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. CelticResearch ‏@CelticResearch 8m


    Ian Black on £7k per week. 15% takes that to a very reasonable…er £6k. What other club on this planet would even pay him half that amount?

  2. Snake Plissken on

    Time to strap yourself in and get ready for the comedy roadshow, the circus or whatever else you want to call it.



    The cuts are about to come.

  3. marspapa 18:00



    You might be right as to VvD. Lustig also definitely worth a mention: a really intelligent player.

  4. Phillip Nash wasn’t brought in to do the Greggs run for Fatboy-Slim so the cuts are coming; I wonder if he’ll walk away this time?



    Be interesting to see if he’s asked any difficult questions by the MSM, can’t see it myself…




  5. Martin Corey released from prison



    Martin Corey spent almost four years in jail without trial after his licence was revoked in April 2010


    Continue reading the main story


    Related Stories



    Europe challenge to Corey detention


    Corey’s imprisonment ‘like internment’


    Double killer will stay in prison



    The prominent Irish republican, Martin Corey, has been released after almost four years in prison without trial.



    He had been held in Maghaberry jail since April 2010 without any charges being brought against him, after he was deemed to be a risk to the public.



    The Republican Sinn Féin member is a convicted double murderer.



    Corey was originally sentenced to life in prison in 1973 for his part in the IRA murders of two police officers, but was released on licence in 1992.



    On 27 February, 1973, Corey and two other IRA members ambushed police officers in Aghalee, County Antrim.



    One officer, Constable Raymond Wylie, was killed instantly. Constable Robert McCauley died on 25 March 1973.



    Corey was re-arrested at his home in Lurgan, County Armagh, on 16 April 2010 for alleged involvement with dissident republicans and had been in custody since that date.


    ‘Unspecified allegations’



    He was told he was being sent back to jail because he was considered a risk to the public, but at the time neither Corey, or his legal team, were told why the authorities believed he posed a threat.



    Former Northern Ireland Secretary of State Shaun Woodward had ordered his prison recall on the basis of “closed material” and unspecified allegations of involvement with dissident republicans.



    Corey’s supporters claimed he was being interned without trial and launched a campaign to secure his release.



    Last May, his lawyers said they would challenge his detention in the European court.



    Corey was released from custody on Wednesday evening, following a decision by the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland.



    He left Maghaberry prison in an unmarked van at about 20:00 GMT.


    Martin Corey Corey had been held in Maghaberry Prison



    It is understood the conditions of his release include a ban on speaking to the media.



    Members of the Free Martin Corey Campaign have told the BBC they had concerns about the manner of his release.



    A campaign spokesperson, Cait Trainor, said: “It is clear the continued imprisonment of Martin Corey was a political embarrassment to the Northern Ireland Office and he was released in a way that would ensure minimum publicity.”


    ‘Stark contrast’



    In a statement, a spokeswoman from the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) said that “the independent Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland have issued their judgment in respect of Martin Corey”.



    “The Parole Commissioners have decided to release Martin Corey on a licence that is subject to conditions which are designed to manage the risk they assess him to pose,” the NIO spokeswoman added.



    Ulster Unionist Tom Elliot said the decision to release Corey followed the warning issued to Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly for clinging to a police Land Rover and the suspended sentence given to Old Bailey bomber Marion McGlinchey.



    “The treatment of McGlinchey and Kelly was in stark contrast to the heavy sentences handed down to many non-republicans in recent months feeding the perception that the justice system is being very, very lenient towards republicans,” he said.



    “The decision of the Parole Commissioners to release convicted double murderer Martin Corey, whose licence was revoked in 2010, will only add further weight to that perception.



    “To release Corey at a time when the security services still face a severe threat from republicans still wedded to the failed strategy of physical force seems curious.”



    However, Corey’s solicitor, Peter Murphy said: “We’re delighted that he’s been released, it’s been a long hard crusade for us in seeking his release



    “He never knew the reason for his detention in any specific detail, he never was able to face his accuser.”


    ‘Human rights’



    Corey’s release has been welcomed by Sinn Féin but the party said the government has “lessons to learn from his imprisonment”.



    Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann said: “At no time was he questioned by police or were his legal team shown evidence against him.



    “At no time was due process had. This was a clear abuse of Martin Corey’s human rights and is an indictment on those who held him,” Ms McCann said.



    Corey’s party, Republican Sinn Féin, was formed in 1986 following a split with the Sinn Féin leadership.



    The roots of the fallout were over Sinn Féin’s decision to take seats in the Irish parliament, thus ending its policy of abstention in the Republic of Ireland.

  6. Interesting that the Rangers players have refused a 15% wage reduction when their manager who…



    “…. 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.



    takes a 50% cut.



    Wonder how the Beeb reconcile this with their bulletin when Rangers annual result was posted stated everything was going to plan.






    A few weeks before an IPO as well.



    If I was one of the canny investors I might well be going to the BBC Trust and asking them to make good my substantial losses.

  7. Having read their quotes, it would seem that these are the most feckless, brainless feckers on the planet. They are so dumb and inbred that they just don’t get the big message. They are going down the pan for good this time!

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



    Twists, I think the above statement completely proves ernies comment about there being beguilers of the Celtic persuasion on that site :)

  9. Hurting hun hack Ralston telling the huns, this will be good news as the “glib and shameless liar”might step in and buy the lot……..the huns and the Lapdogs are a match made in Hell

  10. South Of Tunis on

    Serie A



    Yesterday saw the publication of the annual mid season Opinion Poll. —25 k ” adult football supporters ” take part in a poll re Serie A.



    “Best team in Serie A “——–Rubentus


    ” Least liked team in Serie A “——Rubentus


    ” Team receiving most help from Officials “-Rubentus


    ” Team which plays the most attractive football”-Fiorentina


    ” Worst team in Serie A “—–Catania


    AC Milan were voted the second worst team in Serie A ( 3% better than Catania)



    Some great comments Re AC Milan ———–



    ” the defence should be called The Hole in The Wall Gang”


    ” indefensible ”


    ” how that lot are still in the Cl completely escapes me”


    ” as clueless and inept as the average politician “.



    Been a lovely day-way down south . Hot enough to sit in the sun on the prom ( in a t shirt )

  11. leftclick Together we will get justice for the Dam 5 on

    Wow just wow ayr chairman if Ian black was not of so lightly my player would have been banned till the end of the season

  12. The share price in jelly and ice cream has rocketed ! A spokesman for Ben and Jerry’s has said its gonna be great news especially for those who love hundreds and thousands :))

  13. valentinesday 2 coming soon



    18:18 on 16 January, 2014


    Getting worried, this could be the end of of fat Sally.



    By enforcing a pay cut they may have found Sally’s soft centre…and that takes some doing!

  14. Djynwa….



    Guys like Martin Corey should just fade away……the war is over…..the rebels won.



    If he had any real intentions of a peaceful solution then he and his organisation should let it be or their actions will condemn another generation to misery.




  15. South Of Tunis on

    Oscar nominations ———-



    I really liked Nebraska


    I was moved by Philomena ( powerful movie )


    I absolutely loved La Grande Bellezza —–fabulous film .



    Not on the list ———-I went to see The Book Thief —–great book ,very disappointing film.

  16. DeJaVuol’s would be a suitable name for the next installment of the Establishment team although it is more likely to be The Rangers Universal.



    Is it possible to access SSB on the Internet?

  17. Snake Plissken on

    How much is that stadium valued at?


    How much will repairs cost?


    How much to get the Spivs out and pay them off?


    How much to rebuild a team that is asking players to take a wage cut and are likely to be sold or walk away for free again?


    Can they take a hit this season in points and still win the league?


    Would they wait to the end of the season and take a points hit next season in a league containing full time players and teams who know how hard it is to get out of that league with Hearts more or less in that league?


    Why would anyone even a guy like the be all and end all Dave King want to take all that on and blow all his money?




    This is the beginning of the end for Sevco.



    These are all real questions.



    Why have they not been asked before now?



    We know the answers but it would seem that some brains simply cannot fathom these things.

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