Posts Tagged ‘Premiership’
It may surprise you to learn that we old codgers occasionally indulge in a little philosophy. On days when Premiership referees aren’t accused of failing eyesight, we sometimes look back on our varied careers as we gather for our post-hen-cleaning brew, and often the question of honesty, or lack of it, provides a fascinating topic. The first victims of our soul-searching are invariably those who from time to time were involved in negotiations of one kind or another. How is it possible to always tell the truth and nothing but in such activities? We who pride ourselves on being on a par with George Washington usually end up by admitting that on occasions truth is an elusive companion.
But in today’s world truth seems to have become a very rare companion indeed. The American poet Herbert Agar once wrote of the the truth that makes men free. If he was right virtually every politician and business leader must be in shackles, must have reached the state where they can scarcely distinguish between invention and reality. Yesterday, as on most days, there were several startling examples.
Senior executives from Amazon, Starbucks and Google were summoned to appear before the parliamentary public accounts committee to answer the charge of diverting millions of pounds in UK profits to tax havens. In recent times there have been a number of watch-between-your-fingers sessions of this kind. The Murdochs, Bob Diamond of Barclays, that bloke with the mullet from G4S, and most recently George Entwistle. But this made those confrontations look like a chat with Richard and Judy. This bunch, said the MPs, “beggared belief”. “I don’t know what you take us for” said one angry member. Fellow fibbers presumably.
The man from Amazon claimed, like Basil Fawlty’s Manuel, to know nothing. He denied that Amazon was a UK firm but didn’t know what kind of firm it was because he didn’t know who owned it. Neither did he know what percentage of its gigantic sales related to the UK. He was told that someone who did have an explanation for all taxes being paid in Luxemborg would be summoned in his stead. The suit from Starbucks claimed that his company paid little tax because it made little profit. His company continued to make losses but, out of the goodness of its heart, continued to battle on to assuage the thirst of British coffee drinkers. Over the past 13 years Starbucks had recorded sales of £3.1 billion, but no he couldn’t explain why Costa Coffee had paid significant taxes on a turnover miniscule by comparison.
The only suit to give the slightest impression of playing with the truth was Mr Matt Brittin of Google. He said that the company shipped profits to Bermuda to avoid tax. By this point the (of course) truly honest members of the committee had become seemingly punchdrunk and merely grumbled about morality. The event petered out and one had the impression that everyone had resigned themseves to even greater service cuts for the UK taxpayer.
By now the MPs were preparing themselves for the great debate about fuel duty. A Labour bid to delay any increase was defeated by 282 votes to 234, a threatened rebellion by government backbenchers was averted. Strange given that numerous Tory MPs had let it be known that they would not tolerate a further hike. However, it later became clear that Gorgeous George Osborne has let them know that he intends to announce a U-turn in December, but couldn’t risk the opposition taking the credit. So the whole debate had been ‘rigged’.
Which is exactly the practice of which the power giants are accused of by the Financial Services Authority, which is investigating claims that Britain’s £300 billion wholesale gas market has been “regularly” manipulated in ways similar to those employed by the Banks during the recent Libor scandal. And to think that we believed all those brochures and cold-calls telling us that British Gas, and the rest, were striving to spare us all but increases that they could no longer absorb!
Perhaps the most depressing aspect of yesterday, and every other day, is that we are not remotely surprised at the clear evidence that almost everything we hear is a lie. No one will be setting us free anytime soon!
One of the less endearing habits of Bob, one of my fellow chicken-keepers, is to repeat questions over and over until he gets what he considers a real answer. Many a time we have arrived home too late to see the whole of a televised international due to ‘ferret’s” tenacity at a committee meeting. But he does invariably establish the identity of the one that failed to lock the gate. It is of course invariably Albert, but that is beside the point I am trying to make.
Which is that yesterday’s appearance of Bob Diamond before the Treasury Select Committee lacked any evidence that MPs are a suitable substitute for a banking version of the Leveson Inquiry. Unlike the regular performance there of Robert Jay QC, the MPs wasted opportunities, asked rambling questions and few supplementary ones. Indeed many of them seemed confused about their role and resorted to the usual politician’s sport of yelling insults. It may be true that Diamond is incompetent, Barclays a “rotten, thieving bank”, a den of iniquity, but saying so is hardly likely to elicit an admission.
