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This is Set Piece Menu - the podcast where four friends talk about football over food. They are together a writer, a commentator, a presenter and a pundit. Rory Smith is the Chief Soccer Correspondent of the New York Times, Steve Wyeth commentates for BT Sport, Hugh Ferris is a presenter at BBC Sport, and Andy Hinchcliffe is a former England international (seven caps) who is now a pundit for Sky Sports. On each episode they discuss one footballing issue, while digesting a delicious lunch or ...
 
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The football: The summer series (aka filler content between organised domestic or international football) is back! We have three connected episodes coming at you over next three weeks considering the many different aspects to the idea of Premier League Exceptionalism. The English top flight might be the best, but could that also be the very root of…
 
The football: Rory has an idea of how an expanded Euros could be expanded further, to include 32 teams. He's very proud of it, but clearly can only really commit to its principles once he's workshopped it (had it pulled apart) by his pod colleagues. Step forward Steven, Hugh and Chinch to consider, a little too fully, the plight of Luxembourg.The f…
 
The World Cups and Euros of our youth are acclaimed through the rose tinted spectacles of nostalgia. In our mature years we are much more likely to find fault. What distorts our memories in favour of historical tournaments and subsequently raises expectations to an unreasonable level for their modern day equivalents?Plus, in a variation on the them…
 
Over time we've be inundated with excellent suggestions from you, the listener. Many have been used & attributed, some nefariously repurposed & claimed as our own and others saved for a rainy day.Well that day has come and the mailbag has produced a potpourri of pod content: the fluidity of nationality, the scarcity of ambipedal players, footballin…
 
The podcast where four friends - presenter Hugh Ferris, writer Rory Smith, commentator Steven Wyeth & pundit Andy Hinchcliffe - talk football over food.This week: footballing families and the impact a successful player has on their offspring's chance of success. In what seems an increasingly incestuous industry, is a legacy talent a help or a hindr…
 
The football: Do trophies have a different value depending on who wins them, how often, and whether they are claimed by a player that's also associated with individual achievements? Harry Kane has a chance to move from a club that hasn't won anything to one that wins everything, but will those potential future achievements have the same value to hi…
 
The football: After Pep Guardiola seemed to lean into the very narrative that appears to annoy his acolytes more than any other for the Champions League final, we discuss whether something being pre-determined also dictates that it should be the singular cause of any outcome. Did Pep overthink his team? Or did they just play badly? Or, more importa…
 
The football: The Premier League season has come to an end, but it can't be officially 'put in the books' until we've delivered our annual hot takes and takeaways. Sit back and let these completely unstructured thoughts wash over you...The food: Rory goes against his wife's specific instructions to not order an ice cream sundae for his son when out…
 
The football: How does a manager put together a squad for a major international tournament? Is it the 'best 23 players', as the requirement from those who shout the loudest dictates, or is there much more importance in the balance of the squad: the right fit for the right system? And what value should be given to a player's versatility?The food: Ro…
 
The football: As a follow up to last week's pod, which turned out to be an inadequate answer to a question posed by a listener, we try to actually answer that question. What factors should players like Harry Kane and Jack Grealish consider when weighing up a potential move away from the club they love, and has brought them to this stage in their ca…
 
The football: Erling Haaland, his dad, and his agent, all have a plan. They've been plotting the player's career ever since he started as a teenager at Bryne in Norway. This is a prime example of a player pathway: when an elite prospect that has the luxury of choosing where to play now, and next, predetermines the route their career will take. We a…
 
The football: The European Super League seemed to re-frame the tribalism that's become such a huge part of modern football culture. Instead of fans railing against each other, they joined together to rail against a new, apparently more pressing foe which, ironically, in some cases appeared to be acting in order to meet the demands of their fanbase.…
 
The podcast where four friends - presenter Hugh Ferris, writer Rory Smith, commentator Steven Wyeth & pundit Andy Hinchcliffe - talk football over food.The football: The Super League, blink and you'd have missed it. The ambitions of the owners of the self-proclaimed elite clubs to revolutionise European football wasn't well planned, was terribly ex…
 
The football: The European Super League appears to have transitioned from being used in a game of brinkmanship to become a thing of potential reality. Cue the outrage. We have the temerity to think you'd like to hear our views on both the idea, and the fury that followed, so here is a bonus edition to scratch that itch.The food: THERE'S NO TIME TO …
 
