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Earn your Spurs
Tottenham, good, correct final decision. Damage has been done and it was an abysmal choice in the first place. Even if it was felt necessary at the time.
It will not be forgotten.
As an Arsenal fan I may not be supposed to say this but I am glad Spurs fans have convinced their team to do the right thing. Some things are bigger than football.
Alan mentioned the late great Sir Bobby as one of the worst managerial sackings in yesterday’s Mailbox. I would like to bring up a contender, one from Chelsea’s history: Carlo Ancelotti, infamously sacked 2 hours after a 1-0 defeat to Everton on the final day of the 2010-11 season.
But why was he sacked, you may ask? Well he only finished in second place, that season he won the Manager of the Month award a record 3 times, including back to back in March and April, the winners of the title that season were of course Manchester United, the side that would go on to the Champions League Final to be outclassed by the best team football has seen in Pep’s Barcelona, now this was a United side featuring the following players in arguably their peak years: Van Der Sar, Evra, Rio, Vidic, Berbatov, Rooney and Carrick.
However it was a huge sliding doors moment in the history of Chelsea FC, as the following season we hired AVB, sacked AVB, promoted RDM and we went on to win the FA Cup and then lift the biggest prize in European football the Champions League, would we have been able to do all of that under Carlo? Impossible to say, 2011/12 was a strange season, but it all clicked together for the team and we lifted the trophy we all eagerly desired, a true sliding doors moment, so perhaps sacking Carlo was not only a dreadful decision, but the best dreadful decision in Premier League history, what a strange sentence to type out.
Mikey, CFC (Currently working on my next strange XI for tomorrow’s Mailbox)
Bursting the bubble
I wrote in last week (unpublished) about why I couldn’t see the current 92 club structure surviving COVID-19. Johnny Nic’s latest article merely reinforces my view and has me returning to this particular argument. His points are salient but the whole could be summed up as follows. Football finances, whether it be the cost of players, agents’ fees or player wages are, quite simply, absurd. The difference is that the pandemic has thrown this absurdity into stark relief.
Football players earning in a week, what nurses will take ten years to earn, is absurd. The fact that their employers hand out contracts that have no penalties in terms of poor performance or acts of God, is absurd. The amount of money pumped into football by broadcasters, is absurd.
Football has been in an artificial bubble (arguably) since the creation of the Premier League. COVID-19 will, in my view, burst it. I wouldn’t want to see a single club go to the wall but, and despite Johnny Nic’s wishful thinking manifesto, the Government are never going to nationalise football. Certainly not when airlines and car manufacturers, for example, are going to need massive financial support to stay afloat. And so, if a football club is a business where the employees’ wages account for 80% of all costs and where that business cannot survive for more than a few weeks without substantial government assistance, then the question surely must be whether that business should survive the pandemic at all? We all knew that players get paid ridiculous amounts of money and that a lot of clubs were living hand-to-mouth, but how many of us knew it was this bad?
Whatever else happens, a huge number of businesses will go under as a result of this hideous virus and that, necessarily, must include football clubs. Even if they didn’t, we all know that our own spending priorities will change and, to a degree, have already done so. IMHO, there is no way the general population are going to see the excessive costs of the average PL matchday as a priority nor the likes of subscription TV and, in the same vein, I’ll wager season tickets sales will take a substantial ‘hit’ next season (whenever that is). Equally, it will be interesting to see how the next transfer window pans out as I’m not sure that, globally, the stomach amongst the general public or, for that matter, the media, will be there for the sale of players for, say, £50 million+.
The silver lining in this otherwise gloomy cloud, however, would be the opportunity of root & branch reform to ensure that the PL and EFL are never again built on a house of cards as it appears to be now. The chance to introduce wage caps that are sensible for the clubs and fair to the players. That agents are cut out of the picture entirely unless, as Johnny suggested, their services are paid for by the player. That, internationally, transfer fees are capped with the clubs agreeing a sensible ceiling each season.
Mark (But I won’t be holding my breath, mind) MCFC.
So as usual Johnny Nic wrote an article and as usual I disagree with most of it. But in the interest of my sanity, I’m just going to focus on one part, the one where he talks about market forces and wages.
First off, the reason why wages are high is because historically, there is a high correlation between Relative Wages (how much a club is paying more than others) and Finishing Position. This trend didn’t begin in the PL era, but stretches back to the 60s and 70s. We already have many econometric studies that looked and analyzed this. Big money may be more recent, but the impact of wage comopetition on results is not.
Obviously paying higher wages doesnt automatically make bad players good. If I take an 18 year old who never played football and paid him £300k/week, he isn’t going to magically become CR7. Also, Man United have the second highest wage bill too and they don’t finish there much lately.
But it does mean that clubs that tend to pay more wages do tend to attract better players which tend to get better results – Man City have become an EPL giant now for that very reason. And remember conversely that lower finishing position can get you dropped down if you are bad enough so that scares some clubs.
That means clubs are competing with each other for a limited pool of players. Of course they’re not stupid, they wouldn’t pay a cent more than needed but they don’t have leverage most of the time to do that. And when they do get good players for cheap wages, they either get a) poached or b) ask better contracts later.
Do you think Kane would have stayed at Spurs, for example, on £10K a week due to loyalty alone, knowing that other strikers his caliber are earning 10-20 times that much? Knowing how much Spurs earn in TV money?
Information is also an important leverage in negotiations. The amount clubs earn are public knowledge, as is the TV deal – and people knowing you’re rich is NOT good for you when it comes to price minimizing. The player/agent also knows what all the offers on hand are and will play the clubs off each other. The clubs individually are competing with each other for both players and league places – this is exactly how market forces work.
