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Leadership and Premier League: The examples of Sunderland and Liverpool

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Leaders, managers or coaches deals with issues every day and follows the goals of the clubs that employ them. The different structures depend on the owners and how they perceive the handling of the club. Structures are either set for more power for the owner or more of a coach that has little authority in a club. That goes from Transfers Committee that together with owner picks their targets and aims to build the clubs. Secondly you have the managers who decide the targets on his own.

There is also the difference that shows how much the actual manager will do. Not only picking the tactics and fresh players on match day. They have issues with the contracts and the basic running and progression of the club in general. Because the Manager has a genuine role as the person who is known figure for the club as a president is the leader of a country. Though the powers have a reach for a Manager, but has more pivotal role in a club then a coach or trainer. Like Carver was in Newcastle in the end of the season last year he had less of a reach, then say Mourinho in Chelsea who has put his stamp on the team. I know Carver was a temporary fix before hiring the new manager who has gotten certain freedoms though for many it doesn’t look like it has done the trick for the Northern Club.

I will not talk about Newcastle today, though their spirals of negatives are running high. It’s been like that ever since they sold Cabaye to PSG. The owner Ashley hasn’t run the club well for other things then earning money for the coffers of him the owner and not building a powerful squad. Therefore they are in the role of Aston Villa and are yet another year of fighting relegation and will be amazing if they ever in this campaign get-a-back-to-back VICTORY! We all know that. But I will talk about the club who has showed loosen and digging deeper and deeper on the bottom of the Premier League, that is Sunderland and the ‘Stadium of Lights’.

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Sunderland and the sad tale of Dick Advocaat:

Yesterday the experienced and well-founded manager Dick Advocaat resigned his position in Sunderland after short stint at the club, like so many other of his peers. He was the third savoir in three seasons for the club. First it was Paolo Di Canio who took over and was sacked in second campaign. Then came Gus Poyet in and did an amazing save of the club with big scalps, before continuing another campaign which all the power and flow of the team was in shambles and then they hired Dick Advocaat. Advocaat saved them by a thread last campaign and took on another campaign with promise of getting fresh players to strengthen the squad, because it was needed. There been over time picked cheap options and certain quick fixes instead of building a strong team at ‘Stadium of Lights’.

Ellis Short the owner can defend himself with saying that he hasn’t earned a penny from the club because of the wage paradigm that is in the club. The way the big signing this season was in some way Borini who was one of the first players brought into Liverpool by Brendan Rogders and never fitted the bill. Had one good campaign in Sunderland even if has a loose shot and misses on golden opportunities often. Kaboul went from Tottenham who was to unstable in the defense for them and the same with Coates also from Liverpool. Because the older Brown and O’Shea has not the standard and speed for the league anymore, even if they back in the day was futures under Ferguson in Manchester United. They have gotten this season on loan the striker Lens who showed a magnificent goal that made 2-0 and got Advocaat in tears of joy. This shows for me maybe the best moment of the 8th Round for the simple reason to show how great of a heart as a leader Advocaat has!

Even if Sunderland has Lens, Defoe the misfiring Borini and Fletcher can’t cut it in the long-run. The management from Short and transfers prove that there hasn’t been getting the quality and fitting players to a certain style of play. It has been more patching up and quick-fixes the same as leadership. Under Di Canio the club signed 14 players before he got sacked. Under Poyet he got certain players that had been under his leadership as Buckley and others, but did the significant signing in Jermaine Defoe. Even this stars return from Toronto didn’t spark his team and save his position. Therefore Advocaat had to save them as he did. The signings and ways of progression after Poyet and Di Canio haven’t led to anywhere good. Recent matches has been looking as sad at it has done. The loyalty and continuity doesn’t exist right now. Only thing that is static in the teams play is Lee Cattermole who gets a card both now and then.