The football: Considering that Kevin de Bruyne appeared not to need one, and Erling Haaland is very obviously using one, we thought we'd talk about agents. Is the bad press they get, particularly in England, warranted? What value (apart from the obvious kind) do they add for a player, and how are modern agents attempting to enhance that value furth…
 
The football: With the recent protests by some players against the conditions faced by migrant workers in Qatar, and the conflict some of us feel when considering some of the elements that have helped our clubs be successful, should we expect the game to match our own moral standards, whatever they may be? The food: There is a worrying theme develo…
 
The football: After an unnecessarily deep dive into the international footballing history of Jonjo Shelvey, a listener suggested we might put together a Select XI of players who have appeared for England six times or fewer, all of whom are therefore, by definition, sub-Chinch. Spoiler alert: six-cap Shelvey misses out.The food: Chinch reveals his l…
 
The football: For so long, the phrase 'international level' has been used to designate the 'highest level', but is that still the case? Why does a player that represents his club in, say, the Champions League, need to then 'prove himself at international level'? Or is there a more modern meaning, about emotional maturity, tactical versatility, or m…
 
The football: A year on from the global lockdown, and the football shutdown, why is there no apparent consensus on how to change the game to guarantee for a better future? The pandemic seemed to prove the sport's stakeholders retain self-interest as their guiding principle, but even now, 12 months later, new ideas based partly on that experience ar…
 
The football: With nearly a year of every Premier League football fixture being on television, have we reached a saturation point? Are we still enjoying the entertainment, or is it suffering from over-exposure?The food: A final call for any food poverty charities you'd like us to promote. Please send them, and indeed any correspondence, to setpiece…
 
The football: Following a much-discussed incident from another sport, we try and shine a light on how a post-match interview works from a journalist's point of view. What are the time and editorial constraints? Who is supposed to be the chief beneficiary? How much does deference matter, and is the relationship between the two parties actually much …
 
The football: When a coach is so wedded to a system that has brought them success, should they modify it when unforeseen circumstances dictate? Or is the eschewing of a winning philosophy defeat in itself, even if it's the very reason things aren't working out?The food: We have had another suggestion of where you might be able to send your hard-ear…
 
The football: Why the obsession with crowning someone as the GOAT? And not even just the GOAT of a particular sport, but an overall GOAT for all sports? Steven is annoyed by the discussion, particularly because it involves Tom Brady; Rory thinks the discussion is pointless; Hugh attempts to have the discussion anyway.The food: We have had more list…
 
The football: We apply the 'Peter Parker Principle' to football statistics, asking if the growing power of data should be wielded in a more responsible way. Can a player's performance be measured by anything other than measurable metrics, and if not, how can there still be room for artistry, and other more intangible, non-data-driven elements of th…
 
The football: Why are some teams defined by the success or otherwise of the man who leads them, and why is the story of others told through the prism of their players? Whose fault is it when things go wrong? Who is the chief architect of their triumphs? We discuss if there are managers' teams, and players' teams, and what it says about them.The foo…
 
The football: Following FIFA's threat to bar from their tournaments all those involved in a potential breakaway European Super League, we imagine those 15 clubs have called FIFA's bluff, and envision a World Cup without their players. Rory's done all the research into who would be left, how that effects their national squad, and together we all try…
 
The football: Now that it's been more than seven months, and an end is not immediately in sight, have we become so accustomed to behind closed doors football that we're not noticing the potential pitfalls anymore? As we enter the second half of the season, when stakes are raised and competitions are decided, will we start to realise the relationshi…
 
The football: We often describe managers or teams as pragmatic, but has football distorted the meaning of the word? Is it actually the case that those labelled as idealists are arch pragmatists, and that we need to find a new way of describing those who subscribe to a different philosophy?The food: For the first time the pod recording takes place d…
 
The football: Whether it's because of Marcelo Bielsa's philosophy or the official club twitter account, it seems everyone is talking about Leeds. We ask why, and answer that question by, inevitably, talking about Leeds. The food: The pandemic has denied Hugh his normal Christmas cake, traditionally baked for him by his aunt. So into that void steps…
 
The football: The second part of our festive offering about nostalgia. After the discussion last week about players, we wonder if nostalgia actually most affects the intangible: the feelings, the pictures in our minds, and the incorrectly-sized shorts.The food: Chinch has been banned from eating crisps in public by his wife, who instead insists he …
 