In fact the committee scored zilch on the eliciting front. Diamond told them over and again that he loves Barclays and that its people are the nearest we have to angels on earth. Of the fiddling of the Libor rate he knew nothing until about a month ago. In fact he knew very little about anything other than the fact that he loved Barclays. He also inferred that he will be accepting his £20 million pay-off, perhaps he plans to buy yachts to be raffled off amongst the angels.
Frankly such story as Diamond told was implausible. If proof was needed that such a serious corruption in our banking sector must be properly investigated by professionals this was it. Our dear leader would prefer to have a political fudge but it won’t do. Clearly his desire is to have Conservative MPs playing at being judge and jury, thus enabling Gorgeous George Osborne to create some bizaare tale of Ed Balls – who else – being in some way to blame.
It is becoming increasingly clear that neither Cameron nor Osborne are interested in getting at the truth. They are trailing in the polls and this is the perfect opportunity to throw mud at their opponents. In reality they are not grasping that we are entering a new era where the old rules will no longer apply. They are like trade union leaders in the late 1970s who failed to realise they no longer held sway and had terrible consequences to face.
The much maligned Ed Miliband is proving to be more aware of the sea-change. He held out for a public inquiry into the conduct of the media. That is not yet complete but already one can be sure that no leader will be seen at a Rupert Murdoch summer party this year. If he eventually secures a similar investigation of the banks one can be equally sure that no leader will ever again praise Bob Diamond’s “noble contribution to the British economy”.
There is change in the air, a British revolution. It will therefore be a slow process but at least the change will not be driven by politicians who surely represent the biggest vested interest of them all.
The days when they could play God whilst pouring whitewash over a corrupt order are drawing to a close. And yesterday’s abject display will have served to reinforce the growing public cry of a plague on all their houses!
BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP; LOYALTY? ONLY TO MONEY!
If evidence was needed that any semblance of loyalty on the part of the millionnaire Barclays Premiership stars to their clubs is dead, Robin van Persie has provided it. The Arsenal star has announced that he will not be renewing his contract when it expires next year. The move forces Arsenal to either hang on to him for one more season and then gain no financial return for their investment in him, or to sell him now.
Manchester City are said to be standing by with their oil rich owner’s cheque book at the ready. Many insiders believe that Van Persie will soon be even richer than he already is.
Predictably the star striker’s statement stresses his love of Arsenal and its fans. Pass the sick-bag please!
HOW TO EXPLAIN THE HIGGS BOSON TO A CHILD IN THE BACK SEAT;
“It’s a particle scientists have been looking for. Because they knew that without it the universe would be impossible. Because without it, the other particles in the universe wouldn’t have mass. Because they would all continue to travel at the speed of light. Because I just said they would, and if you ask why one more time we’re not stopping at Burger King!”
A howling gale, no sign of Albert’s missing hearing aid, and the great escape by four hens all combined to take the level of grumpiness to new heights this morning. Only the fact that Lady Gaga’s new recordings are due out tomorrow saved the day for the King of Grumps is addicted to the music from planet Mars. For the rest of us this afternoon’s Premiership play-offs offer some diversion although we fear the worst for our heroes from Blackpool.
On days like this the flak directed toward whoever happens to be in government is considerable, and it has to be said that there is considerable scope for ire. The problem with the British political system is that the prime minister is forced to select his ministerial team from elected MPs which makes the choice rather limited, given that most of them have never run anything more testing than a raffle. By my reckoning David Cameron is sitting on five dud eggs and he must yearn for the chance to have a clear-out. But a coalition presents real problems in this regard.
The other problem is that the prime minister decided at the outset to practice the art of delegation. As a former chief executive I could have warned him that this can be a dangerous practice. The theory, as expounded in a thousand management textbooks, is fine but it is based on the assumption that the entire team is comprised of geniuses in the making. Any team selected from a pack of carpet-baggers, PR twerps and good-for-nothings is likely to include some real buffoons in the making and the present cabinet certainly does.
Ken Clarke headed the list even before this week’s ludicrous statement on rape and the idea of slashing prison sentences at a time when over 60 per cent of the population believes that they are already too soft. Next comes Andrew Lansley whose handling of the NHS has reached the point where Number Ten has been obliged to take the project over. Chris Huhne is close behind, having followed up his attack on the government of which he is a part by lurching toward a major scandal involving an allegation that he asked his wife to take speeding points for him.
