Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Big Fat Failed Sven Goran Eriksson Experiment

A-ha! Maybe this was the problem!

Thaksin Shinawatra has been called many things in the past. An evil despot. A persistent human rights violator. A bad leader. A jerk from Thailand. And now, thanks to the soundbite generator that is Noel Gallagher, he's been called "a bit of a nutcase."

He's all of these things, and probably many, many more as well. Why? Because he just called time on Sven Goran Eriksson's reign, a man who spent more time welcoming and waving farewell to players than he did managing the club. It's an odd move, but obviously quite a desperate one for Shinawatra, a guy who's seen the instant gratification era blossoming in the EPL but has yet to experience its warm, loving touch.

Around Christmas time, you'd be right in thinking that Man City had a UEFA Cup spot lovingly reserved, what with their blistering start to the season. Heck, they were so good that one of our very own UF brethren gushed about them openly, almost too openly for some.

That very post signaled the beginning of the end, as the UF curse [fact: 300% more deadly than the Madden Curse] took hold and they've been limping ever since: 21 points from their last 18 games. Fuck... that's worse than Spurs.

So.... where did it all go wrong? Are we all missing the bigger calamity here?

At first reaction, I thought maybe Sven had gotten a little too close to Mrs. Shinawatra, what with his fondness of keeping mistresses while he's busy managing football teams.

But really, it comes down to the cold hard reality that a lot of Sven's signings simply weren't that good. While he has managed to dramatically turn the club around, from a relegation battle to a Top 10 finish, that still doesn't fly in the cloud cuckoo culture of immediacy that has flooded the league. What have you done for me lately? Finished 9th and spent a shitload of my cash. End of story for Sven, in that scenario.

Shinawatra gave him enough rope to hang himself with, and he promptly did with a slew of signings and turning Maine Road into a giant revolving door made out of money:

Rolando Bianchi -- Absolute toss, but with flowing brown locks. Buggered off to Italy as soon as the window opened.

Geovanni -- Ugh. If you're looking for a striker to score just 3 goals in 23 games, buy cheap. Pick up Craig Bellamy and save yourself the trouble of scrambling to secure work visas.

Elano -- disappeared when they needed him most during the Winter, but he was instrumental in stuffing their crosstown rivals, so he gets a pass.

Gelson Fernandes -- works hard for the money, so hard for it honey. He's Swiss though, which makes me nervous. That fact has to count against him.

Martin Petrov -- beastly for long stretches of the campaign, as in beastly good. A solid winger, indeed. Reasonably-priced and also full of talent, like a matinee screening of a Scorsese film.

Javier Garrido -- I have no idea who this is. Moving on.

Vedran Corluka -- yeah, he's done well for himself. Solid defender whose lack of flair makes him perfect for the EPL.

Valeri Bojinov -- oh come on, now they're just making up names. Seems like another phantom Eastern European who doesn't exist, much like Chelsea's January transfer signing Branislav Ivanovic. Seriously though, where did Ivanovic go? He hasn't played a single first team game yet, and he's their most expensive defensive signing ever!

Felipe Caicedo -- A streaky Ecuadorian. Looks good in spells, but can't hold a spot in the team.

Benjani -- He proved himself at Pompey, and now, more of the same. Will prove reliable for seasons to come, and was an absolute fucking steal considering how much Portsmouth shelled out for Defoe around the same time.

So yes, as you can see, a fuckload of signings. He managed to clean out some of the dead wood, like Joey Barton, and bring in player that he thought would work with his scheming. Problem was, as he even admitted at one point, is that he signed some players after only having watched video of them playing, and that's just flat-out stupid. Then again, the only rationalization I can come up with for Lampard winning so many caps under Sven is that Eriksson was not paying close attention to the EPL, and simply just caught blurry, static camera footage of his playing style.

I can feel sorry for Sven on some levels, but not on the others. Ultimately, as members of the global workforce, we'll all slaves to our bosses and their whimsy. Sven is no different.Thaksin gave him money and artistic license, and he converted that into little more than a bloated squad and home defeats to Fulhamerica.

Also, at the end of the day, expectation far outweighed the grim reality of it all. For those big clubs outside the big 4, the desire to finally get in the treehouse is greater than ever and this constant push gives agents something to get excited about. The mid-tier teams talk excitedly and at great length about Ronaldinho and Kaka and whoever the latest 15-million pound wunderkind is, but the fact remains: those superstars aren't going to Maine Road unless they're walking into a club that doesn't need much help and salvation in locking down a Champions League spot.

Sven succumbed to this same pipedream. Tons of money spent, little to show for it. An army of scouts wandering the streets of Riga and Tallinn looking for the 5 million-rated Latvian Ronaldo. Exorbitant offers to the world's best, only to watch them get shared between Inter, AC Milan and Barcelona yet again. And so, the Tottis and the Cristianos of the world stand pat, and the working-class stadiums of the south and north-east are left to fend with the great unpronounceables.

Thaksin is a absolute fool if he thinks a sudden sea change from the manager will do much better. You give Sven one year of your 5-year plan, and we're already on to establishing a mandate for the incoming boss, whoever it may be [the "smart" money's on Scolari... hahaha].

Is there a manager that would subject themselves to what Eriksson's been through? He achieved what Shinawatra wanted for Year 1, and he still got the boot. Now it seems like anything less than Top 5 gets you shit-canned, and there's no manager that could guarantee that for Man City. Not to mention, there'd be yet another squad overhaul to get rid of Sven's tinkering and bring in fresh faces that the new gaffer's familiar with.

It's an absolute mess at Maine Road for the time being, and Noel Gallagher is right. Shinawatra's a nutcase. RIP Sven Goran Eriksson, the one-year wonder for the Blues.

For his next job, I'd recommend Wal-Mart. They might not give you health insurance, but they'll still treat you marginally better than Thaksin Shinawatra.


Precious Roy said...

No mention of Nery Castillo?

Good, I hate that fucker, too.

Ian said...

Sorry Citeh!

James, don't you think Sven's "batting average" on his signings is probably pretty comparable if not better than most EPL managers? I mean Corluka, Benjani, Petrov, and Elano (if can find a warm jacket), are all quality guys. Its not their fault SGE insisted in giving Darious Vassel so many minutes at striker. Plus now isn't pretty much certain that Micah Richards is going to be sold to a bigger club in the offseason?

The Fan's Attic said...

you mean...Nary a mention of Nery?