Ballsy innovation comes crashing


Yesterday, Southampton’s chairman Nicola Cortese resigned.  Depending on how long you have been trailing this story, he is either being tempted to take up the chef exec job at struggling Milan, or has found working under owner Katharine Liebharr too much.  It’s also possible that Ms Liebharr has insisted on a return on her family’s two rounds of investment in the club and forced his hand.

Five years ago Cortese was a working in Switzerland as a banker and acted on behalf of the now-deceased and father of Katharine, Markus Liebharr.  They successfully put a deal together to buy Southampton FC and rescue the club from administration (liquidation is not inevitable, some clubs survive).  Cortese had no previous experience in the football industry.

Southampton are a small club who seem cursed to produce incredibly talented youth players, only to see extraordinarily bad executives spurn their bounty.  I remember writing about their ‘blood on the boardroom carpet’ six years ago.

A year ago this Saturday, Cortese sacked Nigel Atkins, the manager who won them two successive promotions and put them in a comfortable position on the FA Premier League.  Cortese was to 2013 what Vincent Tan is to 2014, the butt of a thousand jokes, but none of us were reading the script.

Cortese’ next move was to appoint Argentine Mauricio Pochettino, the 40-year-old  recently sacked manager of Espanyol.  Southampton haven’t looked back, despite the words “Hooiveld” and “Fox” regularly featuring on team sheets.

Pochettino is now one of the hottest properties in football but he’s not the story, his former boss is.  In appointing a young, low-profile, manager, Cortese tackled square-on the biggest problem in football – the vast risk invested on the shoulders of one man, the manager.  A football manager is expected to be a master of tactics, a motivational dressing room speaker, a media communications expert, a scout and pretty much guru of everything.

None of them are good at all of this.  As a consequence, clubs invest vast proportions of turnover on player wages and transfers, with haphazard diligence being carried out.  The man ultimately responsible for approving this spend is more likely to be a shouty media darling, spending an average of 2.5 years at the club, than someone who has experience of long-term strategic planning.

Cortese figured that what he really needed in a manager was a tactical head, someone who could run a technical team, consulting with scouts, coaches, nutritionists and fitness trainers, and come up with what American football teams call a playbook.  You want to play at Old Trafford?  This is what worked when small teams visited the Bernabeu last season.  Playing teams’ taller/faster/luckier with referees than you?  You’ve got to see how these guys are leveling the playing field in Uruguay.

Football clubs need their manager to be Master of Tactics, and if they can concentrate him on this, they’re doing better than 90% of clubs in the game.  They don’t need someone ‘connected’ to agents in value markets, this attribute can be recruited easily.  They don’t need a good media talker.  Despite being able to speak English, Pochettino gives press conferences through an interpreter.  Yet the fans love him!

Clubs don’t need someone to play to the galleries, or someone with the ability to induce affinity from his public, most of the time results will keep (most) fans onside.

With his technically-proficient and happy-to-be-working-anywhere manager installed, Cortese had all operations working as he wanted, including the inordinately expensive recruitment process.  Sacking a good and successful manager in Atkins was the most ballsy and innovative thing to happen in English football in decades, but he was operating in an industry which is the biggest financial basket case in sport.  So, despite his clarity of vision, the Southampton gig was never going to last.

Today’s newspapers predict a mass exodus as Pochettino and Southampton’s gifted players head for the exit, good news for Joos and Danny, perhaps, but you feel for the beleaguered fans, who were shown a glimpse of how things should be done, but for years will wonder, what could have been?

The rest of us can ponder the opportunity available due to entrenched inefficiencies in football.

“You should always have pressure on you”, Stefan Johansen, 15 January 2014.  I like this guy already.

Last shout for North America based Celtic fans for the Feile, which starts in Philidelphia tomorrow. Full details of the events can be found here. it’s bound to be a great weekend so get along if you can.
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  1. ryecatcher



    14:13 on 16 January, 2014




    ‘A life long socialist of the proper variety……by his actions and not his rhetoric.’







    Which actions specifically?

