Posts Tagged ‘ Roman Abramovich ’

Top Ten Most Expensive Homes In The World

Super Size McDonald’s Facts_Full Infographic

Three years ago news came out that a house made from 200,000 kilograms of gold and platinum fixtures and fittings sitting somewhere in the Swiss-Italian Alpine border is the world’s most expensive house valued at $12.2 billion. Global news and blog sites were quick to announce it, including the Wall Street Journal. The only caveat, the most expensive house claimed by a Stuart Hughes was… a hoax. In fact, the most expensive house today is just a fraction of Hughes’ fake property value. The residence of Ukrainian Elena Franchuk at Kensington in London is “only” $1.58 billion. Continue reading

A Tale of Nine Managers

The furore over Chelsea sacking Roberto Di Matteo following the club’s recent slip down the Premier League and in Europe and cemented by Tuesday night’s embarrassing defeat to Juventus was greeted with no great surprise and amazement as what was expected finally came to pass. Stan Collymore, Gary Lineker and Rio Ferdinand have all registered their amazement at the move, with Newcastle boss Alan Pardew branding the sacking ‘unbelievable’. BBC presenter Dan Walker probably provided the best summation of events, saying “Binning Di Matteo seems harsh, brutal, a bit daft but sadly inevitable. What Abramovich wants…”

It’s a little hard to believe when recalling that only last May Di Matteo was celebrating Chelsea’s historic Champions League triumph on a pitch in Munich. Of course of great importance now is that we are living in and moving ever increasingly into the era of not just the great players and the legendary managers who set the course for clubs, but also the owners. As football becomes a sport where money and bucket loads of it is needed to remain competitive and challenge for trophies, clubs are relying more and more on owners with plenty of cash, and, unfortunately, owners who in some cases believe they know more about football than the managers they’ve paid to do the job.

The surprise isn’t that di Matteo has been sacked. That has always been on the cards, with Chelsea it’s expected and a two-year contract proved that the faith simply wasn’t there, despite being a manager who had guided a team in disarray during the early part of the year to Champions League and FA Cup glory. No, the only surprise is that Roman Abramovich hasn’t followed his own ego and misplaced faith in his own football knowledge and simply installed himself as manager. He really calls the shots at the football club, they know it and we know it too. Why not just be open about it?

The most successful teams in football are those who have that one vital component – stability. At Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson often speaks about the need to build a club rather than a team, and the first thing he did upon his arrival at the club was to reorganise the club’s youth structures. Many of the players developed during this time went on to become standout players at the club – Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and David Beckham amongst them. And while of late Manchester United hasn’t been exactly living up to their fearsome reputation, the building is well underway again, as Sir Alex combines foreign acquisitions with homegrown talent. “The first thought for 99 percent of newly appointed managers is to make sure they win—to survive,” Sir Alex said, speaking to the Harvard Business School. “They bring experienced players in, often from their previous clubs. But I think it is important to build a structure for a football club—not just a football team. You need a foundation. And there is nothing better than seeing a young player make it to the first team.” At Barcelona, a similar approach is followed; while the managers do change somewhat often, the team ethos is what has kept the club elevated for such a long period of time – the tika taka style of play is embedded in the club from the youths to the first team.

What have Chelsea got? There is no set way they really play – managers haven’t had the time to put a stamp on the club, an established way in which they play because they simply haven’t been given a real opportunity. Managers come and go at Chelsea, each bringing their own brand of experience to the job, each bringing their own tactical ideas and player wishlists, and a gelling together of coach and club doesn’t always happen straight away. Some bad first results might have very well ended in the sacking of Sir Alex Ferguson all those years ago; if that had happened would Manchester United have enjoyed all of that success they’ve experienced over the years? Chelsea have a few trophies, some certainly very talented players, especially those brought in this past summer, and undoubtedly the money is there. But they need a manager to combine all of those positive aspects, and to do that definitively, they need time. And several of the more recent managers haven’t even had a full year at the helm. True success takes time. Where might Chelsea be if Mourinho had been left to his own devices and Abramovich had taken a back seat role consisting of signing the cheques and enjoying the success? At least that is something Manchester City are getting right – despite some pretty dismal performances over the past two Champions League seasons, Mancini has been given the owners trust along with their money and is experimenting, trying to find the Manchester City way, while building a solid base for the club in terms of the youth system. Managers need to be given time but in this day and age immediate returns on investments are expected, as manager’s terms in office are being measured in months rather than years.

