The Webb of Publicity
Former Premier League referee, Howard Webb, has described Sunderland boss David Moyes as the most difficult he had to deal with in his top-flight career.
He told the Daily Mirror:
They can all have their moments, but I think the one that gave me the most stick, who I felt held no love for the refereeing profession was David Moyes.
If Webb and Moyes did indeed have their battles, the publicity-hungry former World Cup referee has simply joined a queue to have a dig at the man forever labelled as “former Manchester United boss”.
Webb, now a BT Sport pundit, was presumably not daft enough to take on other giant pillars of the game who would likely wreak their revenge at some non-determined point in the future.
After all, referees still know any decision against one of the big boys – Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool et al will be raked over incessantly by the media. And Webb’s identification of his ‘most-difficults’ omits any reference to any of those clubs:
Most difficult manager – David Moyes
Most difficult player – Craig Bellamy
Most difficult grounds – Stoke and Everton
M’Vila Gets The Dough, Is He Staying In Russia Then?
You may recall, from last week, Yann M’Vila had taken Dynamo Moscow to tribunal for non-payment of a settlement figure from the period immediately prior to him signing for Sunderland. Earlier this week, Moscow were ordered to pay out.
As a side note, a Russian website yesterday claimed M’Vila was still of a mind to sign a new contract at Rubin Kazan. He made his first start in the Kazan side in their last game which resulted in a three-goal-to-nil victory. Kazan coach, Javi Gracia said of his performance:
He had a very good match, he is a good football player, but we understand that he has not yet in perfect shape.
The player himself said:
It was my first match since May, in which I played the full 90 minutes. I missed all the pre-season, and at first it was very difficult, but now I feel good and ready to give all one hundred percent.
Happy for you. T-shirt anyone?
The New CEO Has Landed
Martin Bain – New Sunderland CEO - has given his first interview of substance since he arrived in July. And, if some had wondered on the style, direction and strategic thinking of the new man at the helm, his wide-ranging interview on the club’s official website was a minor triumph.
He described his start to life on Wearside as “difficult” and “turbulent” and even those two adjectives somehow seem to underestimate just how traumatic his first three months have been – Allardyce to England, Moyes in, and a desperate race to sign a few players preceded an eight-game start to the season without a win.
Some had hoped the new man at the perpetual club-in-crisis may have whisked in and stamped his mark publicly right from the outset, but this job is clearly bigger than that, with Bain explaining:
When you come to a new football club you need to look, listen and learn, walk the boards and get to know the people.
In the daily round-up a few weeks we suggested that the revolution may be about to commence, now that the Chief Executive has done his initial fact finding and assessment of the club. The first shoots were emerging with some back-room changes already implemented.
In truth, Martin Bain seems to ‘get it’ and has ‘got it’ pretty quickly:
We want to get back to basics and we have a football club here that has to be very synonymous with its north-east identity, and I think the fans want that because – this isn’t to be disparaging to anything that’s gone before – I think it’s probably lost its identity, so therefore let’s do the basics correctly, build and take a long-term approach.
And he is completely right. This is a football business which is the heartbeat of the communities of Sunderland, Wearside and County Durham. The ‘caring club’ days may well be long behind us, but the club have chased revenue streams and potential growth areas which simply don’t matter to the people who turn up every week – projects such as working with the children of miners in Tanzania, the annual round of pop concerts and a deal with a payday loan company in an area with desperately high levels of poverty.
On that note:
We’re not one of the super-clubs in the world, the most commercially prominent, so let’s not go down that route. Let’s get back to the basics and talk football.
Of course, everyone recognises that revenue is a key factor behind driving success on the pitch, but if the club is incapable of transforming that income into a coherent playing side, then no pop concert or sponsorship deal is anything but futile.
He also appears to be keen to address the introverted nature of the club in recent years with talk of himself and David Moyes seeking out fans to speak with them - “I want to get out to the fanbase with David – let’s talk to them in a way they’ll relate to.”
Admittedly, this isn’t rocket science, but this is the very fabric of how the football club should be run. That side of the business has run at a never-ending cycle of poor recruitment leading to the owner having to bankroll make-shift rebuilds amongst the playing staff, and on that note Bain said:
This football club has to get better at buying and selling football players.
I see it and I hope I can achieve. Like it or lump it we should be looking at bringing players to this football club and selling them for a greater value.
We have to look at acquiring players at a younger age too.
No one can argue with the content, but set against a back-drop of a team rooted to the foot of the Premier League, your own interpretation of his vision will very much depend on whether you are prepared to accept that this project will take time to build, or whether you view the last three months as further evidence of a continuation of the very problems he discusses.