Catch Seventy7

Sports news and views, and other stuff in life…

Presenting… The Dowie Theory: Why managers should treat career moves like the stock market

NB: The name of this theory is still up for debate and amendment. It is currently the Dowie Theory because, as a Palace fan, I have seen first-hand Iain both profit and suffer at the hands of his actions. In light of recent events, however, the Benitez theory could be equally apt or, more controversially, it could even nod to the modern master, Jose Mourinho…

Addition by subtraction: Current Sky Sports pundit Iain Dowie has proven you can both win and lose on the managerial merry-go-round

After extensive research (well, typing ‘career advice for football managers’ into Google) it seems that there is, in fact, no online resource for professional dugout occupiers looking to climb the career ladder.

This, frankly, seems improbable. There’s more advice than you could ever hope to read on the worldwide web for the 21-year-old who has just graduated with a degree in ‘Facebook Studies’ from the university of South-West Avon, but there’s not so much as a pamphlet for managers looking to progress their careers?!

That can’t be right.

Lord Alan Sugar would call that a gap in the market, and so here’s an early attempt to fill it. Football managers aren’t businessmen, but perhaps they should take the time to learn a thing too. Because the football world, particularly from their often-precarious position (which is invariably nearer the boardroom than the goalmouth), can share many similarities.

Learn how to play the market, and you too can learn how to rise the management ladder, just as the likes of Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson have done.

The rest (the winning games part, which admittedly is probably the main part) is up to you, though.

“Ladies and gentlemen: The Dowie Theory…”

Continue reading

December 22, 2010 Posted by | Sport, World Football | Leave a comment

My first England cap: Some brief thoughts and recollections on joining the Wembley media corps

So, I got the chance to cover England’s opening Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria at Wembley. As my first game covering the Three Lions as an accredited member of the media, I thought I’d better note down some memories…

Wembley way: My view from my privileged position at the home of football

I never thought I’d get an England call-up at 23.

Okay, so Theo Walcott or Wayne Rooney might not be particularly impressed with my achievement — nor any player to actually get a proper cap for England, for that matter — but when your professional football dream falls apart at the age of 12 and you subsequently try to make the media your career like I have, then your first appearance in the hallowed press zone at Wembley seems like a milestone worthy of some note.

I wouldn’t call it a debut to remember by any means, but I think I got through the 90 minutes with enough nice touches to suggest I might one-day have a future at this level. A nervous start (my wide-eyed fear and hesitancy upon entering the media centre seemed to only convince the security attendants I harboured terrorist intent) eventually subsided into an enjoyable and slightly more self-assured second-half performance, and by the end of it I was… blocked from entering the mixed zone.

So, er, still work to be done then.

Nevertheless, it was a great experience. Wembley, as you would expect, is run like clockwork, with helpful and seemingly endless numbers of staff making sure you don’t get too far off the yellow brick road. One polite lift attendant (believe it) even indulged in small talk with myself and the BBC’s very own ‘expert’ Mark Lawrenson on the way up to the media centre, with the former Liverpool man even opining that “with programmes costing £6, I’m in the wrong game.” The attendant was happy to agree with him, which I can only assume was out of politeness, as spouting inane clichés about football every Saturday evening seems about as a good a ‘game’ as you can be in to me.

But I digress.

The media centre itself is something of a joy to behold, divided as it is into two sections. The first, slightly smaller in size, looks like a high-tech library with its rows of identikit cubicles with ports and wires for every computer accessory known to man. Continue reading

September 6, 2010 Posted by | Comment, World Football | , , | 1 Comment

Roberto Mancini and Rafa Benitez locked in a battle for survival only one can win

Two years ago, Benitez’s tactical superiority directly led to Roberto Mancini’s departure from Inter Milan. Now working on these shores, the Italian has the opportunity to settle a score — as it is quickly becoming evident the two talented managers are fighting for just one job-saving Champions League spot…

Battleground: The first meeting between the two was explosive an explosive appetiser. Now fans look set to be treated to an enthralling saga

Roberto Mancini: Roman gladiator or Renaissance man?

