We at FourFourTwo had a dilemma. How could we possibly follow up our extraordinary PlayersÃ¢ÂÂ Poll issue? And how, after everybody had been talking earnestly about the state of football off the pitch, could we bring readers back to the heart and soul of the beautiful game?
Then we had an idea. Outside Barcelona, one team embodies the exhilaration football can bring to even the most miserable and cynical of fans. One team combines youthful exuberance with utter footballing brilliance, and love and respect for the fans with a healthy, enviable plan behind the scenes (just donÃ¢ÂÂt call it a business model).
We knew what to do. We would infiltrate the clubÃ¢ÂÂs inner sanctum to give you, the readers, the untold, unknown inside story of Borussia Dortmund for the March issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out now digitally and in print.
How did Dortmund go from the verge of bankruptcy to German double winners and five-time conquerors of Bayern in just seven years? We went inside the club to find out, speaking to the backroom brains about succeeding without charging fans more than ÃÂ£200 for a season ticket; asking the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Marco Reus about their Champions League aims and, of course, getting the lowdown from mercurial manager Jurgen Klopp. Plus, we weigh up Klopp vs Pep in the new battle of the Bundesliga. ItÃ¢ÂÂs a must-read.
BEHIND THE SCENES FFT editor David Hall meets Klopp and the gang
So if KloppÃ¢ÂÂs Dortmund are GermanyÃ¢ÂÂs biggest hopes for a Champions League winner, who are EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs? Manchester United are out for revenge after last yearÃ¢ÂÂs humiliation, and leading the charge is captain Nemanja Vidic Ã¢ÂÂ a man who doesnÃ¢ÂÂt the meaning of giving up. He speaks exclusively to FFT.
Also in conversation are Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher. We sat in as the Liverpool lads and childhood chums talk Champions League glory, failure with England and Scouse fashion. With both players bursting with honesty, this is a real eye-opener.
To Brazil, now, to spend a day in the life of NeymarÃ¢ÂÂs agent. If that sounds dull, fear not Ã¢ÂÂ itÃ¢ÂÂs anything but. Wagner Ribeiro is the man who handled the moves of Kaka, Robinho and now Lucas Moura to Milan, Madrid and PSG respectively, and who has to deal with abuse from Brazilian fans as a result. We join him for an average day in which he lunches with Lucas, natters with NeymarÃ¢ÂÂs dad and settles the odd club-splitting player dispute. Business as usual...
What makes oligarchs buy football clubs? ThatÃ¢ÂÂs what we ask in the new issue, looking at the increasing number of multimillion-pound investors across the world. Whether itÃ¢ÂÂs for love, money or power, thereÃ¢ÂÂs always a reason Ã¢ÂÂ and itÃ¢ÂÂs not always good for the fans.
The first thing to suffer from an oligarchÃ¢ÂÂs takeover is often the youth system, which leads us seamlessly Ã¢ÂÂ ish Ã¢ÂÂ into our Action Replay feature on Lilleshall. What japes took place after hours in a mansion in the country, representing the FAÃ¢ÂÂs school of football, especially with Ã¢ÂÂlovermanÃ¢ÂÂ Michael Owen on the loose? We walk the halls for memories on the precursor and exact opposite of St GeorgeÃ¢ÂÂs Park.
LetÃ¢ÂÂs get down Ã¢ÂÂnÃ¢ÂÂ dirty now with not one but two Ã¢ÂÂon the groundÃ¢ÂÂ features. We headed to Hampden Park to see how QueenÃ¢ÂÂs Park supporters coped with being outnumbered 60 to 1 by visiting Rangers fans, and also dropped in for a pint of misery at Barnet v Aldershot: cold, hungover fans watching a League Two relegation battle. As one fan reminds Edgar Davids, Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂre Barnet, not BarÃÂ§a!Ã¢ÂÂ HeÃ¢ÂÂs realising that now.
Football League clubs have their fair share of die-hard supporters, but global reach isnÃ¢ÂÂt limited to the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid. We speak to the foreign fans of unlikely clubs, including the Forest fan in Georgia, USA and the Bournemouth fan in Norway. Obviously.
Our One-on-One is a cracker this month, too, as we sit down for a chat with Phil Neville. Whether they are posers about Merseyside, Manchester or how he could have been a professional cricketer, he answers your questions with a straight bat. You know he gets up before 5am even now? Madness.
And if you want more, you greedy sods, we have exclusive interviews with Kaka, Antonio Di Natale and Michael Ballack, as well as a look at an alternative Champions League for purists in which only league winners qualify and, of course, Performance, starring Rio Ferdinand, Branislav Ivanovic, Sebastien Bassong and a bunch of people who arenÃ¢ÂÂt defenders, too. Improve your game with help from the best.
The March 2013 issue of FourFourTwo was brought to you by... Jurgen Klopp, Marco Reus, Robert Lewandowski, Dortmund captain Sebastien Kehl and the clubÃ¢ÂÂs director of football, chief executive and marketing director (theyÃ¢ÂÂre different people), plus...
...Diego, Kaka, Yaya Toure, David McGurk, Kevin Keegan, NeymarÃ¢ÂÂs agent, Danny Webber, Luke Rodgers, John Cartwright, Rod Thomas (remember him?), Edgar Davids, Phil Neville, Branislav Ivanovic, Michael Ballack...
...and Ibrahim Afellay, Tom Pope, Rio Ferdinand, Ray Wilkins, Martin Taylor, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Michel Salgado, Nemanja Vidic, Sebastien Bassong, Justin Hoyte, Gus Poyet, Antonio Di Natale, TranmereÃ¢ÂÂs physio, Joe ColeÃ¢ÂÂs dad, Lofty from EastEnders and a very confused Roger Hunt.