulating Spanish side Real Madrid, is subtly accented by the yellow and royal blue of the club. What really interested me about this shirt was the collar. Rides slightly high up the neck and is a unique design to me, with a notch at the throat area. Like the look of this shirt and maybe one day this storied club will return to the Premier League.  (Photo courtesy of Footy Headlines)

Feyenoord’s iconic home halved kit gets some nice touches with opposite colored sleeves and black stripes along the shoulders. This shirt gets an updated OPEL logo at the center of the shirt and the color of the logo goes well with the shirt.  (Photo courtesy of Football Headlines)


The checkered sleeves of the Fortuna Dusseldorf Home shirt grabbed me and these added an element of style to an otherwise straightforward shirt. What an interesting badge as well. I don’t speak German but the official name of the club is Düsseldorfer Turn-und Sportverein Fortuna 1895. Fortuna was the goddess of fortune and personification of luck in Roman religion. (Thanks Wikipedia!) I might keep an eye out for this one at the end of the season and pick it up on clearance.  (Photo courtesy of Football Fashion)

Fortuna-Dusseldorf-14-15-Home-Kit (1)

The Celtic Away shirts have been not to my liking the last couple of seasons, with the all black strip of 2012/13 being the exception, but this one caught my attention. I usually don’t go for green shirts but the dark, rich green is accented by several different colors. From Football Fashion: The new Bhoys’ away shirt features an enlarged graphic of the Celtic tartan on its front to reflect the club’s Scottish heritage. Gold-infused horizontal and vertical lines from the tartan run through the club crest to replicate the Celtic cross. Gold also appears as trim at the neck and sleeve areas. The entire strip is sharp and might be worth adding to a collection.  (Photo courtesy of Football Fashion)



Then there’s the Real Madrid Away strip. I don’t know where to put this one. Obviously there is the color of the kit, which Football Fashion called a vibrant pink. Much different than the pink of Palermo and of Juve’s away kit from a couple of years ago. Then there is the collar, which is using the button that seems to be popular at the moment. Footy Headlines called it a classical henley collar. Think I will have to wait to see this in person on TV.  (Photo courtesy Footy Headlines).

Real Madrid 14-15 Away Kit (1)

So that’s a random selection of this year’s shirts for the upcoming season.  There are hundreds of kits from all over the world, but I only have so much time.  Doing research I realized how much access fans have to kits worldwide.  It used to be just a Eurosport magazine, showing uniforms of big European teams.  Now strips from almost every team in at least the top division in the major leagues in Europe can be seen if you look hard enough. These are the ones that jumped out to me.  If you want to see more, visit the following sites.

Football Fashion

Football Kit News

Football Shirt Culture

Footy Headlines

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