English fans are yet to discover whether the new Manchester City manager is more of the former or the latter. Robinho might be doing his best to test the waters, but so far the scarf-wearing Italian has been a picture of placidity since arriving at Eastlands.

But if the 45-year-old does have a combative side, it might be Rafa Benitez, rather than the mercurial Brazilian, who should be sweating about his future.

It was the Spaniard’s Liverpool side, after all, that knocked Mancini’s Inter out of the Champions League in first knockout round that year.

In the first leg of their tie, Fernando Torres tortured Materrazzi in front of the Anfield faithful, eventually engineering the defender’s sending off and enabling the Reds to grab a late 2-0 win (Kuyt and Gerrard) that the Spanish striker added to in the Guiseppe Meazza to earn a comfortable 3-0 aggregate success.

That defeat, especially the manner of it, effectively spelt the end of Mancini’s rain at the Nerazzurri, despite having successfully steered the club to three Serie A titles (one handed to them in the aftermath of the Calciopoli scandal) in his four years in charge.

Such success (which also included two Coppa Italia triumphs) meant little when what chairman Massimo Moratti craved above all was Champions League success.

Using an emotional outburst from Mancini in the aftermath of the Liverpool defeat (where he announced his intention to resign at the end of the season, before retracting it a day later) as a reason for dismissal, at the end of the season Moratti engineered Mancini’s exit and oversaw the arrival of Jose Mourinho—a man with experience of winning the European game’s biggest prize (with Porto in 2004). Continue reading

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Sport, World Football | , , , , | Leave a comment

Arsenal’s Theo Walcott struggling to keep pace with Spurs’ Aaron Lennon in sprint for World Cup glory

He went to the World Cup as a fresh-faced 17-year-old in 2006, and after a stellar evening in Zagreb was expected to be the main man for England in South Africa this summer. But injuries, and a failure to develop as expected, have seen Theo Walcott lose his international place to a club rival who has no intention of giving it back…

Brothers in arms: But Walcott and Lennon might find come June they are fighting for just one spot on the plane to South Africa

Eighteen games, three goals, eight assists.

Eight games, one goal, one assist.

That’s the difference in statistics in the Premier League this season between the impressive Aaron Lennon and his fellow England winger, Theo Walcott.

While Lennon has drawn plaudits for his performances for Tottenham Hotspur this season, 20-year-old Walcott has struggled for both form and fitness for London rivals Arsenal — to such an extent that he is in real danger of losing his once-secure England place.

The Arsenal man may have provided one of the most memorable moments of England’s successful World Cup qualification with his hat-trick against Croatia in Zagreb, but it is Lennon who — after starring in the return fixture with Slaven Bilic’s men that finally secured England’s World Cup berth — is starting to look the front-runner for the right-wing position in Fabio Capello’s side. Continue reading

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Sport, World Football | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Was Tom Hicks Jr.’s resignation from Liverpool FC part of a deliberate plan?

It’s an insult that will doubtless find its way into footballing lore. But events after Tom Hicks Jr.’s regrettable email outburst might suggest that the whole saga was more carefully managed than many have considered…

On the ball: But Tom Hicks Jr. was left to carry the can for his expletive-strewn error

The recent resignation of Tom Hicks Jr. is just the latest in a long line of controversies between Liverpool’s American owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, and the fans they have failed so spectacularly to connect with since buying the club in 2007.

But it might be the most interesting.

Hicks Jr.’s resignation was confirmed this week after the public leaking of a now-infamous email he sent where he encouraged a concerned Reds fan, Stephen Horner, to “blow me, f***face. Go to hell. I’m sick of you.”

After the tirade was publicly leaked, Hicks Jr.’s resignation was quickly proffered, despite the suspicion that he could have held onto his job if a whole-hearted apology — which came anyway — was quickly released:

“I am very sorry for my harmful words. To the fans and club, please accept my sincerest apologies,” Hicks Jr. said. Continue reading

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Sport, World Football | , | 2 Comments

Ten predictions for the next ten years in English football…

Financial meltdown, a Welsh invasion and gay footballers are all on the agenda as CatchSeventy7 takes a look at what might happen to English football during the next ten years…

England expects: Fans are hoping David Beckham can (almost single-handedly) land the 2018 World Cup

The Noughties was a good decade for English football — indeed, some would say it was a great one.

