Zero Bundesliga goals this season signal January exit for Thomas Muller?

TRANSFER? BENCH? OR PATIENCE? THE CURIOUS CASE OF THOMAS MULLER

It seems strange, but Thomas Muller hasn’t registered a single goal in the league so far. Yes, we do mean since the start of this Bundesliga season! There are many reasons for this dry spell, especially for a player known to hit double figures every season. But this problem, seems to date back to pre-season.

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THOMAS MULLER?

AND MORE BROADLY, WHAT IS HAPPENING TO BAYERN MUNICH?

In 12 games in the Bundesliga, since the start of the season, the german star has yet to score a single goal. His last league goal dates back to April 30 last season, during the game against Borussia Monchengladbach.Chief Executive Bayern Karl – Heinz Rummenigge seems to think Muller’s troubles stem from a loss of confidence due to his penalty in the semi-finals of the Champions League against Atletico Madrid (Which can be viewed below). Last season’s miss is reported as having reflected negatively upon him. But, this doesn’t seem like Muller, who is known as a composed and calm player.

 

HAS THE ONE WHO DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES LOST HIS WAY TO GOAL?

Muller  has achieved more than most players in the history of the German league. Having scored a total of 155 goals in the Bavarians shirt in 370 appearances since he rose through the ranks in 2009. In addition, he is on the verge of hitting three figures on his total Bundesliga goal tally since the 2008/09 season. Last year, Bayern are reported to have refused to sell him for 100 million euros to Manchester United. Nevertheless, this season Thomas Muller looks far from the same player.

 

 

Some pundits went as far as to state that Muller’s poor performance can be blamed on Bayern’s shortcomings as a whole under new coach Carlo Ancelotti. Meanwhile, others have just attributed it to bad luck. One might argue that Muller’s problem is not just in his failure to register but also in his performance as a whole, which has seen a marked decline. We no longer see the world class player grabbing the game by the scruff of its neck and pushing his team to the limits.

MUELLER IS IN CRISIS

It’s true, but it must be said here that many causes are possible. He is not the first player to suffer such a long goal drought. Even if Muller hasn’t scored in 663 minutes this season in the Bundesliga, legends like Gerd Mueller once didn’t score for 965 minutes while most recently, Robert Lewandowski, the most prolific striker of the Bundesliga struggled for more than 562 minutes.

But Muller’s problem seems deeper, it seems to stem from an emerging discomfort at his surroundings in Bayern. Historically, Bayern have always reiterated that Muller was not for sale. Nevertheless, Bayern also historically took pride in their Bavarian origins, in their German youth, and in their steady stream of stars to the national team. Lately, Bayern has lost part of its identity. Schweinsteiger was replaced by Xabi Alonso, Kroos left to Real madrid, Gomez replaced by Lewandowski.

FOREIGN PLAYERS ARE BECOMING THE MAJORITY OF BAYERN’S STARTING 11.

Moreover, recently, German players have started spreading more and more to the other four big European leagues. Schweinsteiger, Leroy Sane and Mustafi constitute prominent examples. Recent reports mention a record breaking Manchester United bid for Thomas Muller last transfer window. Needless to say, any team in the world would line up for a chance to field Muller in their starting 11. Could it be that the German star is finally reconsidering his options? Or does he just need a short break before hitting the ground running again?

