We did it. We got to the end of the week. Just about. Let’s just hope something happens over the weekend. Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Leaked! England manager application
Dear The FA,
I would like to express my interest in the position of manager for the English football team, since I am now unexpectedly available.
Although I have no actual experience in football, I do have some very strong and passionate opinions about football, which I believe qualifies me. Here is my thre-point plan for success.
1: Fire all the coaches, technical directors, physiotherapists and nutritionists.
2: Withdraw the team immediately from the European qualifying groups for Russia 2018.
3: Win the World Cup.
I look forward to hearing from you in due course.
A hotch-potch mail on Sam, Spurs and stuff
I was going to write a few letters (mails?) this afternoon but I am assessing bids for the supply of external audit services all day so…sorry, I bored myself there. So, I thought I would offer a few views on the topics of the day in one go;
Sam Allardyce – One of the biggest things lacking from England teams in the last few decades is a lack of a central vision or focus. One of the main causes of stress or underperformance is a lack of understanding of your role within an organisation or team. Show me any underperforming team and I will show you people pulling in different directions, unclear on what they should be doing and unclear on how they will be assessed. Big Fat Sam will at least eliminate this. Players will walk on the pitch knowing what to do. If you look at Belgium at the Euros, they had a team packed with superb players in all positions but with no clear idea of what the game plan was or how they fitted into it. Compare that to Iceland or Northern Ireland. BFS will bring that to England. The football might make your eyes bleed but players will know exactly what is expected of them and that will make it a lot more simple to deliver.
Spurs – I cannot see Spurs getting above sixth this season. Their players look tired, dog tired, and next season will be more demanding. They have made a habit of getting knocked out early doors of domestic cups and focusing on the league. Well, next season they have the Champions League (and then possibly the Europa after that) and surely fans won’t accept home defeats in the FA Cup and League Cup again. They don’t have the biggest squad and the signings they have made so far are okay additions but lack an element of star quality. I believe they could do with one massive signing but this is probably not the window when that can happen as some very big fish are swimming around. Chelsea have got pots of money and a cracking manager, both Manchester clubs have already spent big. Arsenal will be top four because the earth is still spinning and Liverpool have no distractions from the league. Add to this Southampton, Everton, the current Champions and an Olympic-shaped West Ham and sixth looks great for Spurs at the moment. Oh, and half the team is still suspended.
Mario Balotelli – Surely he is made for China? If a league wants to gain attention then he brings a lot. They have the money for the fee (£16m is significantly lower than they have paid elsewhere) and the quality of the league should mean he will shine. The only fly in the ointment would be a 25-year-old admitting that this his level. But then, this is his level.
Futures transfers – Not for me, Clive. When Gerard Deulofeu signed for Everton, Barcelona retained a buy-back clause of just £6.3m. This means that if he turned out to be half-decent they re-sign, if he is not then Everton are stuck with a lemon. They did the same with Adama Traore at Villa. They don’t even need to want to have the player, they can just re-sign and sell on as Real Madrid are looking to do with Alvaro Morata. It smacks of third party ownership which I am sure is not allowed. Everton cannot plan ahead with their own squad as a third party holds control over their ability to sell one of their players. No matter who the player was I wouldn’t want my club to sign someone where another club decides if he stays or goes.
Micki ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ Attridge
The real challenge for Poch
Following Matt Stead’s article about Pochettino’s challenges this year – does it really matter if players have suffered failure with their international sides at summer tournaments? If I put myself in their (designer Italian) shoes, I would imagine that returning to the warm bosom of the club environment would actually feel like blessed relief from the anxiety-ridden mediocrity of playing for their international side. I would hope that this sense of relief and returning to familiar surroundings and faces would actually be a positive.
