Saturday 29 November 2014

Jose Mourinho is not a special one talk less of been The Special One. Neither is he the best manager in the world

I have always wondered why anybody would want to be a football manager? Yes the job is glamorous and in certain instances (especially where you are at the top of your game) you can command 'star footballer' salaries. Arsene Wenger is on something like £150k pw. For that price, you probably should be able to add a Sami Khedira to your side (nuff said). The job is very demanding. You are the lightning rod of fans, players, owners and the media's moans and rants.

Put yourself in Alan Pardew's place earlier this season.  You arrive at your place of work and people who should ordinarily be on the side of your employers are calling publicly for you to be fired. They print banners, placards, T - shirts, create a website to spread this message. Other examples abound. Wenger - underwhelming in recent years perhaps but consistent (granted not in an outstanding way but delivers to agreed corporate targets we are led to believe) Despite these, some disgruntled Arsenal fans want him out.

Brendan Rodgers - Manager of the Year a few months ago and now favourite to get the sack. Tony Pulis - walks on EPL water, turns same water into vintage wine for Crystal Palace and felt he was unable to carry on before the start of the season.  In my opinion, you really have to be extremely self obsessed or self loathing to want a Football Manager's job. The self obsession bit is easier to understand when it comes to Mr Jose Mourinho (moaninho or mouthinho or motormouth to some). The self styled Special One. Is he really Special?

I have just checked the Free Dictionary (online) and one of its definition of Special is as follows - "distinct among others of a kind". In calling himself the Special One, it is fair to assume that Jose buys into this definition. In fact his vomit inducing Wikipedia entry claims he is the best manager in the world. You can certainly imagine that someone who buys into his myth has contributed to that entry.

Jose's claim to speciality is hinged on his trophy winning record and his ability to make a side difficult to beat. Let me unhinge both today. Those two claims are foundered on quick sand. Yes he has won the league at Porto, Chelsea version 1, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. 4 in all. Good for him. But is that special? Is it unique? Is it distinct among others of a kind. A big fat NOPE. 3 other managers apart from Jose have achieved this. Giovanni Trapattoni, Ernst Happel & Tomislav Ivić. So using that 4 country league thingy to define specialness means that we have 4 Special Ones. It also does not confer on you the title of best manager in the world. We can't have 4 best managers can we? 

What about Jose's 2 UCL win. That is not even outstanding. Bob Paisley & Don Carlo Ancelloti have won it 3 times. There are 17 SEVENTEEN other managers who have equalled Jose's two wins. Again is that special? Not in my opinion. Some claim that Jose will improve his winning record. We will see and perhaps he should wait till he is distinct in his managerial record before labelling himself as a special one. I am not holding my breath though. Same claim about wait and see can be said about Pep Guardiola. He has won the league in 2 countries and the UCL twice and with the way he manages his career like a boxer taking on deadbeats to bolster his record, it will only be a matter of time before Pep's league winning record looks way better than Jose Mourinho's. 

In fact if you want to be pedantic, you can discount Jose's league win at Porto. According to Neil Ashton of Daily Mail - anybody could have won with Porto. Neil was obviously referring to AvB's time at Porto. Notwithstanding, the comments are relevant for Jose's achievements at Porto too.  And if you go a bit further and apply Mourinho's recent comments where he ascribed Roberto Di Mateo's UCL win to luck, you can certainly say that Jose's first UCL win was luck too. Roy Keane (petulance in getting a red card in the first match), Tim Howard (dodgy handling of Benni Macarthy's free kick to allow Costinha's equaliser at Old Trafford) & Sir Alex Ferguson (Benni said after the match that Man U did not take Porto seriously) all conspired to hand Jose his first UCL win and create the myth that is Jose Mourinho.

Another so called claim that Jose's lovers like to spout is the fact that he can organise a side defensively.   I find this very laughable. How does this make you special. Organising a side defensively is what Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce do very well. Are they special? You tell me. In fact Sam did the defensive organisation thingy so well against a Jose side that the latter ungraciously commented that Sam's West Ham were playing 19th Century football. Utter BS. 

