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1
Liverpool FC, football, sport / Big clubs meet at London hotel
« on: March 02, 2016, 05:29:17 PM »
Premier League clubs admit to meeting over changes to Champions League
• Executives seen leaving hotel after summit in London
• International Champions Cup participation on agenda

The Premier League’s so-called “big five” clubs have admitted meeting to debate changes to the Champions League, amid febrile discussion across Europe about the future of the competition and proposals that could include guaranteed entry for the biggest teams.

While moving to deny reports that a breakaway European Super League or replacement for the Champions League was discussed, sources at Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal admitted debating the future of the format.

The admission is another indicator of the wide-ranging changes being discussed at all levels of the game in Europe as clubs jockey for position ahead of an agreement on the format for the next three-year TV contract cycle from 2018 and maximise revenues.

The Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, a former head of the ECA, kickstarted renewed speculation in January when he said that a super league was all but inevitable. “In the future, I can see a tournament consisting of 20 teams from Italy, England, Spain, Germany and France.  It is an idea born some time ago. I see that in the top five leagues in Europe, the big teams are always getting stronger and stronger,” he said. “A super league outside of the Champions League is being born. It will either be led by Uefa or by a separate entity, because there is a limit to how much money can be made.”

full article at:

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/mar/02/premier-league-clubs-breakway-meeting

2
Liverpool FC, football, sport / doping
« on: January 17, 2016, 05:18:55 PM »
Blood samples in a Spanish freezer could spark biggest doping scandal of all time

"If implicated, football clearly carries the potential for a major scandal. Jesus Manzano, the former cyclist whose 2004 interview with the Spanish newspaper AS blew the whistle on Fuentes, said he often saw “well-known” footballers waiting to see the doctor when he went for his red blood cell top-ups, while plenty of clubs are alleged to have worked with him. In 2013, Fuentes even ­issued, via his lawyers, a series of questions he might be prepared to answer. One of the questions was: “How I prepared a team to play in the Champions League”.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/cycling/12092102/Blood-samples-in-a-Barcelona-freezer-could-spark-biggest-ever-doping-scandal-as-Operation-Puerto-resurfaces.html

3


Former Reds chief Parry reveals how then-principal LFC shareholder David Moores shook hands on a deal with DIC but was forced to walk away from it.

Rick Parry has revealed how George Gillett and Tom Hicks fended off wealthy Dubai investors to buy Liverpool.

Parry has spoken of how then-principal LFC shareholder David Moores shook hands on a deal with Dubai International Capital (DIC) but was eventually forced to walk away from it, reports the Liverpool Echo.

It was the arrival of Roman Abramovich at Chelsea and the need for a new stadium generating significantly improved levels of revenue that had convinced David Moores that outside investment was needed into Liverpool.

And Parry, who was Reds chief executive from 1998 to 2009,was always keen that Dubai was the place to look for it.  Parry said: “I was always keen on the idea of investment from Dubai, on the basis I’d been there a lot, I knew quite a few people there, quite a lot of the high ranking people there, within the Jumeirah Hotels group for instance, were big Liverpool fans.

“Every time you’d visit Dubai it had changed, they’d built half a city, so you think these are the kind of people that get things done.  And we had quite a few false starts with people claiming they could introduce us to senior Sheikhs and it turned out they couldn’t and mythical interest. It wasn’t that uncommon to go for two days and come back not having met anyone at all. We spent so much time kissing frogs and wasting time.”



We first met DIC in Istanbul

It was Liverpool’s famous Champions League triumph in 2005 which allowed the club to solidify interest from the Middle East, says the former Anfield supremo.

“One of my very good friends was going to come to the Champions League final in 2005, but couldn’t get his son out of school and asked ‘would it be OK to give my ticket to the guy who runs DIC’?  I said absolutely, he sounds like just the fella we ought to be meeting. I made contact with him in Istanbul. The thing that was always a concern with DIC – and this isn’t just with hindsight, it was a concern at the time – was that the amazing thing about Dubai is the speed with which everything happens and the breath-taking pace with which the city is transformed."

“Bearing in mind the first conversation was in Istanbul, we were still negotiating with DIC in February 2007. And if there’s real commitment from the top in Dubai things don’t take that long. They’d come, then they’d go, then they’d come back again with a slightly different deal and then they’d go again.  By December 2006 when they finally come back and say ‘here’s a deal’ and David said it’s acceptable, they’d been working with us for 18 months.”

The need to work in the January transfer window of 2007 as well as progress the stadium meant Liverpool were keen for DIC to increase the speed at which they were moving.

We needed steel for the stadium and to act in the transfer window - but DIC still wavered
Parry said: “We accepted their bid early December (2006) and we said there’s a transfer window coming up, there is steel to be ordered for the stadium, this all has to be signed, sealed and delivered by the 31st of December.

“You can’t possibly need much time for due diligence because what else is there to do, you’ve been pouring all over the club for 18 months, you've got all the financial models. They said that would be fine. As we now know, we then got into February, we’d missed the transfer window, and we’d got really exposed over a steel order.”

The Liverpool board was frustrated and becoming increasingly anxious about whether DIC would move forward at the necessary pace.

