Friday, 25 May 2012

Martinez not ripe for Anfield

If rumours are to be believed , Wigan's manager Roberto Martinez is to be the next Liverpool Manager after the dismissal of  Anfield Favourite , Kenny Dalglish by Fenway Sports group . By all accounts , Martinez happens to be on holiday in the caribbean island , and an interview / meeting with Liverpool's American owners have evidently taken place . With Wigan's Chairman acting as unofficial spokesperson / PR consultant ,  for his perhaps, soon to be departing  manager ,  Roberto Martinez . I am just puzzled at the manner in which events seem to be unravelling .

Let's face it ,  Dalglish for all his Legendary status deserved the chop , but  I would have envisaged Fenway sports group  to have gone about acquiring the services of his successor in a more dignified way - such as ,  at least having the mechanics of the process right . All the speculation surrounding who the next manager will be is hurtful enough for  the fans of Liverpool football Club whom as i stated earlier,  see Kenny Dalglish as a Legend .  With that point on board , they must do better with their ideas for getting a replacement in place ;  and perhaps a more famous person , with a richer pedigree / association with foot balling  and / or managerial success would be the sort to placate the fans , who are spitting blood over the sacking of their idol .  I sincerely hope lessons have been learnt from the penultimate manager they sacked  - a certain Roy Hodgson . Not in the sense that Roy Hodgson was not competent enough to do the job , as we all know,  Liverpool fans breath and worship their   Club's illustrious history and heritage , and would fiercely demand Dalglish's replacement has a record to stand -up to their sharp and harsh scrutiny .

I concur with giving Fenway Sports Group the benefit of doubt , and hold-on till  a name is officially announced before mouthing them off , but they cannot afford not to get it right this time . Liverpool Football Club have decelerated in the last two and half years , and getting this appointment wrong would potentially usher in a period of downward spiral for this great Club.  The Club needs forward momentum . As such , the next manager has to hit the ground running .  Getting back into the Champions' League at first go , and winning  the disgruntled fans over is no mean feat for any manager , but sounds like his brief.  If indeed Martinez has been " offered " the job , and turns round to reject it for one thing or the other , that sort of snub , not by a big name manager will be damaging for the Club and it's new owners. A few have already turned down the chance for an interview already . This must not become a moral hazard , we are talking of a global brand , and a Club of tremendous stature .

I have been historically an admirer of Roberto Martinez . As a pundit working for sky sports on Spanish Football , and his successful managerial  stint at Swansea . Eloquent , balanced , thoughtful ,  a student of the game , and as we witnessed in Wigan's last 10 games , has the tactical nous , and motivational skills to handle a group of players .  I am convinced Mr. Martinez would get to the very top of his profession , but there is also caveat to it - it's called taking the right job . I am sure a thing or two would have been learnt by all budding Foot ball managers from the experience of Paul Ince ( at Blackburn ) and notably Andreas Villas Boas  (  at Chelsea ) . Big Clubs , sometimes go for young , up and coming managers without putting in place structures to nurture their fledgling careers . Yes , I know that is hard to do in foot ball ,  hence young , unripe managers like martinez , take heed , and  bid their time before joining big Clubs -  with their fickle fans , and burgeoning expectations ; or risk the withering of their young careers. The  season is not right  for martinez at Anfield . He has to learn that making Wigan a team sound and secure , and elevated to the level of a  mid-table premiership Club in 2 or 3 year would do his career more good - as he would have learnt invaluable experience in  far less vulgar surroundings . It's the scenic route to success in the shark infested waters that is football management .

As for Mr . Dave Whelan , Chairman of Wigan Foot ball Club  :  A deservedly , widely respected , self-made man , maybe i do not get it :  but i hold an opposite view to yours in the way you tout Roberto  Martinez . I understand your affection for him , and your promoting of his talents . However , i believe making Martinez learn the value of continuous  hard work , patience ,  dedication , and the realization that at this point , his talent is not bigger than the level of  Wigan Foot ball club will suffice . Ask Mark Zuckerburg about this week's  Face book initial public offering -  some due diligence ,  and keeping it real  is more profitable than grand ambitions . Watch this Space.......

