Wednesday, November 14, 2007

St Pancras, French footballers' terminus – by Marcel des Maures et des Aurores

To celebrate the grand opening of the new Paris Nord-St Pancras train line, French TV channel Canal + launched, during my recent visit to Paris, a "Semaine Anglaise": London on a plate for a week. From the breakfast show to the late night news, most of the channel's programs, including special guests and features, dealt with England. It started brightly, with "Allons donc à London" in which Antoine de Caunes, the trendy frenchy vamped down as Pete Doherty, delights in finding lunatics and eccentrics such as that militant who camps out in front of the Parliament to voice his opposition to British involvement in Iraq. Londres wouldn't be London without music, and Sir Paul Mc Cartney's concert at the Olympia (last October) will be broadcast on Friday at 10.30 pm.

"Canal + is Rich", undoubtedly so. Through TV rights, the channel provides around 50% of French football clubs' income, transfers excluded. In other words, gates receipts only make up a measly 15% of that income. Like Canal +, that set its clocks on London time, French football would do well to take a few leaves out of the Premier League's accounting books and also try to understand how its own national team's success brought about its national league's demise.

By regularly losing its star players, the French Ligue 1 has lost its attractiveness. So called "big games" between Lyon, Marseille, or Paris SG (the last OL-OM being the exception that proves the rule) don't have the intensity of the Italian derbys, of the Real-Barca classico, or of the duels at the top of the English League. Neither Sky Sports nor the Italian Rai broadcast any of the Ligue 1 matches. Meanwhile Arsenal-Manchester United got a billion people glued to their TV sets, eager to watch Rooney, C.Ronaldo, Giggs, Gallas and Fabregas slug it out. The programme notes read like credits for a movie in which the players have taken on the actors' role in people's hearts.

The mystical dimension of Italian football was highlighted by Dino Bazzatti after the Superga disaster. In 1949, the novelist declared that the crash of a plane loaded with famous writers would not have moved his compatriots quite so deeply. Obviously, the dangers of such an excess of enthusiasm are clear, as recent events in Italy have confirmed. However, in contrast with latin excesses, British moderation has proved that the fortunes of an endangered championship could be turned around. After doing a meticulous cleaning job to improve safety in their stadia, the English invested close to 1.5 billion Euros (if it wasn't for the fact that they insist on calling them Pounds) to turn their sporting arenas into profit centers where fans splash their cash.

Conversely, the French missed out on the unique opportunity presented by World Cup 98 to renovate their infrastructure sufficiently. Today, le Stade de France is the only stadium deemed fit to host a Champions' League final. In order to compete with great European sporting nations, it is absolutely essential for France to modernise its football venues. Nearly all stadia in the country belong to local authorities, which hinders their development. It would be necessary to combine public financing with brand sponsorship deals like Arsenal's Emirates Stadium, but some are still reluctant. "I can't imagine Sochaux's Stade Bonal being called Stade "Mobil". For his part in the résistance, Auguste Bonal was executed by a firing squad shortly before the end of the war. I will not sell my soul," declared the Chairman of Sochaux Football Club.

Certainly, Lyon is the exception. But in the long run, if Jean-Michel Aulas, their president and Ligue 1's main agent provocateur, keeps on selling his best players, he runs the risk of seeing his team play in a bigger stadium, but to a smaller crowd. The players' exodus and the talent drain must be checked if not stopped entirely. In the last two years, Lyon lost Essien, Diarra, Malouda, and Abidal; Marseille lost Drogba and Ribery, amongst others. The total amount of last summer's transfer fees approaches the 200 million Euro mark. Now the clubs are wondering how long they will be able to hold on to Benzema, Ben Arfa or Nasri, what with Real Madrid, Barça and Inter Milan already waving their chequebooks. A league can only be popular if the people who actually go to the games can watch their internationals wearing the local colours.

The French league can make up lost ground by multiplying growth leverages and, like the Premier League did, by acknowledging simple economic truths and reducing charges in order to offer players more attractive salaries.

It would be naïve to deny that economics dictate the rules of professional sports. Norman Mailer wrote of his passion for "ransacking innocence", to make the point that naïveté no longer has a place in the modern world of television and high-capital media. Having built its reputation on cinema and football, Canal + had a great opportunity to use its "English Week" to boost motivation for a transformation that the channel would be first to benefit from: a special show analysing the achievements and success of the "Barclays League", for example. If France fails to learn from the English, the Eurostar will transport ever increasing loads of young French players towards their final destination: St Pancras, in the very heart of London.

111 comments:

gg said...

Do you really want the Glazers, the Ibramoviches, the Gillets, The Hickses, and the Sinatras?

We don't!

offsideintahiti said...

gg,

I take it you don't really want (or need) Rooney, Saha, Tevez, Nani, Anderson, Giggs, Vidic, Evra, and C. Ronaldo? That's fine, we'll have them.

Actually, you can keep your Portuguese melonheadboy, but we'll have the others.

mimi said...

I was sent off to France to make my future - a one way ticket from my mum and dad. When it all went wrong, my mum said, work you bitch.
I had to learn about being in St Germain on my own. So much stuff.

And musically : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dYVKB1MRIE

gg said...

Offy -

no, no, no!

We didn't need the Glazers to buy our bunch - only to plunge us into debt.