Parry recalled: “We had a board meeting in late January 2007 and – it sounds crazy now – but we were racing to get the stadium built, delivered and in place by 2009 and of course, there’s a real critical (time) path to do that. And if we were to have any chance of hitting the close season, we were told we had to order the steel, about £10m worth, in the January. And still DIC hadn’t completed. And we spoke to their number two guy to try to push things along. We said ‘we’ve got a board meeting, we need to discuss the steel order, what’s the board to do about the steel’?
“And he said ‘we’ll underwrite it, don’t worry, go ahead, order it and tell the board that DIC is underwriting the steel’.



This wasn't feeling like Dubai and David Moores had to lend us the money to buy Dirk Kuyt

“Then literally the next day the boss of DIC says he had no right to say that. And you think, ‘hang on there’s got to be a degree of good faith in this, what is going on’?  We’ve placed the order, we’re exposed and you’re saying we had no right to do it and the deal still isn’t finalised. Bearing in mind the pace of Dubai, the growth, the amount they invest when they want something to happen, this wasn’t feeling like Dubai and also you’re starting to think if it’s like this before the deal’s done what will it be like afterwards.”

The questions were mounting up about the DIC bid and Moores was forced to dip into his own pocket for players.

“We were missing the transfer window, we’ve got David (Moores) literally lending the club the money to buy Dirk Kuyt to keep us going and there was just something about it where everyone was thinking this is not feeling right. We had a board meeting at West Ham away. The very strong feeling of the board was ‘enough’s enough’. We’d said the 31st of December was the deadline, we missed that, we missed 31st of January.”

The Liverpool board had originally rejected George Gillett in favour of the sovereign wealth of Dubai but he returned with what appeared an improved offer.

The board felt DIC had been given long enough

It was considered by a board that included Moores as its chair, Rick Parry and Les Wheatley as the working directors, Terry Smith, a representative of shareholders Granada and director Keith Clayton, as well as lawyers and financial advisors from within the club’s professional team.

Parry said: “George Gillett, who’d we’d rejected in December, hadn’t gone away. He’d taken on board some of our concerns – sadly – about him alone up against the riches of Dubai.

“So he’d come back in with a stronger and wealthier partner – we all know who that was – and ostensibly more money, more money available for players, an absolute commitment to developing the stadium. And the very strong view of the board was we’ve got to go with this one, DIC have had long enough.”

Yet even then David Moores did not want to walk away from Dubai, insists Parry.

“The dissenting voice was actually David’s, because his view is once he’s shaken hands on something he’s committed to it and he wasn’t going to let that go lightly and obviously he was the majority shareholder.  The strong view of the non-execs, the professionals, we were pretty much united in the common sense view that the DIC deal doesn’t seem right. But David’s view was that ‘I’m shaken hands, I’m not going to be rushed, I want 48 hours to sleep on it’.

You're not going to blackmail Liverpool Football Club

“I went to David’s house the following morning with Keith Clayton and he said ‘we’ve got to let DIC know what’s happening’. And he phoned Sameer al-Ansari (chair of DIC) and David said ‘look Samir we’re in a bit of a mess, everything’s gone pear-shaped, you’ve missed deadlines, there’s a strong view on the board that we need to go in an alternative direction’.

“Had I been Sameer I’d have said ‘David I’ll be on the next plane we can sort this out’. Sameer’s response was ‘if you don’t commit to DIC by 5pm today, we’re walking away’. David then says ‘you’re not going to blackmail Liverpool Football Club. No-one’s going to treat us like that, we’ll call your bluff.

“It was that that pushed David in the other direction.

“The other problem we’d had with DIC was this article that had appeared in the Telegraph a few months before that they’d been touting the deal around the City Of London as a leveraged buy-out which frightened the life out of David, understandably, because it was completely at odds with what we’d been expecting.”

The problems with the Dubai deal now sent Liverpool towards George Gillett and his new partner, Tom Hicks.

Parry said: “Gillett we’d known for many months, we’d been over to Montreal and spent three or four days with him.  And the interesting thing about George when we went there was he said literally ‘here are the keys, wonder round, go and talk to whoever you want’. We talked to the sponsors of the Montreal Canadiens who were a major Canadian brewery, he brought the commissioner of ice hockey to one of the games and left us with him half an hour to talk through whether this guy was a decent owner.



The idea we didn't Google Tom Hicks is ridiculous

“There were literally no constraints, that was fairly convincing. The idea (from some fans) that we didn’t Google Tom Hicks is faintly ridiculous. Of course we did, we were aware of a lot of the history of his involvement with Corinthians in Brazil where if he made a mistake it was in investing too much money which wasn’t the worst sign.  And bear in mind we had our financial advisors and lawyers who were doing due diligence, we had their financial advisors and lawyers, we had the statements they made in the offer documents which went to (Liverpool FC) shareholders, the guarantees that they weren’t going to base the deal on debt, it was all going to be family money."

“At the end of the day if people don’t tell you the truth there’s a limit to what you can actually do and it’s all easy to look back with hindsight and say ‘he didn’t tell us the truth’ but you tend to take things at face value particularly when they are underpinned by your whole professional team who are talking to their professional team, financial advisors who are giving all the assurances and we’ve got the certificates of all their assets.”

Parry rejects any suggestion that Liverpool were suffering negotiation fatigue after various possible deals had possibly arisen and then fallen through, including the likes of Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Redrow founder and Liverpool shareholder Steve Morgan.