Expect racism at the World Cup in Russia

With the World Cup starting in a couple of weeks and tensions with the west at their most volatile for decades, this will be one of the most politically charged World Cup’s ever. The 32 competing nations will arrive in Russia amid scandals that range from sports doping, to the poisoning of spy’s, to passenger planes being shot out of the skies – all of which are linked back to Russia and the Kremlin. Add into the mix the recent annexing of Crimea, war in the Ukraine, and hooliganism in Marseilles at Euro 2016, Russia is not coming across very well with the rest of the international community. However, one thing that has been a clear concern within football in Russia over many years is the level of racist incidents that go on unpunished, generally, but within football. Officials, journalists and some players in Russia admit that the country has a problem with fans that are considered right-wing, but they also think it is something that has been blown out of proportion by the media and claim it is just as bad in other areas of eastern Europe. But monkey chants have been heard at three matches in recent months, and the Russian Football Union was recently fined £22,000 following racist chants by fans in a friendly against France in March. French players, Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembele and N’Golo Kante, were among those subjected to vile abuse during their side’s 3-1 win against the World Cup hosts at a game that was played at Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg, which is one of the host venues for this summer’s event. The spotlight will stay on the abhorrent hooligan culture that has grown amongst post-Soviet football and it seems incredibly sad that in this day and age the England squad have felt the need to discuss between themselves how they should react if they are subjected to racism during the World Cup. According to reports they have talked about what to do and what not to do if they hear abuse, saying that they hoped if anything did happen FIFA would deal with it. A statement from football’s world governing body said there would be a “zero tolerance approach” to discrimination. But if FIFA really wanted to send Russia a message, is a fine of £22,000 for their fans behaviour against France really going to do it? In recent years, a number of black players, including Emmanuel Frimpong and Christopher Samba, have actually been punished by the Russian Football Union for how THEY reacted to racist abuse during games, and Ultras in St Petersburg released a manifesto demanding their team do not sign any non-white and gay players. Racist banners are regularly unfurled at games and chants heard, yet despite this, nothing seems to be done. The continued rise of the far-right was helped following an incident in 2010, just four days after Russia was awarded the World Cup. A fan of Spartak Moscow, Egor Sviridov, was killed by a rubber bullet during a fight between ethnically Russian football fans and youths from the country’s North Caucasus. The suspected killer, Aslan Cherkesov, was released from prison, which angered nationalists and led to thousands of football hooligans and far-right groups rioting on Manezh Square, near to the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin laid flowers at Egor Sviridov’s grave later that month, an act interpreted as a sign of deference to nationalists. It showed the power the fans have, and the dominance of the far-right ideology, which was being supported by the government. How can fans and player’s, especially black fans and player’s, being possibly looking forward to visiting this World Cup. There will be no protection for them from Russian officials or from FIFA.

A Guide to Successful Long Term Football Betting

I’m not a fan of the phrase professional gambler as it has the feel of an oxymoron. For anyone to earn a consistent profit from betting requires a tremendous amount of discipline, research and self-restraint (something that applies particularly strong in football). I am not attempting to come off here as some betting guru as I know I’m not but I have been able to make decent money doing this over the past three years, enough in fact that I feel I will share some of the tips I use to whoever is reading this.

 

  1. Practice makes perfect

When you start betting on football no-one knows for sure which market they are most adept at, if even at all. Practice is essential, even if it is with 10p stakes or on making notes of bets purely on paper and keeping note of wins/losses. Doing this on different markets will allow to gauge and hone whatever strengths you may have. If you find yourself constantly losing and running into an empty bank, that will be the indication you either need to change the markets you bet on or in fact should not gamble at all. Do this over and over until you are sure. Note how you do over 10 bets placed, 20 bets placed, 50 bets placed, 100 bets placed. It may appear to be daft betting with 10p stakes but it will be an important indicator of your abilities and weaknesses and should give you the confidence to bet or even deter you from gambling completely. You may have a hunch but it is best to let the stats reveal the answer to you.

 

  1. Starting Bankroll

Once you have singled out a market(s) you seem to be able to produce the goods in using small stakes , it is time for the real thing. When you start betting and intend to make considerable long-term profit it is extremely helpful to your cause if you get the ball rolling with a decent bankroll. Whatever you consider as decent is up to you but the bigger the better. The larger your starting bank, the bigger your stakes and the greater profit you can earn from the get go.

 

  1. Bankroll Management

This is one of the two most crucial factors in long-term profit from gambling. You must stake within your means. When I first learned how to play poker I took for granted the importance of this but the more I played the more it became clear that this was key to betting long-term.  Anyone who has played poker competitively will understand the significance of bankroll management. This is a large part in which discipline and self-restraint come to the fore. What I do is limit my bets to three stages – 5%, 2% or 1% of my bank. The deciding factor in which stakes are chosen from these three is dependent on my confidence of the bet landing.

The biggest reason for limiting stakes to those percentages is to weather any storm that eventually arrives. And it will arrive. No matter how good you are, you will lose bets. Staking to these percentages makes these losses very manageable and will prevent any serious chasing which may result in a wipe out of your total bankroll if you had lost a considerably larger percentage of your bank. This may seem extreme but in the heat of the moment when money is lost, you find yourself selecting bets you otherwise would never have picked if you were thinking clearly. Trying to see winning bets in selections you otherwise would never have touched if you hadn’t previously lost. Rest assured that almost every gambler who takes it seriously will have experienced such a melt-down at least once.