You can have Carlos the Portuguese melonheadboy, we'll keep the rest.

marcela said...

interesting, Marcel.
always good to read the thoughts of someone who knows what they're talking about, and to back these up with numbers...! very authoritative.

i'm not sure the exodus of talent is in itself a bad thing, not if new talent emerges to replace the old, an ongoing cycle if you like... it seems france is able to produce quality players, non?

in england, we are witnessing what is now a national concern regarding youth development, the stae of the academies and so on. the league has the money to import talent, sure, but if it is true that "A league can only be popular if the people who actually go to the games can watch their internationals wearing the local colours", is this case in england?

i mean, you cite the example of the billion who watched arse v manure [and i seriously wonder where that oft quoted figure has orginated, i mean ... really?] but how many england internationals were fielded?

also, i like the chairman who refuses to sell the soul of the club - even if commercially this sounds crazy. but if the future of football as an industry lies in stadia like the emirates...

and finally, antoine will always be Rapeedo to me :)

great stuff, Marcel, welcome to pseuds. By a remarkable coincidence, my name has moorish roots too, would you believe.

guitougoal said...

Marcel.
-there is no use carrying an umbrella if your shoes are leaking- asking monsieur Platini to fix the french problems wouldn't be a bad idea since he was as a juventus player the champion of foreign legion teams.

Marcel said...

marcela,
Thank you,
the coincidence of similarity between our names could be not only remarkable but also flattering for me. Unfortunately there is nothing moorish in my name-
des Maures means"du massif des maures",small mountains near Cogolin, south of France.I believe the national concern in England is legitimate, a minimum of 4 or 5 players with british nationality for each team should be required.

offsideintahiti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
offsideintahiti said...

Marcela,

"it seems france is able to produce quality players, non?"

si, and France is even producing a really promising crop of young goalkeepers at the moment. Marseille bought Steve Mandanda from Le Havre as an understudy to their number 1, Carasso, who promptly ruptured his achilles tendon. After 10 games or so, the offers from European clubs are already coming in. How long will they be able to hold on to him?

On top of the old guard of established, reliable keepers (Coupet, Landreau, Ramé, Janot), there are scores of youngsters pushing through, Lloris, Bracigliano, Douchez, Pelé (with a name like that, wise decision not to play outfield), and more.

In fact, I think only three goalkeepers in Ligue 1 are foreign, Sylva at Lille, Flavio Roma at Monaco, and Runje at Lens.

Maybe England should have a look at what the French academies are doing in terms of goalkeeping coaching. Problem is, the easy option for English clubs (Tottenham?) is to buy the French finished products which will make it even more difficult for the current local prospects to break through.

What odds next year's North London Derby being played with two Frenchmen between the shticks?

guitougoal said...

Good point, Madanda was the main factor during last OM victory against Lyon-

byebyebadman said...

Marcel - very interesting and wel written piece. Would you say part of the lack of attraction of Ligue 1 to outsiders is due to a pretty dismal record in European club competitions? I think a lot of the mystique and attraction of say Spanish and Italian teams comes from their success there.

Offy - England should look at what the French academies do. Unfortunately thems that run the game here have had the National football academy in Burton (meant to be the english Clairefontaine) on hold for nearly two years because they threw so much money into the fire on a pointless stadium in north London.

However I'm hopeful things will change as a direct result of the influx of overseas players. Walk into any park or rec in our green and pleasant (and tonight, freezing) land and see young kids play and the standard, technique and skill level is far, far higher now when I was doing the same thing twenty odd years ago. I'd say that's a direct result of luring a lot of the best players to the Premiership and making idols out of Cantona, Zola, Bergkamp, Henry, Ronaldo etc. This current generation of english players may be forced onto the subs bench or further down the leagues but I think the generation beyond that (participation will not drop) might be something a bit more special.

Quite fitting that this intervention would be from abroad as the England team has had an almighty wake-up call every generation since deciding to international competitions in the fifties - spanked by the Hungarians in 1953, knocked out of the WC by Poland in 1973, by Holland/Norway in 1993, another failure in the post for Saturday - and done nothing about it. Marcela hinted at the crisis in youth development, but people have been saying it for time.

guitougoal said...

Marcela,
"I am not sure the exodus of talent in itself is a bad thing"
I couldn't agree more but the problem is the disproportion, too small amount of new talent in comparison with the too large amount of players playing abroad.Between Spain, Italy , Germany and England they are more than 30 . Most of the French national team is made of those guys who took their show on the road and out of the country.I think they should balance the trade for the good of each league.

bluedaddy said...

Very interesting thread. Need to ponder it a little.

I am currently reading Parklife by Nick Varley, which considers the English football revolution (the section on Hillsborough is heart wrenching).

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Parklife-Search-Football-Nick-Varley/dp/0718143620

It acknowledges Hillsborough as both a watershed and a point of ignition (sorry, that is a very clunky bit of prose) for English football. This change ultimately (largely) banished the English disease of hooliganism, while somewhere along the line also breaking the heart of English football. The new improved heart is more efficient, more expensive and made of cold steel.

One thought struck me on reading your piece Marcel. The reason that a place like the Emirates or the Theatre of Dreams TM works is that new football tourists are prepared to come along and quite literally pay homage in the Megastore to the institution that is Arsenal or Man United. Could the French league and the French clubs 'acquire' those kind of fans, the ones who will treat a day at the match as an entertainment opportunity, with the game (and its result) forming only a part of the experience? Is the consumer habit as deeply entrenched in France as it appears to be in the UK? And, as pointed out above [and on parts of Merseyside :o)], do these French clubs have enough history to step into the big leagues of world football?

marcel said...