The Premier League established itself as the most popular and lucrative competition on the planet, attracting star players and increasing the quality of football on display to an ever growing audience.

The next decade — is it the Teenies, the Tennies, or something else? — has the potential to be equally groundbreaking, with England likely to host a World Cup and many respected officials in the sport widely predicting the emergence of a European Super League.

Below I will take a brief look at just ten changes I believe will come into effect by the time 2019 draws to a close:

Continue reading

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Sport, World Football | , , , | Leave a comment

Bungling foreign owners serve up more competitive Premier League — at either end of the table

How many words does it take to point out that foreign owners at the top and bottom of the Premier League have given hope to the rest of the competition? Err… quite a few apparently. Nevertheless, the likes of Tom Hicks and George Gillett have somehow managed to make the league far more interesting this season…

George Gillett and Tom Hicks: Hampering Liverpool's ambitions since 2007?

When the influx first looked like coming, foreign ownership of clubs was rallied against as the beginning of the end for English football — with dire warnings that fans would lose the connection with their local club as the sport became more about making money than providing entertainment.

The same was said of foreign players, of course, when they suddenly began descending on their Premier League around 15 years earlier.

The likes of Eric Cantona and Dennis Bergkamp would obstruct English talent from shining, it was widely believed. In fact, the opposite has been proven to be true, as the many others who followed those legendary players to English shores have helped improved the native technique and ability beyond almost all recognition.

Few predicted the Premier League would get stronger with foreign players but, having contributed Champions League finalists in each of the last five seasons, that has proven to be the case.

Few predicted foreign ownership would lead to a more competitive league but, perhaps belatedly, even unexpectedly, that is suddenly becoming the case.

After all, some of the traditional powerhouses of English football have seemingly been handicapped by their foreign owners in recent times, while others from the middle of the English pack have been able to burst forward under the ambitious direction of new men in charge.

In the former corner, unfortunately for their long-suffering fans, is Liverpool. Just this week Rafa Benitez, the club’s beleaguered manager, attempted to deflect attention away from his own troubles by admitting publicly what everyone already suspected about the way the club is now run:

“One of the priorities this year was to reduce the debt so the club is working very hard to do this and I think that our position will be much better,” the Spaniard said. Continue reading

December 16, 2009 Posted by | Sport, World Football | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Emmanuel Adebayor must learn from Didier Drogba if Manchester City are ever to hit the heights

He’s been signed as the hitman that will lead Manchester City to the sort of success their wealthy backers expect. But Emmanuel Adebayor should take a leaf out of another African striker’s book if he is to ever truly make the maximum of the potential he undoubtedly has…

Making a point: But Adebayor still has to prove his heart lies with Manchester City's ambitions, not their money

As far as starts go, perhaps few can have too many complaints about Emmanuel Adebayor’s early career at Manchester City.

In the nine Premier League games in which Adebayor has featured this season, the striker has scored five goals, and laid on a further three assists for his teammates.

On paper, then, it is a solid return from the 25-year-old after joining the Eastlands outfit from Arsenal for £25 million during the summer.

As has often been the case with Adebayor in England, however, the positives have been offset by a number of negatives. In no game was that better encapsulated than when he faced his former club earlier in the season.

Throughout the game against his old team-mates, the Togolese international was often at his blistering best.

He tormented the Arsenal players — taking advantage of their seemingly reckless desire to clatter him — but then proceeded to torment their fans after his well-taken goal.

That celebration, running a full 90 yards to gloat in front of those who had spent much of the game abusing him, earned him a three-game suspension after a review by the Football Association.

City, without their leading scorer, subsequently lost their next league game against arch-rivals Manchester United, in a cruel 4-3 thriller.

“I had a bad afternoon against Manchester United because I am sure that if I had played that day then I would have scored a goal,” Adebayor said.