And fans? Quite a number usually pressure the owners to invest in the squad, which of course involve dangling and competing on wages. And there are ELEVEN levels in the English football pyramid so even below the 92, there is plenty of room to fall – and plenty of clubs below salivating to replace them.
The Premier League is the most popular league of the most popular sport in the world and because of that a lot of money flows into it. Given the important role players play in the league and their negotiating power, it is only natural that it will be reflected in their wages. I am perfectly fine with this, but if you aren’t then you need to stop supporting the EPL and their clubs financially through satellite subs, merchandise, season tickets etc – because that is why the wages are so high.
Matches of the day
To kill time during the lockdown I am watching classic matches on youtube. In most cases, these are games played before I was born although I am also going back and to some from my lifetime. So far I have watched the 1970 world cup final, the 2000 Euro final, the Brazil vs France 1986 world cup final, the 1953 FA cup final and the 1963 European cup final. I was wondering if the hive mind of the mailbox could flag up what they would consider essential matches from history (preferably available on youtube…)
I also thought it would be worth highlighting that the seriea youtube channel is actually uploading quite a few classic matches from the last 20 years which are worth checking out.
p.s Why does William Douglas Foster read F365? Don’t get me wrong, his paranoid ramblings are kind of entertaining (I really liked the ‘you’re criticizing Jack Grealish because he is probably going to sign for Man Utd’ one) but I don’t see what he gets out of the site
By the book
If you want a little light relief you should try reading “How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers won the F.A. Cup” by J. L. Carr. I downloaded the ebook version from Amazon on Friday and parts of it had me literally crying with laughter.
Skip the introduction and go back and to it when you’ve finished the book, it’s heavily laced with extracts from the text and descriptions of the characters.
A quote from the author “But is this story believable? Ah, it all depends if you want to believe it”.
I wanted to!
Steve, Los Angeles
Best non-Prem XI
The Best 11s are still going strong so why not have a dream team version? The best ever non-premier league players in the premier league era. Here’s my hugely attacking team, but would be cool to know if anyone else can get a better one than that.
GK – Buffon
LB – Roberto Carlos
CB – Baresi (c)
CB – Cannavaro
RB – Cafu
LW – Ronaldinho
CM – Zidane
CM – Matthäus
CF – Ronaldo (original)
CF – Van Basten (still amazing even just before he retired)
Alex, London (Wondering who’s next in the Hall of Shame series…)
One player per team
Hypotheticals are great year round, but especially enjoyable in times like these, where these little else for doing.
My hypothetical (which I hope hasn’t been done) is: Pick the best Premier League XI, containing a maximum of one player per club.
I like this hypothetical, because there are a lot of considerations to be made. Do you go all out on attacking stars, and hope a stubborn mid-table back-line will do the job, or do you sacrifice a Mane type attacking talent for a defensive teammate like Van Dijk? Here’s mine. Personally, I’ve chosen not based on form, but on talent. As in, if this XI became a team next season, all fit, all firing, they’d be hard beaten (just justifying one or two picks ahead of time). I’ve gone 4-3-3.
Doherty (Wol) Van Dijk (Liv) Tarkowski (Bur) Digne (Eve)
Pogba (Mun) Kante (Che)
Son (Tot) Vardy (Lei) Zaha (Pal)
Does the team have some weaknesses? Sure. However, it’s got a midfield which would control a game and create a lot, a pacey front three with genuine threat, and a sturdy back four marshalled by the best CB in the world. Quite happy with that myself. See if you can do better.
Don’t know if it’s been done before, amid all the hypothetical Premier League fantasy 11s, but the lockdown has no end in sight, so what harm is another one? My patented Premier League team of Van-the-Mans!
I can just about, almost make it work in a 5-3-2 wing-back formation:
GK: Edwin van der Sar
WB: Patrick van Aanholt
CB: Daniel van Buyten
CB: Virgil van Dijk (captain)
CB: Ulrich van Gobbel
WB: Giovanni van Bronckhorst
RM: Andy van der Meyde (slim pickings)
CM: Rafa van der Vaart
LM: Robin van Persie (well, he started out on the wing at Arsenal)
CF: Pierre van Hooijdonk (provided he doesn’t go on strike)
CF: Ruud van Nistelrooy
Raimond van der Gouw
Rajiv van La Parra
Mike van der Hoorn
Ricky van Wolfswinkel
Robin van der Laan
Louis van Gaal
Playing colours: All-white. The White Van Men
Alternative colours: Orange, because of the overwhelming Dutch-ness of the team. Pity the sole poor Belgian Daniel van Buyten.
Lee, the man with a van
In these dark and challenging times football should be an oasis of (not calm but) escapism, where we can come to hide away from it all and forget our troubles for a while.
Football365 has long since been the haven at the heart of that oasis. The last pub before the long dangerous road ahead, the sanctuary at the mountaintop for travellers assailed by the elements. A campfire of stories and memories and good natured debate.
The flurry of F365 Says and features, of brilliant manifesto pieces from John Nicholson and lists of best and worst have kept me going in the absence of anything but wage discussions and another dark tale from up the Seven Sisters Road. And of course the drunken festival that is the mailbox where I have my preconceptions and beliefs challenged on a daily basis by people I’d happily spend hours arguing with one day and then find myself heartily agreeing with the next. And definitely have a (virtual) pint with pretty much all of on any given day. And for this I thank you all.
Someone have a friendly word with William Douglas Foster though eh? Poor lad thinks F365 is out to get him. ABU365? Psh.
Stay safe and well everyone and lets hope we can all play, watch and argue about football again soon.
Alay, Brighton Gooner
The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.