Which Twitter users know best about the beautiful game? TEAMtalk links up with influencer analytics group PeerIndex to create #TheFootball50.
"I would say Americans who are interested in soccer will probably get more information from my Twitter feed than from any other source on social media" - Piers Morgan, in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Jon Holmes writes: Say what you like about Piers Morgan, but it's hard to deny the man is a master of self-promotion.
However, his claim to the WSJ on the value of his tweets about football left even us at TEAMtalk speechless.
Pity the poor Americans who might believe it. Instead of receiving useful information about transfers, tactics, finance, managerial ins and outs, statistics, betting advice or general football insight, they're met with a stream of pro-Arsenal praise or Gunners gloom (depending on the club's latest result), wind-ups directed at Tottenham fan Lord Sugar or celebrity chuff about his talk show. Yes, Morgan's got over 2million followers - but will they actually learn anything about football from him?
Similarly, there's a host of players using Twitter - such as Jack Wilshere, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen and Joey Barton - who provide a glimpse into the life of a professional sportsman, plus a few opinions as well (more than a few in Barton's case). Entertaining they might be, but if you're after some choice titbits of football info, you're better off looking elsewhere.
There's no shortage of choice either. For those in search of football knowledge, the rise of social media has made journalists, bloggers, broadcasters, statisticians and other experts more accessible than ever before - particularly on Twitter, which celebrated its sixth birthday in March. But with over 100million active users on the platform, finding those trusted tweeters can be tricky - which is where #TheFootball50 comes in.
Here at TEAMtalk, we've identified 50 tweeters who we feel provide essential information on football. Piers Morgan has nothing on this lot. Narrowing down the list to just 50 proved difficult, and sparked much debate. We wanted as much representation as possible to cover the Premier League, Football League, international football, world leagues... in short, a flavour of the broad spectrum on football that Twitter provides. Clearly some fine tweeters have been omitted (and we're sure you'll pick us up on those who you feel deserved inclusion) but hopefully, this list will serve as a jumping-off point for you to discover even more.
After compiling the list, we handed it over to influencer analytics group PeerIndex for closer scrutiny. PeerIndex help to understand an individual's online influence in a given topic by analysing how people respond to what they say and share. Craig Hughes from the group explains more:
CH: PeerIndex ratings are calculated by measuring Twitter presence in terms of authority, audience and activity within their topics of interest, on a scale of 1 to 100. Although 100 is the maximum possible score, 90 or more puts the tweeter in the top 0.01 per cent of the population and the average score is a mere 19.
For TEAMtalk's #TheFootball50, PeerIndex assessed how active the selected users are within the topic of 'Football', the relevancy and size of their audience, how engaged that audience is and how much they comment or share the user's tweets.
Visit www.peerindex.com and sign in via your Twitter account to learn more about your online impact.
JH: The PeerIndex data gives context to the list that we've curated here at TEAMtalk. Below, the users are ranked from 50 down to 1 based on their 'Football' topic rating (click on the score on the right to open up the user's PeerIndex profile). Where two or more tweeters have the same 'Football' rating, we've separated them by their overall PeerIndex score.
I've also included sample tweets from each of our 50, and I've explained why we feel they merited inclusion. Then it's over to you... where do you get your football information from on Twitter? Which of those users connects best with their followers? Who do you find yourself re-tweeting most? Let us know by posting a Comment below, or tweet us @TEAMtalk and we'll re-tweet the best answers we get.
"What do the players need?" is the question I always start with when planning my coaching sessions and then go from there. #coachingfamily- Nick Levett (@nlevett) February 25, 2012
With England suffering from a shortage of UEFA qualified coaches, the tweets of Nick Levett - the FA's National Development Manager for Youth - are a welcome encouragement to those keen to get out on the training ground and help nurture talent. Offering advice to those that ask for it and links to blogs about practical sessions, Levett is able to educate and inspire coaches - of all age groups.
Players from England, Scotland & Wales make up 46% of the PL this season but have 57% of the bookings for simulation. Bloody foreig... oh.- Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) April 3, 2012
The head of Opta's UK content might not be as famous as his colleague OptaJoe, but is well worth a follow. As fans, bloggers and journalists, we have no shortage of statistics available to us but Duncan Alexander helps find new angles on the data and communicates them succinctly to a wider audience. Likes Wycombe and natty knitted jumpers.