  2. Tomtheleedstim



    Address for Sainsburys Leeds Headrow



    22-26 The Headrow






    LS1 8EQ


    Telephone: 0113 259 8620


    Sainsburys in Leeds Headrow Store Opening Times:



    Opening: Closing:


    Monday: 07:00 23:00


    Tuesday: 07:00 23:00


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    Thursday: 07:00 23:00


    Friday: 07:00 23:00


    Saturday: 07:00 23:00


    Sunday: 11:00 17:00





    Also on Amazon with next day delivery.

  3. A cracking read for any user just logging in.



    RFC dying has opened all our eyes to the corruption in Scotland to help the cheats & charity thieves so enjoy.



    From Bhoy Eddie twitter.



    189 0 Rate This



    Reply from slim shady TSFM






    For some reason your humourous response to me at 9.40am appears to have disappeared so I can’t comment on precisely what you said as I can only see snippets in later posts by others.


    To cut to the chase, my philosophy in life is to work hard and treat others as you would expect to be treated.


    Today I spent most of the time assisting three clients who have genuine financial difficulties, particularly in relation to HMRC. They want to pay what they owe, they acknowledge the debt and, with assistance from their legal and financial advisers they are taking steps to sort themselves out and pay HMRC. Yes it will be late, and yes it will be paid over a longish timescale, but they will get there in the end.


    Those are the kind of people I respect. We are after all travelling this road together so it gars me greet when I see other people (“the big shots”) who regard red traffic lights, rules & regulations and social taxes as an irrelevance and just for the little people.


    If we all aped the behaviour of the big shots who consider the rules don’t apply to them, there would chaos. Thankfully the vast majority don’t.


    In the context of this and previous fori, what inspired me to put finger to keyboard in the first place some 3 years ago was the knowledge that in the sporting realm, one of our biggest clubs, with enormous responsibility, to football, to its supporters and to the larger society, had decided some time previously that it was one of the big shots to whom the rules didn’t apply.


    Friendly banks would offer soft loans to it with no inkling as to repayment,


    high falutin advisers would come up with fancy tax schemes to avoid the basic social taxes required to keep the wheels of society turning,


    responsible journalists turned a blind, blue-tinted eye to the goings on,


    PR guys would plant stories, bluff and threaten their way through the Scottish press to paint a picture which was a travesty of reality


    employees of the big shot were encouraged to, and did knowingly, shred documents which the law required to be kept and produced,


    employees of the big shot prevaricated for 4 years in dealing with an enquiry by a government body into the non-payment of taxes


    falsehoods and half truths were advanced to allow a public hearing to be heard in private and the witness given anonymity, against all the laws of the tribunal


    officers and employees of the big shot lied and dissembled in front of this tribunal, having delayed its course for over 18 months


    the authority in charge of the game turned a blind eye to everything, being itself headed by an individual who for 27 years had been employed by the big shot, been part of such goings on and had himself enjoyed being a big shot to whom the normal laws regarding taxation did not apply.


    Thankfully, this Biggest of the big shots got its come-uppance – liquidation, humiliation and repudiation, but not before shafting the people with whom it did business, from the heights of HM Treasury down to the shoddy depths of its near neighbour, the newsagent round the corner in Copland Road.


    The squalid list of creditors should be writ large and pasted all over the red brick facade of Ibrox Stadium, as a reminder to all.


    Had the remnants of the biggest big shot reformed, adopted a pose of genuine remorse and sought with humility to play its way back into the sporting life of this nation, we could all have accepted that and indeed most including me would have welcomed it.


    Instead what we have witnessed over the past 2 years has been nothing short of disgraceful as lawmakers have sought to bend the rules,


    agreements have been drawn up in secret,


    journalists have ignored the truth and peddled lies,


    employees of the new entity have pronounced consequences to be punishments, used dog whistle tactics to scare and intimidate people, harassed those few journalists who do tell the truth and insisted that the big shot is still exactly the same big shot as existed two years ago, bar the debts


    the same PR guy continue to place stories that seek to rewrite history, cover up the truth or just plain muck-spread in the hope that some of it will stick.