“It took us just two meetings to realise Thaksin Shinawatra wasn’t real. In 2004, David with great sadness and reluctance had actually agreed the deal with Steve Morgan, then it went into due diligence. David had shaken hands and resigned himself to it, but on the back of the due diligence, Steve tried to reduce the offer and David said ‘no, I’m shaken hands on a deal, I’m not accepting a lower offer’ and that was the end of that one."

“We spent six months getting to know George Gillett, our professional team had vetted him. Clearly there was a need for a degree of speed, the desire to get the stadium funded and given the commitments they gave to funding and building the current design, it all sounded good. And it was a fairly careful analysis, he wasn’t rejected out of hand at the beginning, he was a credible individual but it was felt a Sovereign Fund with deeper pockets was a better deal than one individual. There were highly respected business people who we worked with saying you can’t deal with faceless organisations, it’s better dealing with entrepreneurs, this (Hicks and Gillett) will be better for the club.”

The deal with Hicks and Gillett was finally agreed but Parry said his alarm bells were ringing even before they were unveiled at Anfield on February 6, 2007.

“It rapidly became clear (the problems). It was actually day minus one, even as we were planning the press conference. We were looking at the running order of announcing the deal.  We thought we’ll have George going first. But Tom just said ‘I’m going first or I’ll never get a word in edgeways’ and you think ‘mmm, interesting.’ And then in pretty short order after that we have Tom Hicks saying ‘we’re not building that stadium, we’re starting all over again’ despite the assurances about spades in the ground.   So it wasn’t long before it was clear the two owners were not at one. And if you’ve got two 50/50 owners who are not at one, that’s not a recipe for harmony or success."

“We could have decided we’re not doing a deal with anyone but then we’re right back to square one."

The pair had also used borrowed money to finance the deal – effectively leveraging the cost against future profits the club would make to pay it off. And Parry believes the ready availability from the banks of such finance was at least in part to blame for the terrible mess Liverpool Football Club later found itself in.

“Without question, banks lent money too easily. I remember Stephen Hester, chief executive of RBS, coming up to Liverpool. This was several years later and he came out with the brilliant phrase, ‘with hindsight some of our borrowers borrowed too much’ and you think ‘hang on isn’t the right phrase we lent them too much’. Why wouldn’t they borrow too much if you’re irresponsible enough to give it to them.

I wish we hadn't done it but you can only go on the information at the time

“For me Hicks and Gillett has to be the classic example of that. At the end of the day, football doesn’t really lend itself to highly leveraged buy-outs. Anyone could see that. It’s not like buying Weetabix, whatever Tom Hicks might say.  It’s the easiest thing in the world to say we shouldn’t have done it – and I wish we hadn’t – but you can only evaluate by looking at the information you had at the time, not on what has happened since.”

While Parry deeply regrets the decision to sell to Hicks and Gillett, he believes DIC would have been just as disastrous.  “I dearly wish that the rulers of Dubai had been committed to the project. We flew out to Dubai around October (2006), ostensibly to meet the Maktoum family, and low and behold we didn’t meet any Maktoums. And David got really cold feet about DIC.  To say we should have gone with DIC is complete and utter nonsense, that would have been a disaster too. DIC as a vehicle has imploded since.”


4
The Rest / Lost in 2014
« on: December 31, 2014, 03:36:35 AM »

5
Liverpool FC, football, sport / world cup 2014
« on: June 15, 2014, 05:56:31 PM »
Downloaded the Holland v Spain highlights last night.  Gonna watch it tonight.

LIVE, I only caught broken up streams of the game.   Wow, the Dutch were on fire.

Ominous signs that Van Gaal and Van Persie are close friends and a scary double act.  Hope United don't land Robben.



6



extracts from striker's autobiography GoodFella



Bellamy on Benitez

When I walked into Melwood, the Liverpool training ground, I felt as though everything in my career had been leading to this moment. It was the first time I had ever been there and it was like being in a dream.


This was where Bill Shankly had worked. This was the turf that Bob Paisley had walked on. This was where Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler had trained. The facilities might have been new and state-of-the-art but the place reeked of glorious history.


A lot of things went through my mind. It was only a year ago that my name was mud and everybody had been branding me a troublemaker and saying I was untouchable.


I had undergone four operations on my patella tendons and two on my cruciates. I had suffered from episodes of depression.


I even thought of sitting in my garage in Norwich on Christmas Eve, doing my leg presses. This is why I did it. To get here. To get to Melwood. To sign for Liverpool.


I did my medical stuff and then I went upstairs to see Rafa Benitez in his office. I sat down. He was business-like.


He produced a cutting from a newspaper. The page was dominated by a picture of me with a snarl on my face. Most of the time back then I’d have a snarl on my face. It was nothing unusual.


“Why are you looking like this?” he said. I told him I couldn’t remember.


“You can’t play like this,” he said. “This kind of aggression is not what you need as a player.”


I told him I understood. The memory of the game where the incident had happened started to come back to me. It was a match against Sunderland the previous season. Sunderland’s goalkeeper, Kelvin Davis, had shoved me in the back. I had a bad back anyway at that time. I didn’t take too kindly to being shoved in it.


I didn’t mention any of that to Rafa. I could sense it probably wasn’t the right time.


Then he got a board out and started quizzing me about footballing systems. What did I think about this formation or that formation, the positives, the negatives, the benefits of playing between the lines.


