Paul Lambert’s CL win with Dortmund

Paul Lambert (yes, Villa’s Paul Lambert) was the first Brit to win the CL with a non-Brit club.

He won it with Dortmund (Winning Man of the Match in the final against Juventus, making an assist, and marking Zinedine Zidane out of the game)

Here’s the story, courtesy Guardian. An excerpt:

Lambert would end the season as Dortmund’s man of the match in their Champions League final triumph over Juventus, having shackled a bloke called Zinedine Zidane in midfield and also set up the opening goal of the 3-1 win for Karl-Heinz Riedle. The Glaswegian had been outstanding in both legs of the semi-final victory over Manchester United and he became the first British player to win the European Cup with a non-British club.

Bravo. What a story.


Guardian Comment: Football: Why Spain, why Germany, why not England

Here was the article, but that’s not important. This comment was by Guardian Online regular MirandaC:

I’ve said this elsewhere, but the issue for England isn’t the failure of the top clubs to make available the young players they nurture for every England game from the under-19s to the senior squad; nor is it primarily the appointment of old-school managers like Eastick and Pearce whose sole qualification is that they can’t find employment at club level, having been revealed to be useless when they were given the chance.

The real problem – or one of them – is the way football is played here in the majority of clubs below the Premiership. This summer Arsenal released 15 kids from its academy, most of whom are reasonably accomplished having been nurtured since they were nine in Spanish-style technical skills. Many of those kids have had loan spells in the Championship and below where, because they aren’t quite of the quality of Wilshere, they were barely given a game. The reason? Winning is what matters to clubs, and the Arsenal kids’ silky skills weren’t of much use. If those kids want careers as footballers in England they’ll have to reeducate themselves sharpish in combative hoof-ball.

No academy, not even Barca’s, will produce ten Iniestas a year. But several in England are producing players of the technical quality of Lansbury or McEachran. What happens to them? Not quite good enough to make the first team at Chelsea or Arsenal, they sink without a trace into the hoof-ball leagues where they’ve forced to abandon the skills they learnt as young kids.

This is where England differs from Spain. Swansea can buy a player in his mid-twenties from the Spanish lower leagues, or Arsenal from the French ones, because that player’s skill and creativity hasn’t been lost. Can you imagine a top Spanish or French club picking a Michu or Koscielny equivalent out of the English League 1?

Many academies here are doing excellent work. Three of the semi-finalists in this year’s NextGen were English Premiership clubs. The problem is that most of the young English players representing those clubs – and the majority were English – aren’t going to progress in their skills: quite the opposite once they become professionals. This isn’t the fault of the clubs’ academies or even of the under-21 manager; the problem lies in the standard of football that’s played by all but a dozen or so of the top Premiership clubs.

Bloody well said!

Guardian: England is rushing in young players to the first XI

Read this article, superbly well said.

Guardian: Rushing young players into the England team does them few favours (England should follow the lead of France and Germany, who let their young players develop in youth teams)

Also, there is this superb comment by MirandaC, which needs re-posting. So here goes.

If England are threadbare at higher level it isn’t the fault of the top Premiership clubs whose academies are providing a footballing education second to none, as shown by the fact that three of the semi-finalists in this year’s NextGen, the under-19s CL, are English: Chelsea, Arsenal and Villa – the first two of which are all to often unthinkingly blamed for depriving young British talent of its rightful chance.

In fact almost a hundred percent of the intake into those clubs’ academies at age 9-10 is local. The question to ask, therefore, is why so many of those local kids who get to enjoy coaching and facilities that are the envy of the world from their earliest years fail to make it. What’s missing, the talent or the ambition and graft?

Don’t know about other clubs, but at Arsenal in recent years two English kids, Wilshere and Gibbs, who entered the academy at age 9 have made it into the first team; the others, many of whom were considered just as talented initially – e.g. Henri Lansbury and Jay Emmanuel Thomas – did not, reportedly because they fooled about and failed to put in the grind. Of Arsenal’s current Next-Gen first-choice team only three (Chuba Akpom, Isaac Hayden and Nico Yennaris) are English; the remainder are Bulgarian, German, Dutch, Catalan, Swiss … i.e. kids who entered the academy in their mid- teens but who in a couple of years have risen to the top, leaving their English counterparts lagging behind.

It seems unlikely that these foreigners are innately more talented, especially in the case of the Catalans and Germans who, had they clearly been embryo Iniestas and Messis, would surely have been snapped up by Barca and Bayern’s academies rather than exiled to cold, rainy London? It must, then, be the other factor that makes for success: application. Foreign kids are putting in the effort and making better use of the coaching and facilities than the locals who’ve enjoyed them from their earliest years.

Since being lousy at football isn’t built into the English gene pool, and since there’s no lack of opportunities provided by top Premiership clubs, that leaves us with the culture at large. More precisely it leaves us with the football media.

Instead of giving NextGen the coverage it deserves, the Guardian has treated us to a series of space-fillers – e.g. that one about England’s Rio hotel. This epitomizes the problem. Youth development, kids’ stuff, who gives a fuck about that? Which clubs are doing an excellent job and deserve applause for their success – that’s Arsenal, Villa and Chelsea – and which clubs are not and deserve to be shamed – that’s City who failed to make it through their NextGen group – does the Guardian give a toss? No, it does not. What it cares about, or imagines its readers care about, is the waterbeds and shopping and security at England’s Rio hotel. Why are we surprised that 13-14-year-old English kids have absorbed our interests and values? We’ve taught them that their little competitions where they get to pit their skills and graft against their contemporaries at Europe’s top clubs are of no importance or interest; still less important was the work that produced their success. What’s important in England is shopping and waterbeds in a luxury hotel already booked for a tournament that England haven’t yet qualified for. English football doesn’t do football, not as such; it just does footballing bling.

The Guardian is quasi-left-lib, and sometimes does not remain my cup of tea; but the comments are often amazing! Here’s one.

Football: Net Spend, Salary and Wage -Turnover Ratio

Taken from a comment in the Guardian website:

Net spend is NOT the primary financial factor when it comes to transfer strategy.Wage-turnover ratio is much more important.

Man United are firm about keeping it below 50% Utd’s wage-turnover ratio is currently around 46%. Its hovered between 45 & 50% since the Glazers took over. Turnover has actually increased since the Glazer’s took over and as a result, the 08/09 wage bill increased from £123m to £132m in 09/10.

People love to talk about the burden of debt on the club and how this negatively impacted the amount of money SAF has to spend. Yes, it might affect how much money SAF can bid for a players, but it doesn’t affect the wages Utd can offer to players. Turnover (revenue), is calculated before the debt payments are deducted. The debt has no impact on the wage structure or the contracts Utd can offer to players. Utd could have given SAF £100m to spend on players, but he probably still wouldn’t have been able to offer Nasri the wages City were offering him because of the strict wage structure at Utd.

And when we Arsenal fans crib about why we could not get Juan Mata, however much we wanted him…. That’s why.