Day: February 29, 2012

Scott Parker Versus The World

We live in polarised times. Rather than opening people up to new worlds and new experiences, the internet has allowed us to retreat into tiny enclaves of people who feel the same as we do and draw up the barricades. There is little room for subtlety or nuance in our debates any more, since the only voices to get themselves lifted above the background hum of noise are the most extreme from either end. So it was that last night’s friendly match between a patchwork England side and an ominously strong looking Netherlands side was unlikely to be seen for what it was – a curiously unique experiment in which a team is thrown together under the watchful eye of a manager of whom expectations could hardly have been any lower than they were and with a captain for whom even starting international has previously been a rare treat rather than a birth-right. The scale ahead of whoever takes England through to the European Championships was made perfectly clear last night, though. An experienced Dutch team seemed to move out of second gear twice in the entire match. The first time they did this, they scored twice inside sixty seconds, and the second time saw them snatch a winning goal at the very end of the match. Between these goals, England had shown an admirable resolve in pulling themselves...

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Aston Villa’s Financial Performance Reflects An Inert Season

The haste with which football clubs dispose of their managers has been discussed in depth on here before. It has long been a peculiarity of this particular sport that managerial positions have been treated so frivolously by clubs, and the folly of doing so has been shown up in fairly strong terms over the last couple of days with the release of Aston Villa’s disastrous financial results for last year. Aston Villa has been, by tradition, a reasonably well-run club and is a club with the potential to challenge near the top end of the table. Over the last two seasons, however, a sense of torpor has come to hang over Villa Park and the feeling is starting to grow that this is a club that is in decline at the moment, both on the pitch and off. There was little cause for optimism on the part of the club from the figures released yesterday.  Aston Villa lost £54m in the year from the first of June 2010 to the thirty-first of May 2011, a worsening in performance of 42% when compared with the year before while the club’s owner, Randy Lerner, has himself put £25m into the club over the last two years. What crumbs of comfort that Villa supporters could take from it all was a small increase in turnover – to £92m – a reduction in bank debt to £8.3m and a...

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