Weekend watch: The other 22 and half hours…

There’s not just one choice for our ‘weekend watch’ this week but there is one umbrella title and, unlike some other box sets or series, this one demands All or Nothing

There’s something about ‘going behind the curtain’ – whether it’s Dorothy and her motley crew discovering secrets in Oz or perhaps being an extra on a blockbuster movie, seeing how it all works off-camera – knowing more than the average person can make you feel seven foot tall.

But sporting dressing rooms are usually spaces shrouded in mystery, unavailable to anyone absolutely outside of first-team duty, where team talks can turn defeat into victory or flare ups turn into tomorrow morning’s back pages.

So it may be surprising to see just how much access the crew of All or Nothing are afforded within two of England’s highest-profile football clubs, namely Manchester City (during the 2017-18 ‘double’ season) and Tottenham Hotspur (in 2019-20 when Jose Mourinho takes over), and it gets intimate. We are invited to see things including, but not limited to, boardroom chats, intimate tactics meetings and matchday dressing room access.

It is fascinating to see esteemed managers like Mourinho and Pep Guardiola give half-time team talks or tactical meetings at training. It also gives a glimpse into how they are away from the glare of the day-to-day media, all situations the average football fan could only dream about (don’t miss Guardiola holding a detailed statistics meeting as his squad hunt down several potential records… and managers say they don’t care about such things!)

The players are of course involved too as we see heated debates, transfer deals, laughs a-plenty and stories linked to helping local community initiatives.

But it’s not all high-end footballers and superstar managers, there is input from people situated at all facets (canteen workers, club physios, office staff etc) which gives these tales a grounded aspect; a football club isn’t just about what happens for 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon.

Some highlights for this author: City striker Sergio Aguero, during a tour around his home, laments missing his son whom resides back in Argentina most of the year, while we discover captain Vincent Kompany’s in-laws are massive United fans (which leads to some great banter as the season draws to a close). Over at Spurs, we see midfielder Dele Alli proudly reveal he’s “learnt to make beans on toast” while in lockdown – I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry…

The intimacy afforded the All or Nothing production crew is certainly eyebrow-raising to say the least (back in the day I wouldn’t have been too sure any professional football would open itself up to this degree), but there’s no doubt it makes for enthralling television!

Written by Stoke & Dagger contributor James Barrett-Sterling (Twitter: @jimothyshondell). The All or Nothing series is available via Amazon Prime now.