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Supercomputer top 20
With a former European Cup winner (Villa) and de facto “big club” (Leeds) both settling back into the Premier League, I’ve wondered what would constitute the 20 biggest, most famous and most successful clubs, that you could say is the Premier League Full House. I’ve used a Supercomputer and devised a complex formula, it’s based on (i) total topflight seasons, (ii) domestic trophies won pre 1970 (giving 50 years of recency bias), (iii) domestic trophies pre 1970 (with a lower weighting), (iv) attendances (v) European trophies, (vi) the X factor, or the romance quotient.
The first 14 were easy. But based on the formula I was able to generate a definitive uncontroversial list. Some of this depends on age, the “Angry Birds generation” might question Sunderland’s place…but we know they belong there. Also, English romantic feelings towards a club might be different than those of a foreigner looking in. The top 9 are sorted just on total topflight seasons, they all qualify anyway (based on the Supercomputer analysis), and we don’t want a boring bunfight over why Liverpool are ahead of Man Utd. I’d invite comments or alternatives, but as it’s a definitive result, I think we can file it away as the universally agreed list. (The algorithm used is confidential, commercially sensitive, and proprietary, so don’t ask.)
Blackburn are maybe a bit dodgy, but they’re 13th on the list of topflight seasons, and 12th on the list of competitive honours.
5. Man Utd
6. Man City
10. West Ham
16. West Brom
Rupert Pumpkin MCFC
Liverpool lacked foresight
I’m pretty bored of hearing how super unlucky Liverpool are to have had 3 injuries to centre-backs and being ‘forced’ to play midfielder’s in defence. No one forced Liverpool to go in to the season with only 3 senior centre backs on their books – it was clearly a huge risk. A risk that had been fortunately avoided in previous seasons. Bear in mind that both Gomez and Matip are injury prone and the risk increases further. In his young career before this season Gomez has missed nearly 100 games due to injury and Matip missed 20 games last season due to injury (taken from Transfermarkt website) Perhaps the £12m spent of Tsimikas would have been better spent on an extra centre-back. Throw in the £20m on Thiago and you’d have got a very fine centre back. Thiago Silva has done ok at Chelsea for a free signing and I’m sure there are other examples of centre-backs who moved for relatively affordable fees last summer who would have been a good back up option for Liverpool. The fact is Liverpool were walking a tightrope going in to the season with the 3 centre-backs they did and it has come back to bite them. All teams get injuries, yes it is unfortunate Liverpool have 3 in defence but given their injury history, tight schedule of games and lack of squad cover this situation could have been planned against and avoided.
I will admit to feeling sorry for Donny. He’s clearly a very talented footballer, but at the moment he’s a square peg for a round hole. Donny had a so so game against West Ham, he didn’t do much wrong but didn’t really impact the game that much in a game where few people actually shone and where lots of the play really just plodded along without much thought or incision. I think IP “Fred the Red is the issue” is right and this is part of the reason I have and will continue to defend Pogba.
A midfield duo of Matic/McTominay/Fred to play alongside Donny or Pogba or Bruno are not good enough to win trophies, and we can’t rely on one player to pull a rabbit out of a hat every game. We need to play it the other way around, Matic or McTominay or Fred alongside any two of Bruno/Pogba/Donny because teams can and do mob one player, but find it harder to press both without leaving holes for even our most wasteful attackers (Rashford). And this said, it’s been evident for seasons that Matic is past his peak and Fred is just a Merlin engine without a propeller, turning endlessly without doing anything. McTominay is a good player and I think he’s turning into a very similar player to Darren Fletcher (whether that’s coincidence now that Fletch is a coach I don’t know) but I still think it would be useful to sign a player who is a long term successor to Matic or Carrick. Perhaps the answer is to use Donny in that position?
We’ve got West Brom in the weekend I and I would hope to see a midfield of McTominay, with Pogba and Donny ahead of him both pulling strings behind our attack. No disrespect to West Brom, but if you can’t experiment against the team in 19th, who can you? Instead Bruno will probably play, alongside Fred and McTominay wasting an opportunity to keep Bruno fresh for Real Sociedad and giving valuable minutes to Donny.
Why Liverpool, Man Utd lag behind City
A week or two ago, I wrote in whingeing that the mailbox had descended into a United/Liverpool bore-fest and encouraged ANY other fans to write in about either their team or league. Things have improved somewhat but we are still plagued with navel-gazing mails whenever either of these two worst offenders win, or lose, a game.
But that is not the point of this mail. Rather it is to suggest that most supporters, unless I am mistaken, of both Utd and Liverpool may be seriously ignorant of why they are, and may continue to be, lagging far behind ‘City’. Or any other of the world’s top clubs for that matter.