Where would I run if a teammate had the ball in a certain position. He asked me about every scenario under the sun. And every answer I gave, even if it was correct, was twisted into another answer.


“When you play up top,” he said, “if this player has it, where would you go?” It was like a multiple choice test. “I’d run to the left,” I said. “Yeah, but run right first, then go left,” he said. The other players told me later that was just typical Rafa.


I was a bit taken aback by his attitude. It was like being in the presence of an unsmiling headmaster. The atmosphere at the club seemed strange, too. It was a place of business and a place of work. There weren’t very many people smiling. There wasn’t a lot of laughter around the place. Even the physios were on edge when they were doing the medical. Everyone seemed uncomfortable and wary.


The next day, I met Pako Ayestaran, Rafa’s assistant and the fitness coach. The fitness routines were not that imaginative.


It was army style, really. Long, plodding runs mainly. It was very professional with heart monitors and fitness belts but there was no camaraderie while they took place. It was all double sessions, tactical work, standing in position, walk-throughs of tactical play. Rafa oversaw it all.


A lot of Rafa’s tactical work was very, very good. He was impressively astute and I learned a lot from him in that area. But he could not come to terms with the idea that some players need an element of freedom and that we express ourselves on the pitch in different ways. He was very rigid.


He worked on specific moves over and over again. It was a bit like American Football in that respect.


Rafa wanted people running designated routes when the ball was in a certain place, just as he had been explaining the first time I spoke to him in his office. The winger comes inside, the full-back overlaps, the forward has to run near post every time.


There was no allowance for the fact that your marker might have worked out what you are doing after a few attempts. You had to keep doing it because it might make space for someone else. I felt like a decoy runner half the time.


But I did learn a lot. Defensively, Rafa was exceptional. He was very good on the opposition and how to nullify their threat and stifle their forward players.


He would use video analysis to go through the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses. Our preparation for games was extremely thorough. Nothing was left to chance. He was the first foreign manager I worked under and I learned quite a bit.


But there was no scope for spontaneity. None. He distrusted that. Of all the managers I have worked with, he trusted his players the least. That’s just how he was. There was not much enjoyment. There were no small-sided games or anything like that.


Everything was tactical with timed drills and routines.


It was a bit like Groundhog Day. You came in and did the same stuff over and over again.


Sometimes strikers like to do finishing at the end of a session but once the whistle was blown at the end of training, Rafa would personally collect the balls and put them in the bag and no one was allowed to do any extra work. He was a total control-freak.


Rotation was something else I had to get used to under Rafa.


One week you would play, the next you wouldn’t. None of the players would ever know until an hour before kick-off who was going to start. I found that hard to adjust to. I found everything about it difficult.


I prepared as if I was going to start because I felt that was the professional thing to do. But I need to get myself into a certain frame of mind when I play. I cut myself off from everybody around me on the day of the game. I get intense about it. In those circumstances, it is very difficult if you are then told an hour before the match that you’re on the bench.


By preparing as though I was going to play, I was also ensuring that the disappointment would be even greater when I didn’t play. So then I started telling myself I had to change tack. I stopped building myself up too much so that it would be easier to deal with the disappointment of not being selected.


But then when I did start, it almost came as a shock to me. I had an hour to get prepared. That was it.


Rafa said he would not release the starting eleven until an hour before kick-off because he didn’t want to give the opposition an advantage. What he meant was that he didn’t want anyone to leak the team early and he didn’t trust players to keep it secret.


He didn’t trust the players on the pitch so he certainly wasn’t going to trust them off it.




Bellamy on Dalglish

People talk about Kenny Dalglish being the greatest Liverpool footballer of all time. He probably is. But you know what, he is the greatest man who has ever played for Liverpool Football Club.


There is no shadow of a doubt about that. To be involved with him was just a huge honour. He was brilliant to play for.


He had such a calming influence over everyone at the club. He was just The King. He was a true man. The humility he shows constantly on a daily basis to everyone was overwhelming. When I say ‘everyone’, I don’t just mean the players. I mean all the employees of the club.


The impression you get of him on the television, defensive and monosyllabic, is the exact opposite of what he is like when the camera is turned off.


Before the Carling Cup final, the manager showed us a short film that illustrated what Wembley meant to Liverpool and what it meant to the club being back there.


I sat there watching Shankly talking and Kenny scoring that magnificent winner against Bruges in the 1978 European Cup final.


And I thought about all my years of growing up and wanting to be part of this club. When the film ended, there were tears in my eyes.


For someone like me, you don’t get much better than playing for Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish.


When Kenny was fired a few months after bringing Liverpool their first trophy for six years, I knew for sure it was time to go.

7




Germany is suddenly gripped by fear of Spanische Verhältnisse and a duopoly involving Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund

The sausages, the beer, the finances, the ownership structures, the terraces, the ticket prices, the international results – it's all coming together in one big, German dream this spring. For years, the Bundesliga had learned to feel happy about its largely unnoticed lot, like some provincial, discreet industrial tycoon. It had convinced itself that it didn't need the praise of outsiders, that there was nothing to prove to the wider world. But now that recognition – nay, validation – has actually come in the shape of two clubs in the Champions League semi-finals for the very first time, it feels undeniably exciting, like a 15-year-old's first, illicit visit to a "proper" nightclub, courtesy of a fake ID and painted-on stubble.