The resigning proves the dire situation in the club of Sunderland. And the manager that comes to Sunderland will be in rat-hole even if it’s a club with massive potential. It has 40-50.000 on the stadium on match day. Have high potential pay and possibility to pay for players wages to reach for bigger players. But the leadership and the structure is insufficient. The reigns of such amount of managers at the same time as quick decline after grace periods tells of systematic decline in the team-building and also in man-management. The strength that has been defense has lost it. Because it’s been a while since the attack and mid-field has been exciting, even when Jack Colback was running like crazy for the team, and Rodwell haven’t taken over his presence in the squad. That is very visible!

The way that the managers has gone in and out: First saviors and then sacked in the start or into the next campaign. It doesn’t give the club any stability and quality. The club starts to lack vision and tactical plan to prove what they want. That is also visible in the squad that is fragmented by the buys of different managers who went on the faith of the former ones and their plans. Together with the direct patch-ups and quick-fixes that has become the norm. The manager that comes in has a mountain to climb and has to rebuild the trust with the fans that cover the ‘Stadium of Lights’. Not only with steady results, but get the players to play with their hearts out of their Jersey. Give their blood and sweet and tears into any match. As a neutral it’s been a sad sight to see the steady decline and weakness of Sunderland. Do they want to play in the Championship or still be a proud club in the North who has a place in the Premier League? There is time that Ellis Short tries to build continuity on the leadership side of the club and the strategy they have. Not quick fixes in the end that will hurt the club and the players who try to follow every new idea the new manager has. Something that will be hard to implement and make sufficient to sustain a honorable place in the league.

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Brendan Rodgers slowly falling apart at Merseyside:

Now let me go on another manager who didn’t resign, but got sacked. I have mentioned him in a by-the-way earlier today. Brendan Rodgers the man who has made himself a giant name over the past years. A prospect for managerial roles and future trophy hunter; Brendan Rodgers made a name by getting Swansea up from Championship and then playing high intensity football while delivering results there. From there without any big caps or trophies got hired after FSG sacked club-legend Kenny Daglish.

He started and has been in the way of looking after Character and progress in his teams. For those who has followed him. It’s been his mantra. Looking for the characters and building up players from prospects to finish products or stars to be specific. During the spell of Rodgers they has sold and lost their biggest stars like Gerrard, Sterling and Suarez. The last one to go now is Sturridge and then you would soon see flies come from the pockets.

There was the year that Rodgers leading them to the second position in the league. The campaign that always will be remembered because of the dynamic play and fascinating attacking played of the trio of Sturridge, Sterling and Suarez. They were magnificent even if they got dozen goals the other way as well. Some of us even called it Playstation football by the way it going back and forth with the intensity and flair. Something that Rodgers always wished to see in his players to have a certain quality, character and flair. If you find a after-match interview under the Rodgers in Liverpool where he isn’t using those words and describing the match outcome usually boils down to that.

Brendan Rodgers has now had three campaigns. First was what people call mediocre, but showed some progress. Second season was a magnificent run and was close. Because of that he couldn’t continue to build. Fenway Sports Group (FSG) let the gold go away after that and the trades done after weren’t of the same quality. When the spiral went lower and lowers, so low that after the third campaign in charge on Merseyside, FSG changed leadership and under-coaches under Rodgers! That was in general to disfranchise his power at the club. Brendan Rodgers must have felt that already before his fourth campaign for the club. With departing his own coaches and being alone from the original crew that he with from Swansea.

FSG has also put into the system a Transfer Committee so the Manager is not sole-responsible for the trades done by the club. Even though the manager will be responsible for the results delivered by the squad all season. Even with a seat on the committee he has still not the powers that the ones who can pick and choose over set budget. There will always be a Sports Director or Owner who might shut down wishes for certain players, and even likes of Roman Abramovich who just wanted Shevchenko and then Chelsea bought him, even when they didn’t even need his services.

FSG has then in recent choices partly crossed the powers of Rodgers with the Transfer Committee and also with clipping out his colleagues and his team apart hiring new coaches under him. So then still giving him the “second” chance of success with the club by buying Benteke, Ings, Milner and so on during the summer.

