Joe Hart and Outrage

The controversy over Joe Hart’s position at Manchester City is all a bit baffling. Not the fact he’s been dropped, it’s the controversy bit that’s baffling. No player should have a divine right to start for a team regardless of their attachment or history with the club. In every instance it should be earned through ability, form and application.
Harts performances over the last few seasons have been a mixed bag. For City and for England, Hart always has a potential mistake in his game and all too often that potential has come to fruition. Unforced errors in the recent euros against Wales and Iceland highlighted this fact so it makes it all the more confusing as to why there is so much shock to the fact he’s been dropped from Cities starting berth. Directly after that competition there were many calling for his head, but now the injustice of someone losing their place to another footballer in better form could not be more egregious.
It’s clear that with the appointment of Guardiola Manchester Cities ambitions have out grown the level that Joe Hart currently resides. Also, it’s not unusual for a new manger to come in a make sweeping changes, modelling the squad to the team he wants them to be rather than the team that they were. Someone such as Pep is not shy of bruising ego’s to fashion a team to his current ideology. Ask Zlatan, Toure and Gomez.
But all of this is not to say Hart is a bad keeper. He isn’t. It’s just his occasional slip ups are to frequent to put him shoulder to shoulder with the league’s elite goal keepers like Lloris or Courtois. There‘s room for a keeper of Harts quality at the top end of the table and just such a club who started the season in fine goal conceding form is Liverpool. Mignolet is another keeper in patchy form. A reliable shot stopper but that’s where it really ends. Hart would at least bring a commanding presence to Liverpool’s shaky back line and maybe feeling wanted again, at a massive and storied club such as Liverpool, could bring back the confidence to weed out the clearly psychologically driven errors.
Whether Hart’s future is at Man City or at pastures new remains to be seen. Either way, England’s number one has work to do.







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The CPOS Podcast is on Holiday

It is with heavy heart and a tearful eye that we begrudgingly announce the CPOS Podcast is on hiatus. 

Sadly, despite the elaborate facade and spin, this isn’t our day job and things in real life have prevented Mike, Ollie, and Russ from continuing with the Podcast in the immediate future. Stupid real life, always getting in the way. 

We can only apologise for the gaping void now left in your Wednesday’s. No more ill researched ‘facts’. No more expert analysis of games we haven’t watched. No more players heights used as method to measure ability. No more shit jokes about Steve Bruce. Only sorrow remains. 

But all is not lost. This very website will still be a hive of activity. Expect more written content on the site than ever before. More things about players heights, games we haven’t watched, and Steve Bruce. And fear not. One day soon the podcast will return like a rising Pheonix. And once again you’ll here our angelic voices like golden ambrosia in your ear holes. 

Until that day, keep coming back here to the site to see and here our football opinions for yourself. What more joy could be had. 


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Big Sam’s The Man

It would be easy to dismiss Sam Allardyce’s appointment as the new England manager as a little bit ‘Mike Bassett’, but that doesn’t nearly do justice to the career of a progressive and vastly experience head coach. 

A stoic advocate of Sports Science and data analysis based coaching it seems reductive to point the long ball finger at Big Sam. Customarily he does favour a more direct style of football but this is more a tactical preference than just ‘lump it up field because we don’t know what else to do’. Big Sam’s tactical apptitude often goes over looked, as Arsene Wenger well knows, with the long and direct element only part of a larger structure. Fittingly, England were desperate for a more direct approach during the Euro 2016 when a lack of ideas in possession was apparent. 

For all his merits, their are limitations to his talents. True he is no Guardiola, or Bielsa, but he is competent and has brought stability and re- established foundations to most clubs under his stewardship. Again this is something the England team desperately need with bland unfocused football recently the norm, a refreshed identity for the national team would be encouraging . And what more fitting identity than powerful, direct, pacey football. The staple of English league football for many years.

Sam is also lauded for his man management skills. Another aspect missing from the England set up. His bold, brash, occasional arrogant persona could benefit the mollycoddled, precious players he now has access too. This attitude could also address the ‘Culture of fear’ that FA cheif Martin Glenn believes is instilled in the national squad. The FA are concerned that pressure from the media and exposure on social media could be affecting performances on the pitch. True or not, Big Sam’s thick skinned, speak your mind, sometimes tactless, attitude could be an antidote to toughen up fragile ego’s. 