Tony Pulis organised his side so well they defeated Mourinho's team. Guy Poyet's Sunderland was somewhat unlucky tonight not to score maybe 2 against the so called well organised side of Jose's. Guess what, Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce have done this consistently and in multiple club sides and with a tiny fraction of the money at Jose's disposal. In my opinion, Tony & Sam have achieved more success than Jose on a comparative basis 

I will suggest that the British press take their noses out of Jose's back side and cotton on to the fact that his success is reliant on spending loads of money. In Chelsea, he failed to win the UCL which was part of the deliverables set for him by the Owner. Realising he couldn't achieve this and knowing that the owner had shut his wallet, he picks a fight with the owner, inviting a firing and the owner obliged. He disappears and tags onto another gullible owner desperate for success, in a league where the direct competition had been wiped away by match fixing scandals. Spends a shed load of money and buys his way to success again. Proceeds to Real Madrid the biggest spending club on earth manages a miserly one league win and was fired. 

Now he is back in Chelsea when he couldn't find a job elsewhere. He failed in his first season at Chelsea Mark 2, winning zilch and bottling a title challenge and a UCL attempt despite been in with a shout with a tiny amount of games to go. He claims to have been offered the PSG job, we now know that PSG was close to a transfer ban for flouting UEFA FFP rules. Is it inconceivable that Jose didn't know this fact a few months before the punishment was announced?  We know that the executives in charge of Man City will rather take cyanide than allow him manage their club and that the Man U lot will forever turn their nose at him as they consider him beneath them.  The jury is still out on his second season at Chelsea. The bookies have crowned him champions. We will see how it all ends up. 

I cannot understand why owners who claim to believe in building a sustainable club will have anything to do with Jose. He doesn't give a hoot about legacy. His claim to fame is the footballing equivalent of a one night stand. Negative attention and negative energy follows him - disgusting finger poke in the eye of a very ill man; the furore surrounding referee Anders Frisk retirement; lack of class and generosity of spirit that brought about his obscene comments on Wenger. Not for me. He is toxic, always wanting everything to be about him. 

My abiding memory of Mourinho in his first coming at chelsea is that of his players cynically pushing opponents to score goals and now, his players viciously tackling opponents on the edge of what is acceptable? His nasty exploits in Spain is well documented. That is what Mourinho brings. Testing and straining the boundaries of the rules and accepted common courtesies to achieve his so called winning record / maintain the false special one claims. 

I guess if you are a win at all cost type, Jose will appeal to you and you deserve each other. As for me, the day Jose turns up at the club I support, is the day I stop supporting that club.  

Saturday 22 November 2014

Ched Evans


Nothing beats jumping on a bandwagon. For a middle aged man like me, it beats exercise. If like me, you dislike exercises you can also try jumping to conclusions, getting furiously worked up, rushing to judgement and so on. You get the drift.

Before I continue. I want to make something perfectly clear. ALL RAPES ARE WRONG - violent, non violent, both parties drunk, both parties mentally incapacitated, statutory etc. No excuse. No question.

Also, I am not writing this to be controversial or to blame the victim. My views are well considered (in my opinion)

For the records, anybody who touches a member of my family in the Ched Evans way will unfortunately not be allowed to answer to the state or the police. There will be another solution. I am sane enough and a believer in a orderly society to know that if we all attempted to procure justice for ourselves, there will be chaos. So my advice to the rapist is "DONT RAPE" so there is no chaos. If however you don't understand this simple advice then you have something else coming your way if you rape.

To the police and to the wider community, i believe we need to look at the law and the process / procedure of dealing with rape. I don't care if we think it is impractical, I believe a crime should fit the punishment. I don't get why a rapist can destroy the life of the victim and be able to get on with their own life.

Your sentence as a rapist should be as long as it takes the victim to get on with their life. If there are relapses and say a victim took her own life because of your rape, you are called back to court and charged with her murder. Impractical I hear you say, then make it practical. It is against the law you say, change the frigging law, make it part of the law.

How would we know if the rape of 10 years ago led to a victim's suicide? Sorry we have some professionals called Psychologists. Did you say something about their profession not been an exact science, i hear you, you mean like the law. the practice of which is not exact either. Yet law practitioners determine whether people should live or die.

This recommendation is not only about rape. It is also about other crimes. As a society we need people to pay for their crimes. Not necessarily by chopping their heads off but actually paying for it (assets, future earnings, inheritance etc)

As a society, we need to change our outlook on a lot of issues. One example is outlined above, criminals should pay not only for their crime by doing time, they should pay for the cost of the judicial process leading to their incaceration, the cost of doing time, the cost of theirs and the victim's rehabilitation.