The football: Over the Christmas period we're bringing you a two-parter on nostalgia; how it effects the way we think about football right now, and whether it's a legitimate foundation for our memories of the game in years gone by. On this week's part one, we talk specifically about players, and if nostalgia leads us to always undervalue the curren…
 
The football: After two promotions and glowing notices for his overlapping centre backs, Chris Wilder and Sheffield United are struggling. Has the magic potion he created for his team run out, and if so, how do you replace it? Features an over-extended metaphor about Asterix, and the secrets behind how a modern player avoids giving mixed zone inter…
 
The football: Why do some pundits wear their allegiances on their sleeve, and has the success of Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher changed the age-old convention of impartiality? Tradition has also tended to dictate that journalists keep who they support private as well, but are the exceptions starting to outweigh the rule, and why does it matter to…
 
The football: The passing of Diego Maradona prompted a discussion about both his genius and his flaws. But was he the former because of the latter, and would he have been the same without both? And was he a product unique to the time, or can that conflict still be found in modern footballers?The food: Mince Pies. Because it's December. And because …
 
The football: A listener describes his own support of the team he loves as a 'diagnosable masochistic disorder', prompting a question about why fans continue to follow their club if there's no significant prospect of success. He calls his team 's**t', but then he's allowed to. We couldn't possibly comment. Although we do. At length. And with A LOT …
 
The football: What are the crucial criteria that must be met for a game to be considered 'good'? The assumption is that the simple answer is goals; but both high-scoring affairs of little consequence, coupled with the old Italian footballing adage that a nil-nil is the perfect result, suggests there's more of a conversation to be had. Any excuse...…
 
The football: Following our conversation about sport in general and its relationship with the mainstream, we eventually get around to what last week's episode was originally supposed to be. What happens to a footballer once they enter the mainstream? How are they perceived differently, and how does that eaffect the expectations of them on the pitch…
 
The football: We've had so many intra-episode tangents over the years, why not make a whole episode out of one? An intended conversation about footballers in the mainstream got so sidetracked by Hugh's setup (rant) about sport as a whole and its relationship with the mainstream that we decided to just stick with it. We'll go back to the original pl…
 
The football: Whether it's foresight and proactivity from a position of stability and strength, or alternatively you're in a mess like the current Barcelona, teams need a regular rebuild. We discuss what makes a successful rebuild, how often you need to be planning for one, and whether they're even possible if you don't have money, or a manager wit…
 
The football: Can football die? And if so, would football be the reason why? With big clubs attempting to pull the game in one direction, and fans appearing to be resistant to any change whatsoever, is football heading for a potential existential crisis, one that could stretch the relationship between those two sides of the debate to breaking point…
 
The football: For a long time, and in the last six months more than once, we've been talking on SPM about how football's structure might have to change, particularly in the context of how its flimsy foundations have been exposed by Covid 19. Well, as it turns out, others have also been discussing potentially seismic changes to the traditions of Eng…
 
The football: How effective are the words managers use to both his players, and the media? Is the modern team talk more about tactics than broken tea cups, and is the audience for his media appearances not actually the media?Plus: We couldn't let the events of the past weekend go unmentioned, so there's more WTF-ery and handball nonsense to conside…
 
The football: Can anyone please tell us what the **** is going on in the Premier League? Three rounds of fixtures, and a plethora of goals, mistakes and handballs. Oh, the handballs! We, as ever, attempt to answer our own question, while making sure Steven has enough time to rant about the handballs.The food: Hugh is particularly pleased with himse…
 
The football: The second part of our conversation about early season knee-jerk reactions asks if players are immune to them, or whether in the social media age they're more aware of those premature judgements. Are they capable of inoculating themselves, or can the sanctity of their bubble become compromised by all the talk going on outside the club…
 
The football: Why are we so obsessed with coming to such early, sweeping conclusions each and every season? It would appear these knee-jerk reactions are ever-present, and they are opinions that are becoming more and more staunchly held, regardless of how often they are completely disproved. The food: Rory has moved house, and christened his new ab…
 
The football: Is the pyramid that has so long been the structure of English football still secure? The new season is about to start with the prospect of lower league clubs playing without fans, something that was considered financially unviable just a few weeks ago, and if some of the bricks at the bottom of the pyramid start to crumble, that would…
 
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