It’s hard to see why any manager with any care for his reputation would come to Chelsea other than the impressive pay package coupled with the inevitable generous settlement when their tenure comes to an acrimonious end. Why would anyone come to a club as manager when they’re third in the pecking order, behind the Russian owner and senior players such as John Terry and Ashley Cole? Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail has recently revealed the conditions under which Di Matteo was forced to operate, chief amongst which was the constant and repetitive urging to play Torres, a wish on the part of the owner which impacted negatively on Di Matteo’s plans for the team, regarding proposed transfers.

Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has already been confirmed as the ‘interim’ manager, a term which must surely fill the Spaniard with a world of confidence as he must realise the Russian oligarch trusts him at the steering wheel for just a little while as he makes his search for a more long- term sacrificial lamb.

TOWIC – The Only Way Is China

Sheikh Mansour has had a taste of it at Manchester City. To a lesser extent, Roman Abramovich has had a similar lesson at Chelsea. And it’s the same lesson currently being learned the hard way at Chinese Super League side, Shanghai Shenhua – buckets of cold hard cash neither entitles nor guarantees you success.

A relatively slow trend is emerging of aging footballers moving to Chinese football from Europe’s top leagues, in search of a last megabucks deal before they retire, or perhaps for the challenge of playing in an emerging league. Didier Drogba, the former Chelsea frontman is the latest acquisition for the would be Chinese giants, signing for Shanghai Shenhua on a two and a half year deal reportedly worth £200,000 a week. Drogba follows in the footsteps of his former Chelsea teammate, Nicolas Anelka, who has been at the Chinese club for some time now, and who has already enjoyed a spell as player-manager. The move of such two high-profile players who have accumulated 154 international caps between them, and who have plied their trade in the joint greatest football league in the world will certainly attract attention to the Chinese Super League. In recent weeks and months, rumours of other relatively top players have circulated concerning Chinese moves – Jimmy Bullard, Yakubu and Ronaldinho to name but a few have all been linked with moves to the summit of Chinese football. Now, whether there is any truth in these reports remains to be seen, however, they at least demonstrate that the Super League is growing in stature, if only in the minds of the press.

It’s hard to know whether to take China’s football attempt seriously. Are these teams playthings for the rich and wealthy or is there a genuine effort underway to transform football within the country? The league as a whole has had somewhat of a tainted past. Gambling and match fixing has been rife, and even more worrying was the corruption resulting in the scandal of 2010. Three former CFA vice-presidents have been arrested, the trials of officials, referees and managers have already begun while the Chinese government has launched a nationwide action to revive the sport. Simon Chadwick, professor of sport business strategy at Coventry University sees Chinese club ownership as a way to gain political influence. “Essentially they are vanity projects,” Chadwick said speaking to CNN.
“There is a Chinese phenomenon known as ‘guanxi,’ which translates literally as ‘special relationship,” he explained. “Buying a club gives an owner good ‘guanxi,’ because it enables you to connect with politicians and other business people. Very often owners buy into clubs for those reasons. If Chinese football is successful globally, it makes China look good and it makes the politicians look good. What buying a club does is give the owners a certain amount of political influence.”

There may indeed be an element of truth in Chadwick’s analysis. By the looks of things, a concerted effort is being made to ensure Chinese football raises itself from the gutter and move onwards towards greater things, for reasons we may not know. While at present the level of football on a club and national basis is relatively dire, a system of youth training facilities are being set up across China. The CFA is beginning to send promising youngsters between the ages of 12 and 18 to countries such as England, France and Spain to receive professional instruction, in the hopes of producing a generation of better educated young stars who will go on to play for the country’s club and national sides. In the Super League, clubs are attempting to win back the fan base. Wealthy owners are signing big names to play on the pitch or manage from the sidelines, lending an air of professionalism to the league, whose integrity has long been suspect thanks to China’s love of gambling and apparent match fixing.

