When a nation calls, that call must be answered. If a nation doesn’t call, we resurface anyway. The Nessun Dorma podcast is back for a third season, just in time to put some heat into your unseasonably cold autumn. Let us beckon you in from the harsh outdoors, with its bracing winds and chillingly bleak political landscape, and run you a nice warm bath full of nostalgia. We’re a few episodes into the new series, so here’s a quick recap of the high jinks so far.
Lee Calvert, Rob Smyth and Mike Gibbons convene to discuss that landmark summer when the World Cup took up residency in the United States. OJ Simpson was on the run, Saeed Al-Owairan went on a famous run and Roberto Baggio eventually ran out of miracles, after his astonishing series of performances for Italy in the knockout stages ended with a field goal of a penalty miss in the final in Pasadena.
Also featured are one of the tournament’s great loose cannons in Romania, an upset for the ages courtesy of Bulgaria, the Republic of Ireland melting in Orlando and Romario inspiring Brazil to victory to end their 24 year drought at the World Cup (we know, chick feed in years of hurt, but they have slightly different benchmarks over there). If you’re wondering why the four teams that represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s finest weren’t involved, well that’s another story entirely.
Ah, mischievous old Alex Ferguson. He rarely dealt in throwaway remarks during his managerial career and, for the avoidance of doubt, even advised journalists which of his more venom-laced barbs should make it to press. Lee, Rob and Scott Murray pick the bones out of Fergie’s famous claim that Manchester United’s greatest challenge during his tenure was knocking Liverpool “off their fucking perch”.
Was it? Did they? Are George Graham’s Arsenal a gaping hole in the theory? Moreover, what did Ferguson mean by “their perch” anyway? We attempt to answer all these questions and more.
Elsewhere, David Platt shakes free of Ronald Koeman’s grip to walk down the red carpet and into the Underrated Hall of Fame, while our Journeyman nomination is Mirandinha, the first ever Brazilian to play in England.
How would you react if your team was docked six points, fined through the nose by the FA and banned from the FA Cup? For the Tottenham manager Ossie Ardiles at the start of the 1994-95 season, the answer was simple; pile forwards in a manner that makes the Charge of the Light Brigade seem like a midnight shuffle to the fridge in your slippers.
Lee, Rob and Gary Naylor dissect the legacy of the Famous Five, Ardiles’ cult attacking quintet of Teddy Sheringham, Jürgen Klinsmann, Ilie Dumitrescu, Darren Anderton and Nick Barmby. In just six games together they cemented a legacy that was both quintessentially 1990s and thoroughly in keeping with Tottenham’s tradition of doomed romanticism, as lashings of goals flew in at both ends of the pitch.
Coventry City stalwart Steve Ogrizovic enters the Underrated Hall of Fame and our journeyman for this episode is Peter Barnes, whose astonishing world tour included a U-boat impression in the changing room baths at Old Trafford to avoid a seething Fergie.
For a certain demographic, West versus East was a dominant theme of our childhoods. In this episode Lee, Gary and Mike dig into one of the last major international tournament of the Cold War era, just before Europe and European football changed forever.
Euro 88 in West Germany packed a hell of a lot into its 15 days. England swaggered in as second favourites, before a sucker punch in the opening game from tournament debutants Republic of Ireland initiated a series of disasters that led to them losing all three group games. The Soviet Union reached their fourth final, and Italy and West Germany were building exciting new teams, but the glory eventually went to the Netherlands. They won a semi-final against the hosts that ached with an importance far beyond the confines of the pitch, before the wonderful Marco van Basten settled the final against the Soviets with a goal from another dimension.
We lament the sad demise of Van Basten’s career soon after. A similarly cursed existence befell Paul Bracewell, who makes it into our Underrated Hall of Fame. This month’s journeyman is Finnish legend Jari Litmanen, whose winding path from the land of a thousand lakes took in Ajax, Barcelona, Liverpool and a goal in a Champions League final.
The post Nessun Dorma podcast: from Ardiles to Baggio, Bracewell and Van Basten appeared first on The Guardian.