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-GUEST POST-

Being a lifelong Liverpool fan it’s been heart breaking watching their recent demise. I have spent many a sleepless night analysing the reasons of this dramatic fall from grace, and I know most of you reading this will be thinking one of three things, the sale of the club to the money hungry Americans, the crazy philosophies of Rafa Benitez or the unfortunate appointment of ‘Mr Nice Guy’ Roy Hodgson. All plausible and possible reasons, but I have looked deeper than this. Think back to the great Liverpool teams of the 70’s and 80’s. Picture these Liverpool greats; Keegan, Toshack, Rush, Souness, McDermott, Johnston, Lawrenson and Dalglish. Maybe not that much in common you may think! But now picture these current Liverpool players; Reina, Konchesky, Skrtel, Shelvey, Spearing, Meireles, Ngog and Babel. For those of your who haven’t realised the significant difference between these two groups of people it is very simple….. HAIR!

Not in my memory has a Liverpool team been so low down in the league. Is it a coincidence that I have also not seen a Liverpool team with so little hair? I think not! The awesomeness of Keegan’s perm, the sheer brilliance of McDermott and Sourness’s hair ‘tache combo were simply sublime! Rushies moustache was magical(RIP) and Dalglish’s flowing locks…. Just magnificent!

If you need more proof look back to the mid 90’s. The dark days of the Souness era, very tough times I’m sure you’ll agree. Yes Souness still had his spellbinding combo but look at the players we had; Dicks, Thomas, Grobelaar (began receding the 90’s), Wright, Matteo, Babb and Ruddock, all bald or balding and all part of a desperately mediocre tenure. When things started looking during the Houllier days he brought in players such as Hyypia, Smicer, Barmby and Berger. Unfortunately there was also Camara, Diouf, Traore and Heskey, and although things were looking up it was always going to be a roller-coasterster ride. Then Benitez came in and brought in the likes of Garcia, Alonso and Kewell, all with beautiful heads of hair. We then went on to win the Champions League and come the closest to winning the Premiership since its incarnation.

Yes it would be simple and easy to blame Hodgson and his overly polite manner but I would ask you to take a deeper look at the signings and selections he made during his short time at the helm. Was there ever enough hair in his team? No. Could he have given chances to players with more hair (Pacheco and Kelly sooner than he did). Yes. Please do not think for one second that I believe Poulsen should be playing, how he has made a career as a footballer amazes me!

Its no coincidence that, when Fernando Torres* cut his hair short that the goals began to dry up and he seems to be getting better and better with every game that goes by without a haircut. Nor is it just by chance that when Gerrard stopped shaving his head and left it as a nice sensible crew cut that he became one of the best midfielders in the world!

Fortunately for us suffering Reds fans the king is back where he belongs, if anyone knows how important having enough hair per player is then it is Mr Dalglish. With Konchesky dropped and soon to be shipped out and Babel gone expect players with hair to be signed and the good times to return (Hooray!)

I predict a bright future under Dalglish. I am already hearing whispers of Fellaini crossing Stanley Park,Yossi making a return and Gattuso perhaps in a player coach role. Oh and expect Lucas to start growing a moustache! Just as soon as he starts puberty!

Written by Shaun ‘the newest Special guest of the Podcast Four’ Hurley. Or as I (George) have always known him Mr “Bear”.

*As this article was written before Fernando sought alternative employment, I hope he goes for the EDL-Paul-Konchesky-style-bald-man look.

**Andy Fucking Plenty of Hair King Carroll has signed. So this theory clearly has been listened to by the LFC hierarchy.

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I think my favourite January transfer window cliché is…

It’s silly season

…It is said because clubs will only sell players for crazy amounts of money, but it never actually happens, as Sky Sports News have repeatedly said, last year’s total for the entire window was just over £29m.

However, there must have been something in the water at this year’s LMA Xmas do because it has gone….well…silly.

This is what was so silly…

January 7th – Manchester City sign Edin Dzeko for £27m, this wasn’t a crazy price considering he was one of the most sought after strikers in Europe but his transfer fee almost covered the entire expenditure of last years window.

 

January 19th – Aston Villa pay massively over the odds for Darren Bent completing the transfer for an astonishing £24m.

