Tuesday, November 6, 2012

America is Always Right: Believe. Obey. Fight

On the eve of another election, some people are starting to realise that America isn't run by a president, it's run by capitalism and capitalists. A capitalist dictatorship if you like.

One of Mussolini's fascist slogans was "Mussolini is always right. Believe! Obey! Fight!".
Not that this could be applied to capitalist America or anything....
American's (not all, but plenty, and not just Americans) are convinced otherwise by a whole series of propaganda about a so called American Dream, and the importance of the success of the individual often at the expense of others around them.

During the election campaign we've seen this propaganda in full flow. Not so much from the candidates this time around, but from the misguided views about communism, socialism, and left wing politics in general - especially from Romney supporters especially like to pass of these left wing ideas as some sort of devil worshipping religion.

Some of this is brainwashing to a level that Joesph Goebbels et al would have been proud of.

Below are a few random thoughts from other writers about the power of the suggestion of the American Dream:

"I guess the trouble was that we didn't have any self-admitted proletarians. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist"

John Steinbeck sums up the American view of the concept that a proletariat could exist in their country in his book America and Americans, and why Socialism is never likely to take off. This line is often misquoted as shown below:

"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

And below is a quote from a recent article by Rupert Cornwell in The Independent on Sunday, about how the US president dare not suggest that America is ever a lesser country than others, economically or otherwise.

"American exceptionalism, the doctrine no presidential candidate dare disown, has it that the US is special, and thus uniquely equipped to solve problems which floor lesser countries. In this way, harsh home truths may be avoided on the campaign trail and 2012 has been no different."

"Americans, by nature optimists, tell pollsters by a two to one margin that the country is on the wrong track, when the concentration of wealth is greater than at any time since the Crash of 1929 and when social mobility – a core element of the American Dream – is less than in scorned, sclerotic Europe." 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

What the BBC should do.

What would the BBC do without its highly paid presenters?

Do people really care that the BBC keeps hold of its “best talent” by offering them huge salaries? After all it’s our licence fee which pays these wages.

In the familiar territory of football broadcasting we have Gary Lineker on a lucrative £2m a year salary to present the BBC’s televised football coverage, which includes Match of the Day and, erm... What else? Do they not have an irrelevant game show they can get him to present in his spare time?

Shearer, Lineker, Hansen, Lawrenson - The BBC MOTD team.

Whilst Lineker has proved himself as someone who is as good on the box as he was in it, a publicly funded broadcaster whose values include “delivering quality and value for money” must look at moving presenters and staff on to pastures privately funded, once their value reaches a certain amount. Either that or not pay people ridiculous salaries in the first place.

Then we have the strange cases of Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson. It’s hard to say as a Liverpool fan, but they are rubbish at their jobs. Actually it wasn’t that hard to say.

Hansen mumbles over pre prepared VT (it’s probably still actual video tape) in his Scottish accent, which is incomprehensible even to fellow Scots, and manages to say quite a lot but not say anything. His job seems to be to analyse the match we’ve just seen, but instead he’ll provide some sort of revised commentary in which he’ll repeat the same word over and over - “He passes short it there, there, there, there, and again there, brilliant passing there”.

Lawrenson’s poor, pointless analysis is basically just an extension of his poor, pointless commentary. Expect unfunny sarcastic quips, and comments which have nothing to do with the game of football we’ve just seen. He’ll comment on someone’s hair, or a player’s strange coloured boots which people wouldn’t have worn in his playing days, and he’s one of the only people in the world who’ll still add the word “not” to the end of a sentence to clarify that it was meant as sarcasm.

As you can see, Hansen and Lawrenson fully deserve their estimated £1m salaries. Not.

Ask most football fans and they’ll tell you that the BBC’s analysis of football is poor. Add in Garth Crooks, Martin Keown, and Alan Shearer and you have a punditry team of incompetent ex-players who probably couldn’t make it as a manager because they don’t know enough about football. Referring back to the BBC’s own values, their mission statement is as follows:

To enrich people's lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.

We can now see that their core team of football presenters fail to meet any of these aims. No one would miss the current crew if they went, and the majority would probably say they should be moved on.

Now the problems have been highlighted, what is the solution?

Former players like Steve Claridge will probably work for the BBC in return for a regular place in the works five a side team, and a half time orange. This is the type of former player whom BBC should be looking to bring in. The guy who has just finished his playing career, not planned for the future, and fancies a go at punditry because, unlike some of his fellow professionals, he is able to string a few words together and has knowledge of the game. This is value for money.