City+ TV (you have to subscribe) has just released a four-episode programme entitled ‘Scout’ which, you’ll be stunned to learn, is all about how young talent is identified and developed. ‘So what?’, I hear you ask? Simply this.
The scouting teams highlighted are dedicated and paid employees of City Football Group (CFG). Not Manchester City, but CFG. For the avoidance of doubt they scout talent specifically, and ONLY, for CFG. Nobody else. (Of course, all clubs have ‘scouts’ across the world but not necessarily contracted to that club by any means). The teams are based in the USA, China, Japan, India, Africa, Australia (both Northern and Southern sections of) South America and, of course, Europe.
This means they are on the look-out for up-and-coming players for Girona FC, Yokohama F. Marinos, Sichuan Jiuniu, Mumbai City FC, Lommel SK, Troyes SC, Montevideo City Torque, Melbourne City FC, New York City FC, Manchester City FC and last, but most certainly not least, the women’s teams of most of the above. These are not feeder clubs. They are either owned outright by CFG or where CFG has bought ‘significant’ stakes in them with the sole purpose of making ‘City’ the dominant global brand.
The idea isn’t that of City’s owners. Txiki Begiristain (DoF) and Ferran Soriano (CEO) tried to convince their (then) club Barcelona to invest in this long-term and far-reaching strategy. The Barcelona board dismissed it as not necessary as, at that time, they were comfortably one of the top three clubs in the world. And how are they and Real Madrid getting on today?
The other thing that stands out from ‘Scout’ is just how much detail the research into each ‘potential’ player (that’s children to you and me) goes. Its breath taking. This isn’t about some bloke in a cloth cap watching a kid’s league game and writing some notes combined with a video highlights reel. They use every metric an established senior player would be marked against (goals, passes, assists etc) coupled with detailed insights as to the boy’s/girl’s family and the individual’s personality. The aim is to uncover talent that is more David Silva than Paul Gascoigne (with no disrespect meant to the latter, but you probably get my point).
If you’re reading this and going ‘Pfft’, then search CFG and just go through the ‘timeline’ under ‘our story’ section. The corporate guff aside, you WILL get an idea of the sheer scale of what CFG have done in the past thirteen years and what they still intend to do.
If you think I write this with some sort of sneering superiority, then you couldn’t be more wrong. I found myself unsettled at the just enormous scale of what has, and is being, undertaken by the owners of my club. They have already established a City Football Academy (CFA) in Melbourne and New York to deliberately rival the one in Manchester and the aim is to create the same in China, India and South America.
That means investing in all nine other ‘City’ clubs around the world, with a dedicated CFA attached which, by definition, attracts the best young talent in that country/continent. Not in a Chelsea let’s-sign-every-kid-who-might-be-good-just-in-case kind of way. Quite the opposite. In a measured, planned and clinically efficient harvesting of the best young players CFG can find across the planet.
So, and I aim this at both Liverpool and Manchester United F365 ‘usual suspects’. If you still view Man City as a stand-alone club and rival then, I’m sorry to say, you are very much mistaken. If you define ‘improvement’ by the selling or buying of, say, two or three players each season, then you are again, very much mistaken. CFG are looking to do with nine other clubs across the world what they’ve done with Manchester City. Which is scary.
For those that are already typing replies that will (rightly) denounce ‘blood-money’ and Human Rights issues I can say only this. No supporter of any (English) club gets to say who their owners are. In addition, and I’ve written this before, if Sheik Mansour had bought Everton instead of City or the Saudis had bought Newcastle, do you mean to suggest that the vast majority of those team’s supporters would’ve left in droves?
For the avoidance of doubt, I’m not defending what CFG are doing. But they are, I would suggest, merely the latest in ‘upping the ante’ in the football world.
CFG are (no pun intended) game-changers and are doing to football what Apple did to tech and Amazon did to online sales. If you are a competitor, then you can squeal all you like. But the smart thing to do is to not just emulate them, but to be equally bold innovators yourselves.
Mark (Oh Dear. I forgot that the Glazers and FSG were perfect angels). MCFC.
First name XI
A good point was raised in the mailbox about the recent lack of funny XIs. When I was younger I went through a phase of trying to build a team (on Fifa) completely of players who had a last name that could also be a first name – why?
Isn’t it obvious? So that the commentary sounded like it was talking about a few mates having a kickabout down the park… “James rolls it out to Terry. Terry passes it wide to Neville, down the line to Lennon, Lennon cuts inside and feeds Barry, Barry through to Owen – and Owen scores”
Sadly I don’t remember ever making a full XI without “cheating”, either by using a plural (e.g. “Phillips”), or a player typically treated as having just one name (e.g. “Alex”)
So my question is, can anyone complete this and do a full XI of first name sounding last names (one rule – players must be “active” at the same time, so the team could be built on Fifa)?