Oliver Kay is the chief football correspondent for The Times, but there's no paywall on his Twitter account - and he's consistently excellent for breaking news on the Premier League, Champions League and England in particular. You'll see a (£) sign alongside any links back to his newspaper's website, although Kay's tweets make a good case for subscription.
If you'd had £10 bet on Sunderland every game since MON replaced Steve Bruce you would be up £120.77.- Mark Langdon (@marklangdon) February 7, 2012
There's loads of talk about football betting on Twitter, but which tipsters can you really trust? Mark Langdon, the Racing Post's expert, has built his reputation on cogent analysis and value-spotting. Can often be found discussing odds with punters and offering his opinions.
71 - After coming on after 60 mins, Paul Scholes made 71 passes (97% complete), more than any Man City player in the entire game. Comeback.- Opta Sports (@OptaJoe) January 8, 2012
139 - The character count of this Opta Sports tweet sent shortly after the Manchester derby in the FA Cup a few months back was, like Scholes, close to maximum perfection. Quick, focused analysis that's simple to understand, and Joe throws in the odd graphic too. Stat.
BREAKING: Chris Samba reportedly agrees a deal with Anzhi, Blackburn will receive a fee of £7.5m, transfer to be completed tomorrow- James Appell (@jamesappell) February 23, 2012
James Appell is an authority on clubs and national teams from Eastern Europe, and with Russia and Ukraine firmly established in UEFA's top 10, it's important these days to know your way from Anzhi Makhachkala to Zorya Lurhansk. James will be your guide, and he might throw in some Leeds United chat along the way too.
A real shame the Eredivisie isn't global, outside of Catalunya the best football I've seen this ssn is Fd Boer's Ajax in the last few weeks.- Mohamed Moallim (@jouracule) April 17, 2012
Like James Appell, here's another man outstanding in his own European field. We've chosen experts to represent all the top nations in the current UEFA co-efficients table, to give a clued-up continental input to our list. Mohamed Moallim delivers on the Dutch Eredivisie and is on top of all things Oranje too.
For clarity on diving1. It's an epidemic2. Wish we could go back to the school yard when it wasn't there3. It's complex not clear cut- G.Neville (@GNev2) April 17, 2012
Just one season into his new role and, some would say, Gary Neville is already Britain's best football pundit. He's brought refreshing honesty and considered analysis to Sky Sports' coverage, and he's great value on Twitter (even when he's just winding up his brother). Hopefully, we'll also get the odd update when he's out at the Euros helping to coach England.
Ronaldo scores his 40th La Liga goal of the season. He's completed his 7th hat-trick of the season. Best second best player on Earth ever?- Jonathan Stevenson (@Stevo_football) April 11, 2012
One of the team behind online content provider LiveWire Sport, and formerly at the helm of BBC Sport's text commentaries, Jonathan Stevenson is (as you might expect) most active when there's a match on. Gets understandably giddy when his beloved Nottingham Forest go goal crazy (see Tuesday, March 20 - that 7-3 win at Leeds - for the evidence).
Typical weekend in Argentinian football then: Players fight fans, players fight teammates, players pull guns on teammates, coach resigns.- Rupert Fryer (@Rupert_Fryer) April 16, 2012
Time zones and a lack of TV coverage make it tough to follow the Copa Libertadores from British shores, which is why Rupert Fryer's tweet summaries and updates are so useful. With links to blogs on Neymar, Riquelme and the like at SouthAmericanFootball.co.uk and elsewhere, Fryer's got the whole continent covered.
"Ferguson likes Fábio a lot but wants him to play more to gain experience. Ferguson suggested Benfica." - Cassiano Pereira, Fábio's agent.- Tom Kundert (@portugoaldotnet) April 17, 2012
An Englishman living in Lisbon since 1994, Tom Kundert founded the PortuGOAL.net website in 2007 and it continues to go from strength to strength - much like Portuguese football, which recently moved into the top five in the UEFA co-efficients. All you need to know on the 'Big Three' (Porto, Benfica and Sporting), the rest of the Liga Zon Sagres and the national team, A Seleccao.
