MANAGERIAL MERRY-GO-ROUND

By Mark Daniell
Dec 4th, 2007

Ah, December… have you noticed how there aren’t many songs about December? November Rain, yes, and obviously Maggie May, but not so many about December. Some may say this is because all the December songs are in fact Christmas songs, but those are so awful they don’t warrant contemplation. (I could ruin your morning just by mentioning a few syllables…) I think the real reason is because there is so much football on air that the radio changes from being a music broadcaster to one of football scores, match reports and phone-in rants. In keeping with that theme, here’s a cut out and keep guide to help you make sense of this overdose, and maybe start some of your own.

First up, England courts Mourinho. The debate on Mourinho for England goes something like this: his managerial style is such that he instils his own method on a team psychologically, over an extended time, so it can’t work with England since he’d only get to see them two days a month. Oddly the counterpoint to this is that he’s the only manager with the presence and dominant character to be able to see a team two days in the month and still get the best out of them.

Hmm… what a conundrum, but don’t worry, I’ve drawn two certain conclusions from the debate: on the one hand, everybody loves Mourinho (and he knows it) and on the other, if the FA somehow manage to do something right this millennium and do hire him, they’re guaranteed to cock it up somehow. The FA are a bunch of numpties, that’s been proved scientifically, and you can’t argue with science. If the FA were a young man trying to chat up a beautiful girl, they’d be that drunk guy who wakes up on his doorstep in those ‘drink responsibly’ ads, smelling of puke.

Next up, Rafa’s neck on the line. If we’ve learnt nothing else from the tabloid papers, and we haven’t, it’s that rumour equals fact, or in fact, that there’s no such thing as fact, only rumour. Therefore if someone spreads a rumour that a managers job’s on the line, then sooner or later Rafa’s going back to Spain. It worked with Jose, with Jol, and now with Rafa. It even works the other way round, three years ago Fergie said he was retiring, but the rumour was he wasn’t. Nowadays, what do you know? he’s still learning mind games on his Nintendo DS, see?

Third, boring one-nil Chelsea have returned and are boring because they only win one nil. Really? Is that really what’s happening? Because at the last count Chelsea have scored twenty over the past eight games, which is more than one a game, and let in five which is more than none a game. More unarguable science for you there.

Of course maybe it’s a rumour they’re winning one nil, which would make it true, but the way I see it, the real question is: is it better to win one-nil, or three-one? If you’re a clean sheet kind of guy then obviously, one-nil, but if you’re a goal difference kind of guy, then it’s three-one. Strangely, somewhere along the line, Avram has decided he wants to win games three-two, as if he’s a goal party animal, who can’t get enough of scoring and tight finishes. Truth be told, I don’t think we’ve quite worked out what we are, so that makes us an unpredictable mix of both. A sort of cocktail of champagne with flamboyant goal scoring and stout with boring, ground-out victories, which is called a Black Velvet, by the way, and which is really tricky to mix because it foams everywhere and you end up wasting a lot of booze, but hell it’s Christmas and that’s what it’s all about.

But why are we getting all excited about December’s line up of football gorging when we know what lurks on the horizon? That’s right, The Africa Cup of Nations looms in January, and with it the wonders of wonders that are Drog ‘drogalog’ Drogba, and Michael ‘plain Michael’ Essien are off. What of Chelsea? Who can replace the almighty Drog? Scourge of defences, referees, offside admirers and nautical dive coaches.

Last week I was drinking with an old friend who came out with a bold, certain prediction for the new year, as if he’d gazed into a crystal ball full of beer and seen the future. He says, and I have no reason at this stage to doubt his blend of undeniable science and unimpeachable rumour, he says come January, Nicholas Anelka will be at Chelsea… and that’s fact.

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