Another example perhaps a bit more contentious is how we go about protecting ourselves when we have fun. Without sounding sexist, women are disproportionately more the victim of rape or violent sexual / sexual related crimes ( so my advice although relevant to all sexes is predominantly aimed at women.

Please please please. I don't get why there is no chaperone when you go out on a night out. I don't have anything against drinking or wearing beautiful (*cough cough* ) provocative dresses. Nothing. In fact I love to admire beautiful women (I lie I really mean ALL WOMEN) dressed in beautiful clothes. I also like women who drink as a fat middle aged bloke like me is unlikely to be attractive to the ladies if they are not wearing their alcohol googles.

Please ladies, when you go out on a bender, have a chaperone. If you are a group of girls, let one person be the designated chaperone this week and someone else take over the following week. Pay for a family member to be the chaperone. Do something sensible. This is not putting the onus on you, this is asking you to be reasonable. Like me locking my front door because there are bad people out there. This is not meant to be patronising either.  I just think its common sense. This also applies to males by the way.

Now to Ched Evans. (that didn't take long did it). He is lucky his victim is not my sister. However given the circumstances in the public domain about the rape, I dare say this is a tough one.

From what I read on blogs, social media etc, casual sex, threesomes, kinky sex, ONS etc are no big deals. So also is getting drunk and inebriated i.e leglesss, not knowing where you are and what you are doing or did. You have probably guessed I am not a fan of these. If a supposedly rich person or someone in the public eye engages in any of these why should he or she be castigated.  Do we think these people are any different from you and I? That they have different desires? Or because they are in the public eye, they should not have ONS?

For now, the record is very clear, Ched Evans is a convicted rapist. A jury of his peers found him guilty. The people representing us (Jury) found him guilty.  So far so good. What then happen is another person (representing us / the Judge) sentenced him to prison using another set of rules made by another of our representatives (parliament). Now Ched has been released from prison by yet another of our representative (the probation service).

He is now seeking future employment in a profession where the law made by you and I through our representatives (parliament) allows him to be gainfully employed. And some people are saying no he shouldn't be allowed to. I am sorry I don't get that. We made the rules remember (yes through our representatives). The rules that specified punishment for crimes, how long a prisoner needs to serve and what jobs such a prisoner can aspire to.

Ched Evans disobeyed the law and he was punished and now he wants to follow the same laws and we say No. What happened to equality? All men been equal in front of the law blah blah blah. As many people have said, if Ched was a bricky, nobody will bat an eyelid what he returns to as long as it is legal. This leads me to conclude that majority of the people who are opposed to Ched's return to football are jealous and are driven by envy of the life he could return to as a professional footballer.

I just don't get the "he is a role model to kids so he was wrong to do what he did". I'm sorry I would have failed in my life if Ched Evans was a role model to my kids. Are we are aware that some people look up to Peter Sutcliffe (the murderer) as a role model same with the murderer of the Birmingham teacher. For me, if you are worried about your relative, child or sibling looking up to Ched Evans as a role model, I suspect you have bigger issues to deal with teaching that relative or child how to learn  the difference between right and wrong.

For me, our focus should be on the law that made Ched's return possible? Shouldn't we be bombarding our MPs with social media messages etc asking them to change the law? Isn't that what a democratic society is all about? I don't get the reason why people believe their personal preference should trump the law. Is this society a "mobocracy" where the outraged decide what society should do at every turn and we make it up as we go (Shame on Nick Clegg for jumping on this particular bandwagon, as a law maker and a professed democrat, he should know better) Is there a chance that some of the people looking unto Peter Sutcliffe as a role model are also on this bandwagon, trying to prevent Ched from going back to been a professional footballer? Should we be listening to them?

Yes Ched is a convicted rapist but for his victim to be so drunk that she couldn't even remember the event let alone whether she consented or not is unfortunate. I recently overhead a police officer type saying that "on saturday and sunday mornings. Several girls turn up claiming they think they have been raped and asking the police to look into". Ordinarily this should be a good thing. If there is a rape epidemic in our land, we want to root it out. But please realise that if we had our wits about us, we would be able to help the police nail these rapist bastards.