Andrea Pirlo dedicates Juve's win over Fiorentina to Fabrice Muamba. "He's our colleague, we pray he gets well soon."- Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) March 17, 2012
Perhaps most admired for his calcio contributions, Gabriele Marcotti is - like the man in his avatar, Paul Robeson - not short of an opinion on a range of issues, and he's usually up for a debate with other Twitter users. Can be seen on ESPN's Press Pass, heard on talkSPORT, and read in The Times, Sports Illustrated, Wall Street Journal etc.
Bravo to Raúl for scoring his 400th career goal for Schalke v Wolfsburg yesterday. His hunger & professionalism is just astonishing.- Andy Brassell (@andybrassell) February 20, 2012
Andy Brassell's articles on European football are always in demand, and he's a regular contributor to numerous podcasts and radio shows too. His tweets are full of interesting info and provide links to many fascinating stories, such as the background to colossal Champions League clashes or, for example, the intricacies of Turkey's Intercontinental Derby.
More than £500m of Manchester United's money has now gone out in paying the cost of the Glazers buying the club in the first place- David Conn (@david_conn) February 21, 2012
David Conn is rightly referred to as a "proper journalist" by The Guardian's Fiver newsletter whenever they link to his detailed articles on football finance, legal matters and other weighty issues. His books The Beautiful Game? and The Football Business should be required reading for any students of the modern game, and his tweets provide valuable insight away from the everyday frivolity of football.
Got to love Rayo fans. Season ticket holders must pay extra €20 to see Sunday's Barça game. Plan to pay for each ticket in 20 cent coins.- Tim Stannard (@LaLigaLoca) April 24, 2012
Barcelona's bubble may have burst this season, but Spain continues to dominate on the world stage for club and country. Choosing one La Liga expert above all others for the purposes of this list was tricky, but for his informative tweets and for the links to his FourFourTwo and Football365.com articles, we've plumped for Madrid-based LaLigaLoca aka Tim Stannard.
The value of a well-connected local reporter to the fans of any football club should not be underestimated. Chris Lepkowski watches and writes about West Brom for the Birmingham Mail and his Twitter feed is an example of how supporters need and appreciate communication beyond the official line. And, of course, it's not just Albion chat either.
Only 4 PL clubs able to operate without owner support, MUFC, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool (now H+G debt repaid). Rest structurally loss making.- Andy Green (@andersred) January 13, 2012
Manchester United is the world's most valuable football club, so it didn't seem like favouritism to us to include a blogger on our list who's an expert on the Red Devils and their complicated financial affairs, as well as being a fan. However, Andy Green often casts his impartial eye on other clubs' money matters - he's studied the numbers of Chelsea, Everton and Liverpool in recent months - and his tweets are a rich source of information too.
Dutch sports statistics company Infostrada is a major player in the facts and figures business, and boast a range of Twitter accounts. Although InfostradaLive actually covers all sports, you'll find more than enough football info on there to pique your interest.
Want to know more about the stars of tomorrow, today? Aidan R is an expert on young players, particularly those coming through the ranks at various England age groups and in club academies. Three Lions lovers should ensure they have his EnglandFootballBlog.com website bookmarked.
Why always him? Because he's so stupid, so unprofessional at times. It gets worse for #mcfc. Balotelli finally off, caught Sagna. Again.- Henry Winter (@henrywinter) April 8, 2012
Henry Winter hardly needs an introduction - the Daily Telegraph football correspondent and Sunday Telegraph columnist has almost 300,000 Twitter followers, making one of the most high-profile sports journalists in social media. He acknowledges life outside the Premier League too, and regularly converses with other tweeters.
Taribo West is now a pastor. Last week, he blamed Obafemi Martins' dipping career on "visiting the area above too many womens' thighs"- Gary (@garyalsmith) March 26, 2012
Drogba, Essien, the Toure brothers, Song, Adebayor, Cisse, Ba... African footballers continue to be major players in the Premier League, and one man who knows about all these big names, plus those emerging onto the world scene and more besides, is Ghanaian journalist Gary Al-Smith - editor of SuperSport and regular columnist with ESPN Soccernet.
