This is Set Piece Menu - the podcast where four friends talk about football over food. They are together a writer, a commentator, a presenter and a pundit. Rory Smith is the Chief Soccer Correspondent of the New York Times, Steve Wyeth commentates for BT Sport, Hugh Ferris is a presenter at BBC Sport, and Andy Hinchcliffe is a former England international (seven caps) who is now a pundit for Sky Sports. On each episode they discuss one footballing issue, while digesting a delicious lunch or brunch, and almost never reaching any sort of conclusion.
SPM 248: Traditions or Anachronisms?
The football: The fact that Cristiano Ronaldo's 're-debut' couldn't be shown on television in the UK was considered by some to be proof that the age-old Saturday 3pm blackout was no longer fit for purpose. So we ask how fiercely we should preserve tradition, even if it seems anachronistic? It's a conversation that very quickly makes us appear like middle-aged men shouting into a void about teenagers.
The food: A nice cup of hot crisps. Minutes before recording, Hugh makes the mistake of indulging in the two things he was once told you should never ingest in advance of broadcasting: a tea, and crisps.
Merch: www.teepublic.com (just search for SPM or Set Piece Menu)
SPM 247: Women's Football - Cash, caché and change?
The football: With caveats abounding that we are men talking about women's football, this week's discussion is about how the new TV deal and associated exposure could give the women's game a chance to forge a different path to the one the men travelled 30 years ago. For those who desire autonomy within the sport, might changing the structure be a (so far unconsidered)way to see that through into the long term future?
The food: The food, according to Rory, is not actual food, but the chance to enjoy food on his own terms. He has sent his son off to pre-school, and immediately enjoyed the first ten minutes of his freedom by sitting in his favourite café.
The email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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LAST CALL FOR SPMPLPL: Head to www.tinyurl.com/setpiecemenu to enter this year's competition in which we ask you to predict the final Premier League table. You have until the end of Friday 11th September!!
SPM 246: Are some players bigger than the game?
The football: Pep Guardiola suggested Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are players of such stature they can choose the club they play for. Is that true, or is it the financial reality of how few clubs can afford to both secure the top players, and keep them, that is the determining factor?
The food: Lightly cured mackerel, oscietra caviar, Jersey Royal potatoes with almond milk, sardine dressing & kalamata olives; Cumbrian lamb loin, red pepper, Yorkshire black garlic, pak choi, braised shoulder ‘corn dog’; Hetton meadow sweet cheesecake, blackberries, miso caramel and shortbread, sake lees crémeux. Seriously.
MERCH: www.teepublic.com - search for SPM or Set Piece Menu
SPMPLPL: www.tinyurl.com/setpiecemenu - now with an extended deadline of Friday 11th September!
SPM 245: Siege Mentalities
The football: Siege mentalities, or more pertinently, fake ones. Why has what once might have been a genuine management tactic turned into little more than a media trope, happily seized upon by managers looking for a distraction, and players looking for motivation.
The food: Steven is at his parents' house, and has enjoyed a lengthy barbecue, plus chocolate cake, all in celebration of his brother's birthday. He also insists his only beer is that of the low-alcohol variety, but the others will take some convincing of that.
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SPM 244: Big Six or Top Six, or neither?
The football: Why are the 'Top Six' clubs in the Premier League spoken about so much, when some of those 'Top Six' don't fill the top six positions anymore? The European Super League debacle spoke of the 'Big Six' trying to break away because they weren't, and haven't been, the 'Top Six' for a while. And if you are one of those 'Big Six', can you ever be replaced?
The food: Chinch has two chocolate and hazelnut chunky cookies, which he's so enamoured with he eats at the same time, stacked like a sandwich.
***WEEKLY MERCH REMINDER***
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The SPMPLPL is now live for your predictions of how the final Premier League table will look! All the details are at www.tinyurl.com/setpiecemenu
Deadline: Friday 3rd September
SPM 243: Leo Leaves (Us Cold)
The football: Lionel Messi is leaving Barcelona, but the story - mainly because of the destination - is leaving us cold. We discuss what Messi to PSG says about modern football, and we come up with an answer: A LOT.
The food: Rory has reinvested his most recent BBC fee into buying a fancy pot noodle from Waitrose.
We have a new range of Set Piece Menu merchandise, and we would recommend (insist) that you buy it. Literally all of it. Multiple times.
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