Rodgers wasn’t taken early out of his job and had time to do what he needed. But after the first taste the FSG choices made his tenure worse by the minute. The selling of the starts and losing of pivotal players also hurt him. The choices of buying certain kind of players like Aspas and Balotelli didn’t help his impression, though he wanted to prove that he could turn any player into stars again or bring it out of them.

So after the “second” chance after the success would be hard. Sterling left for Manchester City. The former Southampton players should kick off this season in Liverpool. They are Clyne, Lovren and Lallana. But none of them has played as they did in Southampton. Emre Can hasn’t been up to speed. Courthino has been a spark, but alone in it. Firmino who was bought this summer has talent and skills, but hasn’t bloomed yet. Henderson has taken over for Gerrard, but hasn’t had the same flair or capacity. Ibe has showed progress, but is not a finished “product” yet. What happen to Kolo Toure? What happen to the presence of Skrtel in the defense? Even if he is local boy who deserves credit for catching up with quality of the league, why haven’t we seen Joe Flanagan this campaign?

With all of that and others we can see that there are many issues with the Liverpool squad and the reactions to the team. The progress stopped and the shopping of additions this summer didn’t change the results or drive for the team. Rodgers are right! There need rebuilding in Liverpool. With or without him, and certainly with the decision of sacking him it’s with somebody else.

And for me personally the man, who comes in Liverpool, will have a hard task. The locals and fans expect the team to be a top four team and be in the Champions League (CL). Even though it’s been while since last time the club was there. You have to go back to 2008/09 campaign. So that was a three year hiatus between being a part of the European Competition. The Euro League is the sad stepchild that is a misfit for most teams if they’re not Sevilla or Napoli. Tottenham has struggled with juggling Euro League matches and Premier League in the weekends. The same has been seen by Liverpool. And I am sure whichever team who comes from Premier League to the Euro League will struggle as it seems in league.

The leadership that FSG has proven with Brendan Rodgers isn’t a strong token and longevity in the club. It’s easy to give a new long-time contract after some piece of success. That they did because they wanted to show faith. Just like Newcastle did with Alan Pardew back in the day.  Carver was put into temp when Pardew went to Crystal Palace. The same even Aston Villa did with Paul Lambert after back-to-back victories in start of last campaign. That led to hiring of Tim Sherwood to save the club in the Premier League. That is different from the leadership that puts trust into their managers like Bournemouth with Eddie Howe, Burnley with Sean Dyche, and Hull City with Steve Bruce and so on. There are leaderships that prove loyalty and longevity can bring certainty to teams and squads. Not that all leaders should stay for-ever that is not my point.

My point with Todays topic is clear: the way Sunderland and Liverpool has dealt with the managers has not been well. It has been charades and weak. Liverpool done short-cuts and sold their giants; While expecting dead-wood to turn gold before starting to dig after it, and the cost of it all gets the head of Rodgers instead of those who has done their homework. Suarez, Sterling and Gerrard don’t pop-up like Daisies. It is strange seeing that FSG had the same faith that Lallana and Milner be the same as Suarez and Sterling. And also changing the backroom staff and giving strong signals that it wasn’t that well with Rodgers leadership.

We can all understand Advocaat’s situation in Sunderland. He must have been torn especially seeing the trials of doom returning and not much joy insight. Also with the issues of how weak the strategy of the club has been its easy to see why he decided now to leave. The next man will be in tussle like all three former managers we’re with men coming in that was there in stints for others or because the club needed a fix. Not for a strategic long plan and vision of one leader and his tactical ways. So that the next man has to use what is there and prove his capabilities in the club. Sunderland and Liverpool got massive work in front of them. Sunderland got to fight for their place in the league and build stability in the leadership structure. Not only patch it up and quick fixes. Get a man to actually build a team and also build something with the fans that keeps the club alive. Liverpool has a squad and a backroom staff, that has been built by Rodgers who is now gone. The talent and faith in these players will be left to the next manager. Even the transfer committee has decided on certain players, it’s been three season with Rodgers and that leaves certainly some of his vision and characters there. And the staff that FSG has now put in place, since Rodgers lost his team before this campaign. Peace.

Premier League 2013/2014: My review!