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Chelsea and Drogba : A parting of ways best for both

Encore , Encore !!!!  Must be the rallying cry for  Chelsea players and fans after this Top , Top , Centre forward's display contributed immensely to Chelsea's Champions League final success last saturday.

I admit to being one of those who thought £ 24 million was a crazy sum by Chelsea to pay for his services 8 years ago. None of such thoughts now. He was well worth every penny , and as an investment, the club have certainly maximized his value. Chelsea gave Drogba the platform to fulfill his talents, and he most definitely fought indomitably for the cause, which culminated in the biggest Club prize of all last saturday. Make no error, Didier Drogba would go down as a legend in Chelsea's folklore alongside John Terry , Frank Lampard , and Ashley Cole, as players who represent a special period for Chelsea Football Club

Drogba in many ways was much misunderstood . Jupp Heynkes - Bayern Munich's Trainer called him a "performer " , and a lot of commentators have down the years echoed that sentiment. Theatrical he may be  at times , but it is part of his persona - his permed hair , that knee sliding goal celebration , his gamesmanship , to me,  are all conceived for the Drogba effect . Behind all of that is a swashbuckling forward , a winner , and a formidable personality. 157 goals in 341games for Chelsea does not even start to tell the story of what his presence meant on and off the pitch for them.

There is a gripping synergy of factors  that would predominate this reality for Drogba  : The demand and supply side of a contract , his financial future, sporting ambition , nostalgia , and not least : those adoring Chelsea fans . Perhaps a paradox for player , Club , and fans . Shanghai Shenhua are reportedly on the verge of sealing a deal with him , willing to pay as much as £250.000.00 a week to play in China . Droggy is very fortunate to be one of the few players who potentially can make more Hay at sunset , in a short career .  Chelsea would not begrudge him the chance to earn big bucks ; from all indications , their offer pales in comparison to that of the Chinese Club.  It could be argued Drogba's prospective wages in China is an exception, not the rule for a 34 year old . Chelsea realize trying to match such  astronomical wages  would be counter productive. Their interests is best served investing in another striker to play with Torres  ( the enigma ) , than breaking the bank to keep a player who diminishes the value and worth of the £ 50 million man Torres . Short term gain ( to keep Drogba ) or long term value for investment ( making Torres the focal point for next season ) After all , Drogba will soon be struggling to the demands and rigors of a premiership , and European football season .

It is a classic case of demand and supply interplay that has paved the way for a separation . To the encore, encore !! yelling fans : This is about economics and finance . A parting of ways makes sense for both parties . Foot ball is not always a fairy tale , not even for a  "performer " like Didier Drogba , and the mega rich owner of Chelsea , with an antecedence for defying financial logic.  I sure shall miss you - your play and antics too.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The FA Should have gone for the win-win option

Well , it's all unravelling  now..... 3 weeks to England's first game  in the European Championship , and the new manager Roy Hodgson has  yet to meet his players in flesh. It was evident from his press conference last wednesday he is pretty much fire fighting at this stage , and the manager's lack of preparation time would most likely have an adverse effect on England in the tournament . Nothing particularly wrong that England are not already encamped , but worrying that the new manger might not have the time to implement his ideas . One thing is to watch the players live , or on TV ; but it's another to actually start working with them before a tournament of such magnitude. I would imagine you need to observe how they react to you as a person and vice- versa , your methods , and your tactical drills . These elements impact on players' ability to peak during tournaments  .

England are going into the Euro Championship at a crossroads in a number of ways .  It's likely the final bow for stalwarts   John Terry , Frank Lampard , Ashley Cole ,  Garreth Barry , Steven Gerrard , Scot Parker. That's practically the nucleus of the current England team , you could  argue.... but one thing is for sure , the new manager has to create a new team for Brazil 2014 . We have a number of neophytes emerging - the likes of Phil Jones , Ashley Young , Chris Smalling , Danny Welbeck , Andy Carroll ,  Gary Cahill   bedding in slowly . Those at the middle of their careers are quite painfully thin : you'd be looking to the likes of Rooney , Walcott ,  Joe Hart , perhaps ,  then you scratch your head. This serves to highlight the backdrop to England's current situation  , and i would have imagined that should have weighed heavily in choosing the new manager . Only the FA can answer that....