This, combined with the sense of “I will bloody show them” attitude should actually be a powerful cocktail with of performance-enhancing properties. As a throw-away piece of unscientific evidence, look at Beckham. He ended France 98 as the public’s figure you to love to hate, far more than any of the Spurs players this summer and if memory serves, his 98-99 season didn’t turn out too bad…
I actually think that Poch’s real challenges lie elsewhere. Firstly, competing in both the CL and the PL will be a new test for him. Although we are accustomed to competing in the Europa League on the dreaded Thurs night slot, that competition actually allows for a greater degree of rotation in the squad. In the CL, no such luxuries apply and balancing the need to be competitive in the CL group stages with the PL will be tough.
Secondly, Spurs are now at a difficult juncture in their ability to improve the team with transfers. We have good quality players in every position and to improve our first 11 would mean needing to attract genuine world-class players. Occasional opportunities arise (like the recent gossip surrounding Gotze that alas looks like coming to nothing) but generally, we will have a hard job attracting those big names. Although Poch and Mitchell have done a great job bringing in young, hungry players so far (e.g. Dier, Alli), I find it hard to believe they will be able to repeat the trick to actually better those we have got already. Our two signings to date are solid additions to the squad who may challenge for a starting berth, but no more than that.
That being the case, Spurs are going to have to rely on the same team as last year in the hope that another year of Poch’s wizardry on the training ground will mean we push on yet further. As we become more settled and stable, all of our competitors (bar Arsenal and less said about them the better) are in a state of flux. Admittedly, a diamond-encrusted glamour-name ridden state of flux but a state of flux nonetheless. Our best hope to overcome these challenges is that we continue to progress while Guardiola, Mourinho and Conte find their feet.
The Ginger Spur
No pessismism at Spurs
Not written in for a while, but afraid I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree with you there, Matt. Mainly, because I don’t really see either Spurs’ end of season, nor England’s non show at Euro 2016, as a collapse in the traditional sense. And I’ll tell you for why:
Firstly, England were never really in Euro 2016. Without reopening the inquest, there was no choke; no grasping defeat from the jaws of victory; there was simply an inadequate manager and a disjointed, dysfunctional team. In every single game. So, whilst all will be incredibly disappointed, they will surely all appreciate that, and realise it was a collective underachievement. Secondly, although Spurs hilariously managed to let (yes, ‘let’) Arsenal sneak ahead of us without a modicum of achievement on their part, this was not like previous years – the consensus at Spurs is that we lost to ourselves, not to them. This was a side that had fought so hard, and for so long, for our first title in years, and simply did not know how to deal with the crushing disappointment of Leicester winning it. We were at no point battling Arsenal (at this particular stage), and no longer can Spurs lose battles they are not fighting; we simply stopped performing because we had nothing left to fight for, and no fight left. This is a learning curve, and a failing, but not something that proves we lack a spine like the Spurs of old (well, maybe the Spurs of any time bar last season). Indeed, this may even do them good: it was poor to have dropped off in such a way, but the gutting result of having done so will teach them all to avoid it in future.
I would guess they will all be glad to be back with one another for pre-season, and will relish the challenge of putting the end of last season to bed, and going one better (provided they’re not utterly shattered from playing approximately 427 games each last season, of course). Can’t bloody wait.
Arsenal aren’t signing anybody are they?
We aren’t going to sign anyone else this summer are we? I’m allowing myself to go through the usual rigmarole of thinking we might get Higuain/Lukaku/Lacazette or a decent centre-back. Every day I scan this website as well as others, trying in vain to spot proper clues that we will actually sign someone. Alas, I return empty…handed. Each day seems to follow the same pattern.
I know it’s still technically early in the window but already I feel this strange dichotomy whereby I have absolutely no hope whatsoever whilst also feeling completely full to the brim of the stuff. It really is quite odd. Probably compounded today by this piercing hangover.
Happy Friday everyone, I need a fry-up I think.
Who signs on as back-up?
So news has broken that Liverpool will be looking for a new CB due to injuries to Gomes and Sakho, which brings Liverpool into the tough situation of signing a fourth-choice centre-back.