"You can already sense that the German-Spanish football festivities that will begin in eight days in Munich and Dortmund and might continue until the 25 May in Wembley amount to the highlight of the season for German club football – if not of the past few years and decades," wrote Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

And why not? This really is a success story made in Germany, after all, with German players, coaches and bosses as the leading protagonists, unlike … let's not go there. But in our blessed land of Mercs and money, happiness is never much more than the temporary abatement of angst. It's only taken a weekend featuring a couple of effortless wins by the big two for the agenda to change from pride to worries, doubts and uncomfortable questions. The new queasiness has brought with it a new buzzword. The Bundesliga is suddenly gripped by fear of Spanische Verhältnisse (literal translation: "Spanish relations").

It sounds a bit like an 18th century disease, the sort of thing you might have caught after too many amorous adventures. The real problem, however, is that Bayern and Dortmund are so strong that they can field C teams and still pummel the domestic opposition (a 4-0 win over Nürnberg, a 6-1 at Fürth, respectively) with unnerving ease this season, and the league's USP, its (relatively) egalitarian unpredictability, seems to have given way to La Liga-style duopoly of out-of-sight excellence. Hence the Spanish relations, or "a Spanish situation".

Even Uli Hoeness, the man who once spoke of his wish to be so far ahead of the the pack that they would have to resort to using binoculars to catch a glimpse of Bayern's behind, is suddenly a little distressed. "There's a big difference in performance levels in the league," the Reds president told Kicker. "We can't be comfortable with that. We have to analyse why this is the case." The 61-year-old added that results such as Bayern's 9-2 destruction of Hamburg were unacceptable in the long run. "This calls for action," he said. He revealed that he and the Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke were talking about the matter.

Hoeness's concern for his rivals' lack of competitiveness almost sounds like a belated April Fools' Day joke but he's dead serious. Watzke, on the other hand, is apparently less perturbed. "We won't install a taskforce," he said. "Others, like Werder Bremen, have played in the Champions League for years, too. You wonder where all the money has gone."

The rest of the league is split into those who have always warned about the gap getting bigger and are now bemused by Hoeness's foray ("it's ridiculous, like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse," said the Eintracht Frankfurt manager Heribert Bruchhagen), those who feel that it could actually be a lot worse if it wasn't for centralised TV rights sales (the Hannover chairman Martin Kind) and those who believe the problem is simply overstated. "It's just a snap shot, Dortmund's success is too recent," the Schalke 04 finance director, Peter Peters, told Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Peters is right, in a sense. Dortmund weren't anywhere near the apex of the Bundesliga, let alone Europe, three years ago. And their financial power isn't nearly as big as Bayern's, whose turnover will come in at around €400m. The Black and Yellows' turnover of approximately €250m for the current season is only slightly higher than Schalke's in 2011-12 (€224m) – for example. Leverkusen, Stuttgart and Hamburg are all near the €100m mark – without Champions League football. Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and even Köln, currently in the second division, are big, well-supported clubs with the potential to grow into the next Dortmund one day as well.

The Bavarians' 20 point-gap over last year's double winners Borussia would suggest that the league's main problem isn't so much the dominance of two clubs but that of one, at least this season. The Reds had been underachieving, relative to their wealth over the last decade but have now, perhaps for the first time, performed exactly in line with their financial superiority. History suggests that this is an exception, rather than the rule, since they have always found ways to negate – or at a very minimum, mitigate – their off-pitch advantages in the past, be it through disastrous managerial appointments or a hit and miss transfer policy.

In 2012-13, however, the rest of the league have made all the mistakes. Dortmund (inadvertently) concentrated on the Champions League. Schalke made a managerial change halfway through the campaign and almost lost their way completely. Hamburg and Bremen are at best treading water through managerial incompetence. Stuttgart's austerity drive has hurt them, Wolfsburg are still busy cleaning up the Felix Magath mess and Leverkusen are simply happy to be were they are.

All of them are in effect shown up by Freiburg, the third-smallest club in the league with an estimated wage bill of €17m. Only Düsseldorf (€15m) and Fürth (€12.5m) pay less. And yet here they are, in fifth place, threatening to qualify for the Champions League and close to getting a ticket into Europe through their exploits in the DFB Cup. Christian Streich's men travel to Stuttgart for the semi-final on Wednesday. If champions Bayern win their game at home to Wolfsburg on Tuesday, the south-west derby will effectively become a play-off for the Europa League.

Whether Freiburg will be able to field a decent XI in that competition is doubtful, however. Streich, the slightly manic but admirably genuine architect of this tremendous run, has become wary of praising his players, for fear of attracting even more unwanted attention. Jan Rosenthal (Frankfurt), Max Kruse (Gladbach), Daniel Caligiuri (Wolfsburg or Leverkusen) are all off this summer, and more could follow. They've all looked very good, possibly beyond their real talent, thanks to Streich's motivational skills and tactical ingenuity. Freiburg press like Mainz, defend like Bayern and are effective in front of goal like no other team in the league, all with minimal resources.