Most had assumed Harry Redknapp would get the job , but i support the FA's decision not to even consider him based on the fact that Hodgson was practically out of contract , had more international experience ,  and actual  tournament experience . Most importantly , Roy does not carry a circus with him. People would have had too much expectations , and connections with Harry, and that would have detracted from his work. Perhaps , Harry's Charisma potentially would have worked against him getting the England job , or  doing the England job effectively . Too many had bought into Harry's charm , and the FA were right to ignore someone who theoretically might have had to serve more than one master.

Having said that , i do disagree with the timing of Roy Hodgson's appointment . I believe Stuart Pearce should have taken the team to the European Championship because he has worked with the players , and within the ambience  for enough time as to have at least a short term advantage over Hodgson - who detrimentally would have to be forgiven if England do badly at the tournament  . So , why go with the option of a new manager straight away ? Has Stuart Pearce's time as Capello's assistant counted for nothing , even in the decision making of the FA at such a crucial juncture !

If Roy Hodgson had been named England manager when he was , but to commence official duties in july , it would have made more sense . It would have afforded him time to watch the players, meet with them,  plan , and put together ideas for an England team of the future , and mull over a lot more without the stress , nor spotlight on him. For added benefit , the Players Stuart Pearce chose would have been more motivated to play well ,  now , and for their future , as Roy would be watching. This ought to have been the win-win option.


I am enjoying  Roberto Di matteo's incredible personal triumph . The very fact that he has conquered against all odds ; and  has become the one who achieved the missing piece of Roman Abramovich's trophy puzzle . I am not surprised Chelsea claimed the champions' League prize , it was destined. I had likened this scenario in my last blog ( hypothetically then ) to the unlikely events in The Euro 92' Championship  ( Denmark's fairy tale victory ) and Greece's incredible achievement in winning Euro 2004 .  Add to that list of fairy tales - Chelsea : champions of Europe 2012 .

When Roberto Di Matteo broke his leg playing for Chelsea 12 years ago , i was sad for him ,  and then Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri . Even sadder when his playing Career had to end as a result of the injury.  But   it's all come full circle now with  this " unlikely set of circumstances " ( refer to my previous blog )  being a self-fulfilling prophesy . I  certainly feel very happy for the man - someone i see as a nice bloke , a good man manager , and one with an infectious enthusiasm and aura , last but not least : tactically competent .

So ,  what does Chelsea's owner reckon , after having this long standing desire come true.... not even the great Mourinho surmounted the champions League conundrum this fast for the owner after spending hundreds of millions in player  purchase in over 3 years of stewardship . What Roberto Di Mateo has helped the owner do is to conclusively banish the ghosts of The Special one not only from Chelsea's boardroom , but also from the players'  lockers . No longer shall it be that success could only come via mourinho's currency. The Club can now lay claim to another layer of success in the aftermath.

The big question now is : what happens next ? Di matteo cannot be sacked because he is only an interim  manager still contracted as assistant manager ; for a fact his stature has been enhanced courtesy of  his FA Cup and Champions League successes ,  those in power at the Club must realize they have to keep him . With speculation that Fabio Cappello is interested in the job , I would offer Roman a simple piece of advice : Roman , Robbie will save you not only wasted millions , but potentially worse , the specter of being the laughing stock of European foot ball - as a man who has sacked so many managers ,  blown fortunes in consultancy , and severance packages , and mad enough NOT to make full time manager the one who brought him success at the quickest , and the cheapest , and in unprecedented circumstances . That's a fact . Do you want to tempt fate? Check out Chelsea's final premier league position - 6th .  Talk about buying into flawed decision making ! With Robbie , even if you are not convinced ; even if you had some big-wig lined-up , you could offer him a year's contract,  with a modest pay rise , spend little , or nothing on transfers for 2012-13 season , keep your aging stars for another year , there is life left in them , and as Robbie has proved , he is just the man to maximize the gains of your investment on the playing side. A Year on " trial " is the least everyone deserves , especially common sense .  Heroes sometimes unexpectedly emerge - Liverpool may find an answer to their questions if madness prevails at The Bridge.