The three first teamers of Lovren, Sakho and Matip will all see themselves as good enough for first XI, and therefore will create healthy competition, and Gomez supplemented this by giving space for rotation. However now Liverpool must try get another body in without upsetting the status quo. Anyone better than those three is likely to cost £20m+, which could be better spent elsewhere, and anyone worse must know they’ll have significantly limited opportunities after the first month.
Who signs up for this? Young players would be competing with Gomez, so looks like an oldie is the best option.
Toure filled that spot last year, and I’d go shopping in the same place this year and grab a third free transfer from City in Demichelis.
Clear reserve can be such a hard position to fill with quality without upsetting squad harmony, any other teams got such an issue? I know it’s a regular for goalkeeping but they don’t often kick up a fuss about playing too much.
KC (alternatively just go sign Varane and Laporte)
Moneyball and the PFM
After many recommendations I’ve just got round to finally reading the book Moneyball (despite having no interest in baseball) and found it fascinating.
The subtitle of the book is the ‘The Art of Winning and unfair game’ namely one where financial revenues mean that smaller sides can’t compete and I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the similarities of our own Premier League season. In order to overcome the unfairness, the coach looks to determine a system for his Oakland A’s side that is based on statistical analysis in order to create a team greater than the sum of its parts. Now I know that baseball has far fewer outcomes than football and so lends itself to this type of analysis but Leicester and Spurs are great examples of employing a system that players fit into, rather than the other way around. At a board level Southampton’s consistent improvement despite the constant loss of mangers/players should serve as a guidebook to all other clubs.
So why doesn’t it? How is it even possible for Newcastle to be relegated when the blueprint is there? How can Spurs be better now than the summer of ‘The Beatles’. The other theme of the book is ‘The club’ which is baseball’s equivalent to what F365ers have come to know as the PFM. Despite the success they refuse to recognise anything other than a World Series win achieved though sheer excitement (ignoring relative spend) and are still treating the Oakland A’s success in playoff qualification and longest winning streak in history as a freak result. Sounds a lot like the Leicester narrative.
Will the PFMs ever understand that maybe a system is more important than the galactico or that a combination of the two should be unstoppable. Interestingly, John Henry tried to poach the Oakland A’s coach being one of the few people to believe in his system, somehow abandoning that for huge money transfers at Liverpool. Is the big money attitude so ingrained?
Finally, to end my ramble and get back on topic, maybe this works in favour of Big Sam and he’s not a PFM at all. This is someone who has implemented a working system everywhere he’s gone despite not necessarily having a budget and yet somehow still seems to be derided for it? Maybe it really is an injustice that he never got a crack at a ‘big’ side?
Not sure where I’m going with what’s looking like a ramble and I think I could have gone on longer, just though it would be interesting to hear the thoughts of any other readers.
Josh (THFC unsurprisingly)
Not a massive fan of Guy
Had a read of your Guy Mowbray article with interest.
Reason being I can not believe this man has become BBC top commentator. Barry Davies, John Motson, now this? Really? This utter drone of a man. Pre-prepared (unfunny) jokes and lack of any personality whatsoever.
You say being a 6.6 drone isn’t a bad thing. To be utterly forgotten about in an instant. Maybe, not so much for him, but maybe. I like to have my commentators on the big occasion, the big game, actually ADD something to the experience.
I actually chose Clive Tyldesley for the Euro Final. Tyldesley!!
Says it all. BBC need to sack him off.
…along with Martin Keown. Dear God. Does anyone have montage of every time he makes a statement during commentary he makes a ridiculous Hannibal Lector sucking noise…?!!
It ruined my Euros. Seriously. Once you hear it, you never stop hearing it!!!
ToonBano (Got the hand it to the Germans, they like their fava beans. Hfffffttttttt)
What’s your current transfer market value?
Position: Free role
Current Team: Various recreation establishments in Sheffield
Strengths: Decent control and range of passing, when allowed time and space. Can finish a chance.
