Pickpocketing – Football Language: 2021-22 Season: Southampton vs Manchester United

This football language podcast looks back at one of the matches from the second week of games in the Premier League 2021-22 season. We focus on the own goal scored by Fred, which gave Southampton the lead. You can read a transcript for this podcast below, while you can also check out our glossary of footballing phrases here and visit our site to access all our previous posts and podcasts. If you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at admin@languagecaster.com. (DB=Damon)

Pickpocketing – Football Language: 2021-22 Season: Southampton vs Manchester United

DB: You’re listening to languagecaster.com’s football language 2021-2022 season podcast. Hello there everyone, my name’s Damon, one half of the Languagecaster team and today I’ll be talking about some football language from the Southampton versus Manchester United match last Sunday. Now, the game ended in a 1-1 draw, which gave the south coast side their first point of the campaign, while Manchester United will be a  bit disappointed after their opening 5-1 thrashing of Leeds the week  before.

I want to concentrate on the opening goal which was an own goal, and some of the football language used to describe it. First of all, here is how it was reported in The Guardian newspaper:

The moment that led to Saints taking the lead stemmed from Jack Stephens pickpocketing a dawdling Fernandes 25 yards from goal. Stephens looked up and played a slide-rule pass infield, which was worked into Adams’ feet via neat touches by Moussa Djenepo and Armstrong.


DB: Let’s start with the Jack Stephens ‘pickpocketing‘ a dawdling Fernandes. The verb, to pick someone’s pocket means to steal something, usually a wallet or money from their coat or trouser pocket. In football, the player steals the ball of course. The start of the move is described as one player pickpocketing another, so Stephens tackled and dispossessed Fernandes. We could also say that Stephens picked Fernandes’s pocket to mean the same thing.

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The Manchester United player is described as ‘dawdling‘, which means moving slowly with no purpose, wasting time. Fernandes believed he had more time than he had. He lacked urgency, which means he wasn’t thinking quickly and looking to pass or move with the ball. This hesitation allowed his pocket to be picked and the ball to be taken off him.

Slide Rule Pass

pickpocketingWe then read that Stephens played a ‘slide rule pass‘ infield. A slide ruler is an instrument used in mathematics to make accurate calculations. In football it means an extremely accurate pass – the ball goes exactly where the passer wanted it to go. It often has a nuance of passing through a very small gap, so maybe between two opposing players. So, Stephens plays a great pass infield, into the middle of the pitch.

Neat touch

The ball is then passed by two other Southampton players and these passes are described as ‘neat touches‘. A neat touch is a clever touch, a clever pass. These are usually not long passes, but short passes with a gentle or skillful touch. Clever is often used instead of neat, so a clever touch or neat touch would describe a similar kind of pass.

And after Stephens pickpocketed Fernandes and played a slide rule pass to his teammate, and then Southampton worked the ball forward with some neat touches, Adam’s shot and a deflection off Fred saw the ball into the back of the net, giving the saints a one goal lead.

Stinger: You are listening to languagecaster.com (in German).

Good Bye

DB: Yes, you are listening to languagecaster.com and that was in German! Right, that brings us to the end of this short football language podcast. We looked at describing dispossessing an opponent by pickpocketing them; a player not thinking quickly enough – dawdling; playing an accurate pass with the phrase a slide rule pass; and also how to describe a clever pass with the phrase neat touch.

Drop us a line anytime at admin@languagecaster.com. Remember, you can read the transcript for the show by coming along to our website at languagecaster.com. Enjoy all the football. Ta-ra!

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I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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