Bluedaddy,
"could the french league and the french clubs acquire these kind of fans?"
yes to a certain extend.Lyon is building one Megastadium with specialty retail and food stores probably inspired by the Emirates London or Allianz in Munich.Of course nothing compared to Arsenal or Man utd as Brand Equity or Brand recognition due to the prestigious history of the clubs.However I believe in the slogan"if you build it they will come".Most of the parcs in France were built post WWII.Nice stade du Ray as an example has a capacity of 20.000 and didn't passe the test of time.It's a rotting pile of urine-stenched old stones out in the middle of the city, a municipal disgrace.They need a stadium and so do 12 other cities.

offsideintahiti said...

Hé Marcel, Stade du Ray in Nice is where I got my football education, so show un petit peu de respect, s'il te plaît.

Ahem, ouais, in fact it was pretty bad last time I went, which was 20 years ago and it hasn't been renovated since.

marcel said...

ByeByebadman,
The buzz regarding the youth development in England is very positive.Liverpool, Arsenal , Man utd,Everton or Chelsea are showing signs of future success it just takes time.

guitougoal said...

offside,
I hope you didn't have to go to the bathroom!
btw: Nice didn't handle the situation with José Cobos very well, it was a sad moment in the history of the club.
Same with St Etienne and Robby Herbin "the Sphinx".
I understand he is restricted from training session.

file said...

Marcel, thanks for this

honestly I'm not sure that "economics dictate the rules of professional sports" but it Is the context in which professional and amateur sports operate

as are the social and political environments; football, for example, is a microcosm of the national state of affairs and reflects the same pressures that other businesses/institutions in the country do, which, by extension, reflect the international zeitgeist

the problems in Italy now are not so different from those in England when the game was in disrepute there; general social unrest and anomie, deep-rooted, institutionalized historical problems that have never been dealt with effectively and a (seeming) inability to effect radical change for the better

in England (imo) succesive governments with hugely popular mandates have had the power to implement broad changes, sometimes against the wishes of strong and vociferous minorities (e.g. the unions)and this has realized strong leadership (good and bad) and accelerated evolution of social institutions (like football but not the railways by all accounts)

France are right to rail against the imbalance of wealth in the European leagues and the brain-drain (term used loosely) which that provokes but who benefits from it anyway?

Not the English national side who would much rather have the French record, nor the current English players who find themselves undercut and underperforming, not the clubs who watch profits being converted into dollars or baht and moved offshore.

When you say "French football would do well to take a few leaves out of the Premier League's accounting book" I think it needs examination as the PL has also been at the whim of market forces (rising in this case) and still managed to perpetuate the situation where the rich clubs get richer and the poor clubs struggle daily, has it really managed to turn the present success into long-term benefit for English footie?

I really hope ByeByeBadman is right and there is a knock-on effect on the young players and Yes, the stadia but in the long-term it's less than clear whether English football will benefit from it's success (all the points you make about the under development in France are mirrored in England outside the Prem. and to some extent outside the gang of 4)

in other words; apart from some Stadia, what did the Romans ever do for us?

the French coaching system has been lauded for many years and this fundamental skill base will mean that French football will survive these economic pressures, it is eminently possible in the turning carousel of life that the next 'big' league will be the French and then we'll all watch the show ponies and starlets doing their thing there

...and when the boot is on the other foot we'll see French folk rightly complaining that their slightly-less-than-Galactico players will not get a chance to play for the big clubs as they'll be competing with the best in the world as is the case in England now

if you could reverse the national teams record with the nations club record would you?

and on another note related to the WW1 thread, is it possible to see this all as the Success of European football rather than the trials of the individual countries?

offsideintahiti said...

Salut Filou,

"if you could reverse the national teams record with the nations club record would you?"

You know, I just might write something about that. I'll wait for this weekend's results, though.

gg said...

Dear Marcel-with-a-coincidental-name,

I'm finding it hard to navigate of late through the Marcela clones on the web.

A nice article!

"Nice stade du Ray as an example has a capacity of 20.000 and didn't passe the test of time.It's a rotting pile of urine-stenched old stones out in the middle of the city" makes me come over all nostalgic - that's just the kind of hallowed ambience that those evil barons of international capitalism have robbed us of!

guitougoal said...

fAck GG, 7.00 am in the morning you're already sticking your neck out? of course you're nostalgic they just tore down the Frontier hotel in las Vegas, Elvis first show place in L.V-
file,
speaking about nostalgia, it used to be possible to have it both ways: national teams and clubs-England in the 60's, Ajax/Holland and Bayern/Germany or France/st Etienne, in the 70s, Italy/juventus and Milan in the 80's-
Why should we have to make a choice anyway?

marcel said...

file,
zeitgeist? this is probably a nitzchean term of yours, I have to ask your friend inspector Beckouseau who speaks german, the exact meaning of the word-
My point is mostly about what's wrong with french football.
Without losing its basic principles french football must adapt to modern needs- When a City needs a new Stadium, I'm not advocating putting the tax payers into a hopeless hock to put up a place to play.There is another alternative it's private money, sponsoring and tv rights-The transformation from an old club into a modern commercial franchise require some blue prints and I thought some british clubs , the one who have done that successfully may provide them-
Germany also didn't miss the opportunity of a world cup to modernize their infrastructure spending 1.5 billion euros to do it.
As far as clubs versus national teams if pro football can reverse the trend of the past decade everybody wins-Strong clubs make strong national teams but if your own clubs are made of 80 % of foreign players how can you possibly build a strong national team? This is no secret anymore, it has his naysayers but the league in England will come up with a regulation.

gg said...