Uncle Vince Cable will certainly be on Cameron’s secret sacking list, having been caught talking on tape about using his “nuclear” option of resigning and then performing more U-turns than a Brands Hatch driver. And then there is the Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, who triggered national uproar with her proposal to sell off the nation’s forests without even consulting her leader.
David Cameron likes to talk about the ‘Big Society’, about our all being in this together. He would be well advised to try an experiment. Why not bring in Ministers who are not politicians but who have proven expertise in their specialist fields. Of course the political classes would object, turkeys never vote for Christmas. But at least he could then lead in the way he desires, by setting objectives and letting ministers get on with implementation.
Had he, for example, appointed one of the really successful front-line executives in the NHS they would have come up with improvements but ones that are possible and make sense. In every field there are experts who have been there and done it, people like Lansley and the others have no knowledge, no experience and no residue of goodwill to call on.
Certain it is that a cabinet reshuffle is overdue. If Cameron persists with this bunch of idiots or nincompoops he has no chance of winning the next election. Of course, should he lose, the Opposition will take over and bring back from the dead their own no-hopers such as those who paid out millions to private companies for NHS work that they didn’t perform. Unless someone breaks this ludicrous vicious circle we will continue to be the world’s greatest example of incompetence in motion.
I believe that Cameron has it in him to try something new along these lines. The worry would be that, given his penchant for delegation, he might invite Nick Clegg to organise it. Frying pans and fires come to mind!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S EGGHEAD QUIZ; 1. Groove between nose and lip 2. 1940s 3. Architecture 4. Joseph Black 5. Benjamin Britten 6. Ian Woosnam 7. Russia 8. Family Plot 9. Sri Lanka 10. Flushing Meadow, New York
Another beautiful day! Some of our colleagues on the allotments are complaining about lack of rain but the pessimist in me says that, come the full summer, they will get more than they want. But we old ‘uns live for the day and right now we are enjoying the sensation of warm sun on our creaking backs. Apart from an outbreak of egg-pecking all is well, and even that is quickly dealt with via eggshells filled with mustard!
And of course we are into the cricket season once again. Most of us are also soccer fans and we are enjoying the tensions of the last few games in the Premiership, and still hoping that Blackpool avoid the drop. Sadly, the chances of that are now akin to my regaining a head of hair but hope springs eternal on golden days such as this.
But our thoughts are at least half focussed on the new cricket season and the forthcoming Test matches against the Sri Lankans and Indians. More importantly we are uneasy at persistent rumours that the England coach, Andy Flower, may be lured away to manage India. If he were a Premiership manager the deal would be done by now for there are many stacks of cash on the table. It would certainly be a huge blow, for Flower has performed near-miracles since taking over the national side. After two Ashes wins, a World Cup Twenty20 title and overseeing, together with Andrew Strauss, a revival to the point where we have a realistic chance of becoming the No 1 ranked team in Test cricket, Flower has become one of the most highly regarded coaches in world cricket.
But if the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is also worried about Andy Flower being tempted by Indian cricket’s largesse, it clearly does not know its man. Everyone that knows him tells the same story, loyalty and integrity are his life’s guiding principles and while money most certainly talks in modern sport, Flower will be deafer that most to its siren call.
In a recent interview wicketkeeper Matt Prior said that he “couldn’t sing the coach’s praises highly enough”. He went on to say; “The main thing I love about Andy is he is honest. He is a good human being. There are no politics. Any decision he makes is because he thinks it gives England the best chance of winning”. The chairman of the ECB, Giles Clarke, agreed; “Andy Flower is open, straight and direct”.
Like attracts like and Andrew Strauss is apparently the same kind of personality. The result is that no one needs to look for hidden meanings in anything they say. They are exactly what the appear to be, and that is an asset beyond value. How many soccer managers does that apply too? How many politicians?
Cricket’s reputation for fair play has taken a battering of late, and one hopes that Flower and Strauss will be around for a long time. But there is one thing that demands urgent attention. Michael Yardy recently became the second England player to leave a tour suffering from depression. He was simply a burnout victim. Unless something is done to reduce the toll, he will not be the last, and every cricket lover should hope that Andy Flower makes a reduction in the length of tours a condition of his signing the new contract.
