Xabi Alonso / Rafa benitez / Gareth Barry [Mythbusted]

Commentary from wiakywbfatw at the Guardian, for This Article. Xabi Alonso is one of my favourite footballers, I quite like Gareth Barry, and I am okay with Rafa; but rewriting history is not cool.


Still absolutely unbelievable that Rafa tried to sell Xabi because he wanted to replace him with Gareth Barry. Baffling.

Not if you actually bother examining the facts.

Xabi Alonso’s Liverpool career started brilliantly with two very good years. However, partly because of injuries he sustained, his form in his next two years with the club were well below the standard he first established.

It was after the second of those two years that Rafa Benitez explored the possibility of selling Alonso and replacing him with Gareth Barry, partly because of Alonso’s two season slump and partly because UEFA were on the brink of introducing home grown player quotas again.

For various reasons the sale of Alonso didn’t happen so nothing changed. Alonso then went on to have a brilliant year at Anfield, undoubtedly his best at the club, and you could make a fair case that part of the reason for his improvement was the shock that he actually wasn’t indispensable and had to prove his worth to the team.

At the end of that season, in May 2009, Alonso gave an interview in which he said that he was happy at Anfield, that he was looking forward to the next season with the club, etc. Then Real Madrid made their interest known as Marca started producing a steady stream of articles about Alonso joining the club. Eventually a deal was done even though, with Alonso having turned his decline around, Benitez and Liverpool wanted him to stay.

People conveniently forget the context which is all-important, especially those two poorer seasons. But what the trolls who love to use Alonso as a hammer to bash Benitez and Liverpool with forget is that in summer 2008 Liverpool received only one offer for Alonso and it was for £10 million and it wasn’t from Real – and even that offer fell through. Twelve months later Alonso joined Real and they paid £35 million for him.

In short, if it was so obvious that trying to sell Alonso in summer 2008 was such a bad move then why didn’t anybody want to pay only £10 million for him then?


The Nowhere men : Michael Calvin

This is something I would want to read

Extract from F365 below, and link here.

Johnson, Liverpool’s senior scout in the South, shot me a glance. He knew I was obeying the first law of football scouting: reveal only what is convenient to you. The journalist’s news editor would not have been amused. He left without asking what either of us, who admitted to having no allegiance to Southend or their opponents Cheltenham Town, were doing at a League Two game on a Friday night. The ‘Liverpool swoop’ story that was one pertinent question away from realisation remained unwritten. ‘Information, information, information,’ said the scout, with a chuckle.

Will review when I get to read it.

From the Guardian: The Great European Cup Teams

Great series in the Guardian Online — The Great European Cup Teams – with excerpts:

1. Real Madrid 1955-60 : David Lacey

Madrid broadened the horizons of British clubs who now became convinced that the European Cup and the newly-born Cup Winners’ Cup demanded serious attention. ….. The roaring applause of that huge Hampden crowd that greeted Madrid at the final whistle in 1960 had far-reaching echoes.

2. Ajax 1971-73: Jonathan Wilson

It was only in 1959 with the appointment of Vic Buckingham, schooled in the best passing traditions by Peter McWilliam at Tottenham, that the seeds began to sprout. Six years later, he was succeeded by Michels, who led Ajax to the title in his first season. That this might have more than local significance was demonstrated the following season as they thrashed Liverpool 5-1 in the European Cup.

3. Bayern Munich 1974-76: Raphael Honigstein

The team broke up, secure in the knowledge that they had achieved a historical feat but less sure about their exact place in the pantheon of greats. “We were never seen as on the same level as Ajax or Madrid because we didn’t win those Cups playing beautiful football,” Hoeness said last year, with a just a hint of regret.

4. Liverpool 1977-84: Paul Wilson

It is worth remembering too that but for the tragic events surrounding the 1985 final in Brussels, and the subsequent ban on English clubs in Europe post-Heysel, the dominance Liverpool had achieved by the mid-eighties could easily have seen the trophy return to Merseyside on one or two more occasions. Uninterrupted by events away from the pitch, Liverpool might be up there with Madrid and Milan by now.

5. Milan 1989-90: Paolo Bandini

As the head of a considerable media empire, Berlusconi understood the importance of star power better than most, and it was he who funded the moves for Gullit, Van Basten and Rijkaard. His club was simultaneously fortunate to have such great home-grown players as Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi on its books. Sacchi recognised the value of his cast, but even then maintained that they would be nothing without their director. “De Niro is a fine actor,” he would say. “But you only see it when he appears in a great Coppola film.”

