Four pieces to enliven your morning -- August 20

Posted by Roger Bennett

Inside the Dark Corners of Sir Alex's Mind

Ahead of this afternoon's Manchester United-Everton game, Back Page Football runs through the tactical possibilities Alex Ferguson will be mulling over to integrate Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa.

The Center Will Hold

The always-articulate Rob Smyth makes the case that central midfielder, Tom Cleverley, will have to be United’s key player if they are to prosper this season.

Soccer's 007

James Montague is the James Bond of football writing. He globe trots around the world (in a style pioneered by Simon Kuper in his classic Soccer Against the Enemy: How the World's Most Popular Sport Starts and Fuels Revolutions and Keeps Dictators in Power) exploring the big socio-historical stories that lie beneath the sport.

His piece on post-Soviet politics as captured by Moldovan soccer made the front page of the New York Times today. Follow his wanderings on Twitter: @JamesPiotr

It's Not Cricket...

Not a football story but interesting nonetheless. England have booted Kevin Pietersen, its most naturally gifted player, off the team. Former national captain Mike Brearley pens a piece that offers a magical insight into club house chemistry, jealousy and the thin line between inspirational confidence and destructive arrogance. His writing could apply to any sport.


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