Matt Prior also covered this in his interview. After paying tribute to Yardy’s courage in being open about his problem, he went on to warn that many others are suffering in silence. “Being away from home for over 5 months is a long time and very taxing when you are playing continually” said Prior who added that; “You are also involved in an intense environment and for that length of time it is exhausting, both physically and mentally”. Flower will need no convincing of this for he became increasingly frustrated with England’s schedule last winter . He has a young family but was away for many months and, apart from a two-day break to have skin cancer treated, he had no time off from a high profile role
Hopefully Flower will show the ECB that money is not everything. Hopefully they will reciprocate by never again arranging successive tours plus enough one-day internationals to last a lifetime.
Lets hear it for a totally upfront and honest man. Such men are decidedly thin on the ground in this money-mad age !
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; FOOD; “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti”…Sophia Loren “The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you are hungry again”….George Miller “Britain is the only country in the world where the food is more dangerous than the sex”……..Jackie Mason “The great British contribution to world cuisine is the chip”…..John Cleese “English vegetables taste as though they have been boiled in a strong soap”…..W C Fields “If the Germans can’t stuff it into an animal casing they won’t eat it”…..Tim Allen “Never eat lettuce in Mexico unless it has been sterilised with a blowtorch”……Benjamin H Kean “Oysters are supposed to enhance your sexual performance, but they don’t work for me. Maybe I put them on too soon”…..Garry Shandling
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. A hovercraft 2. b, Nerve
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who famously stopped a concert by Manfred Mann Earth Band in Miami University? 2 Why?
The long-yearned for spell of mild weather has brought relief to everyone involved at the poultry end of the allotments. Like the relief of Mafekin it arrived just in time and now there is a more relaxed air about the place, no more remarks about being sent to Siberia by Putin not being as bad as this. All of which meant that, as our New Years Eve tradition demands, we had time to sit in the shed to vote for our man of the year. No prize other than a notice on the wall and the winner is unlikely to learn that he or she has won. But we mad chicken/ferret folk enjoy it and nowt else matters.
Twenty slips of paper went into the box and one name emerged as clear winner. Ian Holloway, the manager of Blackpool Football Club, is our almost unanimous choice. Only one vote for Lady Gaga spoiled our unanimity and we can all guess who put that in. For sheer deeds on the field of play many of us considered Andrew Strauss but the power of laughter won through.
When back in July, Ian Holloway somehow managed to drag his team through the play-offs into the Premiership, every soccer expert in the land predicted disaster. Ian made clear that there was no big money available for so-called megastars and put forward the view that eleven men working hard could take on any other eleven however many millions they were paid. And so it has proved. The outcome is best summed up by a remark made by Steve Bruce, manager of Sunderland, after his team’s home defeat by Blackpool over Christmas. He said that he needed a quality player and would spend £10 million to get one. He added that “there is no point in buying a £2 million one since he would be mediocre”. Ian Holloway’s victors cost well below £2 million for the whole team!
Of course Blackpool have taken a few hidings and after one Ian commented that “we have had a walloping but we’re happy because we now have a washing machine, the players don’t have to take their kit home to wash”. In fact not only has Ian Holloway proved that the vast amounts of money splashed out on players is absurd, he has also won the hearts of every sports joiurnalist with his perpetual optimism and wit. When he frst arrived in Blackpool he remarked that he liked the place because, like him, it looked better in the dark. And, unlike other top managers, he accepts defeat with equanimity. After one match he remarked that he had considered poking the linesman with a stick to see if he was awake, but as with every Holloway utterance it was said with a smile. Football, he believes, is taken too seriously and his every action recognises that when Bill Shankly saw it as more important than life itself he was way off the mark.
In a year when football reached its lowest depths and the nation did likewise Ian Holloway made us laugh. He also pricked the bubble of pomposity in which the Premiership dwells and, in so doing, showed just how ridiculous the money paid to semi-literate players of moderate abilility really is. He has set a new standard in honesty and self-effacement, rare features of life at the soccer zillionnaire heights. And his work for charity has shown again and again that he has his feet firmly on the ground.
In 1800 the novelist Maria Edgeworth wrote that “we cannot judge either of the feelings or the character of men with perfect accuracy, from their actions or their public appearance; it is from their careless conversation, their half-finished sentences, that we may hope with the greatest probability of success to discover their real character”. By this, and any other measure, Ian Holloway is the best.