The percentage breakdown of the stakes do not have to be the same as mine, they can be bigger or smaller but limiting your stakes to fractions of your bankroll is important as losses WILL happen.  It is imperative though that you follow your staking plan at all times.

 

  1. Research

Knowing what you’re betting on is vital. There are various websites out there that offer in-depth such as Soccerway or WinDrawWin. There are also various betting forums out there that may come in helpful. A very recent example of research aiding my own betting is the match between Moreirense and Benfica in the Portuguese League Cup. I knew Moreirense were bottom of the league and as they went 1-0 up against Benfica my instinct was to back Benfica outright at 1-0 down. However, a quick look on soccerway showed their League Cup is split into qualifying groups and this match was not necessarily a must-win for Benfica. I therefore avoided backing Benfica outright and just as well, the match finished 1-1.

Your general knowledge on football can also come in handy as it may reveal a side to the match others do not see. Shining examples of this would be altitude in South American. In the intercontinental tournaments, sides often suffer the problem of playing at an altitude they are not accustomed to. In the 2012 Copa Libertadores, it was no great surprise to see Bolivar beat Santos 2-1 in La Paz and Deportivo Quito hammer Universidad de Chile 4-1 in Quito. It was always on the cards that playing in places like Quito or La Paz, the two highest capital cities in the world, would mean the likes of UDC and Santos would struggle heavily as they are not acclimatized to such environments.

 

  1. Strike Rate

Along with bankroll management, this is the most crucial element of long-term profit. As previously stated, you will at some point back losing bets. They are impossible to escape. 1/100 shots are busted every single day. So whatever you back, it is imperative your strike rate is high. My preferred system (if I can call it that) is backing a goal in the second half of games. I always watch the matches I bet on for some time before I place the bet. The game has to be open and I do not bet a goal to happen in games that are currently drawing – one team has to be chasing the game. The goalscoring, or lack thereof, of both teams involved are also taken into account and the importance of the match along with a myriad of other defining factors This method does not work for everyone but it has been very effective for me. At the end of the day the choices you stake on are what you feel will happen accompanied with what the stats indicate may happen.

I may do another article later on other betting systems such as arbing, trading etc.

I hope this mini-guide helps some of you out there. They have helped me and many others I am sure who have adopted a similar mentality. Good luck!

Fun football facts to impress your friends

As a football fan, you are sure to read sports magazines, watch all the matches and enjoy keeping up with the latest news and updates. There are so many ways you can keep up with footy news, from visiting blog posts and websites like us here at Footandball, to checking the scores on your football app. As a keen sports fan, you are sure to keep up with the latest news one way or the other.

So if you and your friends get together every week to play a bit of fantasy football or have a game or two at PartyCasino before settling down and watching the match, then you might be interested in reading some fun football facts. Now is your chance to impress your friends and show off your football knowledge with these fun and quirky facts about some of Russia’s football players.

Did you know that Andrey Arshavin (attacking midfielder for Arsenal and captain of the Russian national team) studied fashion at the St Petersburg State University of Technology and Design? Many of his creations are on show in the college’s museum.

It’s thought that Russia’s Dutch boss, Dick Advocaat, racked up a £36m deficit on transfers during his spell at Rangers. However, he managed to get himself free hair transplants from Glasgow firm Laser Aesthetic.

The Russian national anthem used to be a wordless piano piece. It was changed in 2000 to the current Russia, Our Holy Realm anthem after Spartak Moscow players complained that having nothing to sing made them depressed before big European matches.

Pavel Pogrebnyak has a whole bank of entertaining nicknames. He’s known as The Cellar, Mighty Po, Mr White, Death From Above and, to Fulham fans, The Pog.

Yuri Zhirkov (who once played for Chelsea as wing back) sometimes had to miss training as a youngster to help his poor family grow vegetables for the winter. He and his family lived in a two-bed Moscow flat with young Yuri sleeping on a fold-out camp bed.