Allardyce’s appointment is not the glamorous, exciting appointment that most England fans probably have on the their wish lists. Given Englands current status in world footbal it is the appropriate one, and probably a sensible one. The FA’s failure at international football is endemic (as we stated here) and it is entirely unlikely that one man can rectify that, but the pragmatic appointment of Sam Allardyce may just be enough to restore the England teams focus, identity, and maybe even a little pride.


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Ice To See You England

So we are here again!! The best English players in Woy’s pool of talent were picked and off they went. We all know what happened so no need to remind ourselves!!. As Russ wrote about the other day in his post, England Expects, the fallout has started and everyone from the highest FA members to Barry the White Van man, ex professional’s and even the kind old lady who works in the Post Office have had an opinion and rightly so. I have mine but today I’m going to delve into how the oldest Football Association in the World trains its coaches compared with our European buddy’s and why there is a lack of good English coaches in the top leagues? Now I can only really talk about my experience of International Football and that can only start at the 1990 World Cup, because that’s the first one I can remember which ironically was our best performance.

So starting with England’s past manager’s here is a cheeky list;

Sir Bobby Robson 1982-1990
1984 Euro’s Failed to Qualify
1986 World Cup Quarter Final
1988 Euro’s Group Stage
1990 World Cup Semi Final

Graham Taylor aka Turnip 1990-1993
1992 Euro’s Group Stage
1994 World Cup Failed to Qualify

Terry Venables 1994-1996
1996 Euro’s Semi Finals

Glenn Hoddle 1996-1999
1998 World Cup Second Round

Howard Wilkinson 1999-2000 Interim Manager

Kevin Keegan 1999-2000
2000 Euro’s Group Stage

Peter Taylor 2000 Interim Manager

Sven Goran Eriksson 2001-2006
2002 World Cup Quarter Final
2004 Euro’s Quarter Final
2006 World Cup Quarter Final

Steve McClaren 2006-2007
2008 Euro’s Failed to Qualify

Fabio Capello 2008-2012
2010 World Cup Second Round

Stuart Pearce 2012 Interim Manager

Roy Hodgson 2012-2016
2012 Euro’s Quarter Finals
2014 World Cup Group Stage
2016 Euro’s Last 16

So that’s the list of recent managers of England and to me it is not good reading but three managers stand out to me and they are….. Sir Bobby Robson, Terry Venables and also Sven Goran Eriksson. Why I hear you ask, well that is because they have had relative success. Sven had the Golden Generation of English football so should have done better with the talent he had at his fingertips, but the other two are the fella’s that for me did a great job!!! I will be chatting about the coaching structure of England in one hot minute but before that Sir Bobby and Terry were not super qualified coaches like the FA are trying to breed. They were Football men who lived for the game and knew it inside out with added overseas experience and also had the knack of getting players to run those extra yards and put bodies on the line for their Country. Now in my book that’s an England Manager!!!!. Also another thing that they have in common is that they were both employed by more Football men within the FA. It’s the guys in suits who themselves profess that they are “not football people” to again find a new manager!! The FA would like the coach to have all his badges and loads of experience and that person clearly is FA poster boy Gareth Southgate but just because you’re a coach who looks great on paper and can follow the New England DNA formula does not make you best for the job. I’m not knocking Mr Southgate, he has worked very hard and will one day be top of the tree but it is an underachieving system he has worked in. As a grassroots coach myself who is working up the FA Coaching Pathway that I know it will cost a lot of money and also a lot of my time but I’m willing to do this knowing ironically that at sum point the system will change and it will be another new fad that we will have start promoting. So is it worth that time and money? Will the Pathway keep changing? And would I be better off if I studied in Europe? Here are some shocking facts about the number of coaches reaching the top within the big Five leagues in Europe.

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World Cup wins since 1990 and European Cup wins since 1992
England.  Nothing
Italy. 1 World Cup
France. 1 World Cup and 1 European Championship
Germany. 2 World Cup’s and 1 European Championship
Spain. 1 World Cup and 2 European Championship

So if you compare the Column Chart and Pie Chart of the number of top level Coaches to the success of the five nations it’s very easy to make the connection that you have a decent amount of top Coaches you will win the big Football prizes.
Now each nation there have won a World Cup or European Championship or even both but may I ask who has won them more than once and most recent in, let’s say, the Premier League era!? England only have a 5% share and have won nothing and this leads me to my biggest issue which is our pathway. Each countrie’s pathway is in the same region of cost as the others but time scales are not. It takes forever and a day to get on a coaching course higher than a level 1 in England nowadays but if you look at Spain they do three years of hard work and when the finish they can work at any level and then go on to the UEFA A and Pro licences.