 The accusation that Ched is not contrite has also been thrown out there. Please hands up one person who thinks it is ok for any human to douse himself in petrol with a lit matchstick around. Who doesn't get the fact that while Ched is appealing for wrongful conviction he can't then go on to say, "I am sorry I am a rapist". Why is that so difficult to understand? until he exhausts his appeal, it is unlikely he will own up to this rape and in my opinion rightfully so. The man believes he is not guilty. Again please change the law, don't stop Ched Evans using the law. When the appeals process is exhausted and the courts find against him and he refuses to accept then you can rightfully come to the conclusion that he genuinely is non repentant, you can then decide to humiliate him in accordance with the law and principle of free speech.

As for Sheffield United, it is my opinion that people should leave them well alone to make their decision on this matter as long as they are not doing anything illegal. Sheffield United is a top club and the directors should live and die by the decision they make on behalf of the business & club. I expect them to make hard nosed decisions for the benefit of the club and deciding whether Ched should come back or not is one of those decisions. This must however be balanced with thier sponsors and key stakeholders corporate & personal values. If they lose sponsorship deals or the support of influential members of the football community, then that is their problem. Trying to force Sheffield United not to sign up Ched Evans by social media blackmail is wrong. Let his club decide and let the sponsors decide and if you feel strongly about it, lead a campaign to change the law, boycott the club and the sponsors. (added comments - and this is why Sheffield United decided not to invite Ched back to train, it risked derailing the club, not because we said they shouldn't do it. Because their sponsors said so)

Saturday 15 November 2014

Why Do We Do It? On Football, Arsenal, Wenger, Fans & Journalists

It is amazing the effect football has on us. Grown men, women and children alike. People of different background, class, social standing and by whatever demographics you choose to classify the human race. 

The outcome of football matches has resulted in death by heart attack (, murder (, wars ( martial splits and relationship breakdown (  

You get a sense of these things by staying close to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook on a typical English Premier League Weekend. In a 90 minute period and in the hours before and after a match, you can see fans of different clubs experiencing extremes of emotion going from one end of the pain spectrum to the delirium that extreme joy brings depending on the fortune of the team they support. Over the space of a few weeks, fans (*cough cough* not saying anything about the Toon Army) go from asking that their manager be strung up at the Tower of London to shamelessly enjoying the results conjured up by the same manager. The latest one I heard was a fan justifying this extreme by claiming that the pressure they placed on the manager led to the turnaround in the fortunes of the team. I fervently disagree with this point and in the words of David Runciman ( I choose to see such improvements as a "reversion to the mean" especially where there is no obvious change of personnel or tactics.  

I speak from personal experience and I remember my teams' UEFA Champion League Quarter final 2nd leg match at Highbury in 2004 versus Chelsea. Win by one goal and we were through to the semi final. Did we get that one goal. You bet we did. Then we gave it away twice - first to Fat Frank off maybe Jens Lehman's nervousness and then to flipping Wayne Bridge (not Maradona or Pele). Wayne Bridge scored against us. In the words of The Guardian reporter "he ghosted past 4 static Arsenal bystanders". Lord help me. We were out. 

In my opinion and I have spoken with a lot of passionate Arsenal fans since then, that was the year Arsenal should have / could have won the Champions league. Monaco managed by Didier Deschamps in the semi final and Porto managed by Mr Motormouth himself played in the final. I believe if Arsenal had defeated Chelsea we could have won by a huge margin versus Porto that condemned Motormouth to the dustbin of football history. No we didn't. We threw it away. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. Me, the dad of a lovely young boy. A young man with diagnosed high blood pressure and a highly pressured job. I was upset. Left the house. Went for a walk for what must have seemed like eternity. Came back home and still couldn't sleep. I guess I fell asleep at last but said never again. Footballers and their managers earn bucket loads of money win or lose. What is it with me killing myself for my love of the team?

I buried myself in religion (God never fails) and became a passive fan. Unfortunately after a few years and like a miserable drug addict, i returned to my favourite high. I have been feeding my addiction for the past few years. I have been subtly deceiving myself that i am not addicted and can stop getting my fix when never i want. Increasingly, it is clear this is not the truth. 

I was extremely elated in 2011 when it appeared Professor Wenger took the League Cup seriously and we rocked up to the Cup Final. I had tried to pull all stops to get a ticket for the final without success. Unfortunately I was denied the pleasure of even watching the match on TV. I was summoned to pick up the kids and to return them exactly when the final was on. Faced with a choice between my kids and the match, i chose my dear kids and thank God they saved me from the heartache of watching us lose. Not watching the match sometimes makes the heartache less painful and less heart attack inducing. 

