We haven’t done one of these for a while but here are some interesting links.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” Brian Clough once said. “But then I wasn’t on that particular job.” It’s a great line, but the truth is that the majority of managers need time. Clough himself, at both Derby and Nottingham Forest, finished his first season in the lower reaches of the second flight. There are examples, such as Arsène Wenger at Arsenal and José Mourinho at Chelsea, of managers winning titles in their first season, but wholesale restructuring requires patience.
And that is why Chelsea must be patient with André Villas-Boas, for it is wholesale restructuring that they are facing. The short-termism of their approach to managers has led to a long-term problem, a squad that has been allowed to grow old together. It’s not just age, though; there is a cabal of senior players, a core of Mourinho loyalists, who seem resistant to change. Within a few weeks of the arrival of every manager who has followed Mourinho, with the exception of Guus Hiddink – who was only ever a temporary appointment – there have been rumblings about unpopular training methods. Every manager since Mourinho has attempted to change Chelsea’s shape, and everyone has ended up going back to 4-3-3.
Perhaps that is even why Chelsea turned to Villas-Boas. He, after all, played a 4-3-3 and seemed in many other ways a second Mourinho – young, articulate, successful at Porto. The difficulty is that Villas-Boas’ 4-3-3 is very different to Mourinho’s: formations are neutral, it is their application that gives them specific qualities.
This is interesting because you could sort of substitute Martin Jol for Villas-Boas. Our sources (Toby met someone interesting on a train) confirm that Jol’s job is indeed to make the squad younger, and that doing this is not making him popular. So really it’s the same thing, except less urgent and with less pressure.
Here’s something quite interesting from Freakonomics. Talks about why the US sports’ labour problems are perhaps down to not having a free market for sports like in Europe, and how this can lead to the rewarding of perenially unsuccessful teams (point being: who does this serve?).
Finally, a reminder that with the excitement of the Premier League’s 20,000th goal, our own Moritz Volz got the 15,000th. We were there, sitting high on the terrace back when we had the money to go to that sort of game….
(note the white-black-black arrangement – much better than the abomination we currently endure)
Now someone should count how many top flight goals there have been since 1888. That’s the real stat.