A couple of articles from the magazine:
I think it lost its soul ages ago, and that this was confirmed by England's World Cup performances in 2006.
Having been brought up on football and having religiously watched every single world cup since Italia '90, the real sad thing for me is that the first 3 premiership grounds that I ever went to in my life were this year - and as part of conferences for work. (I even stayed in a hotel at Bolton's "reebok stadium" that is built into it.)
It's a very functional place - on the edge of town and can seat everyone as demanded by the Taylor report resulting from the Hillsborough disaster. (The report I have no problem with. It's a shame that much of the architecture of stadiums has become "identikit".)
The other thing is lifestyles and salaries. The Arsenal team of the late 1980s and early 90s I could relate to. With the current lot, being a team full of players from all over the place sky-high salaries, it's a team full of wealthy non-entities.
I agree that the style of football that Wenger brought in during the late 1990s was a real step on from what was there before. He also got rid of some of the drinking culture - as did Bergkamp. But with the loss of the spine - Seaman, the back 4 of Dixon, Winterburn, Adams and Keown, I just don't feel any connection with any of the current lot.
Accessability is another thing. One of my old schoolmates lived down the same road as Ray Clemence and Pat Jennings while they were playing for Spurs & England, and Arsenal and Northern Ireland respectively. No longer do players seem to live within the communities of their fans. Rather the stockbroker belts of the cities where they play - or even further.
That plus the celebrity culture and the aim of every other glamour model under the sun to snare themselves a footballer.
As a child I always wanted to be a player like Gary Lineker - who famously never got booked or sent off. Would I want to be one of today's lot? Not really.
Compared to other employers, football clubs have a huge amount of catching up to do in terms of a duty of care to their employees. Players need more guidance about how to deal with the fame that is thrust on their shoulders. Once training is over, players need to get back into the communities of their fan bases and make more of a positive impact.
Everyone has the right to socialise as they please (so long as it's not illegal!), but I'd rather see today's footballers making backpage headlines for the right reasons rather than front-page headlines for the wrong ones.