“It was a shame that we lost in added time. United did not deserve to win—a fair result would have been a draw.”

Rather than bemoaning missing out on a chance to add to his goal tally, however, Adebayor should perhaps have been reflecting on his own conduct. His performance against Arsenal helped the team, but his subsequent conduct certainly didn’t.

That just isn’t good enough for a top striker. Continue reading

November 27, 2009 Posted by | Comment, Sport, World Football | , , , | Leave a comment

Scout Report: Emmanuel Riviere (AS Saint Etienne)

Last time out the focus was Iker Munian, ‘the Spanish Messi’. This week the focus turns to Emmanuel Riviere, who his club hope will quickly become ‘the new Bafitembi Gomis’…

Taking centre stage: Circumstances have thrust Riviere to the fore at Stade Geoffrey Guichard

Position: Striker

Age: 19

Clubs: AS Saint-Etienne

While AS Saint-Etienne were understandably reluctant to sell star striker Bafetimbi Gomis to arch-rivals Olympique Lyonnais during the summer, there were a number of reasons that persuaded the club to relinquish their star player.

The first was the money — €13 million was a not inconsiderable sum, especially considering the striker’s poor form in the previous campaign. That form also contributed to the second reason — St. Etienne had only narrowly avoided relegation in 2009, and French international Gomis had consequently become unsettled. Perhaps the chance to cash in and rebuild was one worth taking.

The third reason perhaps sealed the deal. In Emmanuel Riviere, St. Etienne’s management believed they already had a player capable of quickly inheriting Gomis’ throne.

After all, Riviere had long been touted as a great prospect throughout France. Having grown up on the colony of Martinique, the young striker initially turned heads while making an appearance for his youth team in a national U14 tournament hosted by the world-renowned Clairefontaine academy.

Approached by a number of clubs, Riviere was happy to opt for the most successful in French history. Continue reading

November 24, 2009 Posted by | World Football | , , | 1 Comment

Great Gael Kakuta passes debut test as Chelsea start to dream of future glory

He has been one of the most talked-about young players in world football, for all the wrong reasons. But after an impressive 30-minute debut at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, Gael Kakuta underlined exactly why Chelsea had sailed so close to the wind in order to obtain his signature…

We're flying: Kakuta soared at Stamford Bridge under intense pressure

No one can say they weren’t warned.

If anyone had missed the furore surrounding Gael Kakuta that overshadowed the early part Chelsea’s season, Carlo Ancelotti’s comments ahead of yesterday’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers added another reason why the Frenchman has become one of the most talked about young players in world football.

“He (Kakuta) is a very good talent. He is very young and he can be a player in the future of Chelsea with his quality,” Ancelotti said.

“His character is good, he is a quiet boy, and at that age I have never seen a player with this talent,” he revealed.

Coming from Ancelotti, that is some statement. The Italian has observed some fabulous players in his 30-year career in football.

The fact that Kakuta is the best 18-year-old he has ever seen — just last year he was working with another fabulous teenager, AC Milan’s Alexandre Pato — will only increase the expectation around the young winger.

But the France U19 international has already become used to that.

After all, in September he went from being just a highly regarded member of Chelsea’s reserve team to one of the most notorious players in the world.

With FIFA judging out of the blue that Chelsea had broken the rules in luring Kakuta from French club RC Lens as a 16-year-old, the west London club found themselves forbidden from making signings for two consecutive transfer windows.

Kakuta, portrayed in many places as one of the villains of the piece, was banned from competitive football for four months.

Mentally weaker players would have crumbled under the increased scrutiny. But after a brief period of panic, the club’s 2008 Scholar of the Year soon composed himself.

“I think Kakuta suffered for one or two weeks about the situation and then after that he was better,” Ancelotti said.

“He returned to being quiet and calm and stayed with us to train. Still now he is well.

“It was not so important to speak with him, it was important to train with him and he stayed with the first team in this period.” Continue reading

November 23, 2009 Posted by | Comment, Uncategorized, World Football | , , , | 1 Comment