Not a lot happened until January 30th, when Spurs put in a number of bids for a series of unobtainable Spain based players, making offers for Aguero, Negredo, Rossi and Llorente, none of these bids were accepted and Spurs finished up with nobody. But the rumour mill involving Fernando Torres started up and media reports suggested Chelsea had put a bid of around £35m in which was rejected out of hand by Liverpool. However some journalists suggested that Torres was keen for this transfer to happen.

So we move onto January 31st, transfer deadline day, It started with Newcastle claiming they had rejected a £30m bid from an unnamed club, although ‘Sky Sources’ suggested it was Liverpool, seemingly getting ready for life without Torres. Liverpool also were just awaiting the formalities to seal the deal to sign Luis Suarez.

A lot of faffing around was followed by this amazing series of events…

…Liverpool confirmed the signing of Suarez for £23m, breaking their transfer record (Torres’ transfer was £20m)…

 

…Then also confirmed the new British record transfer of Andy Carroll for £35m, a staggering amount of money for a player who has only scored 34 goals in his professional career, this also meant that Liverpool had broken their own transfer record for the second time in 2 hours, oh and it is the 7th largest transfer in the history of football…

 

…Carroll’s transfer would have been the 6th highest transfer in world football but just 3 minutes later, Chelsea confirmed the signing of Fernando Torres for £50m, the highest fee ever paid in British football and the 4th highest fee in the world behind Ronaldo (£80m), Ibrahimovic (£60m) and Kaka (£56m)…

 

…the total spent is just over £215m, that is nearly ten times what was spent 12 months ago.

Now there are a lot of “experts” saying that the money spent is simply ludicrous, I have a different opinion on this, if a club offers a certain amount of money for a player and the other club accept this offer then the player can move between the clubs, why should the value be any issue of yours or mine, I won’t be poorer because Liverpool have spent £35m on Carroll, I think Carroll is an excellent player and I am truly excited by the prospect of him and Suarez linking up, so the cost is irrelevant, they needed players to replace Torres and Babel and have bought them.

Let me say this, as a Liverpool fan I have never been so excited watching transfer deadline day unfold, I’m devastated Torres has left but that chapter is over and a new one is about to begin.

But it has been a bit silly though.

Marcus J Mitchell.

P.s. I feel like an idiot for forgetting to mention Apostolos Vellios, Evertons ‘nominal fee’ signing, so here he is (thanks to KevCeeJay for the reminder)…

…This is also the only time Everton fans will see him for the next three years before he is farmed out on loan to Swindon before being released.

We recorded a Sportscast last September when both me and Marcus predicted Andy Murray would win the Australian Open 2011. A bold prediction? Maybe. Nadal had just won Wimbledon, Murray was struggling for form, and Federer was, well Roger Federer. Other players, like Soderling, Berdych and Djokovic were all winning matches and climbing the rankings, so why the confidence in Andy Murray? Well, he lost in the final of last year’s Aussie Open, and is on record as saying the hard court surface suits his game. However, my main reason was Nadal’s dominance at Roland Garros, and Federer at Wimbledon. Meaning if he was going to win any, this would be his best opportunity.

I’ve been following Murray’s career since he burst on to the scene as a gangly teenager by winning the US Open junior title. Predictable hype followed his success, and after replacing Tim Henman as British number one within 2 years of turning professional certainly increased the anticipation that Murray might be the next Fred Perry.

He was coached in Spain, his Mum refusing to let him enter the LTA’s youth coaching set up fearing they would turn his undoubted potential into the next Jeremy Bates (and I’m not knocking Batesy, I remember the delight I used to feel when a British player reached the second round at Wimbledon, never mind the second week!)

He progressed quickly up the mens rankings, and secured a number of notable victories over the then invincible Federer. He won more Masters Series titles in his first five years, than Tiger Tim did in his whole career. He has also reached two grand slam finals, losing both to breathtaking performances from Federer. Finally, in August 2009, he reached number two in the world rankings, another British record. But the nagging, constant and frustrating elephant in the room still reminded us that, so far, he’s won the same amount of grand slam titles as Henman, Bates and Bogdanovic.

Murray seems to annoy a lot of British tennis fans, his aggression; his on court antics; his lack of Queens English and to the odd idiotic xenophobe, the fact he’s Scottish. His attitude toward Brad Gilbert was questioned, although that partnership was somewhat forced on him by the inspirational LTA (assuming a mens grand slam title would reduce the focus on the depth and quality of the overall British tennis standards). His fitness levels, his serve, his tactics and his commitment have all been called into question at one time or another. His occasional decision to miss the Davis Cup has led to calls of selfishness and betrayal. The vast majority of these criticisms, in my opinion, are way off the mark.