Ah, mon cher Guitou,

what does a poor impersonator have to do to please his French mistress?

One minute, you castigate us rosbifs for not showing any interest in French footy.

Next, you have the gall to flay us for showing interest - then tweak our noses for having the cheek to rise early.

byebyebadman said...

Marcel - I suppose it depends on how much you WANT a strong national team...there is no onus on the clubs to provide players for their country. In England it's the job of Ferguson, Wenger, Benitez and Grant to challenge for the League and the Champions League. They can and will assemble a squad from anywhere in the world to pursue this. and the Champions League does seem to have usurped the world cup as the highest level of football you can play at, so maybe even for the players of that elite national team football is not so important anymore.

Any attempt to enforce quota's would I think be blown out of the water by any lawyer as for a club in the EU it is a blatant infringement of the restriction of trade laws.

There is another reason why French players might prefer to play in England than France - the difference in the highest-earning tax bands.

gg said...

bye -

no, they move to Englsnd for the food.

guitougoal said...

ah gg, castigating you non the brits it's my favorite pastime-I hate to sound threatening but I believe next year Arsenal will sell more shirts than Manutd..

file said...

Marcel,

hmm seems we have a mutual friend in Inspector Bechouseau, in-ter-est-ing...

yes, what's wrong with French football? You seem to be proposing that it has lessons to learn from the successes of the EPL, I'm not sure that it's such a great model

there's a complex history involved in the turnaround of top flight English footie but essentially the new model they used was good-old American Sports-business

improving the match day experience was the first step and then super-sizing the bums on the seats

it could be argued that the English experience has improved World Football (even French football) but I'm really not convinced it's done much for English footie (I'll happily be proved wrong)

bbb,

re quotas; you're right as it stands but I do think we'll see attempts at introducing them and they will probably happen in some form in the end. We've come too far from Local Football roots in some ways and I think it's apparent there are undesirable consequences despite what suits M.Wenga-boy

Marcel said...

File,
hello my friend, in case you didn't notice EPL is far ahead on the map from the rest of the world in terms of financial success.This is an undeniable fact.Learning from this success doesn't imply to systematically duplicate the formula but to know how to separate the good from the bad.
The world is buying Setanta to watch the "Barclays" premier league and we are still fussing about what's wrong.I think we are afflicted by a kind of "soup kitchen mentality". Even Christopher Colombus gets dumped on- by people who would be stomping grapes or picking tarantula off bananas bunches if he didn't have the guts to sail off the end of the world in the first place.

guitougoal said...

I think this guy is crazy, this blog is now in danger of becoming a typical footy place. Expect MarvinGay and JonnyDog to show up anytime.

file said...

aw give him a break Guitou, he may be crazy but he's a lot more interesting than Marina Jekyll

Marcel,

I really hear what you're saying about stomping tarantulas at the end of the world but I can't see Selling the Soul of French Foot to Devil for a New Guitar is gonna help you...it hasn't helped England

perhaps a better analogy for sailing off the edge of the world is Ebbsfleet United

talking of which, any Pseuds wanna club together to buy a football club?

(in France or anywhere really)

Bags I'm the groundsman

marcel said...

o.k then what's the alternative?

marcela said...

yeah, i'm in.
i've got a fiver.

seriously, i think we should do it.

i'd suggest tigre except argentinian law prevents private ownership.

this is a good thread, guitou. i have quite a lot i'd like to say but everyone's so eloquent i feel i need to prepare and polish my sentences a bit before plunging in.

just passed the new eurostar terminal on my way home and one thing's for sure - mighty handy for 'em french lads to get to wenger's arse.

why don't you just abolish the french national team and support arsenal as a nation?

if clubs replace countries, will the world be a better place?

file said...

supporter ownership?

guitougoal said...

"abolish the french national team"
this is a good point. How national a team can be when most of the players involved belong to foreign clubs?-As forthe french most of them are using their national team to get more exposure and to boost their market value.

file said...

"Arsenal as a nation" why not? They've got the GDP of a small nation and if they built in a bit of continental coastline and tax advantages for fat bastards...

please excuse my ignorance Marcela but who owns Argie footie clubs then? Local councils, public companies, co-ops?

ok, you're on but what will we call it? Pseuds Academicals, Anonymous Hackers United?

...and if Ebren joined in he'd have to start every week (but probably not those wet-mid-week-games-in-Gateshead) but it's all ok cos I think I know someone who knows Patrick Viera so I feel sure he'd help out in midfield if we were short

file said...

I wonder how much a Tahitian football club would be in Euros...

gg said...

Yes, that's the best idea I've heard for ages - don't sack McClaren, just scrap the England team!

What a blow against tribalism!

1/2 Marcel said...

the team:
-Pseuds corner kickers-

byebyebadman said...

A few years ago Franz Beckenbauer predicted international football would go one of two ways - the World Cup and suchlike would be scrapped and replaced by huge worldwide club tournaments, or FIFA would sanction clubs to enter the World Cup (which, over time, would essentially be the same thing).

As a United fan I quite like the multicultural make-up of our team, and it doesn't bother me that, say, Tevez or Ronaldo aren't from Salford (although it might bother THEM if they were). Surely the bygone days of entire elevens being English or even from just down the road were at least partly governed by financial and cultural restraints of that period? Now the worlds opened up a bit more why not see what players are out there? If your club is doing badly and has crap players I can't see how the disappointment would be offset with the attitude of 'at least our players are English'.

file said...