There many out there, but this is mine. How I have seen this season and my thoughts on the madness called Barclay’s Premier League with all its magic and thunder! I will do every team with max 5 sentences which entails the thoughts I have about it and after how it ended first to last.

 

Premier

 

Number one: Manchester City

With Pellegrini in charge, the one manager who hasn’t won a title in Europe wasn’t supposed to surpass the former manager Mancini. The team won the League Cup over Sunderland in 2nd of March. They were having fewer matches and never really on the top, Pellegrini also had a tough spell on the away matches in the start of the season. Nevertheless, with a world-class squad which got better with the players as Negredo, Fernandinho, Jovetic and Demichelis. With a 102 scored goals, controlled play where they achieved victory even with a mismatch’s in the start of the season, then also the important loss at 13. April 2014 this ended 3-2 to Liverpool.

Number two: Liverpool

Brendan Rodgers team which seemed weak compared to other title runner in the Premiership. Getting Sterling, Sturridge and Suarez playing world-class attacking football and at the same time having Henderson to be engine together with the general Gerrard in the midfield of the team. The weakness of the defense with the players who wasn’t up to par with the rest of the Premiership: Kolo Toure, Skretel and Cissokho they got a second place, but also let in 50 goals and scored the magnificent 101! On the 8th February 20 minutes of top class destruction of Arsenal 4-0 and the match ended 5-1, also with the highest class of attacking football of the league this campaign.

Number three: Chelsea

Jose Mourinho in charge of the greatness and succession, Jose became the happy one this time around. A team who is so great that they has no need for the player of the year for two seasons Juan Mata and got Hazard/Willian/Shurrle to play awesome. Mourinho called Wenger a manager of failure, karma hit him and he got not a cup title, league nor further then semi-final in the Champions League. Wonder if Eto’o, Ba and Torres is sure not happy about the happy one, not even Lukaku will return to Stamford Bridge, sure some of the other will leave as well in the next transfer window. I am sure Chelsea will go after Diego Costa and others to secure a title next year.

Number four: Arsenal

Wenger has gotten the team to Champions League yet again. Today they secured the FA Cup with a 3-2 victory over Hull City. The thing missing was a new striker to be a favored guy besides Giroud – Bendtner is the cloth for the Premiership. ὂzil came from Spanish football and his vision made a difference together with fast moving mid-field and the rise of Ramsey made matches like 19th October 2013 Arsenal – Norwich showed class an won 4-1. Looking like contenders before the injuries of Walcott and Ramsey hurt the campaign. Congrats Wenger!

Number five: Everton

Roberto Martinez took over the team after a David Moyes who run the club for 10 years. The team loaned Garth Barry (Manchester City) and Roman Lukaku (Chelsea) they both played important roles for the successful campaign, also Stones and Barkley made great progress an did well considering it all. Everton played better then under Moyes and he made his promise making Everton end over Manchester United, though the well-structured defense with Baines, Jagielka and Distin is maybe the best in the league. Martinez did a fantastic job, enough said!!! The losses in the end of season were the reason why the team didn’t beat Arsenal for the last spot to Champions League.

Number sixth: Tottenham

Andre Villas-Boas (AVB) started as manager after the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid during the summer bought a new squad for 100 million £. The team played so insane at times, the defense was so unorganized that it could have been a team who deserved to be in the drop zone. The chairman cut the cord and hired Tim Sherwood, the lead to Adebayor to settle again in grace and leaving the new guy Soldado to the bricks. The match losses to Liverpool (0-6, 0-5), Manchester City (1-5, 0-6) and Chelsea (0-4), the surprise in this campaign was win over Manchester United at Old Traffod 2-1. Daniel Levy is now shopping his tenth manager for the mighty Spurs, the question is who is next to be axed by Levy?

Number seven: Manchester United

Old Trafford wasn’t the same, the team wasn’t the same, the transfer windows wasn’t the same, nothing was the same Alex Ferguson retired, but David Moyes was the chosen one! Fellaini and Mata was the signings, one magnificent the other one tragic! Old Trafford became a place not to fear anymore; even Swansea beat them there in the FA Cup! Manchester United played with possession for no reason no tiki-taka Barcelona, but the play from 16th meter yard back to the goalie is a total waste of time and talent! The sacking of Moyes had to come, the one who takes over has to buy a new defense and get them to play attacking football again!