The Donkey Kick

Coventry scored one of the most beautiful free kicks in the history of the game, they called it the “Donkey kick”. No, it doesn’t involve an actual donkey; but it’s the action of kicking the ball donkey style. By donkey style I mean backwards and with both feet.

Willie Carr held the ball between his ankles and flicked it up behind him only to see his team mate, Ernie Hunt, volley a missile into the top right corner. The goalkeeper had absolutely no chance but at least he tried.

What is interesting here is that the FA later banned the “Donkey kick” technique. People believed that it was banned because the ball didn’t travel its full diameter, that was incorrect. The real reason was because the flicker double-touched the ball in order to lift it in the air. Good thing is, the goal stood.

Guardiola facing the sternest of tests

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, we are told, and never has that been more true than in the case of Pep Guardiola. It has been just eight months since the Spaniard took his leave from Barcelona, commencing a period in which clubs have seemingly clambered over each other to flutter eyelashes at the coach, desperate to attract a man of such calibre to their particular hotseat.

In England, we were told that Manchester City were going to provide Pep with that most cherished of footballing entities, the transfer warchest, before the media then fed rumours that Roman Abramovich was sounding out his man or that Arsenal could replace Arsene Wenger with a coach prepared to start another cultural evolution. Further afield, Guardiola was made favourite for the Brazilian job, and after a sluggish start in Ligue 1, PSG were also rumored to have shown interest. Essentially, if it was big money, high profile or both, Pep was your man.

Except that he wasn’t. Like the sexiest girl at school ignoring the rugby louts guffawing over what size her tits were, Pep ignored the clamours from England and instead chose Bayern Munich, the rather arty kid that had kept suspiciously quiet until now. Yes he was popular and yes he was cool, but this was a choice seen as off kilter by some. In the main, the Twitterati of European football wannabe hipsters (and I unfortunately include myself in such a generalisation) drooled over the choice. This would be Dortmund v Bayern, Klopp v Guardiola, the philosophy of beauty vs. the beauty of philosophy.

However, forgetting our selfish desires of footballing satisfaction for a moment, is the move actually an intelligent one for Guardiola? Now lauded as the best club manager in the game, has he made a wise choice? And what of Bayern, have they taken a risk on a manager returning from a self-imposed sabbatical?

It is crucial to remember that Barcelona is the only managerial position that Guardiola has ever held, groomed within La Masia and Barca B. He took over a squad that had underachieved in Frank Rijkaard’s final two seasons, but had the potential for greatness already laid at its feet. Whilst one should not attempt to undermine the improvement the Spaniard instigated at the Camp Nou, when he joined in 2008, Lionel Messi was 21, Samuel Eto’o 27, Xavi 28, Andres Iniesta 24, Yaya Toure 25 and Carles Puyol only just 30. Quite simply, this was the perfect basis for success.

Moreover, Pep’s last season at Barcelona cannot be viewed positively. They won the Copa del Rey, but finishing nine points behind Real Madrid and losing out to Chelsea in the semi-finals was less than had been expected of such a squad. Guardiola left with his head held high, but this was not the joyous fanfare which had been desired and perhaps deserved.

One merely needs to look at the record of Tito Villanova in his first five months in charge to see that Guardiola is not alone as a manager that can direct Barcelona to success. 39 matches, 29 wins, 106 goals and a win ratio higher that 80% with a 15 point lead over Real Madrid. The question must still remain as to whether he can transfer the skills gained in Spain to the Bundesliga, a league operating amidst a differing culture to that of La Liga.

To simply add pressure to the appointment, Bayern are currently enjoying their most successful season in recent history. Their record to date in the league would see them total 86 points, comfortably their highest ever points total, and they have conceded just seven league goals in 19 games. They topped their Champions League group and are third favourites for the competition behind Barcelona and Madrid. Jupp Heynckes seems likely to to retire at an impressive crescendo.

Increasing this burden, Guardiola looks set to be handed a sizeable transfer budget upon his arrival in Munich. Whilst the Daily Mail reported that this figure was near £240million, one suspects that this figure is wildly inaccurate  and instead relates to the valued equity of the club stated by President Uli Hoeness during the latest shareholders’ meeting. Nevertheless, the Spaniard will be permitted to spend lavishly in order to improve his squad.

