In the mag: The making of Di Maria! Jovetic, Hazard exclusives! Pique One-on-One!
It's certainly been, erm... interesting at Manchester United since Sir Alex Ferguson decided to put his feet up. That's 'interesting' as in being absolutely bonkers, with an established Premier League stalwart sacked after a season, an egotistical motormouth arriving in his place and around £150 million spent on players to make sure last year's humbling experiences don't happen again.
So far their expensive upgrading hasn't exactly paid immediate dividends, but it seems only a matter of time before it does – not least when you've got the likes of Angel Di Maria knocking about.
The £60m Argentine was deemed surplus to requirements at Real Madrid (capitalism! *shakes fist*), but already the Champions League winners have proved El Fideo is no easy player to replace. In our latest issue – available in print and in a specially-designed-for-iPad version – we unearth the truth behind United's record-breaking new No.7, and why he can bring the glory days back to Old Trafford.
But the whippet wonder isn't the only star hoping to haul his side to dizzy heights this season. Stevan Jovetic endured a troubled first year at Manchester City littered with injuries, but the Montenegrin has begun his second season brightly and has only one direction in his sights: up. The 24-year-old tells FFT about life at the Etihad Stadium so far, his fascinating career so far and why Yaya Toure isn't so hot at the ping-pong table.
On a similar note, Erik Lamela is beginning to look like the player he promised to be at Tottenham after shrugging off a hugely disappointing debut year in north London. It's not like tough starts are new for the young Argentine, though: as FFT recalls, a timid Lamela struggled immensely to assert himself at Roma after moving from River Plate, before dazzling in his second season to earn himself a big-money move to White Hart Lane. Good things come to those who wait.
Chelsea fans, meanwhile, will know full well that Eden Hazard hasn't flopped since joining from Lille. For the talented Belgian, though, it's now about where he goes from here. Winning the Premier League and Champions League would be a start, he tells us, but on a personal level there's so much more fun to be had. Like catching up with Messi? Ronaldo? "That's what I have to do," he says. It'll be fun watching him try.
Continuing our 'Make or Break' special, we explain what Jack Wilshere must do to re-establish himself as the exciting midfield marauder we saw in 2010/11. The Arsenal graduate has come under fire from the likes of Paul Scholes for an apparent lack of progression, but with his injuries apparently behind him, he knows now is his time to prove the boo-boys wrong.
League Two: basically park football, isn't it? Kick it long and hope for the best? Wrong, you ill-educated scoundrels. With match analysis technology and top-flight knowhow trickling down to the fourth tier, Burton Albion boss Gary Rowett is leading the revolution of a new tactical era. FFT wheels out the whiteboard to find out the former Leicester man's masterplan.
So it's not all crunching tackles. But football wouldn't be football without those, and the inevitable injuries that follow. In our next feature, we reveal everything you need to know (and some horror stories you don't want to), from drunk surgery in the '80s to today's mind-bending tech. Plus, there's more on weird treatment, injury-prone clubs and Darren Anderton revealing all about his 'Sicknote' tag.
Tickets, please! That's what we've been asking FFT readers on Twitter, and hundreds of you responded. From the magical Magyars at Wembley to derby delirium at The Den, we bring you the top stubs and stories from your excellent responses.
Moving on, have you ever wondered what referees do after they've spent years being the b*stard in the black? No, probably not. But not for all ex-refs is a life of punditry or assessing their fellow officials, so we decided to discover what really happens when the men in the middle hang up their whistles.
In this month's Action Replay, meanwhile, we chart the tale of Croatian revolutionaries Hadjuk Split.
These days they may seem a modest Eastern European outfit, but once they were forced to battle fascists and dissolve ahead of selling out.
It's not very often we interview a 27-year-old for a One-on-One, but then Gerard Pique isn't really your average 27-year-old. For a start he's won just about everything there is to win in football, played under two of the game's finest-ever managers, and boasts a pop star partner. So who's better: Pep or Fergie? Why did Louis van Gaal push him over as a kid? And what was with him holding hands with Zlatan that time?
But wait, there's more. "More?!" you say. Yes readers, yes. Our Upfront segment features a trip to FC Romania in the Essex Senior League, and an interview with the young Spain star who swapped La Masia for Macclesfield's Moss Rose. In Planet Football we bring you an exclusive with Seattle Sounders star Clint Dempsey, plus an introduction to the 61-year-old AC Milan coach employed purely for free-kicks.
Finally, learn how to silence the haters with Diego Costa in this month's Performance section, pick up tips from Liverpool and England speedster Raheem Sterling on the art of dribbling, and play like a PlayStation player with our handy workouts.
And please, don't let us forget the obligatory "much, much more". We're off for a lie down.