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Sharply observed satire on the negative effect of money in English soccer
Made in 1995, when corruption scandals were leaking from every orifice of English soccer, this sharp satire from the pen of Andy "Drop The Dead Donkey" Hamilton is very much a product of its time.
"Eleven Men Against Eleven" centres around a fictional English Premier League club (referred to throughout only as "City") which is in deep financial trouble and fighting a seemingly fruitless battle against relegation. When it emerges that the club manager (Peter Howitt) has been involved in dodgy transfer deals, he is promptly sacked and replaced with the club's youth team coach Ted Whitehead (James Bolam), a former City player who is an innocent throwback to the golden days of football, before money contaminated the game.
Unfortuntely, Ted's attempts to motivate the team with his old-fashioned brand of management are undermined by the activities of the club owner, Sir Bob Luckton (Timothy West) and seedy footballers' agent Jake Leach (Kevin McNally), as well as the escalating scandals befalling the club, which include match-fixing and drug-taking. Things threaten to boil over when tenacious tax inspector Sylvia Tench (Anastasia Hille) turns up and systematically begins clearing out the remaining skeletons in the Sir Bob's cupboard.
This film is a microcosm for the endless scandals that smeared English soccer in the mid-1990s, all compacted into one unfortunate club. Everything that can go wrong, does go wrong: drugs, match-fixing, corruption, in-fighting amongst the players, everything.
Non-soccer fans might not enjoy this a whole lot, but to anyone with an interest in the game, it is a must, being sharply observed (unlike "When Saturday Comes"), well acted (unlike "Escape To Victory") and brilliantly written (unlike every other soccer film that has come before it). Even the in-game sequences are authentically choreographed.
A definite soccer fan's film.
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