The concern for any incoming manager must surely be the suspicion that Bayern Munich have reached a ceiling. They now partake in a league in which anything below top spot will be seen by directors and supporters as significant underachievement, such is the financial weight of the club. Bayern are the only club in Germany that could consider themselves as a non-selling club. Even Dortmund, the closest threat to thisdominance, have sold Nuri Sahin and Shinji Kagawa in recent times, and there are continuous rumors regarding the potential sales of Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels and Mario Gotze.

My worry for Guardiola would be the question of what he has to gain at Munich. At Barcelona, he seemed to be a coach that thrived on a project, an opportunity to build a cohesive unit of players within his philosophical ideal of how football should be played, a system that brought great dividends. Bayern is not a project, simply a squad already performing close to maximum both domestically and continentally. The art of successful football management is knowing exactly when to take an offer of employment and, more importantly, who from (Brian Clough is wonderful example of this). Propositions may seem attractive, but a club’s standing must be improved to sustain or increase reputation.

Absence may have made our hearts grow fonder for Pep, but he has challenged himself immensely in his next destination. After just four years top level experience and having never managed outside of Spain, it will be the sternest of tests. Football management is an industry in which reputations are lost all too quickly, with patience a rarely recognised virtue. Guardiola may have rewritten the manual at Barcelona, but his next chapter will be more challenging still.

Fun football facts to impress your friends

As a football fan, you are sure to read sports magazines, watch all the matches and enjoy keeping up with the latest news and updates. There are so many ways you can keep up with footy news, from visiting blog posts and websites like us here at Footandball, to checking the scores on your football app. As a keen sports fan, you are sure to keep up with the latest news one way or the other.

So if you and your friends get together every week to play a bit of fantasy football or have a game or two at PartyCasino before settling down and watching the match, then you might be interested in reading some fun football facts. Now is your chance to impress your friends and show off your football knowledge with these fun and quirky facts about some of Russia’s football players.

Did you know that Andrey Arshavin (attacking midfielder for Arsenal and captain of the Russian national team) studied fashion at the St Petersburg State University of Technology and Design? Many of his creations are on show in the college’s museum.

It’s thought that Russia’s Dutch boss, Dick Advocaat, racked up a £36m deficit on transfers during his spell at Rangers. However, he managed to get himself free hair transplants from Glasgow firm Laser Aesthetic.

The Russian national anthem used to be a wordless piano piece. It was changed in 2000 to the current Russia, Our Holy Realm anthem after Spartak Moscow players complained that having nothing to sing made them depressed before big European matches.

Pavel Pogrebnyak has a whole bank of entertaining nicknames. He’s known as The Cellar, Mighty Po, Mr White, Death From Above and, to Fulham fans, The Pog.

Yuri Zhirkov (who once played for Chelsea as wing back) sometimes had to miss training as a youngster to help his poor family grow vegetables for the winter. He and his family lived in a two-bed Moscow flat with young Yuri sleeping on a fold-out camp bed.

Interesting Football Facts

A collection of some of the most interesting statistics in football. Credit to /r/soccer for a lot of the below statistics.

  • Juventus haven’t received a single red card in all competitions this season.
  • Spurs haven’t won a single game without Gareth Bale scoring since January 1st, 2013. Also, when Bale joined Spurs he didn’t win any of his first 24 games.
  • In the 1966/67 season, Jock Stein’s Celtic team won every competition they entered. In doing so they became the first British side to win the competition and also the first from Northern Europe, ending the dominance of the Mediterranean countries. That same team are still also to this day the only entirely home-grown side to lift the trophy. Every player in that Celtic team were born within 30 miles of Celtic Park, 10 of them within an 11 mile radius of the stadium.
  • Not from this season, by quite a long way actually. But Reading went on a tour of Italy in 1913. On that tour, they beat Milan 5-0, Genoa 4-2, and the Italy team 2-0. The newspaper Corriere della Serra described them as ‘without doubt, the finest foreign team seen in Italy.’ Reading were not yet a football league team.
  • This season, Brighton have not lost any matches from a winning position and haven’t won any matches from a losing position.