He needs to be selfish. He needs to put himself first. You don’t play for your country very often in tennis, you play for yourself. When he starts taking the weight of a nations expectation on his shoulders, he’s doomed. Just like Henman, you could see him wilting under the pressure. Murray goes for shots. Murray sits back and defends. Murray comes into the net after his big booming serve. He’s got the whole package. He’s equally strong on his forehand and his backhand. No, he’s not got the extreme power of Nadal or the finesse, perfect technique and genius of Federer; but as he gets older, he regularly dispatches the rest of the field with relative ease. The only question left for him to answer is a victory in a grand slam event. Me and Marcus predicted the Australian Open would be the one. Let’s hope we’re right…

*(This is a funny little bonus from the ever brilliant Anton Vowl – Andy Murray’s ‘Grace Jones Face’

As we approach the end of the transfer window, the stakes start to rise. Who will break first? Players handing in transfer requests; agents releasing statements to the rumour-mongering ever-knowledgable gossip columnists and managers singing club anthems.

In past seasons, we’ve even had players refusing to play

The Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, has revealed the moody Bulgarian refused to play in games against Sunderland and Chelsea, in which the team dropped five points during their worst-ever start to a season, culminating in Juande Ramos being sacked last weekend. Talking about Berbatov agitating for a move to United over the course of more than a year, Levy said: “We had a player that had refused to play two Premier League games for us, was having a detrimental impact on the dressing room and we’d known for a year that this player wanted out of this club.” Levy added: “I don’t think he treated the club with the respect we deserved. We put him on the map. He signed a long-term contract with this club and I think he should have stayed.”

Is it simply a case of expressing your interest in a player by making a formal bid to the club or do clubs contact the player’s agent – declare an interest – and hope this will unsettle the player? Or is it even more complicated? Damian Commoli has recently been appointed to oversee the transfers at Liverpool, and according to Kevin McCarra is a keen advocate of

Moneyball, the renowned book by Michael Lewis that was published in 2003. Its subject was the Oakland Athletics and, specifically, the general manager Billy Beane.Every manager hopes to crow over an outstanding player he secured for next to nothing. Beane was different because he was not following a hunch so much as questioning traditional attitudes about what it was that truly made the difference in a game. He also has a passion for football and, specifically, an allegiance to Tottenham Hotspur. Comolli, of course, worked at White Hart Lane as director of football for three years and during that period he came to know Beane. “We have been talking at length since 2006 about data application in both football and baseball,” said Comolli. “Everything I’ve been doing has come from what the A’s have been doing in terms of collecting and using data.”

One of the reasons for the Oakland ‘A’s’ success was that they were the first club to start questioning the traditional methods and assumptions of the Major League Baseball Draft System. They ignored the group of scouts at the club who tended to focus on physical athletes (who had the ‘look’ of a potential baseball star), select high school players instead of college players and continue with the same old tried and tested scouting philosophy. Billy Beane and his Oakland backroom team developed a computer programme that analysed specific skills, based on a large range of statistical data.

Instead, they drafted for unconventional statistical prowess: on-base percentage for hitters (rather than batting average) and strikeout/walk ratios for pitchers (rather than velocity). These undervalued stats came cheaply. With the sixth-lowest payroll in baseball in 2002, the Oakland Athletics won an American League best 103 games. They spent $41M that season, while the Yankees, who also won 103 games, spent $126M.

Beane then applied techniques in the transfer market he had learnt studying game theory, a fascinating area of applied mathematics now used in economics, political science and, I suspect, football transfers. Here is a brief explanation from Avinash Dixit, University Professor of Economics at Princeton University,

Game theory studies interactive decision-making, where the outcome for each participant or “player” depends on the actions of all. If you are a player in such a game, when choosing your course of action or “strategy” you must take into account the choices of others. But in thinking about their choices, you must recognize that they are thinking about yours, and in turn trying to take into account your thinking about their thinking, and so on.

These are exactly the kind of interactions that exist within the football transfer market. Prof. Dixit goes on to say,

…some aspects such as figuring out the true motives of rivals and recognizing complex patterns do often resist logical analysis. But many aspects of strategy can be studied and systematized into a science — game theory.

If this isn’t hurting your head yet, then you haven’t got a real head…

Similar ‘mind games’ or game theories exist in advanced poker strategy and other games or markets based on incomplete mis/information.