May 2014 was a different experience. Fortunately my big brother got me a ticket for the FA cup final. I was wearing my expect anything from Arsenal demeanour. And they didn't disappoint. 2 nil down in 8 minutes. A better team with all respect to Hull FC could have been 4 ahead in 16 minutes. I was laughing and I dare any true Arsenal fan to claim they were surprised. Fortunately, we clawed it back and won. Threw the 10 year monkey off our back and looked at the future with optimism. WONT YOU WANT TO BE A GOONER *music* (My version of the Ooh To be Gooner chant)

Why all these long talk? It is because of the last few months as an Arsenal fan (the off / close season and the current season). I would love to be able to interview Arsene Wenger. I would love for the journalists who cover the clubs press conferences to ask difficult questions with follow up. if questions are rationed, they should coordinate themselves such that one leads and the others ask follow up questions. If the football journalists need any help, they are welcome to watch Prime Ministers Questions. You do not need a subscription to watch that, just the TV licence (don't get me started on that scam). I would love for there to be genuine scrutiny not hostile like the mob that bayed for AvB's head but a serious and professional one. The journalists owe it to us fans, it is their job to hold the people in power and authority accountable. The fans don't have any other outlet to constructively engage their clubs, demand for change, seek answers and understanding. I would love a situation where the Club Chairman (any Club Chairman) doesn't think it is appropriate to make these comments ( I am yet to see a more arrogant statement designed to cover up what appears to be a dividend disguised as payment for services. To break it down. That is the annual wage of a decent English Premier League player. 

If I am one of these journalists covering the press conferences, I would ask Arsene the following:

Is there a plan? Is the Board aware of this plan? Whose plan is it? What role does the Board play in developing this plan? How is the plan monitored? 

How did we get to a stage where we have only three fit senior defenders  - Per, Monreal & Chambers (if you choose to call Chambers a senior defender) this was during the Sunderland match). How? Are we a big club? or are we a joke? I get the 'not bringing players in who are no better than those in our squad' thing? But is there anybody in the club who genuinely believed that we had our full complement of defenders in the closing hours of the transfer window? Is there a Plan A, B, C to Z of player recruitment. Or is it all about poker faced negotiation and scrimping to save £1m here and there. A figure which is 0.6% of the wage bill of the club and could potentially in the worst case scenario have impacted the c£5m profits by the same amount or in the best case improve our league position such that we earned an extra £2 or £3m of revenue depending on league position or God forbid, win us more trophies. So is our player recruitment really about economics or is it a proverbial case of penny wise and pound foolish? 

Is it true that there is (or was) a policy to pay players roughly the same wages? What is the justification or football philosophy for this? 

Do we believe in tactical preparation for matches? Or are we so convinced of the 'rightness' of our ways that we don't alter our approach to the game whether we play a Lieciester side prepared to kick us till kingdom come or we play a Dortmund side who want to play and are happy for us to play or a Chelsea side prepared to both kick us, stop us from playing and insist on playing themselves? 

What is the magic behind 60th minute plus substitution? Is there something wrong with making substitutions at half time? Is there a tactical or philosophical reasoning behind this? 

Why is it so difficult to address issues quickly. Chambers was fed to the wolves at Swansea why didn't the bench address that issue quickly? It was obvious when Arteta limped off versus Anderlecht that the dynamics of the game had changed, people on the telly and in the stadium could see it, why can't the bench see it please? 

Does the club need extra help? All organisations evolve, if one man has been at the helm of an organisation for almost 20 years, surely the dynamics of that organisation would have changed in that time and we should be seeing new faces helping with the first squad in all aspects not just for things like injuries or youth team set up. 

To be completely open and honest, I do not belong to the Wenger Out brigade. I belong to the Wenger fix it brigade and the Wenger do the right thing brigade. He owes it to Arsenal and the fans. Football has such impact on peoples lives whether rightly or wrongly. He owes it to us to let us understand his 'modus operandi' without giving away any of his competitive advantages because at the moment all he is achieving is muting the defend button on all his supporters.    

As outlined at the beginning Arsene, for some of us fans, this football thingy has caused us lives, relationships and much more. life time managers go and come but we remain. We are Arsenal.