On his day of (unknown to him) triumph let us give him the last word. A TV reporter was attempting to conduct the usual inane interview. “Any injury worries?”, he asked. Our hero replied “No, I’m fully fit thanks“.
AND WHO IS THE DOLT OF THE YEAR?
If such an award existed Andrew Lansley would surely be a hot favourite. A few days ago this site attacked him for cancelling this years flu advertising. As the deaths mount he has now decided to perform yet another U-turn. Has he no self understanding to warn him of his tendency to take rash and wrong decisions?
Perhaps the best judgement on his short but catastrophic reign over the NHS has emerged this very day. Sarah Wollaston is a prominent Conservative MP and is also a retired GP. She has published a lengthy article warning Lansley that he is taking huge risks by attempting root-and-branch reform whilst trying to save £15 billion. Like many she sees what he is doing as an almost inevitable prelude to privatisation and the introduction of private companies who will cherry-pick the profitable services and leave NHS hospitals bankrupt and unable to perform critical procedures. Dr Wollaston knows what she is talking about and is a political ally of Lansley. She gives chapter and verse on the chaos he has wrought and urges him to perform ‘handbrake turns’.
But being the dolt of the year, he is unlikley to listen. He will only realise what he has done when the NHS lies broken and beyond repair!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. 1972 2. Munich
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. China began using pinyin in 1979. What is pinyin? 2. What name did the BBC give to its Teletext services in the 70s?
A VERY HAPPY AND SUCCESSFUL NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!
Suddenly the trees are bare, the 95 mph gale first destroyed our hen runs and then, by way of atonement, provided us with a thick carpet of gold. Over a period of years a lot of work had gone into those chuck homes and the ability of nature to sweep it all aside in a thrice is a humbling experience, not to mention a damned annoying one. The only member of the gang who seems to regard the devastation with equanimity is Tony who perversely draws satisfaction from the fact that the Blackpool Lights suffered greater punishment. How that helps us I know not but ever since he crawled the two-mile lights with his grandchildren asleep in the back of his Mini, Tony has always had a downer on the not so golden mile. Only the EU beats Blackpool on Tony’s hate list.
In that respect at least he is not alone. A few weeks ago we had a visit from a group of French farmers who were staging a market nearby. To our surprise we learned that they distrust the Brussels bureaucracy just as much as we do and they claimed that their attitude is little different from most of their countrymen. In fact the only person we have met who sings the praises of Brussels and its million laws is one of the local MEPs. Mind you he does seem to have a vested interest with a salary upteen times that of the Westminster lot and a workload that probably qualifies him for Duncan Smith’s list of the workshy.
I must confess that I have never understood why we need more than a trading arrangement with the rest of Europe. It costs us a vast amount of money and is about to cost us even more given the refusal of the European parliament to heed calls from various leaders, including our own, to rein back on extravagence. Neither do I understand why our politicians are so keen on creating a sovereign state of Europe which sounds like Turkeys voting for Christmas. I exclude Blair from that, he wanted it so that he could be its chief honker-tonker.
It may be that we doubters could do with some education for when we think about the EU at all we tend to ask what is in it for us. The only half-convincing justification I have heard was shared defence but the fact that we have signed up to a 50 year deal with the French tends to rule that out. This must all be very irksome for politicians who fear offending 35% of the electorate by pulling out, or the wrath of 60% who are becoming distinctly hostile. The other five per cent in the latest poll presumably consists of those who hadn’t heard of it and still believes that Churchill is prime minister.
During the election Cameron and other leading Conservatives let it be known that they would hold a referendum on the Treaty that has ceded so much power to Brussels. Suddenly Cameron has his Nick Clegg moment for he didn’t really intend to honour that idea. So he has come up with what sounds a wizard wheeze. We are to have a Referendum Bill. Once this is enacted, Britain will not be able to agree to hand over further powers to Europe without a referendum. But the government risks accusations that it has watered down its promises after allowing a loophole to evade a referendum in circumstances “where it does not consider the EU legislation significant”.
Perhaps I am paranoid but that sounds like an open gate. And my paranoia wasn’t helped by the comment from the Foreign Office. It said that Parliament will retain the final say on which laws take effect in Britain but added that this is purely symbolic. What does that mean?
