Russia was the fourth World Cup I’ve covered and by some way the most enjoyable, which you would think wasn’t a particularly controversial statement. But to say that during the tournament, even to intimate you were having a good time, would invariably provoke howls of outrage on social media. This sadly is the reality of the modern world: everything is tribal and there are surprisingly large cohorts of people who can’t separate having a good meal in Kazan from backing the suppression of political opponents, or respecting the Russian rail network from backing chemical attacks in Syria.

This is the problem with tribalism. Most issues are complicated (although actually in this case, it isn’t that difficult: a lot of Russian people are generally nice; the Russian government generally isn’t), and simply to take a side and spout partisan lines denies that. It’s not only inhibitive to opposing factions getting on, it actively hinders the sort of discussion that might come up with nuanced answers to nuanced problems. Football, of course, is as guilty of that, perhaps even more guilty, than most environments, as will rapidly become obvious if you go on Twitter and say you find the Manchester City documentary boring or don’t like Manchester United’s new home kit.

It was in part to combat the partisan tendency and to foster proper debate that The Blizzard was founded. Hopefully as we reach Issue Thirty, a longevity I don’t think any of us dreamed of, we have remained broadly true to those initial ideals of openness, depth and eclecticism. That we’re still here is thanks to a huge number of people, but please never forget that you, the reader, have a role. We have no advertising budget, so rely on word of mouth. Please do tell people about us and encourage them to take out a subscription. That’s the only way we can kick on through the next 10 issues.


And, if I may be self-indulgent for a moment, I have a new book out. It’s called The Barcelona Legacy (in the UK; in the US it’s The Barcelona Inheritance), and looks at how the ideas of Johan Cruyff, as adapted by the likes of Louis van Gaal, José Mourinho, Luis Enrique and Pep Guardiola, have shaped football over the last quarter-century or so. There’s also an accompanying podcast, hosted by Marcus Speller, who’s done a lot of Blizzard live events, in which I talk to a series of Blizzard contributors – Jack Pitt-Brooke, Gabriele Marcotti, John Brewin, Miguel Delaney, Paolo Bandini and Ian Hawkey – about key games in the evolution of that philosophy. If you have any time left for football after reading The Blizzard and listening to our podcast, do please take a look.