RA in CH
Slightly off topic and probably one for the enigmatic Johnny Nic to delve into, but I wonder sometimes the casual turn of phrases we use around sport and their underling meaning. Today’s “Big Weekend” talked of Jose leaving Everton with his “pants around his ankles”. A standard phrase in the everyday vocabulary, but what does this employ. Is he a fool because he can’t pull up his trousers or…. this is far from a complaint, but sometimes when you sit down with your morning coffee and digest some breakfast football articles to get you into the day, it’s make you think how these phrases came to be and what they really mean..
Colin Christopher Nestor
Politics and football
A classic bit of no platforming there from TX this morning, he doesn’t like other people expressing opinions so can we stop making him uncomfortable. I was led to believe this was purely the reserve of the woke lefties.
He says that “Politics ruins everything it touches” how does he feel with the latest rules between Government and football for the recruitment of managers and coaching staff. Nobody can know what effect this will have in the future but if it had always been in place probably no Wenger, Mourinho (first time), Benitez (possible coaching staff issues) or OGS. That is at the top level but no Bielsa, Wagner or Farke all getting promotion so much appreciated by those teams.
Football will be a lot better with Lampard, Sherwood, Pardew etc we just don’t know it yet.
You can see TX just because you wish to avoid politics it is intrinsically linked with our life and loves in this case football.
Gary in Germany
Dear Tx Bill,
Insisting others don’t use politics in their correspondence IS a political position.
Jon, (Spurs are 9/1 in some places for tomorrow?!), Lincoln
When I think sliding doors, I try to not think of anything Chelsea related, far to many moments to call, but when we are talking true sliding doors moments, moments which a few inches change the landscape, how about the “Battle of Old Trafford” from Sunday the 21st of September 2003, if Ruud Van Nistelrooy scores that penalty then Arsenal’s Invincibles are never to be, they never rise, the dream ends after just 8 games of the Premier League season, would the defeat have changed the dynamic in terms of Arsenal lifting the Premier League title?
Would Claudio Ranieri have two Premier League titles to his name? would Jose Mourinho have ever come to London and delivered his famous brand of tactical football, charisma and personality? Endless possibilities.
After the mail from Mikey, I don’t know about the worst pitch I’ve seen (probably the old Baseball Ground) after Chelsea played on Barnsley’s allotment last night, but I do remember the worst ground I’ve been to was the Shay when the Blades went a-visiting in about 1980 in the old 4th division. It was a night match and about 5,000 of us travelled up to Halifax and it had rained heavily all day. When we got in the ground, we found we were on a large grass bank, so everyone scrambled up this bank and started digging with their heels to get a foothold whilst the rain kept lashing down. At kick off we had all managed to get a perch although most of us were covered in mud and were soaked through – no roof obviously. Sadly (happily) for us the Blades scored a couple or more goals before half time with the ensuing delirium, delight and dancing about, so that by half time there were 5,000 fans crammed into the bottom 6 feet of the bank as we had all slid to the bottom. Half time saw thousands of blokes covered in mud, piss wet through, trying to scramble up this grass bank which had now become a mud slide. Needless to say we all ended up at the bottom again when the Blades scored in the second half.
I remember the coach driver wouldn’t let us back on the coach to get home unless we all took our trousers off.
Bladey Mick (still frozen after all these years)
Re Mikey, CFC’s question on the worst pitches. I remember a match between Wrexham and Maidstone United in the early rounds of the FA cup a few years ago that was pretty awful. I Think it had recently snowed quite heavily and the melt had left the pitch in a truly shite state. Both boxes and the centre circle were pretty much underwater. At one point a goal kick hit the ground and more or less immediately stuck in the mire. Needless to say Maidstone (who normally play on an all weather artificial pitch) couldnt adapt and got beaten. Still amazed the officials let the match play to be honest.
Mikey, CFC Re: rubbish pitches.
The Baseball Ground, Derby. Any winter from 1895 to 1996.
Prick of the week: Football365
To be honest my main reason for wanting Jose to turn this around is because I’m a Spurs fan and want my club to do well, but reading the ridiculous targeting of Mourinho on 365, I’d hope he turns it around to stick two fingers up at some of the content providers on this site( not that he probably cares), it’s some of the most inane, one eyed rubbish around centred around personal dislike for someone they have never met? Now OGS has turned it round, Mourinho is the next target.
I’m not sure who F365’s target audience is but it’s ridiculously awful journalism, perhaps you should get a natural media watch contributer to poke holes into you. Next week’s prick of the week:Football 365
Raj, THFC North London