Mario Zagallo with Ronaldo

  • Mario Zagallo is the only man to be associated with four World Cup winning teams. He won the tournament as a player in 1958 and 1962 before becoming the first man to win it as a player and a manager when he led the 1970 team to the trophy as a manager. He then worked as an assistant coach in the winning Brazil side of 1994. He remains one of only two players that have went on to win the World Cup as both a player and as a manager.
  • Chelsea are on course of playing 68-69 (depending if they get to Europa League Final) official games this season (2013/2013), which is the highest amount of games any European team has played in one season.
  • Chelsea player Oscar has also played 88 games since 6 May 2012 with no break longer than a week.
  • This season Chelsea are the first holders of the Champions League not to progress beyond the group stages.
  • Leeds United have gone 21 (and counting) games without a first-half goal.
  • Liverpool have had the most shots on target this season and the youngest average squad age. However, Aston Villa are the team that boast the youngest average age of their starting eleven.
  • All 38 of Hugo Sanchez’s goals from his Pichichi-winning 1989/90 season were scored on his first touch.
  • Newcastle have not scored from a corner in over 250 attempts, since the beginning of the 2011-2012 season.
  • AS Roma have both the best attack and the 2nd worst defense in Serie A.
  • Roma can also be the first Italian side to win ten Coppa Italias if they defeat city rivals Lazio in the final of the tournament at the end of the season. Currently, Roma and Juventus are both tied on 9.
  • The largest official attendance for a domestic game in the UK was the 1938 Scottish Cup final between Aberdeen and Celtic with 146,433 fans attending. The highest official attendance of a league game in the UK was a Scottish league game between Celtic and Rangers in which 118,567 people attended.
  • Manchester United have never lost a Premier League match at Old Trafford when they have been leading at half time.
  • Manchester United have not conceded a single penalty all season.

Oops! ZIzou’s volley denies Leverkusen of their first champions league title in the 2002 season.

  • Bayer Leverkusen was the first team to reach the Champions League final without ever winning the domestic league title before.
  • Berlin is the only capital city in any of the major European leagues to not have a team representing them in the nation’s top division.
  • Totti, Mata, Messi, Payet, Walcott, Müller: The 6 players in Europe’s top 5 leagues with double figures for both goals & assists this season.
  • Argentina have provided the most winners of the Copa Libertadores with a total 22 winning sides coming from that country. Brazil lie in second place having provided 16 winners of the tournament.
  • Argentinian side Independiente are have won the Copa Libertadores 7 times in total, more than any other team. However, the two teams that have appeared most in the final are Argentinian side Boca Juniors (10 times) and Uruguayan giants Penarol (10 times). Penarol have finished runners-up (5 times) more than any other side in the tournament’s history.

Where’s the FA while Rovers are being raped, robbed and relegated?

Football agent, Jerome Anderson, is head of the sports management company SEM, which advised Venky’s, Blackburn Rovers owners, on their takeover. Shockingly, Anderson counts among his clients, Blackburn’s current manager, Steve Kean, who was brought in by the Venky’s, along with a number of Anderson-connected players, including the agents own son.

So, with a football agent exerting such power, influence and control over a football club – effectively ruling the roost at Ewood – where are the FA on what is without doubt unethical, improper and rotten abuse that has seen the Pune poultry pushers plague, pillage and pulverize a founding member of our fantastic game it into the ground, in just 18 months.

Jerome Anderson’s influence

David Conn, football writer for The Guardian, commented in his blog: “A substantial, unexpected degree of influence has clearly been entrusted at Ewood Park to the football agent Jerome Anderson, whose company, SEM, which is merged with the Swiss sports rights agency Kentaro, was advising Venky’s before they bought Rovers.”

After former Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce was sensationally sacked in December 2010 and replaced by Anderson’s client, Kean, Rovers were forced to deny the dismissal had been based on a brouhaha relating to the club’s transfer policy being set by Kentaro.”Kentaro are our main consultants but Sam had the final call,” said Venky’s chairwoman, Anuradha Desai.

It seems Allardyce’s suspicious about Anderson’s involvement in transfers was correct, as along with the big name sales of key players Samba and Jones, and the freezing out of experience players – to prevent appearance related contact extension clauses being activated – came the cheap, half-witted, unintelligent Anderson influenced signings of Ruben Rochina, Mauro Formica and even his own son, Myles Anderson – unbelievable.

The transfer of Formica in January 2011 was initially disallowed by the Premier League on ‘technical grounds’, reportedly due to the fact the deal involved a ‘third party ownership element’ that the Premier League was not happy with.

