Since the NESV takeover his blog has been rather quiet on what the owners have done since they assumed the reigns at L4
Thankfully most of this can be put down the distraction of football matches however, it’s always there in the background as John W Henry has been on a number of occasions most recently on Thursday night.
It’s clearly premature to talk about the impact the new owners have made after such a short space of time but the appointment of Damien Comolli as “Director of Football Strategy” set off some alarm bells in the press. Most of them, having decided to move the ”strategy” element from the title, were along the lines of “oh dear they’ve got a “director of football” this doesn’t work in England and it will put Roy Hodgson’s nose out of joint”. The fact that HRH welcomed the appointment is not necessarily a seal of approval and it remains to be seen if there is a conflict of responsibilities regarding the team.
As regards this being an alien concept to the EPL well that doesn’t mean it will not work. There have been examples in the past of failures ie. Dennis Wise at Newcastle however, that could be because it’s just Dennis Wise! I guess the roles need to be made clear and that is to support the manager of the team rather work against, or undermine him. What I can’t abide is this sort of thing being lazily dismissed out of hand because of past examples which suggest Liverpool FC automatically will go down the same route before it’s even been given a shot.
Ultimately Comolli will be judged by the players he has helped bring to the club. This will take on more importance as, even at this early stage, it seems clear that we won’t have the mountains of cash to throw at players such as we’ve seen at Eastlands and, in the past, Stamford Bridge. Henry so far has adopted a cautious approach. He has been coy over his finances with relation to the takeover and spending on players and the stadium. He has stressed the importance of bringing through youth and mentioned Arsenal and The Mancs of examples of where this has worked.
This is a slow process but in my book, if done correctly, more rewarding. However, Henry cannot expect to administer this policy on the cheap. I think there is a balance to be struck and one that clubs such as Arsenal haven’t achieved. We need to supplement this policy with one or two big name signings? As for the stadium well hell we are in a recession so one can understand his caution on that one. It’s a small consolation but unlike Statler and Waldolf at least Henry hasn’t made any rash, arrogant promises. However so far all we’ve had is talk, it’s early and the jury is still out, in every aspect.
Which brings us today’s match against Chelsea. It’s sad indictment of how success, or lack of it, is judged these days that some joker on BBC Five Live suggested Manchester City, and therefore Paulo Maldini’s job, were in crisis because they have lost three games in a row. Presumably as we have won three in a row we are world beaters just as Gareth Bale is after two games against Inter Milan!! Nonsense in every respect and an insult to fans and listeners on all accounts. All that can be said is that hopefully we come it today’s game with a strong sense of purpose and increased confidence fashioned on the back of three, but not entirely comprehensive, wins.
Chelsea are the team to beat at present. Yet the side is essentially the same as it has been for some years so we could win just as they could thrash us! HRH put forward an usual theory
“It may not be long before they have a bad spell and you’re asking what’s gone wrong with Chelsea. If, after 38 games, you ask me what is it that made Chelsea champions, I might be more interested in answering the question, but not after 10”
Ok but perhaps it might be more appropriate to concentrate on us, but continuing the theme perhaps Carlo Ancelotti is still chastened by Istanbul when he was manger of AC Milan.
“It wasn’t easy recovering from that defeat in Istanbul. We’d played a fantastic game and it takes time to get over losing a game when you were winning 3-0. Mourinho reminded me a lot of times about it, and I didn’t need that from him. Sometimes I still think about it, and it means I’m not sure we’re safe in any game. If we’re 4-1 up against Spartak Moscow, I can’t relax because I remember that a team can concede three times in six minutes. I can only relax with five minutes to go”
Good old Jose what a wag! Personally I’d rather us perform well than hope that Chelsea f*ck it up or that Ancelotti has a destructive flash back. Even though we won three on the trot we’ll need anything we can get in what will be a big test for us and another benchmark / milestone on HRH’s tenure. Win this and many will be convinced we have turned a corner, lose and it will be more of the same negativity?
Prediction. I was thinking about what I’d say for this a bit earlier and was all for saying a win however I then realised this was down to happiness at winning three on the trot and not dispassionately weighing up the opposition. In reality Chelsea will be much sterner test that Blackburn. Bolton or Napoli so it has to be 2-0 to us, did you really think I’d say anything else!
By the way this blog now has an index of match reports since it started in October 2006 so for machinations of previous games, against Chelsea (and by Christ there are lots of them) since this date click here.