The Vagaries of Managerial Fashion

Alastair Naysmith assesses the virtues of managerial attire…

Sat behind the dug out at Deep Dale recently my eye was constantly drawn, despite the entertaining football, to the sight of Paul Cook the Chesterfield Manager prowling the touchline. He was as animated and vocal as you’d expect from a former player-turned-manager, but what stood out most of all was his attire. Here was a 47-year old man whose job it is to inspire and direct his players, dressed in the kind of ridiculously baggy shorts more commonly seen on boxers, basketball players and hanging up on Nora Batty’s washing line.

As the teams went in at half time I wondered what kind of team talk he’d have to come up with not only to inspire his team to turn around the 3-1 scoreline but also to distract them from the fact that he looked like an over-competitive Dad on Sports Day. This is the bit where I eat my words; Chesterfield came out after half time and got a commendable 3-3 draw. While it is conceivable that the comeback had as much to do with Preston’s defence showing all the resistance of a FIFA delegate being offered a bribe, as it did with their inspirational management/fashion guru, their form this season does suggests that Cook is having a good effect on his team. Continue reading

Manchester United Fans Discover Mortality On Deadline Day

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As the dust settles on a frustrating first transfer window for David Moyes at Old Trafford, Chris Francis believes the fans will have to get used to an aura-less future…

The last week has been enlightening. If you are a supporter of a team that is not Manchester United you will have noticed a change. It’s like the Wizard of Oz. We’ve been walking along the Yellow Brick Road for all these years, and instead of finding the Great Oz living in the Emerald City there is a mere mortal behind the screen. Where once was the greatest of all managers, Sir Alex Ferguson, who corralled the best out of his players and was able to convince the most explosive talents to join Manchester United, there is instead David Moyes.

Moyes of course has many excellent attributes on which he is able to draw. He has proven that he can find value in the transfer market before. He has moulded teams with superb work-ethic and togetherness. He has made consistent teams, ones on which he is able to rely. He has also found excellent leaders from within his squads, and got more out of some players than perhaps they imagined they had.

But he, and the ranked United masses, have seen that while the club structure is in place for a new manager, he is still just that; new. He is inexperienced at this level, and without the huge track record of making stellar signings. He has made big signings for Everton before – Fellaini, Bilyaletdinov, Beattie – to varying levels of success. But he is finding already that the next step up, to manage the biggest club in the country, brings its own difficulties. Clubs feel they can drive a harder bargain in the knowledge that you have deep pockets. The players you are in for will almost certainly play for other big clubs or are the stars of the teams they are at. Other big clubs will want these same players.

United ended the transfer window in a manner that we are not used to seeing. Yes, there have been close calls before but in the most obvious case of Dimitar Berbatov, he was at least the man they wanted all along. Thiago Alcantara, Cesc Fabregas, Ander Herrera, and Leighton Baines drifted through the open window and on in to the night’s sky, like the mere dreams they turned out to be.  Continue reading

Ferguson: Bitterness, Resentment and Begrudging Admiration

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The False Nine editor, and Liverpool fan, James Dutton pays his respects to the retiring Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson…

There are only three certainties in football – promotion, relegation and Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United winning.

I have been following football since I was 7. It was the 1998-9 season. All your assumptions about the sport are moulded in that first season. At the end of that first season Manchester United won the treble. And from that, seasons of bitterness, contempt and misery were born.

As a Liverpool supporter born in 1991 I have hardly been blessed by football. Rather I have been cursed, forever offered tantalising glimpses of a prosperous future only to have it prematurely, and rather unfairly, snatched away.

I know nothing about Liverpool as the bastion of invincibility in English football. In my lifetime that has always been the domain of a certain Scot and his Red Devils 32 miles to the east of Anfield.

Fifteen football seasons I have closely followed since my first. I have known nine United league titles. I have known only three seasons where they have failed to pick up a trophy, and just the one where Liverpool have finished above them in the league table. Football without Ferguson’s tyrannical grip on the silverware is impossible for me to imagine. Continue reading

Ten Years of the January Transfer Window

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2013 marks the tenth anniversary of the January Transfer Window, Freddie Mickshik looks at some of the transfers that have become part of football folklore…

It’s the start of 2013, which aside from futile resolutions and intense hangovers means the opening of the January transfer window, as it celebrates its 10th anniversary. This mid-season shopping window gives managers the chance to add to their squad and potentially find those extra few goals or tighten a shaky back four enough to secure a title or beat the drop. The shortness and timing of it, however, means the new year sees many a panic buy  (Savio anyone? Thought not.)

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The FA Must Get its Own House in Order

False Nine writer Matt Malone was at Hillsborough on Friday and gives his thoughts on the night’s worrying scenes…

In a week in which the FA has made some big accusations and called for serious action to be taken after the ugly scenes in Serbia, events at Hillsborough last night are a great example of the old adage that perhaps people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Continue reading