"if clubs replace countries will the world be a better place?"

well, if the clubs were supporter owned...

that's Steve McC in his natural environment I feel; incumbent England manager of an abolished team

G, Pseuds Corner Kickers it is then, in a Lilac Wine strip

byebyebadman said...

Oh and the club thing - one of my friends has put forth money for that Ebbsfleet thing and roped me in to going to their very first game, a trip to the Kassam Stadium in Oxford this weekend...

I'll reserve any investment for a Pseuds XI. Shall we make the ethos aesthetics over results?

gg said...

byebye: "Tevez or Ronaldo aren't from Salford"

Gerraway wi' thee!

I knew Mrs. Tevez well - widow she were, lived at Broughton Bridge.

I'll always remember her shouting:

Gerrinere, Carlos, you little towrag, an' leave that bloody ball a-be. Yer chorizo an' mushy peas is goin'cowd on t' table!

bluedaddy said...

Something about that Ebbsfleet thing gives me the creeps. I cant put my finger on it, but it just seems wrong.
The club isnt now owned by its fans, it's owned by some fans. Is that the same thing? I'd quite like to hear what their real fans think about all this.

marcela said...

just sneaked of to GU where the marina thread is good for a chuckle ...:)

would you believe InsiderInformation is already a shareholder of ebbsfleet?

it's a small world, but i wouldn't wanna paint it.

in argentina clubs are non-profit organizations, 'owned' by the members. because most are bankrupt, there is pressure to "modernize" football and allow private ownership seeking profit maximization. but it ain't happened, so what a lot of clubs are doing in an attempt to get round this law is to contract out management and admin to private companies. so far, very little success.

members vote for chairman and other directors, and voting takes place mirroring most democratic electoral processes: i.e. biggest wads hire best campaign managers, toughest thugs on payroll of biggest wads, and so on.

there was an interesting attempt by st etienne to become involved with a second division club - talleres de cordoba. i don't think anyone made any money.

in fact, even in EPL it's not so easy to make money. all these americo-russian-israeli-panameño conglomerates seem to be driven by vanity, exposure and some sense of increased popularity rather than actually making any money, from the very very very little i understand of such matters.

marcel's article raises so many interesting points about where football is heading - others have said so here: the emirates may be imposing as a construct[ion] but the number of fans still nostaligic for "the soul of highbury" is staggering.

and highbury never had THAT much of a soul :)

OUR club should be fairly unsafe and smelly... a bit like a steiner school with wooden boards and rusty nails all over the place.

ebren may want to start every game, but my intention is to buy children from africa, thailand, tahiti and the parana delta while they're cheap and if they turn out to be any good you lot are all on the bench until
1) we can sell them for a profit, or
b) we get the tick and their ilk to sponsor their corner kicks for canal + in association with foxy united tv extra...

i'm happy to be the kitman. but i want as big a share of the quiche as the next man.

byebyebadman said...

Hi Bluedaddy

Don't know if you read it at the time, but this has some very good points in it.

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/08/08/get_your_hands_off_my_football.html

gg - Tevez is in the Smiths video for There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, riding past Salford Lads club on his bike dressed as Morrissey. It's true.

file said...

bbb,

clubs playing home-grown players wouldn't offset the disappointment of playing crap, no but I think football is/can be bigger than that

imhumbleo capitalism is like deforestation, it chops down the trees, yes, but it also takes away the roots from the soil which gets washed away in the rain, thus even mountains can crumble

football clubs have the power to build strong roots in communities and aren't (generally)

Yes! Aesthetism over results, which means, of course, we'll adhere to the Golden Ratio and apply the Fibonacci sequence to the team formation which means er...nobody in goal, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5

so 12 players but no goalie, they'll have to give us dispensation for harmonizing with the celestial

offsideintahiti said...

PC Kickers:

Marcela for manageress!

Marcel for treasurer!

gg for kitchen chef!

I'll play "on the shoulder" of the last defender.

File in the hole, obviously.

gg said...

offy -

oui, a nice bit of "on the shoulder" improves any stew.

byebyebadman said...

File - I actually meant just picking players on nationality. If you're talking about clubs having a responsibility to their immediate community, then I agree. In that respect United do/have done some very noteworthy work. Manchester is lucky though that the place and the North West in general has always been a breeding ground for brilliant players, e.g. our much-missed Ginger Prince.

Other clubs would not fare so well if the FA did follow through with their plan to have x amount of youth team players born within a 50-mile radius of the club (I think, can't remember the exact proposal but it's something like that).

file said...

bbb, I think MU have done better than the others in that regard, perhaps Fergie as a Britisher does feel some responsibility to do the right thing:)

I agree with the sentiment of the FA proposals as you describe them but leading by setting rules only throws the responsibility back on to the clubs/local councils, there would need to be a Lot of govt. support to make that work equally for all

Marcela,

thanks for the low-down on things Argentine

I'm with Offie, you should be the Gaffer and I'm with you that the club should be scruffy and unhygenic (you'd have liked my old gym!)

and if we ever get the 'tick or their ilk' (lol!) to sponsor us we'll definitely relocate to somewhere balmy

1/2 marcel said...

where football is heading?
Arsenal is selling gowns for chrismas on their website, if that may be an indication. The reality is: football went from being a sport to being a business and became just another mercantile or entertainment conglomerate.
This could be a fair closing argument with a big tip of the hat to the other 1/2 Marcel, thanks to him nothing was lost in the translation-
Many thanks also to the pseuds corner kickers and their cheerleader Marcela whose name is now "frenchised" by coincidence.

marcel's other 1/2 said...