The football transfer market, especially in a restricted time period during the January window, is complicated by so many external forces. What other clubs perceive your budget is? What other clubs think you think they think the value of the player is? What other clubs watching the negotiation or bid think you will bid so they can ‘bluff’ bid to drive your purchase price higher. Billy Beane was an expert at playing other clubs off against each other, increasing the market by talking to newspapers about ‘the next big thing’ he had no intention of signing.

The current January transfer saga (other than Bent and Adam) has been the attempts to sign Luis Suarez. Here are a few examples of the rumours and factors relating to the potential sale of Suarez.

The level of truth in any of the reports needs to be questioned because the source is rarely, if ever, named. The other problem is the loose valuation of the player. The range is £15-£35 million. Liverpool were ‘reported’ to have offered £12.5 million and Ryan Babel (who has just moved to another club for £6 million) taking the total cash value to £18.5 million. This seems to be a fair initial offer, on the lower end of the price range, adding a player who had previously played for Ajax, would not need to acclimatize, whilst remembering that Ajax have got major financial problems and need to cash in on some of their assets. As with any negotiation, the first offer is usually rejected. Both Ajax and Liverpool will be aware that Liverpool expect the first offer to be rejected, but it does offer a slight insight into the maximum bid Liverpool are likely to make.

A mind game of imperfect information, negotiations carried out in public as well as private, under the glare of expectant fans desperate for a ‘major’ signing. The complex nature of transfer negotiations are often ignored in the football press with tiny soundbites and flashing yellow tickers reporting an estimated figure, the contract length and press conference clichés stating the player ‘wants to be at the club for a very long time’ and confirming ‘it had always been his dream to play for the club’. Liverpool might have someone attempting to apply complex theories to select a pool of players the manager can choose from, but they won’t have the success Billy Beane had, he was the first to try it, and we must remember

The main focus of a “Moneyball” approach is about maximizing use of whatever resources you have, and while the methods can be of great help to clubs with limited resources, they can be champions-winners for affluent ones. Chelsea and Arsenal, two of the top four spenders in the Premier League, already use them. It seems unlikely that Manchester United has thrived without them.

Not quite the simple game described here by the right-wing libertarian enlightened-one Old Holborn. We were discussing Andy Gray and Richard Keys,  two popular cavemen who once drove the Premiership brand forward.
Clearly he’s too intelligent to waste his time ‘pointing at pretty colours’. He’s evolved. Just (don’t) check his blog, you wouldn’t know it.
George Allwell

As Ryan Babel is preparing himself for his move to Hoffenheim in Germany, I find myself asking the question…

What went wrong?

At the tender age of 20 he signed for Liverpool for a fee in the region of £12m (varying reports suggest somewhere between £11m and £13m) which is a lot of money to put on such young shoulders. But seeing the performances that he had been putting in for Ajax Amsterdam and the Dutch national side it seemed he would hit the ground running and be an excellent acquisition for LFC.

Added to that he joined the club only 10 days after a certain Fernando Torres had signed, so the pressure was very much on the Spaniard to succeed taking the focus off Babel.

Before Babel joined Liverpool he was linked heavily with Arsenal as the long term replacement for Thierry Henry and you can see why, he is a player very much in the same mould, lightning quick, powerful, can take a man on and score goals, but Liverpool beat Arsenal to the punch and signed the Dutchman up.

If we had a machine that could create an alternative reality I would love to see what would have happened to Babel had he been bought by Arsenal instead, if he had been under the wing of Arsene Wenger, who is so revered for his nurturing of young talent.

I may be ridiculed for this opinion but I think that if Babel had signed for Arsenal, or indeed Chelsea with Mourinho or Manchester Utd with Ferguson, he might very well be one of the top players in the Premiership now, dare I say even the world. To go back to my description before, he has lightning pace, ask any defender in the world what he is scared of most, I guarantee he will say pace. He is physically strong yet surprisingly agile and can trick his way past players with ease. He can shoot from just about anywhere with terrific power, I can recall a couple of Champions League goals in particular that were outstanding strikes. Put all of this together and you will find yourself with one hell of a player, yet somehow his amazing lack of consistency meant he only made 90 appearances in over 3 and a half years and most of them were from the bench.

This is not a criticism of Rafa Benitez, far from it, I was a big fan of Rafa and thought he brought some players on really well, Alonso, Torres and Reina all became world class footballers under the tutelage of Rafa. The problem is, that for every success with Benitez there was a failure to go with it, and sadly for Babel he has to put in the failure column.