Then the BBC should look at brining in journalists, pundits, writers, and presenters who are struggling to find work in the saturated media and journalism market. There are far more people doing pointless media degrees at college or university than there are jobs in the media industry, so the BBC should look to exploit this, and at the same time help people make full use of the talents they have, and the skills they’ve acquired.

A publicly funded organisation which helps reduce unemployment within their industry and give opportunities to talented individuals, which will then inform, educate, and entertain those who fund it. Sounds good.

Then, if any of these employees suddenly become popular, and the value of their stock soars to the point where the BBC would have to offer them a huge salary in order to fend off Sky, ITV, or ESPN et al, then, let them go to Sky, and recruit another hidden gem from the scrapheap. Who knows, maybe the thankful employee will to stay on with the BBC for less money because of the opportunity they gave them and the values upheld within their workplace.... Or maybe not.

According to this report, the BBC has a total income of £5,086m, with £3,606m of this coming from licence fee payers. That’s £3,606,000,000. With the extra money they would save from paying large amounts of money to presenters if the above ideas were applied across the board, the BBC would be able to pay more for actual programming and show things people actually want to watch.

During recent times the BBC have lost rights to numerous sports, including football, rugby, racing, cricket, F1 etc, etc, and don’t seem to have secured much to replace these sports in the TV schedule. With the amount of channels they now have, there is no excuse for the BBC not to show live games from the top league of the nation’s most popular sport. Surely people would rather the money they pay went towards actual programming, then the presenters of these programs.

We can listen to rubbish being talked about football in the pub, we don’t need to pay ex-footballers millions of pounds a year to do it.

P.S. This article is a slight dig at the BBC and the way it’s run, but it’s worth pointing out that the BBC air one of the best football shows around – The WorldFootball Phone In - albeit in the early hours of Saturday morning. Luckily you can download the podcast.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Financial Times in Football

Looking at the newspapers this week, you'd think sport had been replaced by finance as the new section on the back of most newspapers. Suddenly your favourite sports writer has had his lack of financial knowledge tested, and has had to look up a few terms on websites he'd never normally go on. Either that or they've just replaced him with a writer from the finance section.

It's all about the culmination (?) of the saga that is the Liverpool ownership, which has come at a time when there's a gap in the domestic top flight fixtures, and just another boring England game to look forward to. Which is unfortunate for a club who has had more dirty laundry aired in recent times than mud wrestling rugby player who also has a young child, two dogs, and is a messy eater.

Re-financing, equity, franchises, nominal shares, loan debt and interest payments. Some of the terms you know and some you may be able to guess at, but what the whole thing seems to come down to is that Tom Hicks and George Gillett didn't actually have any money. They didn't buy the club with money they had. This is wrong and the fact it was allowed to happen is wrong. It's just unfortunate that a few clubs had to wither and die before the people who can do something about it, started to think that there was something wrong and maybe they should start looking into it.

It seems like some sort of revelation that Liverpool's new owners will actually buy the club with something resembling cash, pay off the debts with actual money, and then use any profits made to help improve the team! Under the current ownership, it has become evident that most of the profits made were going into ridiculously high interest payments on loans, rather than being put back into the club. It makes you wonder who actually accepted their business plan.

Bored by the finances already? It seems that as a fan of a top flight club these days, you need to be as well versed in your excess reserves, as you are in your.... well, it's likely Liverpool know all about excess reserves.

In times where Manchester United will make massive operating profits, but still make overall losses because of interest payments brought on by their own American owners, and where Manchester City might not be allowed to compete in European Competition (surely they'll be top 4 this season) because of new UEFA fair play rules, fans seem to be required to understand these things as it is a big part of their clubs futures. And after all, much of the profit their clubs make comes from their pockets. This is something that can't be solved by a diamond formation.

Still bored?

Suddenly the prospect of Kevin Davies being picked up front for England becomes more exciting.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chelsea Reserves 3 - 1 Liverpool Reserves

Both of these clubs, particularly Chelsea, have invested in their youth systems during recent years, so this was an interesting spectacle for those wanting to asses the progress of the underlying squads of each club. Interesting enough for some of the more established players to turn up at Chelsea's Cobham training ground to have a look at any potential competition for their first team place.

Didier Drogba, sat nonchalantly on a fence in one corner of the ground, will have been impressed by Chelsea's quick footed, quick thinking Turkish u21 player Gokhan Tore, who constantly caused trouble down their right flank in the first half. Letting go the first shot of the game, a stinging left foot effort from outside the area after cutting inside from the flank, the shot fired straight at Liverpool's Danish keeper Hansen, was a signal of intent. 32 year old Drogba might hope that players such as Tore will do some of the running for him if he remains at Chelsea in the upcoming seasons.