No one expected the 47-year-old to keep the club up when he took over in December 2011, but he did. The current campaign has been more miraculous, still. His super-broad alemannic accent – Streich hails from a village near the Swiss border – and his unfiltered statements made him an unlikely candidate for success in the league but in fact, he should be a role model, an antidote to Spanish relations or similar ills. It's simple: much bigger and much better teams wouldn't be nearly as far away from the top if they had just shown a little more care in their managerial appointments. Streich's success is a triumph of hard work and intellect over image and rhetoric. Hamburg were able to make that very choice in 2008, when they negotiated with Jürgen Klopp, then at Mainz. But Klopp's unshaven appearance and well-worn jeans displeased the northerners' bosses. So they opted for an "established", "safe" manager instead, and appointed Martin Jol.



Other Talking points

• Now that the trophy is on its way back to Munich, Bayern and Dortmund are locked in a battle of lowball poker – who can win with the weakest hand? On Saturday, the Bavarians dispatched in-form Nürnberg 4-0 with a side that had Emre Can, 19, and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, 34, anchoring the midfield, while Dortmund cruised to a 6-1 win at Fürth with a strong team that ended up as a pretty experimental outfit by the time 90 minutes were up. José Mourinho was keeping a watchful eye in the Trolli-Arena but the BVB bosses seemed to feel he was in fact trolling them with his presence in such inauspicious surroundings. "I don't know why he's here, maybe he wants to show he's preparing diligently," sneered Watzke. "He could have called me," said Klopp. "Nothing he gleaned from this game will be of any value in two weeks' time."

• The Dortmund manager also dominated the local agenda from top to bottom – literally. First, he admitted to a hair transplant in Bild ("It looks cool, doesn't it?"), then he placed a risky wager: "I bet my bottom that Matthias Sammer will talk to Pep Guardiola," he said. The Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes had earlier taken great offence ("Please respect me and my team, I can prepare myself") at a reporter's suggestion that he may ask his predecessor for insight. This being Bayern – three people, four opinions – Franz Beckenbauer actually agreed ("of course they should ask Pep"), but chairman of the board Karl-Heinz Rummenigge toed the company line. "It would have been better for Klopp to bet his hair, as he has some more to transplant. But I fear his bottom will end up in our museum." Maybe it could be exhibited right next to Rummenigge's infamous "Danke, Franz" poem from 2010, as blogger Klaas Reese (@Sportkultur) suggested.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2013/apr/16/bundesliga-bayern-munich-borussia-dortmund


8
Liverpool FC, football, sport / Reading between the lines
« on: April 13, 2013, 09:03:51 AM »


From: The Guardian
Wednesday 16 December 2009

Reading have parted company with their manager Brendan Rodgers by mutual consent. The Royals have had a difficult season and sit 21st in the Championship, having won only one of their 11 home league games.

A statement on the club's official website said: "Following a meeting this afternoon, the chairman, the board of Reading Football Club and Brendan Rodgers have agreed by mutual consent that Brendan Rodgers will leave his position as first-team manager with immediate effect. Reading Football Club will make no further comment at this stage."

Rodgers took over in June from Steve Coppell, who left the club after five-and- a-half years in charge having taken them up to the Premier League for two years. Coppell resigned after failing to gain promotion back to the top flight at the end of last season.

Rodgers managed Reading's youth teams between 1995-2004 after retiring as a player at the age of 20, before managerial spells with the Chelsea youth and reserve teams and with Watford, where he stayed just seven months.

Reading face a trip to Bristol City on Saturday and host Liverpool in the FA Cup on 2 January.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/dec/16/reading-part-company-brendan-rodgers


9
http://youtu.be/YSVBqIs7uXA

Deportivo keep their keepers in shape.

I'm tired just watching this.

I need a beer.

10


Out-of-work Kenny Dalglish will finish the season as Britain's best-paid manager and the fifth highest-paid in the world, new figures from France Football magazine have revealed.

Liverpool accounts showed they were forced to pay off Dalglish and his staff with £9.5 million at the start of the season after deciding to replace him with Brendan Rodgers.

According to the magazine, £8.52m of that went straight into the pocket of the Scotsman, making him this season's highest-paid British coach without even having to manage a single game.

Dalglish was on a reported salary of around £3.5m while he was at Anfield and a tweet went viral when he left the club that read: "Kenny Dalglish has asked that the £8 million compensation owed to him after his sacking be put towards new Liverpool signings. Amazing gesture."

Angry Liverpool fans then bombarded the Liverpool Echo with phone calls asking why the local paper had not reported Dalglish's gesture.

The Echo were forced to publish a reply saying: "The simple reason is it's not true."

Dalglish won the League Cup for Liverpool last season but was criticised for paying out bloated transfer fees on unconvincing signings with the £35m paid for Newcastle striker Andy Carroll – the highest fee ever paid for a British player – drawing particular criticism.

Dalglish was fifth in the overall managers' high-earners list which was unsurprisingly topped by Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho who earns €14m (£12m) a year.

The highest-paid manager currently working in the Premier League is actually Arsene Wenger (€9.4m) who is sixth on the list overall.

Manchester City's Roberto Mancini is eighth on the list just making slightly more than Sir Alex Ferguson.

On the players' list, huge endorsement deals mean David Beckham just edges out Barcelona's Lionel Messi for top spot.