You're welcome 1/2 Marcel, always a pleasure.

gg said...

Mon cher Marcel,

thanks for a game of two halves.

1/2 marcel said...

mon cher gg,
you're welcome.
the older half.

marcela said...

demi demi marceaux:

shurely... thank yous for a fun think!

i'm managing to persuade myself that national sides should actually be abolished

“Nothing will hasten humanity in its own downfall more than the propagation of ideals based on race, nation and blood.”
Rudolf Steiner

file said...

oouuui, merci mille fois les Marcels 2/2

I wonder who came up with Pseuds Corner Kickers then, surely they deserve something for that too

thanks too Marcela, that Steiner cat was hip to what's happening non?

perhaps doing away with national football sides will pave the way for a Stateless World where we can all be coffee-coloured and free

gg said...

yes - who did "Melting Pot"?

Steiner is regarded as a little dubious by many here in Sweden - even some parents who send their children to his schools. There are rumours about his ideas being a little brown.

I know that attitudes we would condemn these days were widely accepted then, but...

Not too sure about this - maybe someone more familiar with him can shed some light on the matter.

What I DO know is that there is a creepy feeling around the "Steiner seminarium" not far from where I write.

MotM said...

Late to this, but a splendid article and thread.

I'll just throw one thing in the pot. Is the CL so good? The top eight teams are about even with the CL quarter-finalists, but the next 8 would be beaten consistently by the best of the non-quarter-finalists from WC 2006. I did produce a list of these national teams, but can't find it now: it included, Holland, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Australia and lots of other very decent teams.

file said...

a little brown GG?

I'd never heard of him before last night (for shame) but what I read seemed interesting e.g. his address to teachers:

"We can accomplish our work only if we do not see it as simply a matter of intellect or feeling, but, in the highest sense, as a moral spiritual task."

which I liked but I guess there are many possible interpretations

guitougoal said...

ouaaahh! steiner now...file always attracted by german poet or philosopher. last week Rilke, now Steiner, careful Filou, extremely dubious individual, in fact he could be your kind of guy.....reincarnation, mind over body, Nietsch, right up your alley!But you better have some aspirin handy....

offsideintahiti said...

Is that the same Dr Steiner who sailed with Corto Maltese across the Southern Seas?

gg said...

guitou: "extremely dubious individual".

Shed some light, please!

marcela said...

yes, please; more details from the anti-steiner motion...

i found a group of parents dissillusioned with steiner schools who created a movement to 'expose' the lies but their site was not very persuasive.

there's a lot about the character and some of his ideas to like, but i would be interested in informed criticism.


mouth, i have a problem with the notion that "the next 8 would be beaten consistently by the best of the non-quarter-finalists from WC 2006".

there's some nice stuff about the random variables which influence football results at the end of kokomo's thread, don't know if you saw it. personally, i don't see how you can categorically say any team "would" beat any other until they've played.

but the comparison beween first and second stage WC v CL...? and anyway, surely, you would stumble accross player issues at some point. i mean, internationals who are in the group stages of world cup finals are more likely than not to be playing in europe, right. so what do you do, hypothetically, if the player's country has to play against the same player's club?

essien, toure, drogba... are they representing club or country?

guitougoal said...

gg,
just being sarcastic if it's o.k with you professor.
btw in Paris the "Theosophique société" seal includes the iron cross in the seal most of people think it's a kind of occult sect.
But honestly I am a major ignorant of theosophie.

marcel said...

guitou, your ignorance is excused, your arrogance is forgiven-
Anti or pro-Steiner it's a difficult choice to be made in a broadest sense because he has done such an extensive work in so many different fields-my limited intellect needs a summary to be able to give an opinion.

gg said...

I've just done a quick Google of "Rudolf Steiner Nazism".

What I have read - so far - suggests that was definitely not a Nazi; nor was he a racist or anti-Jewish.

Have to go now, but I'll check more.

MotM said...

Marcela,

It can be no more than conjecture, but here are some of national teams that did not make the last 8 of the 2006 World Cup.

Ghana
Spain
Australia
Holland
Mexico
Sweden
Ivory Coast
Czech Republic
USA
Croatia.

My view is that they are a stronger set of teams than these teams who were knocked out in the round of 16 in last season's CL - remembering that some team's have improved significantly this season.

Porto
Celtic
Arsenal
Lille
Lyon
Barcelona
Real Madrid
Inter Milan

Hence my view that the World Cup is a deeper, higher quality tournament than the CL.

file said...

as Marcel says he was a multi-faceted dood but concerning the schools who follow his pedagogical approach (Waldorf schools):

there have been govt. educational studies on Waldorf schools in the US, Australia, Sweden, the UK and other parts of Europe. A synopsis of findings are at Wiki Waldorf

* there are many recommendations for govt. schools to learn from the Waldorf approach
* some misgivings about not letting 3-10 year olds at computers
* they study all religions and include spiritual perspectives in other subjects too
* a survey in Sweden found that students from W schools were 21% more likely to be actively opposed to Nazism and Racism (72% in Swedish state schools compared to 93% in Waldorfs)
* in the US Waldorf students have higher than average SAT scores
* Waldorf students score highly in creativity testing
* Waldorf schools have been praised for addressing Howard Gardners' 7 intelligences more effectively than mainstream schools

I really have no axe to grind either way but I've looked through their curriculum and it all seems fairly standard to me, though it doesn't overtly reflect any philosophy

sources
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolph_Steiner
http://skepdic.com/steiner.html
http://www.rudolfsteinerweb.com/
http://www.defendingsteiner.com/allegations/index.php

file said...

btw, the Skepdic site is quite good for some anti-Steiner arguments and here's another 2

http://www.waldorfcritics.org/
http://www.rickross.com/reference/waldorf/waldorf4.html

file said...

and now for something completely different from MotM

guitougoal said...