    On top of all of that, the public service broadcaster in this country has proved itself to be partial to an unacceptable extent to the interests of the big shot, old and new versions (though of course they are purported to be one and the same); its sports programmes are packed to the gunnels with ex-players, managers and agents of the big club so that no impartial comment is permitted but rather the lies and half-truths surrounding the club that didn’t die (just shed its debt you know) continue to be broadcast on radio and television ad nauseam.


    That cover up and the continuing lies are what drives those of us who believe in equity and fairness. We are not driven by bile, but are we angry? You’d better believe it.


    It is clear to anyone with a modicum of a financial knowledge that the new big shot is shortly going to run out of money.


    That it should come to this after everything that has happened is a scandal on an unprecedented scale. Scottish football is coming to a crossroads and seems ill prepared to make the right decisions, mainly because of the distortion of the truth that has plagued the game for the past 2 years.


    Finally, to those who thought my references to assisted suicide in poor taste, there was absolutely no offence intended and I regret if you were.


    For the past 2 years this and other similar sites have referred to self-inflicted wounds, slow lingering deaths, autopsies, post-mortems, zombies, skeletons and worse. So I trust I can be forgiven for not foreseeing that drawing a parallel between the self-inflicted (with assistance from HBOS and a compliant press) death of the inanimate object that was Rangers and the much heralded assisted, but mainly self-inflicted (so I am told) death of a fictional person in a television soap opera could cause offence.


    54 (paragraphs, sorry!)

  4. RIP Roger Lloyd Pack




    Sandman – Liked all your reviewed shows but have you seen Sons of Anarchy?


    Excellent show which is a lot more than a show about a biker gang.


    Brilliant stories and very good cast. Seasons 1-5 on DVD and season 6 about to start possibly on 5USA (they had it last year but talk of Sky taking it on).





    /Bishop B

  5. stephebhoy1



    14:22 on 16 January, 2014


    I have the whole breaking bad on usb key,,,great show




    Oooooooo look at you :>{}



    I have it on a microchip embedded in my brain …. So there ;>[]

  6. Len Brennan



    was that you moonlighting on the Guardian website? And if so, shouldn’t you let people know that your first love is Pollok Juniors?



    I hope it was you since I replied as if you/the poster were an auld haun’

  7. And the value continues to fall…….







    Time/Date Price Volume Trade Value Type


    13:15:44 16-Jan-2014 27.02 235 63.49 Ordinary trade


    13:14:31 16-Jan-2014 27.90 1,075 299.92 Ordinary trade


    13:08:38 16-Jan-2014 27.90 396 110.48 Ordinary trade


    12:56:11 16-Jan-2014 27.90 342 95.42 Ordinary trade


    12:50:33 16-Jan-2014 27.90 8 2.23 Ordinary trade

  8. Breaking Bad is very watchable but it glorifies drug dealing and taking and is racist as well.



    Series 1 is more like a soap opera.



    Series 4 is when it kicked in for me.

  9. Henr1k…..



    Have been following Slimshady for nearly 3 years now on RTC then Pravda (TSFM).



    Consistently brilliant posts put across with incredible humour.



    He probably lurks on here…..wish he would post.Knowledgable guy.



    Laugh a minute but serious too……a rare gift

  10. Afternoon Timland from a damp hun free mountain valley






    You are tring to send a pic from your e mail address, all it does is takes whoever clicks on your link to their e mail, you have to put the pic into another prog like photobucket or something similar.



    Paul67 gave me a yellow card for doing the same thing BTW.




  11. !!bada bing!!



    14:29 on 16 January, 2014






    14:39 on 16 January, 2014




    Agreed lads it has opened our eyes to the lengths they’ll go to help them.

  12. Ernie…..



    A lot of his wealth funded CND and anti war campaigns.



    He didn’t need publicity,loud hailers or banners.



    Don’t think he had indefatigueability or ever frequented Manchester hostess clubs either.

