Hard: Between the lines
Premier Vocabulary is a mini-podcast for you to learn football English one word at a time. We have three different levels for you: easy, medium and hard.
This episode is hard so we’re looking at more difficult football phrases and idioms.
Learn more football vocabulary with Premier Skills English. Each lesson in our Premier Vocabulary section looks at one football word or phrase. This lesson looks at the phrase between the lines.
You can find more lessons on the side of this page.
Rich: Hello my name’s Rich and welcome to Premier Skills English - Premier Vocabulary.
Jack: Hi there! I’m Jack. We’re here to help you with your football English. Premier Vocabulary is a mini-podcast for you to learn football English one word at a time.
Rich: We have three different levels for you: easy, medium and hard.
Jack: This episode is hard so we’re looking at more difficult football phrases and idioms.
Rich: The phrase we are looking at in this episode is: between the lines.
Jack: OK, we’re going to look at two meanings of between the lines. First, we’re going to look at how the phrase is used in football and then we’ll look at how it used as an idiom more generally.
Rich: Most teams play specific formations although these can change during a match. A team might play a 442 formation or a 352 formation.
Jack: This means there are three lines of players on the pitch. In a 442 formation, very generally, there is a line of four defenders, a line of four midfielders and two attackers.
Rich: Opposition attackers will try to play between the lines of defenders and midfielders because they will find more space to play in these areas.
Jack: Attackers will be marked less in these areas because if a defender decides to mark a player when they are between the lines this will break the shape of the defending team and create space in other places on the pitch.
Rich: It’s a technical coaching phrase that I am now hearing a lot in football commentary - especially when ex-players or coaches are speaking.
Jack: Yes, they will often describe the importance of playing between the lines and talk about players finding space between the lines.
Rich: Players like David Silva are experts at finding space between the lines.
Jack: So, there is the meaning of between the lines on the pitch but we said we also wanted to look at an idiom that can be used more generally.
Rich: The idiom we are going to look at is read between the lines.
Jack: To read between the lines means to look for a meaning that is not directly said or stated. Listen to this conversation:
Rich: How’s Gemma doing? I heard she got a pay increase.
Jack: Yeah, she did and she said she was happy with it but reading between the lines I can tell she’s still annoyed that she didn’t get that promotion.
Rich: So we use the expression read between the lines when we try to understand someone’s real feelings.
Jack: Or also their intentions. This is common in football. Listen to this conversation between a player and a journalist.
Rich: There are rumours that Manchester United are interested. Do you think you will still be here playing with Stalybridge Celtic next season?
Jack: I’m very happy here. I will listen to what the manager says and if the club accepts an offer I have to see where that takes me.
Rich: A player will very rarely say that he or she wants to leave a club but often, by reading between the lines, you can get a better understanding of their real intentions.
Jack: There is the final whistle!
Rich: We’ll be back soon with more Premier Vocabulary from Premier Skills English.
Jack: Bye for now and enjoy your football.
Which players are good at finding space between the lines?
Reading between the lines do you think any players at your club will move away this season?