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Day: August 8, 2011

Madly Honest For a Change

The only managerial soap opera that was to have transpired in Edinburgh this summer was to have been at Easter Road involving the love triangle between Hibernian FC, Colin Calderwood, and Nottingham Forest. Then again, when “Mad Vlad” Romanov blows into town to see about things over at Tynecastle, general upheaval can never be too far out of the reckoning. And so it was, that after watching the Gorgie side fall 0-1 to Dundee United from his seat in the director’s box on the second matchday of the Scottish Premier League season, Romanov made the decision to remove Jim Jefferies from his role as manager and immediately sacked his assistant Billy Brown. An official announcement was delayed until the following day, as on offer to Jefferies was a position as director of football that he subsequently rejected. Following the announcement that Jefferies had well and truly parted company with Hearts, former Sporting Lisbon manager Paulo Sergio Bento Brito was immediately presented as the next manager, overseeing training of his new Scottish squad that very day. This suggests that the dismissal of the 60 yr old Jefferies was more than simply a grossly emotional reaction by Romanov upon witnessing a home loss by Heart of Midlothian but instead a calculated move that had already been in the making. The loss to the Terrors provided Romanov’s action with a touch of immediate credibility once the immediate...

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The Twohundredpercent Pre-Season Previews: Tottenham Hotspur

In a bid to establish dominance, a cockerel performs a waltz of sorts about the hen house yard, strutting in a semi-circle with its wing down and glaring menacingly at his fellow poultry, spoiling for a fight. Should this not suffice, the cockerel puffs out his chest, extends his wings, and runs around the yard as if he were a rampaging bull. Perhaps it is fitting then, that Tottenham Hotspur employ the cockerel in their club badge given their fortunes over the past few seasons. Attempting to break into that exclusive set of English Premier League sides that regularly challenge in the UEFA Champions League, Spurs unceremoniously sacked Dutch manager Martin Jol in 2007, whose best sides at White Hart Lane could only manage qualification for the less glamorous UEFA Cup competition. Jol, in effect, was unable to bring Tottenham’s aspirations full circle and take advantage of the players signed during his tenure such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon. On came Juande Ramos, the soft-spoken Spaniard who promptly justified his reputation as a cup winning manager while at Sevilla, guiding Tottenham to the League Cup for their first piece of silverware since they had last one the very same competition in 1999. Along the way to that 2008 League Cup victory over Chelsea, Tottenham dispatched their old rivals Arsenal in a rather authoritative fashion, overwhelming Arsene Wenger’s side...

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The Twohundredpercent Pre-Season Previews: West Bromwich Albion

Last season was one of stability for West Bromwich Albion, and while this in itself must have felt like a blessed relief for the supporters of the club it had an altogether more prosaic value to the club itself. A season mid-table stability to The Hawthorns brought a tangible and significant return on the clubs policy of living within it means throughout those years when it was boing-boinging between the Premier League and the Championship. This is a club that has been well-managed in recent years, and is now well positioned the reap the rewards of that management – and this, as regular readers of Twohundredpercent will be more than aware, isn’t something that we get the opportunity to say very often. It is important to get a little perspective on what this all means. The club has so little debt that the amount that it owes is of little consequence. Their season in the Premier League last season will have earned them at least £40m in television money and their eleventh place finish last season was worth around £7.6m. The lack of debt means that this money doesn’t need to be wasted servicing money that it has already spent or, arguably just as importantly, interest accruing on money that it has already spent. As such, they are in a stronger position than many to invest in their team....

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Football Governance And Parliament: What Happens Next?

The healthy obsession Labour MP Tom Watson has with the fall of Rupert Murdoch, son James, and the News Corporation media group has deflected attention away from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport select committee’s recently-published report on football governance. And this is probably a plus. The report’s thirty-four recommendations were not chock full of surprises. Matt Scott noted that they were “as predicted in the Guardian” in his article heralding the report’s publication on July 29th. But my new-born Irish second cousin could probably have matched the Guardian’s success rate, with the possible exception of the committee preferring a ‘streamlined’ new FA Board to a ‘representative’ one. It is what happens from now until sports minister Hugh Robertson delivers his verdict in the ‘autumn’ which will determine the fate of the report and its recommendations. And here is where Watson and the Murdochs may end up doing football a favour – the game, not the current bloated, self-interested, financially-ruinous leadership of it. Fears that the committee’s collective focus will have been damagingly taken from football are not entirely founded. The ‘stars’ of the committee, when the Murdochs appeared before it last month, were Watson and Louise Mensch (nee Bagshawe). And neither were much more use than a chocolate teapot when the committee was questioning football’s great, good and Dave Richards. As I noted at the time, Watson’s...

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The Twohundredpercent Pre-Season Previews: Swansea City

Certain sections of the media have long had the mildly irritating habit of treating 1992 and the beginning of the Premier League as football’s Year Zero. In this world, “the history of football” is substituted for “the history of the Premier League”, as if nothing that happened prior to the twenty biggest clubs cutting themselves free in the pursuit of all the television money – to which we can only say, mission accomplished – and anything that happened prior to then is treated as at best an relevance. So it was that when Swansea City beat Reading in the Championship play-off final at Wembley in May, they became “the first Welsh club to reach the Premier League”, which, whilst it was true on the one hand, didn’t take into account anything that had happened prior to the great land grab of 1992. Swansea’s previous top division adventure had only lasted for two seasons during the early 1980s, but it left a lasting mark on the club, not least of which was the belief that it this status be managed again. How important might that have been during the dark days that have come between then and now? It’s worth bearing in mind because it it is only eight years since the Swans completed a then unlikely looking end of season double to preserve their place in the Football League. The notion of...

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