  13. The Moon Bhoys on

    “RFC lost their license in 2012, now they have no license and are presently undergoing liquidation,



    Sevco FC are a brand new club founded by Charles Green esq with 1 season of inglorious history”



    Just a thought, founded by Charles Green, that must really stick in their throats, no wonder they claim to be the same club.

  14. Duntocher_Bhoy



    12:51 on 16 January, 2014



    An excellent article! Can’t help but like Mauricio Pochettino.



    Wonder if he would be interested in applying his skills in the Champions League in the next few seasons, perhaps with a team in Green and White?



    Are Sporting Lisbon recruiting a new manager?

  15. Len, from the Guardian






    16 January 2014 12:56pm







    I had no idea until his death that he had played at the start of his career for Pollok Juniors, which will mean nothing to most but was my local local team and a well respected Scottish Junior outfit.



    Also the first team I paid for myself to get into. I’m tempted to say it cost me 25p but more likely it was £1.”

  16. tomtheleedstim





    14:18 on



    16 January, 2014





    I’ll tell you what is brilliant – Outnumbered. Supposed to be a kids programme. My kids bring round the dvds and it’s as funny as feck. I think it has been going for years but I’m new to the party as usual.






    Outnumbered is a classic – about the best I have ever watched.



    It is “written” by Andy Hamilton but he allows the cast, especially the children to adlib as they like. You can see the looks on the adults’ faces as young Karen ( about 5 years old) starts to explain her conversion to Satanism.



    I have no idea why it is not regarded as in the same stable as Fawlty Towers.

  17. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon, supporting WEE OSCAR..!!.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on




    14:39 on 16 January, 2014



    “Laugh a minute but serious too……a rare gift”






    Sounds just like me…. :)

  18. cadizzy



    14:50 on 16 January, 2014



    Len, from the Guardian






    16 January 2014 12:56pm







    I had no idea until his death that he had played at the start of his career for Pollok Juniors, which will mean nothing to most but was my local local team and a well respected Scottish Junior outfit.



    Also the first team I paid for myself to get into. I’m tempted to say it cost me 25p but more likely it was £1.”






    Hahaha.. wish it was me but sadly not!





    /Bishop B

  19. googybhoy ♥ Celtic


    14:25 on


    16 January, 2014





    14:22 on 16 January, 2014


    I have the whole breaking bad on usb key,,,great show



    Oooooooo look at you :>{}



    I have it on a microchip embedded in my brain …. So there ;>[]





    I`m so happy for you,,,,

  20. I know the season has a long way to go, but it’s interesting to consider who might get Celtic Player of the Year at this stage. KC? VvD? Maybe VvD for Young Player of the Year?

  21. Duntocher_Bhoy, thanks.



    67Heaven, I originally wrote that line differently, then thought better……



    Sandman, thanks.

  22. Len Brennan….



    Chibs on Sons of Anarchy (Tommy Flanagan) is a massive Tim from Milton.

  23. tomtheleedstim on

    Hrvatski Jim/Gordon_J – yes it is excellent and definitely treads a fine line with regards to kids/adult humour. The Uncle Bob funeral episode was toe curling and hilarious in equal measures. I wonder why it hasn’t got more acclaim?

  24. Geordie munroe



    Hmmmmmm, well there ti go, cause yi see Paul’s new articles come up on a red card on my lap top, and a yellow on my IPad, so on a technicality ……NOT GUILTY ;))

  25. glendalystonsils on

    The Moon Bhoys


    14:48 on


    16 January, 2014


    “RFC lost their license in 2012, now they have no license and are presently undergoing liquidation,



    Sevco FC are a brand new club founded by Charles Green esq with 1 season of inglorious history”



    Love it.


    We get Brother Walfrid, they get Charles Green. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

  26. ryecatcher



    15:11 on 16 January, 2014



    Len Brennan….



    Chibs on Sons of Anarchy (Tommy Flanagan) is a massive Tim from Milton.






    Is he.. even better!


    He’s brilliant in it as well and he doesn’t even bother trying to change his accent.


    Yanks must really struggle at times as he becomes a more major character as the seasons go on!





    /Bishop B

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