Blackburn also signed Ruben Rochina in the same month for €450,000 from Barcelona in a deal where Rochina’s agent, Manuel Salamanca Ferrer, received a £1.65m fee – over three times as much as the actually transfer fee! Anderson claimed to not have made any money from this.

He was involved in both transfers though, commenting on Sky TV: “I basically slept at the training ground for the month of January and helped the club in so many areas. First and foremost trying to bring in players. We were very, very successful in that area.” Formica and Rochina went on to make one league appearance during the remainder of the 2010/11 season, between them.

In March 2011, when it was announced that Anderson’s 21-year-old footballer son, Myles, had signed a pre-contract agreement with Blackburn, sources close to the agent insisted he had no day-to-day involvement at the club. Yet a month earlier, when John Williams left Blackburn Rovers in February 2011, after 14 years as chairman, Anuradha Desai explained that the departure was in part due to the fact that John had “struggled to accept Jerome’s role at the club.”

Before Williams left, he wrote a letter to Mrs Desai – that has since been leaked – the last paragraph of which read: “Finally, our football secretary has, this morning, been instructed by SEM to issue a mandate to a third-party without any reference or approval from the board. We are not familiar with the player concerned nor is he one that has been mentioned to us by the manager. Could you please, therefore, clarify the role of SEM in our transfer policy.”

It is clear that Anderson had a cunning, controlling and controversially influential role at the club. Is the FA not supposed to govern against this sort of unethical behaviour?

The ‘governing body’ of English football

The FA was founded in 1863 as the governing body of the game in England. This means it is supposed to look after its members, the many clubs at all levels that are English football – including Blackburn Rovers. In its Memorandum, the FA states one of its main objects as:

…to govern the game of association football with integrity and in doing so will seek to: (i) …preventing infringements of the rules and regulations of The Association and Laws of the Game, or other improper methods of practices in such game, and for protecting it from abuses…

I would interpret this to mean, among many things, that the FA will ensure that football agents, who represent players and managers in the game, are not in a position to have an influence over a club – this would surely be an ‘improper practice’ and breach of the ‘integrity’ of the game.

Further, if an agent did have such influence and was involved in a takeover of a football club at which this agent has clients – who could benefit from this influence – this would surely be ‘abuse’.

It seems I am wrong in my interpretations.

The FA has done nothing to prevent Rovers uncommunicative, ruthless and disconnected owners taking advice from and instilling control of a Premier League club (for one more game) to a football agent. But why have the FA not intervened?

Where is the FA?

Daily Mirror journalist, David Anderson, said: “Indian owners wanted the Champions League on a budget but ended up turning a stable mid-table club into a laughing stock”. There is no doubt the ruin of Rovers is down to the bad advice the Venky’s have taken and continue to take on football matters.

Just look at how they dealt with the recent leak of former deputy CEO, Paul Hunt’s letter, that he sent to Mrs Desai in December 2010, expressing his concerns about Kean and pleading with them to see sense to save the club from relegation – they sacked him. Kean’s still in a job though. Hunt of course, was not a client of Jerome Anderson.

Imagine for a moment that you are a football agent and you have just advised a wealthy business person on their takeover of Manchester United for example. As a further client, you also have a complete novice wannabe manager, as well as connections to a striker no one has heard of and your own son. You advise the new owner that they should sack Sir Alex and replace him with the novice wannabe manager, replace Wayne Rooney with the unknown striker and put your son on the books.

That scenario could actually happen; it has actually happened at Rovers (!); and it is apparently legally allowed to happen, because the FA, football’s governing body, is seemingly willing to let it happen.

You would think the FA would have got involved to curtail the calamitous circus that has been circling Ewood Park this season, but alas, none of their extortionately remunerated executives seemed to manage to move from the plush luxury of their indulgently decorated not-for-profit offices in central London.

If Venky’s have not tarnished the English game by so foully abusing a prestigious member of its governing body, then I’ll release a chicken onto the pitch at the next Rovers game.

To the FA, I say: where are you? It’s time you stood up to those who want to do our game harm, those who want to ruin our clubs and those who are so blatantly taking money off loyal fans to simply line their own pockets. Stop being so cowardly, and act.

