Alex Chick

  • Does hiring and firing work?

    I've gone all geeky this week and done some number
    crunching, hoping to discover whether managerial changes have a generally
    positive or negative effect.

    I'll tell you now, the results are deeply inconclusive, but
    hey ho, I've done the work, so here you are:

    Since summer 2007, there have been 24 mid-season managerial
    changes and only nine during the close season.

    In any other business, executives would wait until the end
    of a natural cycle, analyse the manager's performance and decide whether a
    change was necessary.

    Not so in football. Of the 33 changes in the last three and
    a half years, less

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  • ‘Lino-gate’ getting out of hand

    Day two of Lino-gate, as nobody is calling it, and as with all manufactured scandals
    we have entered the phase of 'pressure intensifying' on Richard Keys and Andy Gray.

    The latest revelation is that Gray discussed with touchline
    reporter Andy Burton whether or not lineswoman Sian Massey is "a bit of a
    looker"
    - for which Burton has now been suspended.

    Which seems a bit harsh, since Burton was merely going on the
    say-so of 'Steve the cameraman'. What action is being taken against him?

    As the media seeks to whip up a storm of public outrage, and
    turn Keys and Gray into this decade's Ross and

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  • Time to overreact

    International football is tailor-made for overreactions. You only play 10 games every year, so each match takes on a far greater significance.

    Lose in the Premier League? Never mind, you have a chance to put it right next weekend or sooner.

    Not in the international game. England will be festering over their dismantling by France until the end of March, when they face Wales in Cardiff.

    If we put our rational hat on, we can point out that Fabio Capello's England team kicked off their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign with impressive wins against Bulgaria and Switzerland.

    We can point out that

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  • Chelsea won’t miss Wilkins

    Ray Wilkins's removal as Chelsea's assistant manager is an odd one, alright.

    Last night, he sat next to Carlo Ancelotti during the 1-0 win against Fulham, and today he watched a reserve team match at the Blues' Cobham training ground.

    At half-time, he was reportedly called away and given his marching orders.

    Hardly the most dignified exit for a man who brought a welcome touch of grace and humility to Chelsea.

    Everyone in football agrees that Wilkins is a thoroughly nice man. Yet, whatever the circumstances of his sacking, his absence will not be keenly felt.

    Not because there is anything wrong

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  • Blanc slate shows England the way

    The last time England played France at Wembley it was 1999, and the visiting world champions boasted the following starting XI:

    Barthez, Thuram, Blanc, Desailly, Lizarazu, Pires, Zidane, Deschamps, Petit, Djorkaeff, Anelka.

    On Wednesday night those legendary names will be succeeded by the likes of Rami, M'Vila and Valbuena. They will be selected by one of the legends, Laurent Blanc.

    In one sense, Blanc's untested, experimental and frankly weak side is a mark of how far Les Bleus have fallen.

    But perhaps Blanc's bold renovation of the national team shows the path England might have taken but

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  • Hughton axe spells danger for Toon

    A few weeks ago, I wrote here that Chelsea would not miss their recently deposed assistant manager Ray Wilkins.

    They haven't won a league game since, in four attempts.

    I argued that Wilkins's tangible contribution to the squad in terms of coaching and tactical input was neither particularly significant nor irreplaceable - and that now Carlo Ancelotti's English was up to scratch he wasn't required to decipher the Italian's words.

    I forgot about the intangibles. About the importance of the pleasant atmosphere engendered by Butch's presence around the Cobham training ground.

    About the

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  • The best performance ever

    After Barcelona
    destroyed Real Madrid last night, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho agreed that they
    are not really five goals better than their great rivals.

    Mourinho said:
    "The result today does not reflect the
    difference between the two teams," while Guardiola parroted: "This match isn't representative of the difference between the
    two teams." 

    True, if the game were
    replayed on Saturday it would probably not finish 5-0 again, but the result
    perfectly reflected the gaping chasm between the teams on the night.

    This was not one of
    those drubbings that flatters the winners (England's 5-1 win in

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  • Chaos engulfs zombie Grant

    What on
    earth is going on at West Ham? Even when getting behind their manager, they generate
    controversy.

    Avram Grant
    might be staying, but his position is hardly more tenable than it was on
    Saturday, and the week's events could potentially spark a witch hunt that might
    divide the club.

    The Hammers
    put out a statement this morning
    following a report in the Daily Mirror that
    vice-chairman Karren Brady had texted players asking them whether Grant should
    be sacked.

    The club
    flatly denied Brady, who happens to write a diary for the Mirror's biggest
    rivals, had done anything of the sort. They also

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  • And the Ballon d’Or goes to…

    The Ballon d'Or might be an individual award, but the list of nominees is a triumph of the team.

    A World Cup year is always going to be dominated by stars of that tournament, but the 23-man shortlist leans spectacularly towards those who shone in South Africa.

    Twelve of the 23 nominees played for the two best teams - Spain and Germany - while all of them took part in the World Cup.

    Do more than half of the world's elite players come from two countries? Of course not. They looked good because they were part of successful teams.

    The counter-argument is that Spain and Germany were the best teams

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  • When it’s good to get sacked

    It can't be much fun getting the sack.

    In the real world, most people who get sacked are actually
    'made redundant' - not that the euphemism comes as much comfort to someone who
    is told their job no longer exists.

    But very few people ever get properly fired for being bad at
    their job. In fact, it is damn near impossible to remove them unless they are
    guilty of some terrible act of misconduct - usually perpetrated at a drunken office
    knees-up.

    Not so in football management, where people are sacked the
    whole time. It used to be you only got the hook if results were bad, and even
    then at the end

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