Because I and my pals are doubters we tend to note what the powerful Conservative Bruges Group has to say. They claim that both Cameron and Haigh have already given up more power to Brussels. Yesterday they added that the referendum and sovereignty lock (the new Bill) are “just fig leaves designed to hide Cameron’s blushes after he and Hague dropped the ‘cast iron guarantee’ to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty”. Given their tendency to say the first thing that comes inbto their heads we tend to take less notice of the Lib Dems but, for what it is worth, they said that we must not “downgrade Britain’s importance in the EU”. The Labour Party said nothing, it was too busy rowing with Harriet Harman.
So there we have it. Has another major election pledge been broken? Is the Referendum Bill the safeguard we have dreamed of, or is it just a figleaf for the Old Etonians? My own question is a simpler one. We are frequently warned that if we don’t do this or that we will fall foul of the European Court. What could it actually do? Surely an invasiuon is now off the cards given that the French now share our one aeroplane-less aircraft carrier!
CHELSEA SHOW THEIR TRUE COLOURS!
It didn’t surprise me one little bit to learn that Ray Wilkins, the only Premiership top man with self understanding, had been sacked by Russian owned Chelsea. Frankly he just didn’t fit.
Wilkins was one of the few Premiership bigwigs who came across as totally honest, pleasant and fair. He would always lean over backwards to highlight the strengths of his opponents alongside his own team.
He really seemed the odd man out amongst a group of unpleasant bullies. Hopefully he will now return to TV commentary where he always impressed as someone determined to see the best in others. It is hard to think of anyone else in the Premiership of whom that can be said.
I HATE TO DOUBT DR REID!
John Reid, the former Health Minister and Home Secretary, popped up on Radio 2 last week to join the debate about airport security following the discovery of bombs on cargo flights from Yemen.
BA Chairman, Martin Broughton, argued that it was time to relax some of the mind-numbing checks but Dr Reid was having none of it. The job of government he said gravely “is to protect its citizens”.
And what is now the job of Lord Reid? Though he omitted to mention it, he is now a director of G4S, the self-styled “leading provider of private security solutions to airports and airlines”, and a partner in the Chertoff Group, a security agency whose clients include the leading manufacturers of “full body scanners” for airports!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. The Caribbean Common Market 2. Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. In which year did Harold Wilson’s government make a social contract with the TUC? 2. In denmark what is meant by Folketing?
Fabio Capello has just four days in which to earn his £5 million paypacket. If he is the master motivator so many believe him to be he will send out a team determined to crush Slovenia and thus propel England into the next round of sixteen. Judging by the lack-lustre display of his charges against Algeria he will need to work hard, but then anyone earning more than most supporters can even imagine should surely expect to do just that.
It is hard to fathom out exactly what has gone wrong since the England squad arrived in South Africa. Of course there are a number of players who could hardly be described as world class but there is a nucleus that has the ability to match any in the world. But even people such as Rooney, Gerrard, Lampart and Terry look a shadow of the performers that we all know them to be.
So we need a payback right now from the highly rewarded Italian coach. He has ground to make up for it must be said that his performance so far has been unconvincing. He alone selected Robert Green only to discard him after one mistake. He alone has insisted on players operating fom other than their usual positions in the Premiership. And only he picked the total squad in the first place.
There are countless examples both inside and outside of football of a group of people so united and determined that it outweighs the total of its parts. Just two nights agone Gareth Malone showed, in his excellent musical series on the Beeb, just how that can be done. Mike Brierley demonstrated the art in cricket and managers of footballing minnows have shown the same ability time and again in the FA Cup. But none of them had to deal with the barrier of language.
When one listens to Mr Capello’s faltering English in TV interviews one cannot help but wonder if this reputedly talented manager of men finds it easy to retain emotions in translation. Jean Chretien, the former Canadian Prime Minister, remarked in 1984 that leadership is ’about making people feel good’. But how easy is that in faltering words? In any case it is hard to imagine,say, Alex Fergusson sending out exactly the same team in such an apathetic state. If language is a problem in down-to-earth communication why does the Football Association insist on a manager for whom English is a second language?
