Archive for July, 2008

Well, well, well…

July 16, 2008

I recently completed a move into a new house, which partially explains my lack of activity in the Fulham-o-sphere lately. It is amazing what not having wireless internet does to your productivity.

Let’s catch up, shall we?

First of all, the magnificent, fabulous, glorious, triumphant, inestimable, indefatigable, omnipotent, awesome Fulham Review is out now. Get it here. There’s an essay by yours truly, but despite that it is truly a fantastic resource.

Second, I guess we signed Zamora. I think this is a good thing, but as the saying goes, nobody knows anything.

A couple of points. First of all, it seems like most people now recognize that there is value in foreign players. Domestic players have higher price tags because they are known quantities. Teams pay for the certainty. Foreign players can be good values because teams are getting a discount based on the unknown. But that doesn’t mean that every foreign player is better than every domestic based player. Zamora is a somewhat known quantity. Supporters know, generally, his strengths and his weaknesses. Thus, depending on which we choose to look at, he is better or worse than the mystery man currently tearing up the Swiss leagues. But here’s the thin that should be obvious but too often is not: just because Arsenal buy a lot of foreign players and are good, doesn’t mean that if Fulham buy foreign players we too will be good. Arsenal buys good players, thanks to having one of the most advanced scouting departments in the world. Arsenal has spent a lot of time and money to achieve the infrastructure necessary to find these good players, and you can’t recreate that set up overnight, especially since every other club in England is trying to do the same thing. If you can get a decent domestic player at a decent price, then whether or not the Swiss mystery man could have been better and cheaper is irrelevant. Because he could have been cheaper and worse, and where does that get you?

On the other side of the coin is this. The job of football manager is an incredibly complicated one, consisting of a number of different jobs with different skill sets. There is the business side and the football side, and just because a manager excels at one part of the job, doesn’t necessarily mean he will excel at another. Specifically, we know that Roy Hodgson has forgotten more about football tactics, and the game between the lines than 99.7% of the people on earth could ever dream of knowing, but that does not mean that he brings the same level of expertise to the business side of the game, and specifically to player acquisitions.

To be clear: I have been, and continue to be, a staunch supporter of Roy Hodgson. I would be very surprised to learn that he was anything but astute in all facets of football management. And I have no idea what Fulham’s signing set-up is, who is doing the negotiating or who has the final word. But I am not ready to say “In Roy We Trust” and leave it at that just yet. On formations and player line-ups certainly, on transfers probably. But not definitely. It is arrogant, but is that not the right of the fan? To question the judgement of our elders and betters? And there is still, in the back of my mind, that as-yet-unexplained-to-me second season at Blackburn which was at least partially blamed on bad signings.

Finally, the top story today on F365 is about some quotes from Wesley Sneijder. Two thirds of the article is about Sneijder’s desire to join forces once again with Rafael Van Der Vaart. The final third contains these quotes:

I don’t want to say much (about Ronaldo) because every day different news emerges,” added Sneijder. “Cristiano is a great player, he has a lot of quality and if he comes to Madrid he would be welcomed by everyone.

“But at the moment no-one can say anything about him because talking well about him also shows a slight lack of respect to the players that are here and this Real Madrid has a lot of people of quality.”

It’s true that could happen,” he continued. “It would be bad for the dressing room if he gets a much higher salary than the rest of the squad.

“It’s not important to me, but I know that other team-mates would not like that at all. Here we have footballers like him, for example (Arjen) Robben or Robinho.

“It’s obvious that I want to play with Cristiano, but you also have to maintain the equilibrium in the dressing room.”

“For me, this Madrid side do not need new signings,” said Sneijder. “In the last few matches last year we were very solid and the team has grown a lot.

“This squad is strong enough and this season we are going to do more.

“It’s also obvious that if you bring in a player of a lot of quality it can be better for the team. In that case the only one thing I think we need is to sign a striker.”

“I hope Robinho stays at Madrid because I think he is equal to Cristiano Ronaldo,” said the Dutchman.

“People have criticised Robinho because he hasn’t performed in the big matches, but I saw important matches for Manchester United and Cristiano didn’t perform either.

“It’s not a criticism. I just want to point out that a player can’t be at the same level all season.

So a fairly calm, well-reasoned explanation of the psychological effect adding a huge star to a team of huge stars. Plus some lip service to the greatness of Ronaldo and his own teammates, plus a candid deflating of the idea that Ronaldo would fill some gaping hole in Madrid’s line-up. And finally an intelligent point on the lunacy of judging a player based on a few cherry picked big games.

A well-measured response to some tough questions, pleasantly devoid of platitudes.

So what is F365’s headline and teaser?

Sneijder: ‘Ronaldo’s Wages Will Cause Real Unrest’

It certainly doesn’t sound like Ronaldo would be welcomed with open arms by the Real Madrid squad, with Wesley Sneijder saying that players would be unhappy with the Portugeezer’s massive wages. He’s also noticed that – just like Robinho – Ronaldo has a habit of going missing in the big games…

What do exactly do those quotations marks mean? Seeing as they don’t actually quote anything Sneijder actually said, I am confused. I think I like the concept though.

Obama: ‘I am a Muslim’

McCain: ‘I am too old to lead this country’

WithAPlum: ‘Hodgson out, Up the Sporting Press!’