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. FFer’s ask themselves if they’ve done enough in Sevco’s cause:



    “We have done NOTHING.


    Do you think Celtic would have been allowed to get to this stage; a stage where we look like renting Ibrox from hedge funders?


    There would be international campaigns led by Rod Stewart and Bono and it would have been heavily supported by the media and influential politicians.


    We are going down the pan without so much as a whimper.”




    “I’ve almost given up fighting the spivs but I feel we are headed for another disaster – it’s just a matter of when.”




    “We are like a tooth-less lions”




    “We need to resist taking our season books this summer. Admin 2 (and maybe even Liquidation 2) will then come along. Then comes the risk. Either good Rangers men will step forward and buy the club (& history), or else the next batch of spivs will swoop.”




    “The [Celtic] in their time of need had the printed press, television, radio, politicians and their church all speaking out and supporting their cause. The had focal points created for them.


    We have had no one, not one person in the printed press, not one person on any television station, not one person on any radio station. Politicians, church, don’t make me laugh, they live in fear of Fat Eck and [Catholics].”




    ” I have preached this message of”into the night without a whimper”for many a year and not just about Rangers but what is happening to this country.Nobody listens,I would say


    Protestants have had their day in Scotland.”




    “The trouble we have is that we have always seen our club as an Institution, in Scotland this is a unique point of view and in our current predicament is holding us back. Timothy only ever supported the team and Manager, we always held our board and Chairmen in esteem. We support the club from the guy on the turnstile to the Chairman, which is now somewhat leaving a number of our fans in a position of almost Presbyterian Guilt”




    “They would have used there poor downtrodden mopery card to call on support from politicians , media and the SFA, its the reason they excist.


    Thats the differance


    We are the Protestant majority, in this corrupt midden of a country, we are on our own, without a platform to state our case.


    Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers, but like many others, I await the call to arms”




    “There is absolutely no way the Celtic support would have tolerated Murray in his second decade nor failed to see through the Whyte takeover.


    It is inconceivable that they’d have quislings [such as Alastair?]who tried to snuggle up to spivs who were raping their club.”




    “A lot of it is down to us as a [“the” peole surely] people and our upbringing.


    100% total respect for authority.


    Be it Parent ,Teacher or Policeman and for those of us who joined the Loyal Orders the Worthy Master.


    David Murray was the ultimate lord and most Worthy Master for a whole generation, never, not ever to be questioned.”

  2. Tonydonnelly…



    Yer an auld feckin technophobe.



    Why don’t ya invite one of FOCUS around and they’ll show you what to do with photies?



    You can both get stuck into the Green Brigade too haha



    God Bless our (Innocent of seatbreaking) Brigade Vert




  3. Monaghan1900


    17:09 on


    16 January, 2014



    Whaow . Always knew it but there really are some zoomers follow the deady bears.

  4. Ryecatcher @ 16;58,



    Too true. Say what you like about England but that would never have happened down here.



    Scottish Football ~ integrity et al is bent inside out to facilitate the Ibrox Clubs.



    Look where it gets them, Ibrox once a Loyal Victorian Institution is enhanced to the Steampunk version we can now see before us.



    Hail Hail

  5. Monaghan1900



    So it would appear the Sevconians are a bit down beat, defeated even, realising their sordid game is up.



    Get it rightroonthum!

  6. tomtheleedstim on

    Monaghan1900 – my favourite one is the guy who, after all the previous chat about their lack of action, says he will “await the call to arms” which is much the same as seeing how it pans out.


    hehehe – stupid huns.

  7. tomtheleedstim on

    This been on? http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/25763595?



    By Alasdair Lamont


    Senior football reporter, BBC Scotland


    Rangers players have rejected the Ibrox club’s proposal of an across the board 15% wage cut.


    Manager Ally McCoist had been told that he would have to make cuts to his playing budget.


    McCoist has been in discussions with Graham Wallace as the chief executive undertakes a comprehensive review of the Ibrox finances.


    The players’ wage bill at the League One side currently stands between £6m and £7m per annum.


    Last week, McCoist signed off on a pay cut of around 50%, which he agreed to in October.


    And consultant Philip Nash has been brought to Ibrox to help oversee the financial overhaul.