If these reserve sides are a test run for players wanting to step up to premier league level, then the physicality of Chelsea's players such as Nathaniel Chalobah, Daniel Mills Pappoe and Rohan Ince should stand them in good stead if they are ever called to represent the first team. Compare this with the players they were marking, the tricky but lightweight Spaniards, Suso and Daniel Pacheco, and there you have one of the reasons for Chelsea's dominance in this game.

John Terry and Paul Ince were spotted together in the stands during the first half, the latter watching his son Tom give a promising, if not convincing performance on the wing for Liverpool, and the former probably enjoying the physical yet composed nature of the two Chelsea centre backs (Rohan Ince is no relation). Thomas Ince's performance typified the frustrating afternoon for Liverpool's attacking players, who seemed to run out of ideas, or into a brick wall, in the final third.

On the odd occasion they were able to create, crosses from Amoo and Suso were met only by Chelsea defenders, unopposed. A parallel with Liverpool's first team in that there was very often no attacking player lurking in the box. Snippets of attacking creativity were evident, but nothing sustained enough to mount a serious attack.

Positives for Liverpool were the performances of Jonjo Shelvey in central midfield, and Jack Robinson at left back.

Shelvey looked willing to put himself about, getting tackles in in front of the back four, akin to Gerrard when he plays in that role, but lacking the passing accuracy of the Liverpool skipper when it came to distributing the ball further forward.

Jack Robinson had a tough task marking the aforementioned Tore, plus dealing with Jose Bosingwa continuing his return from injury, making his typical 'more right winger than right back' runs on the overlap. The young Englishman looked stretched at times but still managed to prevent Bosingwa crossing from the byline on a number of occasions.

The other stand out players for Chelsea were Fabio Borini, the troublesome (from a defenders' point of view) striker who was involved in most of Chelsea's good attacking moves, and another young English left back, Billy Clifford, who mirrored Bosingwa's overlapping runs and looked comfortable when moving into midfield in the second half.

Overall this game looked more like Chelsea Reserves v Liverpool Youth, despite there not being much age difference between the sides. Man of the match would have to be Fabio Borini who took his goal well, set up another, and generally caused trouble for the Liverpool defence throughout. If Gokhan Tore hadn't been taken off at half time, it may well have been an even bigger winning margin for Chelsea than the final scoreline of 3-1.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The League Cup is good

Tottenham v Arsenal in the league is an intense battle of North London rivalry, with abuse being thrown from the overpriced plastic seats, and the chance for a player to become a hero amongst their own fans, but also a villain to the opposition supporters.

Luckily for William Gallas, he probably won't play a part in tonight's League Cup encounter, so the main opportunities for terrace hatred will be in the form of David Bentley for the Arsenal fans and Arsene Wenger for the Spurs lot. Wenger may find himself closer to these fans than he had originally planned, with a possible touchline ban looming.

Apart from this, the players on show tonight will provide a different challenge for supporter abuse than a regular league match would, due to the fact that most supporters won't have seen them playing football before. There will probably be the usual collective shout of "Who?", when the teams are read out, which is usually reserved for a visiting European side bringing on their back up utility defender. Tonight sees a return to the League Cup which is often used by top managers, especially Arsenal, to field a reserve side, saving their stars for the more (financially) important competitions such as the Premier League and the European Cup. The fans will have to think of new songs quickly, and extra praise should go to any Spurs fans who manage to come up with an anti-Jay Emmanuel-Thomas ditty.


The Reserve, i mean League, Cup has been derided for this reason. Managers don't seem to take it seriously so why should anyone else? Why should fans fork out to watch the second string in a senior competition? Sandro, Jake Livermore, Carlos Vela, and the aforementioned Emmanuel-Thomas are several reasons why they should.

The harsh financial implications of not doing well in the league and not getting into Europe mean that managers won't take chances on young, up and coming players, in these competitions. Even if some of these players have been performing out of their skin in reserve football, it's still not worth the risk to most.

The League Cup provides an outlet for these players to show their skills and show that they merit first team football, and also provides fans with a glimpse into the future of their club. A lot of these players will become valuable additions to the first team in years to come, and will be more financially viable than chancing an import for £5-15m. It gives them experience of top level English football, and a good performance may mean they get a place on the bench for the next league game, which in turn could mean coming on for Fabregas when he injures himself in the act of scoring, or giving Ledley King's infamous knee that bit of extra rest.