Question: Why should Rangers FC be given help from the SFA when no other club did? Livi, Gretna, Dundee, Motherwell etc.- Andy M @ Scotzine (@scotzine) April 24, 2012
Covering football in Scotland could never be considered an easy task and, particularly in recent months with the focus on Rangers' financial chaos and disciplinary matters, tough questions have had to be asked. Andy Muirhead's Scotzine site addresses the big issues north of the border and his Twitter feed helps pull together news and views from across the Scottish landscape.
Now this will get people excited. Eden Hazard asked if he knows which country he'd like to play in next season. His response? "England."- Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) January 29, 2012
Tom Williams reports on European football for AFP (Agence France Presse) but, understandably, it's for information en Anglais about Ligue 1 clubs specifically that attracts most of his Twitter followers. His live match tweets are perfectly crafted and his Football Further blog provides additional reading.
Eight-Two. If this were Serie A Wenger would be fired, replaced by Ian Holloway for a week & then get his job back. *That's* entertainment!- Adam Digby (@Adz77) August 28, 2011
Adam Digby's Twitter bio describes his location thus: "Bradford, Turin, In Between..." His home may be in west Yorkshire, but his heart is firmly at the Juventus Arena and you can find knowledgeable articles he's written on Italian football on various websites. On Twitter, he's hugely admired for his coverage of Serie A, the Azzurri and calcio in general.
Podolski update: today, Bild confirmed that #AFC medical took place in Cologne on Tuesday- raphael honigstein (@honigstein) March 15, 2012
Raphael Honigstein's tweets give a German perspective on English football, as well as keeping us informed about the vibrancy and excitement of the Bundesliga. You'll find links to his Monday columns for the Guardian, his ESPN Press Pass appearances and anything else that catches his eye.
#afc Wenger responds to Sol Campbell calling for Arsenal to spend big. 'Sol has a lot of money - he's welcome to give us a gift.' Classic.- John Cross (@johncrossmirror) April 13, 2012
The Daily Mirror's John Cross is one of the most engaging sports journalists on Twitter, happy to converse with Arsenal fans (his main beat is London Colney and the Emirates) as well as supporters of other clubs. John is a regular contributor to the BT Life's A Pitch vodcasts, and also appears on Sky Sports' Sunday Supplement.
Of the many BBC football personalities on Twitter, Juliette Ferrington may not be the most obvious choice for this list - but we consider her among the most useful. You learn what's it like to be a reporter, tasked with attending press conferences etc. You'll read some great quotes before they appear anywhere else. And if you've ever felt the sports media is rather London-centric, it's good to know Juliette's feet are firmly placed in the north.
Fifa introduce goal-line technology at last. First game: Eastleigh v AFC Totton in the Hampshire Senior Cup final at St Mary's (test event)- Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceIndy) April 27, 2012
It took a while for Sam Wallace to get himself on Twitter, but once The Independent's football correspondent signed up, he quickly amassed a broad follower base having already established himself as one of the hardest working writers in the business.
Scott Parker is England captain.- Matt Lawton (@Matt_Lawton_DM) February 29, 2012
The rest of the paper might not be everyone's cup of tea, but the Daily Mail's sports coverage is high quality - and their chief football correspondent Matt Lawton is often first to the big breaking stories. His in-depth interviews are always essential reading, and he's very affable on Twitter too.
BREAKING NEWS: Fixtures for the 2012/13 Season will be released on Monday 18th June 2012 #FootballLeague- The Football League (@football_league) March 27, 2012
Why have we chosen the Football League's Twitter for our list, and not the Premier League's? Because the FL follows other users, it interacts with fans and it's more fun. As the HQ for both leagues is in the same building in Gloucester Place, London, maybe they could compare notes on social media...
People doubting David de Gea? Seriously? No, no, seriously?? Hahahahahahaha... it will be a feast of eaten words at the end of the season- Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) August 15, 2011
Always smiling (even more so when Espanyol have won), Guillem Balague has been keeping Sky Sports viewers informed about Spanish football for many years now, and has amassed over 225,000 Twitter followers - making him one of the most popular people on our list. Writes for AS and The Times.