The curious case of Venky’s: Astute Indian business people or ‘confused’ cowboys?

Venky’s could have taken a step towards reconciliation with angry fans by making the decision to sack Steve Kean and by bringing in an experienced manager and chairman to set plans into motion to help Rovers bounce right back from the Championship. Instead, Kean, labeled by Venky’s as ‘unsackable’, is seemingly set for a stay, with Venky’s set to continue running the club themselves.

As the owners march on, making puzzling, baffling and incomprehensible decisions, are they really successful, intelligent business people or simply plain ‘confused’?

The case for astute business people

The finances of Venky’s business conglomerate in India are in good health. Their companies made a combined turnover of £1 billion in 2010, with a group profit of £100 million. That sounds undeniably astute.

Taking note of the changes in India’s sporting landscape to become the first Indian group to own a team playing in the world’s richest sporting league also seems an astute business strategy. Expanding overseas was the next move for Venky’s successful businesses and what better way to do this than purchase a club that was one of only four teams – at the time – to have ever won the world’s most watched football competition, the Premier League.

Upon their takeover, Venky’s also cleared £20 million of debts and then invested another £10 million into the club, to further strengthen their case of being smart business people. So how has it gone so wrong?

The case for confused

Venky’s chairperson Anuradha Desai said she knew little about football. Despite this, Venky’s chose not to listen to a board that had successfully run the club for years and instead forced out respected Chairman of over a decade, John Williams. They wanted to run the club themselves, undeterred by their lack of prior knowledge or experience. This didn’t seem like a smart move.

Venky’s companies in India may be making a massive profit, but the opposite is true at Rovers, who have seen a drop in season ticket sales, an increase in pre-tax loss and a rise in club debt. This is only going to get worse as they prepare to live without a £40 million a season payment of TV revenue they would have received had they still been in the Premier League.

Publicly promising a top four finish, Maradona as manager and big name signings such as Ronaldinho, Raul and Beckham, but instead selling their big name players like Jones, Samba and Nelson and freezing out experienced players like former Real Madrid defender, Salgado, thereby forcing inexperienced players to play out of position, was a quick way to lose football matches. Also, appointing novice Kean, now officially Rovers second worse manager in their history, as caretaker boss after sacking Big Sam who had just guided the club to a 10th place finish didn’t seem to make too much sense.

Giving Kean a pay rise, despite the fact that Rovers were in the relegation zone and that Kean had the worse points per game ratio in the Premier League, is another decision that boggles, bewilders and bamboozles the brain – and had fans up in arms.

And finally, there is the fact that Venky’s took advice from football agent Jerome Anderson on not only their takeover, but also their transfer policy. This saw Anderson’s client, Kean, appointed as manager and the club signing Anderson’s son, Myles, who has yet to make a senior team appearance. Perhaps the argument leans more to the confused side of the proverbial fence?

Clueless, arrogant and cold-hearted

It seems to me that Venky’s, as suggested by Wigan Chairman Dave Whelan, are ‘clueless’ more than confused or astute at the business of football. As in 19 months of their ownership they have failed – and continue to fail – to set out a clear strategy for the club.

By not listening and learning from the board, they have shown an arrogance that has been their downfall; by selling off players, freezing out others so their contracts are not renewed and sacking staff such as Deputy CEO Paul Hunt, they are cold-heartedly cost-cutting and bleeding the club dry; and by failing to listen to and communicate with the club’s biggest asset, the fans, they are driving away business.

The deeper into trouble Venky’s plunge the club, the bigger, better and bolder the action taken by fans is becoming.

56% of fans said they will not be renewing season tickets for the forthcoming season. The Blackburn Rovers Action Group has set up a meeting with the Premier League for later this month to raise their concerns; and the Blackburn Rovers Investment Supporters Trust (BRSIT) continues to rally pledges from fans in an attempt to try to raise money to buy the club back into community ownership – this week they wrote an open invitation to Venky’s, inviting the owners to come and meet with them.

This was Venky’s last chance to reconcile with the fans, to take a step back in the right direction and to begin to turn around the clubs fortunes – they chose not to take it, instead, fobbing off the very people they need to keep the club alive with a pathetic attempt at trying to play the victim.

Leaders are not confused, they are clear of mind, sharp of thought and driven to succeed.