I just checked wikipedia about rudolf and the schools, the problem seems to be that people object regarding the funding of the schools regarded as religious=
There is no mention of nazism neither racism and I don't want to mislead anyone on this point.However I may confirm about the seal with an iron cross on the top of a star (david star?) and a templar cross-Strange mixt-
I noticed two books I would like to read:life between death and rebirth-and Reincarnation and Karma- anybody has a clue?

guitougoal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mimi said...

It could only be on Pseuds that a football thread offers so much other information. And that views are stated so calmly and informatively.

I shall be checking back here to see what more is offered on the Steiner education model. Maybe someone will also have views on Froebel.

It is far more interesting to read stuff here than in other places.

Thanks to all.

guitougoal said...

mimi,
we were probably in St Germain together in the past trying to make our own future-
file, thanks for the links.

mimi said...

Back here briefly before the football and just had time to check why "it means nothing to me"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3OaIsqtG64

marcela said...

thanks mouth:

i guess what i'm driving at is, obviously conjecturally speaking (?), for ivory coast to 'consistently' beat arsenal, which side are eboue and toure playing for?

raul? puyol? fabregas? are they representing spain?

and so on, although i must confess to being most tempted to work out how much overlap there is in both your lists... i could be way off the mark.

but i think, and in a sense there is possibly a link back to marcel's moors and dawns concerns... the team is made a winner, an emotional recipient, by it's players.

i don't disagree a priori with your claim that the wc may be a higer quality competition than the CL (although personally i enjoy CL enourmously). i just want to know where the talent falls in the club/country line up...

by all means ignore this query - i'm happy to hold it as an ongoing pursuit :)

i'll be googling steiner, then, for the next several hundred hours :))

mimi said...

Try googling Froebel too

MotM said...

CL vs WC? I guess Cesc and co would play a half for each team!!

I know I'm in a minority, but I don't tbink the CL is that good - I've seen many better Liverpool teams than their 2005 and 2007 versions, but that's a CL win and finalist!

I guess I also think that WC winners don't get enough credit - Italy's defence was superb in 2006 and Germany was a fine attacking force. France 1998 and 2000 were very good indeed.

Finally, you get the occasional dull WC Group stage game: you get the occasional good CL Group stage game.

guitougoal said...

Froebel,steiner,I am finally receiving an education through pseuds.
motm,
what about manutd, Fergie is saying this is the best team ever.

gg said...

Here in Sweden, even religious schools get state funding, so no-one takes issue with the Steiner/Waldorf schools with regard to that.

I believe that religious schools in the USA do not receive state funding: this must be the first time since the Boston Tea Party that the Yanks have got something right.

The question of the "best team ever" has been thrashed on the GU blogs, but we can thrash it again here if anyone is in a flagellant mood. I believe that Lord Wrigley said that it was his "best squad ever".

Did you hear the one about St. Stevie of Huyton?

(I'll get me nightshirt).

marcela said...

ooh, nightshirts is it?

getting better all the time...

guitougoal said...

surprinsigly we didn't hear yet about pink pyjamas.

marcela said...

did you mention pink?

guitougoal said...

Inspector beckouseau said:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhOx27YvcYU

offsideintahiti said...

What about Professor Steiner and Corto Maltese, no connection then?

munni said...

Never heard of Steiner before, the things you learn on pseuds.

I won't comment on talent drains and domestic player quotas because I'm very late to this party, and anyway I've already had that discussion in real life today and it exhausted me. But re. WC v CL, I'd be interested to know which team players would turn out for, given the choice. In times past I'd have guessed they'd choose country over club every time, now I'm not so sure.

guitougoal said...

offside,
Corto Maltese and Raspoutine.

offsideintahiti said...

Guitou, I know, I've read them all. I was just wondering if the Steiner character in Corto's adventures was based on the real life one.

Back on topic, I agree with Mouth. I'll have the World Cup over the CL and I do think the level is higher. I also agree with Marcela that's it's impractical and can only remain on the hypothetical level.

I'll have country over club. Definitely. Every time. More on that if inspiration finds me and if Lord Ebren finds the result worthy of publication.

MotM said...

In a hypothetical showdown between the top 16 WC and the top 16 CL, which team would the players play for? Whichever one their agent tells them to.

After that mangled English, in a non-tournament summer (2009, 2011) wouldn't it be great to see a four team one week tournament (proceeds to UNICEF) comprising the two best international sides of the previous year (or WC winners) and the two best club sides? Two Saturdays of football in early June shouldn't be impossible to organise.

byebyebadman said...