That takes us into an even bigger question. If the Premiership continues to pay obscenely high wages, thus attracting an ever-increasing flow of stars from abroad, will there be an English team at all in four years time let alone a British manager? There are already many positions that cannot be filled by an English born player of international class, indeed some of those in the present squad do not even appear regularly for their Club.
There is another major problem. As more and more of the Clubs succumb to foreign ownership the importance of developing material for the national side will diminish. No American or Russian tycoon is likely to see the England team as his priority. In cricket it is still the production of England Test players that lies at the heart of academies, in football the challenge is already all but dead.
Hopefully the new ruling by Uefa regarding the percentage of income paid out in wages may force a change of heart but right now every supporter of the natioal side should recognise that by the time of the 2018 games wherever they are held, the national team will largely comprise players from what we now call the Championship.
Of course there is another scenario for the Premiership. Portsmouth may well prove to be only the first of many Clubs that ruins itself in the attempt to keep up with those owned by people with seemingly bottonmless pockets. That being so the possibility of the much discussed European Super League may become a reality. But that could mean even fewer England-qualified players performing regularly at the top.
But that is all for the future and most people- the World Cup draws in far more than the usual fans-were hoping for a glorious last blast whilst there is still enough talent available. The present squad has enough ability to challenge the best but at the moment it lacks the spirit. By this time next week Capello will either be history or proving his critics wrong. Let us hope that the latter is the case.
Never mind! We Brits can usually find a silver lining behind our many clouds. One of my fellow ferreters, whose car is festooned with flags, remarked that maybe after Wednesday he will have plenty of time to watch Murray win Wimbledon and Strauss and his one-day team thrash the Aussies.
Bribery is forbidden otherwise I would offer the alternative strategy of asking all those England players earning more in a week than the enture Slovenian team pockets in a year to get hold of a few brown envelopes!
Blackpool, the team tipped for relegation from the Championship, yesterday delighted fans and neutrals alike with an amazing display of soccer at Wembley. After going behind twice they stormed their way past Cardiff City to a place in the Premiership, arguably the strongest soccer league in the world. There were many stars on the day but none more dazzling than manager Ian Holloway.
His team is far from the highest paid in the Championship but they have something others can only dream of, an unquenchable team spirit. When one bleeds they all bleed and the colour of the blood is tangerine. What Ian Holloway has done is to prove time and again that eleven men playing daring and utterly committed football can match any other eleven however mighty or highly paid they may be. Someone should bottle the Holloway spirit and market it not just for football but every aspect of life.
Blackpool’s average attendance ths season was only 8,611 and their Bloomfield Road ground has barely been modernised since the glory days of Stanley Matthews some 57 years or so ago. The ground capacity is a mere 12,500 and the total wage bill would not even cover the amount paid to many a so-called Premiership superstar. The players still wash their own kit and the only fat cat in Blackpool resides in the nearby zoo.
Ian Holloway could prove to be the best thing to ever happen to the money-mad Premiership, the future of which is questioned by many who, having noted the collapse of Portsmouth, now realise that many others are on the road to ruin as a result of paying players more for a weeks work that a brain surgeon can earn in a year. Ian was quick yesterday to wonder ‘what have we come to’ when money is regarded as the most important thing. He has no intention of making millionnaires, he is content to train to perfection a team rather than an expensive collection of inflated egos.
In every way the man will be a revelation in the Premiership where managers bite their nails to the quick to justify fools gold. His self-deprecating one-liners are a delight. ‘I love Blackpool’ he says ‘we are very similar. We both look better in the dark’. And his players clearly love the guy. If some managers described his team as being ‘as ugly as sin’ the lawyers would be in action but not here.
I suspect that many of the ‘big’ clubs will not find Bloomfield Road an easy place to visit. I suspect that the team that Ian Holloway created will easily confound the critics again. Above all I suspect that many clubs hovering dangerously on the financial edge will begin to ask themselves why they need to spend a fortune on players, not to mention their agents.
It was wonderful to hear the estatic Holloway talk about morality yesterday. That is not a word we hear often in the upper echelons of soccer. He and his team have won millions of fans to add to their tangerine army. This man and his friends, the description he uses for his players, will enjoy wide acclaim next season as they set out on Mission Stage 11.
And the near bankrupt, money obsessed starrs will have some explaining to do when they collect their limousines from Blackpool Fair car park after a good tanning from Ian and his friends!
Coming up; CANCER..A RAY OF HOPE!