But in China, football isn’t the majority sport; it’s one with a minority following, due quite substantially to the sport’s bad reputation. And the ordinary fan on the street isn’t the little brother in a poor family, begrudgingly accepting hand-me-downs. “All these players going over there are past their prime and looking for one last big payday which will see them through for the rest of their lives,” agent Rob Shields told CNN. “It’s definitely money motivated.” People want to see genuine football stars in the prime of their careers, motivated by glory and trophies rather than a last huge cheque. “They’re not prepared to accept Europe’s castoffs,” Chadwick maintains. “They don’t want Anelka and Drogba. They want Barrios and Conca, and then the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero. Players who are in their early to mid-20s and reaching the peak, it would be those people who would be much more significant. Then the floodgates will open.”

At present, Shanghai Shenhua currently sits in 12th place in a 16 team league. In stark contrast, at the summit lies Guangzhou Evergrande, another Chinese club which has seen investment in recent years. Prospects for the future must be good, however. As Chinese clubs compete for higher honours and better players the league will gain greater publicity and respect, surely drawing further investment from wealthy businessmen searching for their latest toy or those genuinely interested in the fate and reputation of Chinese football. But what they really need is to put their money towards youth development. “Chinese football clubs are investing very little in grassroots,” said Chadwick. “Investment and spending is heavily skewed towards the professional level and not towards the development of the game.” In the long run it will save them money. Don’t look to Manchester City for your example. Look to Barcelona and the production line that is La Masia, the tiki-taka brand of football which permeates right through to the national team. Spend money, sure, bring in the world-class talents if you can. But as Barcelona and the Spanish national side have found out to their benefit, there’s nothing like home-grown.

Top Ten January Transfers

What a month January was in the world of football. Few would have predicted half the moves that were made and certainly the quality of players available was better than before. Here Glenn Dowd analyses what he believed to be the top ten signings of the January transfer window.

1)Fernando Torres

Roman Abramovich`s decision to splash out E50 Million on Torres is a great investment, that signals Chelsea`s intent to maintain an end of season title run. One of two major signings that shook the world of football, Torres had been expected to stay at Liverpool where he was idolised by many. However after slapping in the transfer request, he got the move he craved.

2)Andy Carroll

Future England star is a ready made replacement at Liverpool for Torres. Carroll was destined to follow Alan Shearer as the new Toon messiah but jumped at the chance to leave Newcastle for Anfield. A fee of E35 Million raised many eyebrows, with the Geordie becoming the clubs record breaking signing.

3)Luis Suarez

The star of the 2010 World Cup has also linked up with Kenny Dalglish`s men. The Scot paid just over E22 Million to nab the Ajax striker. Certainly big things in store for the Uruguayan if he can get to grips with the Premier League immediately.

4)Edin Dzeko

City`s long pursuit of Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko paid off in January, with E27 Million sealing the deal for the Bosnian. Dzeko has already bagged his first goal for the club in the 1-1 FA Cup draw with Notts County and his goals will prove the catalyst should see maintain their title challenge.

5)Darren Bent

Few would have seen this coming. The thought off Darren Bent leaving Sunderland must have never crossed the mind of Mackem`s fans. But then it happened almost immediately and the once favoured hero of Wearside became the Villain, linking up with Gerard Houliier at Aston Villa with a price tag of E18 Million around his neck.

6)David Luiz

Chelsea`s relentless pursuit of Benfica Defender David Luiz eventually paid off at the eleventh hour on deadline day. E21 Million and Nemanja Matic were enough to ensure the Portuguese international would move to Stamford Bridge.

7) Stephen Pienaar

Definitely the bargain of the transfer window. With Stephen Pienaar`s contract coming to an end in the summer, Everton decided to cash in on their star player, after realising he would not renew his deal. The South African turned down Chelsea in favour of a move to Spurs,providing  a E3 Million bargain for Harry Redknapp.

8)Robbie Keane

The Irish striker has moved to West Ham on loan until the end of the season. He may well be the man to keep the Hammers up. Avram Grant has added some good signings in this window with Wayne Bridge,Demba Ba and Gary O`Neill all moving to Upton Park. Should the Hammers survive, Keane will sign a permanent contract.

9)Roque Santa Cruz

The Paraguayan has returned to Ewood Park, his first home in English football. After an unsuccessful spell at Man City, Santa Cruz welcomed a move back to Blackburn. The stiker has intially arrived on loan but if he can find his form again he will be an astute signing.  

10) Sulley Muntari

Few would have predicted somebody who won the Champions League last year to arrive at Sunderland, but thats what has happened. Sulley Muntari, the Ghanaian international, has arrived on loan at Steve Bruce`s side from Inter Milan. A valuable addition to any squad.