Top 10 best-paid coaches in 2012-13 (Source France Football – figures in Euros)

1. Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid): 14m

2. Carlo Ancelotti (PSG): 12m

3. Marcelo Lippi (Guangzhou Evergrande) : 11m

4. Guus Hiddink (Anzhi Makhachkala): 10.8m

5. Kenny Dalglish (Unemployed): 10m

6. Arsene Wenger (Arsenal): 9.4m

7. Fabio Capello (Russia): 9.2m

8. Roberto Mancini (Manchester City) 7.6m

9. Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) 7.5 m

10. José Antonio Camacho (China) 6.1m

http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/world-of-sport/dalglish-finish-season-britain-best-paid-manager-193054236.html

11






From the glory years to the Heysel tragedy, the Liverpool legend kept a record of his days on the Anfield staff. Tim Rich takes a look

Professional football should lend itself to diaries.

The normal working day ends at lunchtime. Afternoons crawl by. Once you check into a hotel you never leave except for the bus to the stadium. The mood created by Fabio Capello in the England training camp in South Africa was one of stultifying boredom. When asked how his players might occupy themselves in Rustenburg, the England manger suggested they went for a walk or read a book. Nobody seems to have sat down with a Mont Blanc fountain pen or, more realistically, tapped some thoughts into a laptop. There have been diaries of a season that formed the basis of Eamon Dunphy's bitterly brilliant Only a Game, which confirmed what many suspect – when a footballer is out of the team, it is in his interest if the team loses.

Sir Alex Ferguson has written two seasonal diaries. The first, A Year in the Life, is perhaps the finest account of what it is like to be a football manager, from the desperate dash around Manchester for your wife's Christmas present to trying to persuade a youth-team prospect not to become a tailor. But it was written as a commission, not out of habit.

That is why the blue hardback books found in a loft are so precious. The beautiful handwriting belongs to Joe Fagan, who managed Liverpool for two years but was one of the club's bedrocks for more than a quarter of a century. 

Its description of the place where Joe Fagan spent much of his life is beautiful and evocative. "In time it would become furnished with luxuries like a rickety old table and a couple of plastic chairs, a tatty piece of carpet on the floor and a calendar on a wall that would later be adorned with photographs, ripped from newspapers, of topless models... there was little evidence to suggest this room was even part of a football club."

"They always call it Shankly's Boot Room but it wasn't," said his grandson, Andrew Fagan, who has co-written Reluctant Champion which comes out next week. "Shankly did not go in it. It was the preserve of his coaches, although I am sure it was 'his' in the same way a singer has his backing band."

If Joe Fagan, Bob Paisley, Ronnie Moran, Roy Evans, Tom Saunders and Reuben Bennett were a backing band, they were The Supremes. Saunders was the only one to possess a coaching certificate but between them they provided the common thread that held Liverpool together for almost 40 years. Each man filled a specific role. Paisley was a tactician who had an eye for spotting a transfer target. Moran was an enforcer, Bennett, who was closest to Shankly, the link to the manager. Fagan, in Evans' words, was "the glue that held everything together".

Fagan, however inadvertently, could claim to have founded the Boot Room in as much as he took delivery of crates of Guinness, given as a thank-you from the brewery's team, which he sometimes coached. There was nowhere to store it, so he put it where the boots were kept and the supply of drink made it Anfield's common room.

Like Shankly and Paisley, Fagan lived modestly. "The only way you would know he was a football man was if you looked at the mantelpiece and saw the odd medal," said Andrew. "You'd sometimes stumble across a massive bottle of champagne or Bell's whisky from his manager-of-the-month days." Paisley's house was awash with the stuff.

"The diaries began as training manuals. They would never, ever have used the term sports science but it almost is. They noted every training session. And, if a player pulled a hamstring, they could cross-reference to the conditions or the pitch and see if there was a connection.

"Both Bob Paisley and my granddad trained as physios and they took that part of it very seriously. Kevin Keegan told me that when he picked up an injury shortly after buying a new car, Bob and my granddad almost literally took the car apart looking for reasons why he had a strained hamstring. They became convinced it was to do with the clutch. That's how much detail they went into.

"As his career went on the diaries became more expressive and contained more of his thoughts. As a manager he was slightly pessimistic. I think they all were to a certain degree, which I put a bit down to them having been in the war.  They expected things to go badly and were pleasantly surprised when they didn't. Paisley was very much the same. Outwardly, to the Liverpool public, they were constant optimists but not in private."

It was while Paisley was manager that Fagan's influence grew. By Boxing Day 1981 the regime seemed gripped by crisis. Liverpool had lost the championship to Aston Villa in May and a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City at Anfield saw them fall to 12th.

Fagan recorded in his diary: "Dismal, not up to the standards we require. I would say two blokes in our team are playing to their ability. The rest? No."  On the Monday at Anfield he tore into the team. The tirade was so powerful because Fagan was rarely angry. Gary Neville said the Manchester United dressing room could expect to receive the full Ferguson hairdryer treatment around three or four times a season. Any more and it would start to lose its impact.

Sometimes, Fagan could sense things going wrong. In 1977 Liverpool might have won the Treble had they not lost the FA Cup final to Manchester United. "Training was bloody awful," Fagan noted before they travelled to London. "The lads had two meetings about [personal] arrangements for Wembley and then came out expecting an easy-osey time. They didn't get it. I bollocked them and told them it was football that counts not bloody tickets."