Tackling ability: Paul Scholes
Turning circle: QE2
Positional discipline: Extremely flaky
Estimated Value in current market: £4,000,000
Jim G (Jorge Mendes is my agent ;))
Position: Stretford End or East Stand, Old Trafford
Current Team: N/A, retired
Skillset: Make loads of noise from the Stretford End while drunk
Estimated Value in current market: Possibly £5m, judging by current player prices. Would sell loads of jerseys in Ireland and increase sponsorship.
Gary B (Imagine teams started to bid for football fans to get the loudest stadium)
Current Team: Pub team in the middle of nowhere that struggles to make a full match-day squad each week.
Skillset: Heavy, good at kicking shins, prone to FIFA-esque slide tackles, hoofing specialist, happy to get in way of shots. Not quick. Seriously, not quick. Can shout lots.
Estimated Value in current market: £12,000
Oh, and English.
Revised Estimated Value in current market: £120,000
Position: False 8, in the truest sense of the word ‘false’.
Current Team: Eagles FC, a team with an average age of 40 and waist size 35.
Skillset: Excellent runner in a straight line, brilliant passer when not pressed, tenacious tackler when opponents are relatively smaller, marksman when the goalie is a kid.
Estimated Value in current market: £50,000
Position: Right midfield
Current team: Played five-a-side last week. First match in three years.
Skillset: Good crosser – Beckhamesque in my day. Poor positional sense.
6ft, slim, no strength.
Estimated Value: £750.
Position: Full-time goalhanger and part-time dirty tackler
Current Team: Le Hocq Dogs (local pub is called Le Hocq)
Skillset: Lethal finishing for a 35yo, few tricks up my sleeve still and not shy of collisions with bigger blokes. Legs are fine but lungs let me down due to all the pot I used to smoke. Very rarely in my own half.
Estimated Value in current market: £ A Pint and 2 Es
…Age 29, both footed, centre-back with ability to bomb forward and score goals.
Good in the air, strong physically and fast for a tall guy.
Don’t play for anyone, play twice a week and score at least five goals every week, for a defender that ain’t bad or the players I play against are crap.
Own pink boots so I must be special?
T, CFC, London (pretty handy in goal too, so £4m)
Position: Defence. Or wing. Or just on the sidelines depending on whether or not a shepherd’s pie has been consumed too soon before the start of the game
Current Team: Without a club. Commonly seen standing alone waiting to be selected after the fat kid with thick glasses has been picked
Skill set: Can kick the ball 7 times out of 10. Hits the target with the ball sometimes. Expert at getting in the way of players on own team
Estimated value in current market: Due to having looks that belie the years, and therefore exorbitant image rights, £75,000
…Good lord, Mediawatch is right…what a completely empty day for football. But I do like Sajal’s game, so I’ll bite:
Position: ‘Sweeper-Keeper’, ie: keeper who gets immensely bored and spontaneously decides he’s a midfielder
Current Team: FC BIN (Beer-Induced-Nostalgia)
Skillset: Looking extremely German despite being English, ‘organizing’ the back four by shouting confidently without really saying much, wrists of tofu. So basically Joe Hart after being up all night watching Neuer Youtube mashups.
Estimated International Value: €50 and a bag of crisps
Estimated PL Value: £8-10 million, rising to 12 with incentives
Iain (CUFC), Seattle
Position: Inside door of The Lion in Sandbach, just to the right, behind the booth. Can also play at right-back.
Current Team: Boca Seniors five-a-side team, semi-retired. Willing to postpone current retirement for a final flourish.
Skillset: Can carry four pints from the bar in one go, providing it’s not too full. Have been known to inexplicably find a demon first touch out of the blue when on the pitch (you can’t teach it). It tends to go downhill from there, though.
Estimated Value in current market: What is the cost of eight pints of Birra Moretti and a bag of McCoys ready salted? That.
…Oh, I’m 32 as well, not 26. I don’t have one of them dodgy passports that some players have, more’s the pity.