So off to Germany he goes for a fresh start, at still only 24 he has plenty of time to rediscover his talent and I’m certain that this will be a stepping stone to bigger and better things, I’m just disappointed that he couldn’t make it at Liverpool, because in today’s market getting a world class player for £12m would seem very good business, instead they take a £6m loss and wonder what could have been if only that amazing talent had been realised.

Good luck Ryan.

Marcus J Mitchell.

In the last few weeks I have been to three Wrexham FC league games and have loved every minute of it, first up was Bath City on January 3rd at home (The Racecourse Ground), I actually wrote an article about this match, or more precisely about Mathias Pogba, Wrexham overcame good opposition to win 2-0 and start a mini charge up the league.

Next up on the following Saturday was another home game, this time it was Grimsby Town who were the visitors, Grimsby came into this game having scored no less than 16 goals in their previous 3 matches so would provide some serious opposition. Wrexham continued with the enigmatic Pogba up front and Mark Creighton making his first start at centre back after signing permanently for the dragons, he had previously been on loan from Oxford Utd but fancied the move north.

Wrexham controlled the match but couldn’t find the breakthrough until the 70th minute when the brilliant Jay Harris struck a powerful shot from 20 yards into the bottom corner.  I am not a scout nor a manager and there are reasons both those things are true, but in the last few games Harris has stood head and shoulders above his team-mates and should be alerting managers from the league above with his displays.  I am sure nobody from Wrexham nor their fans would like to see him go, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me to see him move up the leagues.

Andy Morrell sealed the win with a neat finish 6 minutes later and that made it two wins from two, I spoke to Neil Woods (Grimsby Manager) after the game and he simply said..

Dean’s (Saunders) system was better than mine and no matter how we changed it, we couldn’t create a chance.

It was bitterly cold at the ground that day but still over 3,000 turned up to watch the game, the Racecourse can hold around 11 – 12,000 so there were plenty of empty seats, clubs like Wrexham need these seats filled in order to create the revenue which is vital to survive.

This was no more apparent than the last match of my trilogy, away at Southport on Tuesday 18th January. It was another freezing night and in the bar before the game I hardly saw any home fans at all, we got into the stadium at the away end and took our places, looking across the ground the home support was almost non-existent, the attendance was officially 1,500 of which I’m certain two thirds was from Wrexham, it genuinely felt like a home game.

The game itself wasn’t the classiest of affairs, Wrexham were the better side and deservedly took the lead after 24 minutes when Andy Morrell knocked the rebound from an Andy Mangan shot and held on for the remainder of the match, one thing of note is the food situation at Southport, we went for a half-time pie and they had run out of everything except Hot-Dogs, the stadium wasn’t exactly overflowing but they still hadn’t prepared for how many turned up.

My point to all of this is that if you, like me, are a football fan but aren’t able or cannot afford to go to Anfield, Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge or the Emirates, then make your way down to The Racecourse Ground, Haig Avenue, Aggborough or Church Road, I have found the atmosphere to be just as electric as the big grounds, the standard of football might not be as good but the commitment remains the same. The worst thing is that none of these teams have billionaire Sheikhs, Yanks or Russians funding them, they have you and me, so if you can’t go and watch the Barclays Premier League then try the Blue Square Premier League instead, for a fraction of the price you will have just as much fun.

Marcus J Mitchell.

P.S. You can always Sky+ Match of the Day anyway!

Kenny Dalglish, the player and manager who won every trophy available, numerous times, has returned to Liverpool Football Club after a 20 year sabbatical. The air of optimism has returned to a club beset by negativity, player power, boardroom bust-ups, crippling debt and even worse results. Two managers sacked in six months, unheard of at Liverpool. Relative quiet on the Kop. The game has changed, tactics have changed, the pace of game, the fitness of players, the press are more intrusive and, by the standards set by the previous incumbent Roy Hodgson, the time you have is limited. But can King Kenny bring back success, or in the short-term, stability to the most successful club in English footballing history?

If Robbie Fowler is God, then Kenny Dalglish is Darwin. One requires a certain degree of faith, a look past the failure and frailties. You’re required to ignore the inconsistencies and irrationality. The other is the leading light. The best of his generation. A true genius. A natural. He did things no one else could do. He brought out a beauty in things you didn’t see before. He was right.