Sometimes there is more excitement and unpredictability in this competition than there is in a regular season game, and more opportunity across the board for new players and new teams to experience some kind of success. Just look at the Chelsea versus Blackburn quarter-final from last year, which was one of the best games of the season.

Can't think of a song for Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Alternative EPL Team of the Season 2009/2010

Here is a selection of players who weren't included in the PFA team of the year, to make up a fashionable alternative line up.

Maybe Frank Lampard should have been included in the PFA team of the year, but wasn't, so maybe he should be included in this team, but isn't. But everyone knows how good a season Lampard has had, whereas this team is supposed to reflect those consistent players who have starred for their clubs, but maybe not starred in many pundit speeches.

It's worth noting the many Tottenham players who have had outstanding parts to the season such as Bale, Lennon and King, but haven't quite had the fitness to perform a full season. Gomes nearly scraped in too, but Liverpool might have even finished below Everton if it wasn't for Pepe Reina.

GK: Pepe Reina (Liverpool)

DR: Johnny Heitinga (Everton)
DL: Leighton Baines (Everton)
DC: Roger Johnson (Birmingham City)
DC: Christopher Samba (Blackburn Rovers)

MR: Charles N'Zogbia (Wigan Athletic)
ML: Florent Malouda (Chelsea)
MC: Scott Parker (West Ham United)
MC: Steven Pienaar (Everton)

ST: Carlos Tevez (Manchester City)
ST: Darren Bent (Sunderland)

Have a crap graphic as well:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Standard Unchartered territory for Liverpool

Amid the chaos of false statistics and dodgy opinion polls (did they ask you?) that dominate the headlines in the lead up to an election, let us cut the crap and hazard a few guesses on more important matters. Such as, what lies ahead for Liverpool FC.

Recent polls suggest that many Liverpool fans are still behind the manager, despite their poor season, which should have seen them building on last season’s title challenge but has instead seen them slip away from Sky’s favourite gimmick – The Big Four. However, many fans are also conceding that it could be time for Rafa Benitez and Liverpool FC to go their separate ways. Results of the imagined poll suggest it’s 50-50 as to whether fans want him to stay, but 100% of fans should be grateful to Rafa for what he has done for the club, whatever the outcome of the next few weeks.

In a survey taken by Hotair and Magma, who recently sponsored the Icelandic volcano, it was found that the majority of fans blame the “American capitalist scumbags”, or Tom and Jerry as we like to call them (or Mutt and Jeff), for the recent downturn in the clubs fortunes. Whilst all the blame surely can’t lie at their door, it has been decided that all the blame should lie at their door, as their door was bought using loans taken out using the club as collateral. The fans have taken the door back as it is rightly theirs, so the blame has been let in with the wind and caught Gillett and Hicks unawares as they squabbled over their one copy of NHL 2010.

On the subject of Benitez signings, fans were asked in the street by a Pole, sent out by YouGov to determine whether or not Benitez has been successful in the transfer market over the years. No reasonable conclusions were drawn as the Pole struggled to understand some of the regional accents he came across, but some snippets included, “had nothing to spend”, “yanks gave him nothing”, “Antonio Núñez”, “had to sell to buy” and “Get Brackley and Brooking back on Pro Evo”.

Having apparently just taken full control of the clubs transfer policy this season, it is difficult to cut through the mist of who was actually a Benitez signing and who was signed by the club before this time. Though the net spend is apparently not as much as some clubs around us (depending on which statistics you believe), he has still spent large amounts of money on the players in the Liverpool “Squad” this season.

Critical points:

• Liverpool should have got more in return for Arbeloa and Alonso, maybe even a player to replace Alonso; Wesley Sneijder would have been brilliant.

• The question of Benitez’s man management has been raised several times, most recently by Fernando Torres. This was also evident when Gerrard and Torres were bemused at the latter’s substitution during the Birmingham game.

• Whilst Aquilani has started to show his quality, it has taken him nearly a full season to get fully match fit and even now never seems to be a pivotal part of Rafa’s game plan, resulting in him being a substitute, or being substituted regularly.

• And you also have to question the dramatic fall in stature of Ryan Babel and Lucas Leiva, two of the most exciting prospects on their respective continents on signing for the club.

• Dirk Kuyt was a good striker.

Maybe it’s time for both manager and club to freshen things up with a change. The lack of Champions League football next season may force this anyway, as many of Liverpool’s stars may take off to other clubs, and Rafa Benitez will be wanted by other clubs looking for a fresh approach.

The important thing for the future is that Liverpool appoints a manager who spends wisely the money they will receive on player sales this summer, and a manager who can improve their overall system of play to give them a fighting chance of competing for a top four finish next season.