The original idea of international football was that by picking the best players form each club you would create a superteam to represent the nation that would, naturally, be better than any club side.

the more money has trickled into the game though the more you get a concentration of the best players at a few clubs and multi-national squads and scouting networks. With this financial clout and a worldwide pool of players to choose from without the limiting factor of nationality, I think the standard of club football at the Champions League level has become higher than the World Cup. This is without mentioning club teams play/train together all week rather than just a handful of sessions scattered through the year.

Someone asked me recently why Rooney played better for United than England, and my answer was that there is a massive difference in playing daily with Scholes, Tevez and Ronaldo than once a month with Wright-Phillips, Owen and Lampard. Same reason Keegan wasn't as good for England, or Dalglish for Scotland - their club team is far superior.

As has been pointed out it is all hypothetical - the only way United can play England or Milan play Italy is on a playstation.

gg said...

mouth: "a non-tournament summer".

2008?

gg said...

bbb -

could the fact that United have a manager influence the issue?

guitougoal said...

mouth,offside,
if you guys start to agree on something. I have to desagree just for thr principle.
gg,
who said 2008 a non tournement year? just because the Brits and the Frog won't be there, for once we may have a chance to watch football with objectivity.
Bybye
You're right, same thing with Henry and Framce but if you take Brazil (I watch them last night) they always look like they are playing together since their youth.

byebyebadman said...

Actually there is debate here about reviving the Home Nations Championship for next summer if england, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all kicking their heels while Euro 2008 takes place.

They knocked that tournament on the head in the mid-eighties when England and Scotland pulled out because they felt the standard of competition wasn't high enough for them and held them back.

Since the removal of that straitjacket the phenomenal success of both sides in the international arena proves it was a wise move!

gg said...

guitou: "to watch football with objectivity."

What a novel idea - tell me more!

P.S. I think I just heard the BBC World sports presenter refer to the manager of Russia, "Gus Hitler".

guitougoal said...

gg,
it's a new way to get bored at home-nobody care about who is winning.If you can picture a CL final without a team or a player you fancy, you get the picture.
But then, i suspect you will bet on a team to loose to make it exciting,

gg said...

Guitou -

is that your idea of sport?

No way will I enjoy a major tournament without having the England team/management/FA/bus driver to moan about.

mimi said...

Controversial, as ever, but Russell Brand made an interesting point in his article today. How about if players should turn out for the nation in which they earn their money?

And now I'm really quite excited as Wales level the score in Cardiff.

guitougoal said...

-gg
my idea of sport? i am a nostalgic.

marcel said...

-gg you're guitou's best customer.
the truth is, now that the entrepreneurial owner is gone the circus is in place and we have to leave with it-clowns, animals, acrobats ,Of course it's the oldest con in the world.Juvenal first called attention to it in the 1st century when he wrote:
"two things only people require-bread and circuses". Nothing change,Roman A and his peers bring us the circus and we just have to worry about the bread

guitougoal said...

'You have to live with it" Marcel you do need a translator.

offsideintahiti said...

sorry, no translations on the weekend.

mimi said...

There is no bread any more.

Let them eat cake.

And take the consequences. Even if that is the guillotine.

munni said...

I really thought I didn't care anymore. I thought I wanted England not to qualify. I'm now having a very complicated emotional response to the Israel-Russia result...

gg said...

(in his grandad's flanelette nightshirt)

- OK. I'll settle for the guitoutine.

guitougoal said...

hey gg, the frog qualified thanks to the italians,and the brits are almost there thanks to the Israeli- Isn't the world a better place when countries are willing to help each other ? naturally Scotland may have a different opinion on this.

gg said...

Dear guitoutine -

you can never imagine how much I revel in the company of a fellow-nostalgico!

I understand your happiness: the French league always was crap, and still is.

England have been crap since 1966, and still are.

The Premier League has, admittedly,
threatened our contentedness by occasionally providing exciting footy. Similarly, France sometimes
excels, making waves in our beloved sea of mediocrity.

Generally speaking, however, all is well - that is to say, ill - and we can wallow in our discontent.

I, too, regret Scotland's failure to qualify: success for Scotland would have made an England failure all the more deplorable - i.e. delicious.

We should, indeed, think of our comrades at such moments. With Wales and Scotland out, who will Mimi support? If Northern Ireland make it, against the odds, she could go for them.

If they don't, will she adopt the cricket solution - i.e. support those hated Sassenachs, all the while singing "Land of Our Fathers" and "Flower of Scotland"?

But, wait - isn't Brittany in France? And haven't France qualified? And doesn't the Breton lingo consist of Welsh, liberally sprinkled with garlic and slowly brought to the boil in an inverted beret?

Go, Mimi, go!

guitoutine said...

ah ah! sticking your neck out cause me closed on sunday.Please come again.

byebyebadman said...

I often wonder if I'm missing something with England. Only once in my lifetime watching them have they ever qualified without needing to win or draw the last game, or have another team lends us a hand with a favourable result.

We're down to the last game again and yet the prevalent attitude seems to be that we shouldn't be in this position. We're always in this bloody position! Why the surprise??

munni said...

byebye, you're absolutely right, but I still always hope that one of these years I'll feel like celebrating when we do qualify, rather than just feeling relieved.

bread and circuses.

mimi said...

gg: I appreciate your concern! Obviously I am hoping against reality that Northern Ireland will qualify, but I do also hope England will. Though that's more because I support the players than any support for Steve McLaren.

Cricket is never a problem for me. Despite the standard use of the initials ECB, those of us who care are well aware that it is still the England AND WALES cricket board, and just cos there are no Welshmen in the team at the moment does not disturb the equilibrium of my soul.

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