Listening to a radio debate yesterday about Liverpool’s new caretaker manager I was intrigued to hear the ‘News’ of the World’s Andy Dunn claiming that Dalglish felt he never gets the recognition he deserved for his achievements as a manager. So what did he achieve? Four league titles (3 at Liverpool and 1 at Blackburn), two F.A. Cups (at Liverpool), one F.A. Cup final appearance with Newcastle, and perhaps often overlooked, a runners-up spot in the Premiership with the Toon. No mean feat at that club. He also failed at Celtic, finishing second which is basically the same as relegation in the SPL (although he was only manager for 18 games). The difference, in relative terms, is second place just isn’t good enough for Dalglish. He won’t want recognition for a F.A. Cup final appearance, or two runners-up spots in the Premiership. That kind of recognition doesn’t appeal to winners. He won four league titles in eleven seasons in the top division (36% of the time). His teams have finished runner-up five times (45%). So, with three different clubs, he finished in the top two 81% of the time. Not bad. In percentage terms, I’d suggest he’s up there with the very best of all-time? He is also the only manager in the last 30 years to win the league with two different clubs. Again, not too shabby.

“But he’s outdated, and has been out of the game too long”

That has been said, including a hint of it here by the author and journalist Jonathan Wilson. Although Paul Tomkins here, with slightly more detail and analysis, outlines

It’s easy to paint Dalglish as someone who has been out of the game for too long (and back in the summer I shared some of those concerns), but since then, having spoken to those closest to him, I’ve come to see things differently. I appreciate that his work at the Academy since 2009 has acted as a refresher course (as were his discussions with Rafa Benítez), and if you have a great footballing mind, you can adapt. Dalglish was always a thinker. And with his son, Paul (who has managed in Major League Soccer), a big fan of the fast-pressing game of Pep Guardiola, the family is very much in touch with the modern game.

The article goes on to analyse his record at Blackburn and during his first spell as player/manager with Liverpool. It’s well worth the time to read the whole thing.

He hasn’t got the funds he had previously. He hasn’t got the players according to the majority of the footballing press. The squad is poor, and the club is heading for disaster by appointing a man based on romance and history. But Dalglish demands more, and taking his record into account, usually gets his own way.

Liverpool FC were on the verge of administration only three months ago. The team was playing long ball. They couldn’t scrape together consecutive victories with any regularity, they couldn’t even score when they played away from home. Humiliating cup defeats, sulking players, no new stadium, strange new owners, alien new directors of football (common, popular and effective everywhere else in the world, just ask Pep Guardiola), but, and this is the fundamental point, the crowds started to drop. The fans couldn’t take anymore. They had no belief, no hope, no vision and no future. Until the return of Dalglish?

He might not bring about miracles, but he has brought unity. Something Liverpool have not had since Hicks and Gillett started arguing. Since they started undermining the manager at the time (Rafa Benitez) by approaching Jurgen Klinsmann. The list continues until Hodgson was sacked. He was brought in by the old regime, the results were the worst since 29BC or BF(owler) or 1956. He was the wrong man, with the wrong tactics, at the wrong club, at the wrong time. A bad mix.

Now the club has a fresh start; new owners with a new long-term vision (read ‘Moneyball’ by Micheal Lewis for a rundown on their methods), a ‘new’ manager who understands the club, and a new assistant in Steve Clarke. Clarke worked under Mourinho, he’s ambitious, will know the ‘modern game’ and has had success in the Premier League. Is he being groomed to takeover and work under Commoli in a couple of years? He’s worked around another up and coming manager (now Porto manager) at Chelsea in Andre Villas-Boas (Jose M’s chief scout) and like this article suggests, certainly wants a crack at management. Remember who took over from a legend, with no managerial experience, and went on to lift trophies at a rate comparable with Ferguson, Wenger and Paisley, oh yes… King Kenny. I’m not sure about Clarke as future manager, but that has to be the mould. Young, talented and with a vision. Ferguson had a vision, to restore United to former glories. Wenger had a vision, to play attractive football, live within a viable financial structure and promote young players from within. If Dalglish, Clarke and J. W. Henry can create a mix of the two visions above, then nevermind a Darwin, God or the King, he will have done something no manager has ever achieved. Remove Alex Ferguson from that ‘fucking perch’. The impossible. Just ask God (or Dalglish with Blackburn) how hard that is.

(There may have been a little bias in this article)

George Allwell