Our cover star this month is Chelsea’s Juan Mata, whose super-professional attitude shines through in his encounter with Guillem Balagué. Grateful for the opportunities he’s had, pragmatic about his current situation and aware that he is a role model to a generation of young fans, he’s a thoroughly decent bloke. And he can play a bit, too. Juan Mata, we salute you.
Elsewhere in this issue we have agenda-setting comment from former England manager Glenn Hoddle, who’ll be playing a key role in Greg Dyke’s FA Commission on English football, while Real Madrid assistant coach Paul Clement gives a fascinating insight into life at the Bernabéu and the differences between the English and Spanish coaching models.
Plus: Lukas Podolski (Arsenal), Michail Antonio (Sheffield Wednesday), Andy Butler (Walsall), Gary McSheffrey (Chesterfield), Luke Graham (Hereford United), Natasha Dowie (Liverpool Ladies), Kevin McHattie (Hearts), Mikael Silvestre (Portland Timbers) and Bradford City gaffer Phil Parkinson.
In features, Oliver Kay gets exercised about the thorny issue of feeder clubs, Oliver Holt assesses the fractious relationship between football clubs and the media and in the wake of RVP’s match-winning goal for Man United against Arsenal, Hayley McQueen looks at the players who’ve enraged their fans by moving to play for rival clubs.
We talk to a football league press officer and player to explore football’s often tricky relationship with Twitter, while in an interview with former referee Dermot Gallagher we look at the hated men of football – and learn why the job’s not all bad.
Regulars: Boy Wonder, Around the Grounds, Famous Fan, Legend (Graeme Le Saux) and comment from Jeff Stelling and Barry Fry.