"He didn't really want to be manager," says Andrew. "He didn't want to let anyone down and he knew, too, that if someone else had come in, they might have brought in their own backroom staff. The Boot Room might have gone and these were the people he had closest in his head."  His diary for his first day as manager in 1983 is disarming. "Nothing startling happened," he wrote before turning his attention to his first press conference. "Don't know whether I said the right things but I tried to! I have got to get used to it but I have said this before, what appears in cold print isn't necessarily what you actually say."

Andrew says: "When he did become manager some of the things he was concerned about and mentioned in his diaries – like dealing with the press – faded away. He was better at it than he expected. He played it quite well. He wasn't that comfortable with being in the manager's office after everyone else had gone home. It was then that he felt the sense of responsibility, the difference between being the assistant and the main man."

It was especially true of his wearing, sandpaper-like relationship with Craig Johnston, although there were some advantages to being promoted from assistant. "When it was announced my granddad was going to become manager, Graeme Souness got the players together and said: 'We are not going to let this man down. Nothing is going to go wrong this season'. And it didn't."

There are two photographs in the book that sum up Fagan's two seasons at the helm. The first is the one with him sitting by a swimming pool in Rome, with the 1984 European Cup at his feet, like an Oscar-winner in Beverly Hills.

Then there is the one of him arriving at Speke Airport, a year later, his face dissolving into tears after the other European Cup final in Brussels, unable to cope with the knowledge that 39 – mostly Juventus – fans had been killed in what was his final match as Liverpool manager.

He had been exhausted by the two years at Anfield – Mark Lawrenson said he suddenly looked very old as Liverpool, without Souness, made an insipid defence of their title. He had asked to step down before Heysel, a match that cast its long shadow over him.

"He found it incomprehensible. He lived with it all it his life," says his grandson. "He had served in the Royal Navy during the war, he understood what was a game and what was not. From what I am told he never really talked about it at home, he simply carried it with him."

The shame was all-consuming at a time when unemployment on Merseyside stood at 25 per cent. These were the years of Boys from the Blackstuff; of Julie Walters' plaintive cry in Educating Rita: "There must be other songs to sing"; of a city turning in despair to the sleek, suited gangsters of the Militant Tendency.

Due to the times, attendances at Anfield were significantly less for the Treble season of 1983-84 than they had been in 1958-59 when Fagan joined a Liverpool rusting in the Second Division. The quality of the football in Liverpool had risen above it. From 1978-1989, which roughly coincided with the years of Margaret Thatcher's Britain, the championship left the city only once. That pride was cracked by Heysel.

It is, however, the previous season – 1983-84– for which Fagan should be remembered. Dalglish says it is easier to win the European Cup now than it was before it became the Champions League. You had to win your own championship to enter, which would have debarred all subsequent English teams from European Cup finals bar Manchester United in 2008. And there was no safety net of a group stage.

English clubs had less money. In 1984 Souness could set himself up for life with a transfer to Sampdoria, who had finished seventh in Serie A. The semi-final was against Dinamo Bucharest, a club that would provide little resistance to the champions of England now but who offered bitterly effective opposition then. Liverpool was a more modest place. When they won the championship in 1984, a box of medals arrived at Melwood and Fagan walked round with them saying: "If you've qualified for one, help yourself."

When it came to the penaltyshoot-out against Roma to decide the European Cup in their opponents' own stadium, Fagan simply asked if anyone fancied taking one. He even asked Dalglish, who coolly informed him that he had been substituted.

It led to two men volunteering whom nobody wearing red in the Stadio Olimpico believed should have taken one – Steve Nicol, who thrashed his over the bar and Alan Kennedy.

The final entry for the momentous 1983-84 season is recorded with typical modesty in the hard-bound blue notebook. "Rome: European Cup final. Won on penalties 4-3. What can I say? Won the big one as they say and rightly so. We were the better team; we just couldn't score.

"Alan Kennedy made us champions with the best penalty he has ever taken. In conclusion, let me congratulate Ronnie Moran, Roy Evans and the rest for their magnificent efforts. Well done the lads. J.F.F"

'Joe Fagan: Reluctant Champion' by Andrew Fagan and Mark Platt is published by Aurum Press

http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/found-in-a-loft-fagans-secret-boot-room-diaries-2348284.html

12
Liverpool FC, football, sport / anfieldroad get together
« on: February 09, 2013, 02:53:20 PM »
video of the first ever get together of anfieldroad forum members.

some initial teething problems, when dude asked who the new manager should be, come May time.

http://tinyurl.com/bc4f78z

13
Liverpool FC, football, sport / There's only one Sami Hyypia
« on: January 18, 2013, 11:42:35 AM »
Sitting in second place in the Bundesliga, with Bayer Leverkusen.

http://soccernet.espn.go.com/tables/_/league/ger.1/german-bundesliga?cc=3888

Way to go, Sami!!



14
Liverpool FC, football, sport / Dietmer Hamann v Joey Barton
« on: January 15, 2013, 11:46:27 AM »
Twitter war overnight.

Might be a few insights in reading this, might not be.  As everyone long since recognises, Barton is a waste of skin.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/queens-park-rangers/9801632/Joey-Barton-and-former-Liverpool-and-Man-City-midfielder-Dietmar-Hamann-in-frankly-hilarious-Twitter-altercation.html

15
Liverpool FC, football, sport / I don't believe it!
« on: January 05, 2013, 02:18:48 AM »


Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham pose after a game of soccer in Fayetteville, Arkansas during the summer of 1975.




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