Scholes back for United, Henry back for Arsenal. In an plush house in Cheshire, Ian Rush stares at his phone in breathless anticipation.- Iain Macintosh (@iainmacintosh) January 8, 2012
Proving beyond doubt that you can be informative AND entertaining on social media, Iain Macintosh injects a much-needed shot of humour into most football debates - but always insight and reason too. Not the best-known UK football journalist (he mainly writes for Singapore's The New Paper), but much admired on Twitter.
So walcott is too inconsistent? Is he more inconsistent than downing, a young, lennon, sturridge? No. Has he, at 22, achieved way more? Yes.- Matt Law (@Matt_Law_) February 26, 2012
Not to be confused with the tweeter in 22nd position on our list, Daily Express reporter Matt Law was the man who broke news of Theo Walcott's omission from the England World Cup 2010 squad - one of the defining Twitter football scoops. Among the best for news on the capital clubs, England and his own team Aston Villa.
No offence Chelsea, but Bielsa under Abramovich would be like John Lennon agreeing to be Simon Cowell's bitch....- In bed with Maradona (@Inbedwimaradona) March 8, 2012
So you want to be a football writer? The IBWM collective will inspire you. The tweets (from editor Jeff Livingstone) provide links to articles that delve deep into world football and its culture - and there's plenty of discussion around those stories too.
History takes many forms. For example CFC won Cup Winners' Cup v Real Madrid in 1971. So actually European trophy before Liverpool. History?- Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) April 25, 2012
BBC Sport Online's chief football writer Phil McNulty carries himself with a lot of dignity on Twitter, which can't always be easy - giving honest opinions on the issues and incidents involving England's big clubs usually provokes some strong responses when you've got over 120,000 followers.
FT Italy 0:1 USA. Just a friendly, but still a historic result: first US win ever vs Italy in 11 games dating back to 1934. Dempsey dagger.- Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) February 29, 2012
Representing MLS, the US and the Americas on our list, Sports Illustrated's senior writer Grant Wahl also gives a welcome stateside perspective on world football. Respected enough on Twitter to have earned a groundswell of support in his bid to oust Sepp Blatter as FIFA president last year.
Here: Geoff Shreeves crushes poor Branislav Ivanovic in post-match interview youtube.com/watch?v=D2X_5w...- James Dart (@James_Dart) April 24, 2012
YouTube videos sit snugly within the Twitter interface, and the Guardian website's deputy sport editor James Dart consistently finds the choicest offerings for your delectation. Now curating something of a best-of-YouTube museum on his own World Of Sport tumblr.
New on 200%: Turning from blue to red - Cardiff City's Backfiring Rebranding Exercise: bit.ly/JigPM1- Ian King (@twoht) May 10, 2012
The scope of twohundredpercent.net is considerable - check out the amount of tags on the website's homepage to see all the various teams Ian King and co have written about. 200% remains at the forefront of the football blogging community, for whom Twitter is the main forum for discovering and recommending new content.
It's the year 3417. All that is left is dust. The world ended centuries ago. And yet... a faint flicker of life. GOAL: Kevin Phillips (90+3)- The 72 (@The72football) March 21, 2012
When you support a Football League club and everyone on your Twitter timeline is obsessing over Premier League primadonnas or the latest Messi milestone, where do you go? To The Seventy Two, where David Bevan monitors the lifeblood of English football. As do...
A silent pub here in Oxford when that goal from Kompany went in. For the last time, support your local team!!! #oufc- thetwounfortunates (@twounfortunates) April 30, 2012
... Rob Langham and Lloyd Langman - aka The Two Unfortunates, spinning tales from across the lower leagues since June 2009. Portsmouth's peril, reminiscing about Rotherham, even defending MK Dons... all topics are tackled cleanly and fairly, but with force.
Man City fined €30k for returning to pitch late in Europa League match. (UEFA fined Porto €20k for racial abuse of City players)- Rob Harris (@RobHarris) April 11, 2012
Rob Harris of the Associated Press (AP) is across all sports, but his football followers are probably best rewarded with the big breaking news, fresh angles on developing stories and Twitter connections to other journalists and media organisations.