Number eight: Southampton

Pochettino the Argentinian who took the team to new heights with using youth players regularly like Shaw, Clyne, Ward-Prowse, Cork, Chambers and Gallagher! The rise of Lallana and Rodriguez is also astonishing, so well playing is the team that players is now in the zone being sold for a tiny fortune. Pochettino is also on the way to Spurs if he doesn’t get assurance of the mission of a building an amazing squad. Southampton has had an amazing season and can be proud!

Number nine: Stoke

Mark Hughes has taken over after Tony Pulis, because the club wanted to play in more attractive way then long-passes to Kenwyne Jones which got exchange for Odiemwingie and also Assidi (On loan from Liverpool). Adam a former Liverpool player either tackled the opponents, If not he played diligently and proved his place in the team. Stoke did not score a lot of goals, but they did get points and play more possession based as wished by both the fans and board. Stoke made a top ten position something Tony Pulis never achieved, big props to Hughes and his ways with nearly the same players change it and made a great difference.

Number ten: Newcastle

The team under Pardew before Christmas was a team looking like a stellar top six. After Christmas without Cabaye they lost nearly everything except the Cardiff match on 3rd of May where they won 3-0 and even when Pardew Glasgow-kissed Hull City player Meyler they won 4-1 at KC Stadium and got a 7 games ban. The also fallout of Ben Arfa who would have been the best player since the sale of Cabaye, but didn’t play squat in the end of the season! NeuCastle didn’t become the stellar candidate and gotten all the way Europe, they got the top ten, but not in a way that made the fans see with pride. So even if they get some new singings and end the loans of Loic Remy (QPR) and Luuk De Jong (Boruissa Møchengladback), need a new striker and a creative midfielder. The defense needs also new energy since Taylor and Coluccini is rumored to be out and has also been out of form.

Number eleven: Crystal Palace

Getting up from Championship and started badly in the premiership with Ian Holloway in charge. They lost 7 matches and won 1 in mid-October was at 19th place. The board didn’t see any structure in the play and hired Tony Pulis, he cleared the squad which was added with 16 new players before the campaign. Pulis in his window got Ledley (Celtic), Dann (Blackburn) and loaned Tom Ince (Blackpool), they all played to part except for Ince. The Palace team got to be a well-structured defense and a team who not only won matches, but surprised Chelsea (1-0) and Liverpool (3-3) which made a difference for the title race, congrats Pulis!

Number twelve: Swansea

A team which played in Euro-League with a limited squad wasn’t up to part in the league at the same time. Michu injured much of the time, but the signing of Wilfried Bony was a great striker who had class both with speed and cold finisher in the box. Michael Laudrup got fired for having too lenient with the squad and except for beating Manchester United at Old Trafford in the League Cup, he didn’t play up to level of last year. Therefore Swansea hired the player Gary Monk to be the intermit manager for the rest of the season and salvage it. The swans picked up the pace and played more than just possession based tiki-taka play, but also win matches.

Number thirteen: West Ham

Sam Allardyce has secured the London team without any issues kept them out the relegation zone. The team didn’t play a fantastic way, Rat was a mistake, Ravel Morrison never got into the team and headed back to QPR. The need for Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan, Mark Nobel and Downing was showed this year! Hammers didn’t have a real hammer time, but made it well enough and beat Tottenham 3 times this year! The fans are just worried for the slow pace and play of the team when they need more speed and technic to fill the new Olympic stadium in a few year.

Number fourth-teen: Sunderland

A team that was seen as a dead fish in the water with Di Canio in charge and all the new singnings who didn’t show up at any level in the start of the campaign. It got so bad that they hired Gus Poyet to achieve a miracle ending and he did deliver, he got the team to League Cup final where they lost and saved the team from relegation. They had amazing results over 2-1 over Chelsea in April, victory at Old Trafford 1-0 over Manchester United and 2-0 over WBA. Victories that saved the team and the Black Cats, also the run of Wickham in the end of the season was figure that scored the important goals. Poyet made a miracle happen!