  8. corkcelt- SUPPORTING THE DAM 5 on

    Monaghan1900 Thanks for that little collection of gems, must say it made me roar with laughter.

  9. corkcelt- SUPPORTING THE DAM 5 on

    No doubt the next snippet from the deluded is that Jon Daly is leading the Hun players in resisting wage cuts.

  10. corkcelt- SUPPORTING THE DAM 5 on

    Apologies for cut & paste from Bear’s Den but below is one of the responses to BBC story of Sevco players refusing to take a wage cut..





    “Absolutely unbelievable..



    If anyone ever doubted that we were in the shit again then this confirms it.”

  11. Monaghan1900



    17:09 on 16 January, 2014



    There’s some Timposters in among that lot, just itching to break cover, but resisting the temptation and twisting the knife ever so subtly.

  12. ryecatcher



    15:11 on 16 January, 2014



    The Flanagans are an interesting family I have known them for more than 20 years

  13. Monaghan



    “The [Celtic] in their time of need had the printed press, television, radio, politicians and their church all speaking out and supporting their cause. The had focal points created for them.



    What fekkin planet do these peepil live on…?

  14. Corkcelt



    For me, the most hilarious comment on the thread, bearing in mind there are quite a few, was this gem:




    “I’m beginning to doubt Ally has a 10m war chest now”



    I think he might be right:-))

  15. Tonydonnelly…..



    I’m coming up to Glesga in March.



    Usually take my auld Da to Paradise in the afternoon,a quick bite then the Grand Ole Opry at night.He loves his live country and western and all the quick on the draw stuff.



    Fine dining to the Auld Yin is usually nothing more than Harry Ramsdens ….he was born into a Great Depression in Glasgow in 1930…..a knife and fork then would have been considered posh cuisine….so he’s easy to please in that respect.



    If I drop into the Brazen Heed en route,and happen to see a handsome auld bastard (you must be judging by the amount of times you’ve tried to post yer photie!!)….then I will buy him a pint and a hauf….ok?

  16. Sevco fans will not be able to handle the cuts that are coming their way. The ridiculous signings and talk of war chests has finally gone and their wee blue noses will be running as the cold winds of austerity blow through Poundland.




  17. Whats in a name?



    I see Kilwinning Rangers have also run out of cash.



    Queens Park Rangers are £90 m in debt.



    Seems as though Stafford are the richest Rangers……..

  18. Ernie Lynch @ 17.38



    ‘Some Timposters’



    Just ‘some’ ?




    Jimbo67 supporting Oscar Knox

  19. Ryecatcher



    Aye not a prob. Look forward to it. On the photie it wasent me, it’s the guy in it, I wanted to know if anyone could recognise him, I will work on it, al get there eventually ;)

  20. Phil MacGiollaBhain ‏@Pmacgiollabhain 6m


    “Rangers are in now Administration in everything but name.” This was said to me by a senior person in a SPFL championship club today.

  21. Ernie…..



    I’ve posted a few things on Rainjurz Meeja and caused riots online haha



    Won’t tell ya my moniker though as they lurk on here like we do over there.



    They are so easy to reel in ,it is worrying at their level of intelligence.



    You really must think such a gene pool can’t survive the next evolutionary cycle.

  22. Chris Graham has been very quiet on twitter today. Maybe he got a heads up on the austerity cuts. Looking forward to SSB now. Or maybe they will deal with it the same they did Charlotte. Fingers in ears.

  23. Twists n turns…..



    Even Stafford Rangers’ ex owner got banged up for fraud.



    A certain good looking lady who has just cooked me a lovely dinner, had a great view of the court proceedings after she was sworn in …..

  24. Fassreifen 15:07



    Vvd might take the lot , commons will be up there , if Lustig had kept fit he would have been my choice , we all see things differently .

  25. Its a wonderful irony that Super Sally has now killed two version of RFC.



    His inability as football manager meant the original RFC couldn’t limp along on European money forcing Craigey bhoy’s hand to pull the plug.



    His latest attempt at managing a new football club has seen him run up a wage bill that has literally choke the life out of the fledgling club .



    The fat joker wlll have a special place in both their histories.

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