FIFA Financial Report 2011: FIFA spend more on themselves $225m (operating expenses $173m + governance $52m) than football development $183m- Swiss Ramble (@SwissRamble) March 30, 2012
You should have noticed by now that a little buzz goes around the football Twittersphere whenever Kieran O'Connor aka Swiss Ramble publishes a new blog post. There's no exaggeration in saying that each carries a forensic level of financial detail and for further assistance, he's available to answer your tweet queries too .
'Original thinking, informed comment, no froth, no spin' - so goes the catch line on the SportingIntelligence website, home of the SJA's Internet Sports Writer of the Year, Nick Harris. Pokes a stick at football's powerbrokers and has the suits in his sights.
How cool is this! Former Celtic dead ball master Shunsuke Nakamura hits free-kick onto a moving bus 101greatgoals.com/gvideos/former...- 101greatgoals.com (@101greatgoals) January 18, 2012
'Zico and Ronaldinho' have been running football's foremost football video website for over five years, posting links to clips from YouTube and beyond in record time. If a great golazo has just been scored or someone's made a blooper, chances are you'll be alerted to it first by 101GreatGoals.
Porto shows other teams how it's done - buy Lucho for €6.6M, sell him for €24M, buy him back for €2.5M. He's still only 30.#moneyball- Jen Chang (@JenChang88) January 30, 2012
Like his colleague Grant Wahl, SI.com's soccer editor Jen Chang is based stateside but the latter concentrates more on European football matters. He shares and re-tweets any interesting info he finds with his followers, and is always looking ahead to the consquences of the big news stories.
Twitter is an ideal place to talk about transfers - either when the window's closed and everyone's speculating on future moves, or when it's open and deals are being done (especially on deadline day). For this, managerial ins and outs and other valuable nuggets of info, Duncan Castles of The Sunday Times and Abu Dhabi's The National is a must follow.
Juan Mata: Has created 102 chances for teammates in Premier League games this season - he is the only player to have created over 100- WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 10, 2012
The "statistical revolution" - as WhoScored refer to it - shows no signs of abating, and their website and accompanying Twitter feed have been welcome additions to the movement. Whether offering bite-sized stat chunks in their tweets, or linking to in-depth analysis in blog post, this is number-crunching for connoisseurs.
Above, one of Guardian / Observer chief football writer Daniel Taylor's most shared tweets, but let's also consider his offerings from stoppage time in the season finale at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday - "OH MY GOD!!!!!!", "This is bedlam, utter bedlam. Never seen anything like it" and "The only way I can describe that Aguero goal was like being in a moshpit." Then follows his match report which successfully incorporates the thoughts expressed in those tweets, thus perfectly blending the two mediums.
Love this - Barcelona's most frequent passing combo was Busquets --> Xavi (30). Chelsea's was Cech --> Drogba (6)- Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) April 25, 2012
How best to describe Michael Cox's outlook on football? He's the kid who liked to take toys apart, look at each of their components in turn and see how the mechanisms all work before putting them back together again. Taking that approach to tactics and strategies has proved to be educational, hugely successful and perfect for Twitter - in short, it's fully interactive analysis.
England Manager Roy Hodgson has appointed Gary Neville as a Coach to his staff. bit.ly/J3NVnr- TheFA.com (@thefadotcom) May 14, 2012
Back in January, the Football Association was issuing warning letters to clubs about their players' use of social media. It's not that they're anti-Twitter at Wembley; far from it. The FA are just conscious of how powerful a tool it can be. 'Think before you tweet' is a sensible maxim, and they practise it to the letter, with updates on England, FA competitions and disciplinary matters (not always involving Joey Barton), and videos from their official TV channel.
PeerIndex's Craig Hughes writes: "Who better to head up #TheFootball50 than the mother of Association Football? Our data suggests that when it comes to Football, The FA comes out on top. The most engaged audience, the highest authority in the Football topic and consistently one of the best sources of new, exclusive content on Twitter. When The FA talks, Twitter listens!"
What's next? Access our list of #TheFootball50 on Twitter, or post a Comment below to let us know your thoughts on our inclusions and omissions.