“With Ryan Mason’s arms showing a bit of ink, I wondered: who are the most heavily tattooed football managers?” writes Stuart Edwards.
Mason’s arms have nothing on those of Jorge Sampaoli, the Argentinian coach who is currently at Marseille. “Sampaoli must be in the running for the title of ‘most inked’ manager,” writes Graeme Hall (and many others), “sporting as he does two full sleeves of very heavy, dark tattoos. Interestingly, though, they’re a very new addition: as recently as 2016, when in charge of the Chilean national team, he had nary a Celtic cross to speak of. He’s 61 now, so therefore embarked on his ink odyssey after turning 56.”
We thought we’d missed the deadline for a midlife crisis, but Sampaoli has given us fresh hope.
The Lincoln City manager Michael Appleton’s work is also pretty impressive, but the winner is surely the former Liverpool defender Daniel Agger – or at least he will be when he becomes a manager next month. “Daniel Agger is due to become head coach of HB Køge in June this year, and when he does so he’s presumably in with a shout,” suggests Mike Coxon. “Aside from the fact he’s got 22 separate tattoos that cover almost all of his arms, legs and torso, he’s also a qualified tattoo artist himself. Perhaps he could dole out a novel punishment for turning up late to training?”
“Which club has spent the longest time in the same league division, where promotion and relegation are both possible?” muses Alistair Murdoch.
Thanks to John Holden, who emailed a comprehensive answer. “The ‘with promotion/relegation’ makes this a tricky question,” writes John. “Obviously, people will mention Rochdale’s 36-year streak in the fourth tier, but they should have been relegated from the old Fourth Division twice (1978 and 1980) back before it had relegation to a lower division. Same with Scotland – many teams were “stuck” in the lowest division, but couldn’t get relegated anywhere. Once you add in relegation, teams bounce up and down quite readily in Scotland.
“In the post-war years, Oldham have been particularly stable: they spent 17 straight seasons in the old Second Division before promotion in 1991, and followed that up with 21 years in League One between 1997 and 2018. Forest Green spent 20 years in the Conference (and should have been relegated twice) until their promotion. Fortuna Köln spent 26 straight years in the 2. Bundesliga until 2000, with the last 19 being a non-regional league. Brescia spent 18 years in Serie B following the second world war. NK Solin also had 17 years in the Croatian second tier after independence, as did Woking in the Conference at one point.
“There are a few interesting active streaks. FC Winterthur have been in the second tier in Switzerland since 2000, though were lucky to avoid relegation in 2003 after a points deduction due to league expansion, and FC Wil have also been in the same league since relegation in 2004. FC Frederica (are the FCs a prerequisite?) also have an active streak in the Danish second tier stretching back to 2001, matching Austria Lustenau. Mito HollyHock have been in the J2 League consecutively since 2000, though that league didn’t start relegating until 2012.
“The current active streaks in the UK: Morecambe have been in League Two for 14 straight years; Derby County and Nottingham Forest have been in the Championship for 13 years.” And for EFL completists, League One’s current longest streak belongs to Gillingham, for whom next season will be their ninth in the division.
Mind the gap
“With four games to go Manchester City are 63 points above Sheffield United but could end 75 points apart if City win all their remaining games and the Blades lose theirs. In Derby’s terrible 2007-08 campaign, when they picked up only 11 points, they finished 76 points behind Manchester United. What is the biggest gap between top and bottom in a season?” asks Chris Sloley.
That Derby side hold a few unwanted records, but this isn’t one of them. Last year Norwich finished bottom with 21 points, 78 fewer than Liverpool. And in the 2018-19 season, Huddersfield (16) finished a spectacular 82 points behind the champions Manchester City.
That’s the biggest gap we can find. It was matched in Scotland in 2001-02, when Celtic won the title with 103 points and St Johnstone finished bottom with 21.
In last week’s Knowledge archive we looked at teams who had inverted the badge of their shirt. There are a few more to mention: Belgium 1990, Anderlecht 1990-92 and, best of the lot, Middlesbrough 1996-97.
“I feel we have to mention that Boro kit,” writes Jonathan Cullen. “They had a badge on their left sleeve, absolutely wild. I can’t help but think this and their relegation were linked.”
“With the bottom of the Premier League so close this season and only eight points separating 20th and 10th,” wrote Jonathon Clegg in 2014, “I was wondering what the closest ever league was? What is the fewest points ever to separate first and last in a league?”
We have talked about tightly packed leagues before, a couple of years back, when Darren Beach pointed out that the Romanian third division ended with first and last (16th) divided by only 10 points in 1983-84. (Amazingly, there were just two points between second and second-to-last). The final table in Morocco showed only an eight-point difference between first and last (14th) – and that was three points for a win, too.
Darren also pointed out that at the end of the 1974-75 season in England, the top 10 were separated by only eight points. To answer the question though, we had to look further back – to the inter-war years. First, to 1927-28, when Everton topped the First Division with 53 points and Middlesbrough finished bottom with 37 points. The same thing happened 10 years later, when Arsenal topped the First Division with 52 points, 16 ahead of bottom-placed West Brom.
Even adjusted to three points for a win, the difference is 25 points (in a 22-team league), which is slimmer than anything that has passed in the real-life three points for a win world. The tightest English top flight since the switch (1981) came in 1996-97, when a comparatively massive 41 points separated Manchester United from Nottingham Forest.
Can you help?
“Roma had three players substituted due to injury in the first 37 minutes of their Europa League semi against Manchester United. Is this a record?” asks Naman Shah.
“Chelsea have played five matches against Real Madrid – but not once at the Bernabéu. What are the most matches one team has played against another without playing at their usual home ground?” asks Christopher Page.
“Rohan Ricketts has played in the leagues of 12 different Fifa nations in his wonderful, globetrotting career: England, USA, Hungary, Moldova, Germany, Ireland, India, Ecuador, Thailand, Hong Kong, Bangladesh and Canada. What’s the record?” wonders Sam Woller.
“Kilmarnock recently lost their 12th penalty shootout in a row,” winces Graeme Stockton. “Is this a world record? The last time they won one was 1984.”