Number fifth-teen: Aston Villa

Ricky Lambert former Norwich manager was supposed to make a difference in the team with the new low budgets. Last year the team got saved by Benteke, this year Delp and whatshisname. Back home they played like it was dangerous and havoc place where they would be lost sheep. Whatshisname is Agboniahor and Westwood made sometimes the games interesting, rest of the time played very badly and a reason why they lost 20 matches. If Lambert keeps the job, he has to create magic next year!

Number sixth-teen: Hull City

The team that got promoted last year with Steve Bruce was doomed from the get go. Defense and attacking was made in a way to fit his opponents, either 5 in defense or 3 depending on how it would affect his play. Also the play with two strikers Sagbo and Boyd, the midfielders of Livermore (on-loan from Tottenham) and buying of Huddlestone (Tottenham) made the difference, in the January transfer-window getting Jelavic (Everton) and Long (WBA). Even with the late defeat in the FA Cup against Arsenal, Steve Bruce has achieved something great with this campaign! Salute to Brucey!

Number seventh-teen: West Bromwich Albion

The Birmingham club has delivered reasonable results during recent years, this year it fall a bit apart with the losing strikers like Odiemwingie, Lukuku and Long. Steven Clark got new players but none of them could match the former strikers this was Berahino and Anichebe couldn’t deliver the same kind of force. So Clark had to go and they hired Pepe Mel! The Spaniard didn’t change much and they just made enough ruckus and points to secure the positions and some strange pre-match interviews… Under Clark they one on Old Trafford though 2-1.

Number eight-teen: Norwich

The big buying hoopla with getting Ricky Van Wolfesvinkel and Gary Hooper, Hooper got injured and didn’t fit for the season; Van Wolfesvinkel was the greatest flop of this season. The amazing and great Chris Hughton got fired right before the end of the season when there was no return, and the team didn’t change anything. They had a terrifying end of it all with high end stakes matches and also losing with those close on the table. Neil Adams didn’t make a difference. Alexander Tettey had the goal of the year for this team, but it didn’t save them from the awful relegation and championship to come!

Number nine-teen: Fulham

This year Mohamed Al Fayed got sold to Shahid Khan, first manager of the year was Martin Jol who didn’t make a cut this start of the season, second manager Rene Meulensteen got 75 days, then then the unlucky funny looking German manager Felix Magath got hired to save the team from relegation. Lewis Holtby (on loan from Tottenham), the defender Johnny Heitinga(who wasn’t a worth the free transfer), Kvist, Dempsey(on loan from Seattle Sounders) and the striker Kostantinos Mitroglou (Olympiacos Piraeus) who didn’t even play and he was supposed to be the one take the spot after Berbatov(went to Monaco). Losing 6-0 at KC Stadium with Hull City in 28th December 2013, then also losing 5-0 against Manchester City at Ethiad Stadium in 22th March 2014 and was March the only points winning over Newcastle 1-0. So there was no question if they we’re going down, there was never plan in the play and without Hangeland in the middle of defense and also weakness in the midfield play were horrible even with some greatness of Sidwell and Dejagah. So bye bye and good luck in the championship!

Number twenty: Cardiff City

The welsh team that went up from the championship with Matt Malkay who tried to defensive and secure the tenure in the premiership they we’re on safe ground the owner Tan couldn’t handle his ways! So he fired Malkay who got Caulker, Bellemy, Mutch, Noone and sure got Marshall there! Ole Gunnar Solskjær got hired and didn’t make a change. First playing aggressive and possession based while just being over the relegation zone. The players bought in January weren’t making much except for Dæhli the talent who nobody expected. The loaned players like Zaha and so on didn’t make a change and Kenwyn Jones(Stoke) didn’t do anything, so Cardiff deserved to go down, good luck in the championship in the red color whose supposed blue!

Peace!

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