6. Barcelona 2009-11 :Sid Lowe

As Pep Guardiola put it: “It all starts with the Dream Team … we’re all trying to emulate them.” Johan Cruyff’s team were something to aspire to, an idealised image of perfection always just out of reach. Yet this Barcelona surpassed them. They too defeated Real Madrid 5-0, they too set new standards and insisted on the importance of style as well as substance, they too won the European Cup. And not just once, but twice. Or should that read “three times”?

 This is football.

An ‘Iconoclastic’ mail about the Premiership stars

On Mediawatch today (Ref: ’24 hours later’) you mention that

    “We should also take a minute to savour Mr Smith’s words ‘He is, perhaps, the only true global icon plying his trade in the Premier League’ and offer the words ‘Wayne’ and ‘Rooney’.”

Well, let me be a bit of an iconoclast here – great player that he is, the two words ‘Wayne’ and “Rooney’ do not make a global icon. A global icon is not necessarily (one of) the best footballers in the world. David Beckham was probably never among the top three players in Man United leave alone the world, but was he, for a long time, the face of the Premier league to the greater world? Oh yes he was. Cantona was a global icon. Henry was a global icon. Zidane was a global icon. Cristiano Ronaldo is currently the biggest footballing global icon. Messi and Kaka are global icons. And before you say that probably one has to be reasonably okay looking to be a global icon, Ronaldinho, and before him bucktooth Ronaldo, with faces that could sink a thousand ships, were global icons too. However, Rooney is not. British icon he may well be, footballing world icon he is not.

The Premier League is a huge global brand, especially because of its reach, it reaches the non-footballing superpower countries and regions (Africa, Arabic Asia, the Cricketing subcontinent, South east Asia, for example) in a way in which no other football league manages. Only the world cup compares with the Premier League in reach. And I have a bit of a vantage point here, as I am currently in India, and have a fair idea about the football following culture in South east Asia and Arabic Asia, and a little about the South Americas. Rooney is not the face of the premier league to the greater world, Torres is. Even Gerrard and Lampard are bigger global brands than Rooney. If anything, Sir Ferguson is a bigger brand than Rooney to the greater world. Arsenal is similarly icon-malnourished. A match between Arsenal and Man United is always advertised as the clash of Arsene and Sir.

And the shirt sales numbers are misleading. Man United is the most supported club in Asia by a distance (Liverpool comes second). I believe in the rest of the world it is fairly evenly distributed. So how is Torres’s shirt selling the most? It is because the casual not-virulently-supporting-a-club Premier League fan (yes, those exist) will buy the shirt of the biggest icon, and that is Torres. As for Rooney’s shirt sales being the third or fourth highest, that number is misleading too. This club has had global super-icon after super-icon. This club has had Cantona, then Beckham, then Cristiano Ronaldo. This club is the most supported in the shirt-buying world (that mostly excludes Spain and Germany and Italy too. They buy their own clubs’ shirts). The United fans are still there, remember? So whose shirt can they buy? The best player of their club, of course. And that’s Rooney.

Jaxx [{( If Rooney goes to Real Madrid, he will be out of the top 10 in shirt sales )]} B

Mukesh Ambani and Liverpool

(Click Here)

Mukesh Ambani is one smart, smart man. And a proper businessman above everything else.

Owning an IPL team (and he indeed owns Mumbai Indians, the costliest of them all – with Sachin, Jayasuriya, Duminy etc) makes sense because much of the ad revenue goes directly to the owners; plus the Reliance guys have historically have had great clout with the who’s who of India… and owning the biggest IPL team is a major positive in that regard.

What does owning Liverpool give him? Nothing. Can he make money out of Liverpool? He cannot through running the club, the money will have to be ploughed back to the club. Through the eventual sale? Naah, I don’t think Ambani will think that turning around the club and reaping a profit by sale would be worth it because a) the day-to-day hassle would be immense; and b) The glory day of club buy-and-sell is gone. It is not a regulated market like the American sports. The prices will just keep on rising…

Mukesh Ambani isn’t a football buff like Abramovich, so the club will not be a millionaire’s plaything. The Ambanis are not Russian Oligarchs. They are businessmen. And thus, owning a football club does not make financial sense to him at all.

Unfounded rumour, IMHO. False.

Subrata Roy Sahara, however, I am not so sure about.