We are not getting the coaches because we don’t have a system that is user friendly as well as providing quality. Change is needed, but at the top!! We need to get football people back in the FA!! Ex players, managers, ref’s, people that know the game and make decisions based on their knowledge of the game like the men who employed Sir Bobby and Super Terry and not old men who are just in it for commercial reasons. England as a footballing nation will not improve until we have all the right pegs in the right holes and focus on football using people who know Football and can move with the times. World Cups and European Championships are not the thing at the end of a season to delay a players holiday’s and a chance to grab the big sponsorship deals. We gave Football to the World and the World took it and improved it so let’s start learning from our counterparts and improving our own talent. Yes it’s fantastic having all these elite academies but we are breeding a type of player with no character who doesn’t know what to do when their backs are against the wall and this adds to English football having no identity. For example, Man City signed a four year old!! So by the time he gets to an age where he can play adult football he will be released and missed out on being a kid playing with his mates down the park learning with his pals. That can’t be too bad because most of the Brazilians are those kids who play with their buddies on the streets learning and then getting to the big time. In the last England squad at the Euro’s there was no stand out characters, no kids who spent all their time playing Football with their buddies. No Gazza’s, Lineker’s, Scholes, Terry’s, sod it even Heskey’s. Just a load of plastic professional’s. Even Rooney has lost that rawness that made him such a danger in the Euro 2004. So what to do next then? Well maybe start with this.

Ditch the box ticking criteria to be an England manager and give it to someone who knows the game.

Use the resources of former players, get them helping those younger England teams.

Make the coaching pathway more efficient and achievable.

Get some real football people in the power positions at the FA.

And most importantly listen to all CPOS podcasts we can talk sense sometimes.



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England Expects

It’s pretty unpleasent being in England at the moment. Aside from the social, political, and economic turmoil there is the men’s national football team. Another inglorious exit from an international tournament and another sobering morning after. One more shit storm to add to the grey cloud hanging over the nation. 

The success of the national side is often reflected in the prosperity of the nation. A good tournament run can bring an economic boost and good feeling across the country lifting the mood of everyone it touches. I’d hoped that England would go a little further at Euro 2016. Sport, and particularly football, can be a great unifier. Bringing people together to bask in the glory of victory (or even in glorious failures). But that wasn’t to be. Despite how much a country divided needs unity right now the crisis we face is not the fault of the England football team. That honour goes to the circus in parliament. 

The only blame that can be pointed at the football team is for their lack of footballing nouse. They stared the tournament as they meant to go on. Failing to beat a poor Russian side who’s only point came from the 1-1 draw with Engalnd. An uninspiring, blunt, idea less performance set the tone for the competition for England. Seeing plenty of the ball but not knowing what to with it. Wales gave England far too much credit and refused to play their natural game. This and a sprinkle of misfortune gave three points to England. Slovakia did not want to lose and their lack of adventure exposed England’s inability to create further. In the second round the heavily patronised Iceland tactically undone England. Well aware of England’s struggle for ideas in front of goal, Iceland were happy for England to have the ball and just watched as England’s frustration with their own inability fully consumed them to the point of farse. Not bad for some tiny minnows who only have a populatio…….*snore*.

What seemed like seconds after he final whistle against Iceland Roy Hodgson had resigned as manager. Quite a noble gesture as it transpires as half the media coverage is now focussing on who his successor may be rather than the ineptitude of Englnds finest. I can’t help feeling that whoever picks up the poison chalice of England Manger next is irrelevant. What needs to be digested in the autopsy of England’s Euro’s is that they have found their level. England’s only real failure is not living up to the impossible expectation bestowed on them by fans and the media and that’s no real failure at all. England haven’t got past a quarter final/second round in 20 years. Going out at this point is what we should expect. England have finished on par. Embrace it. If Engalnd can cast off the shackles of expectation then perhaps fans can enjoy football again. Perhaps the players can play with out fear again. Freeing their creative juices. Imagine that, a world where we can enjoy watching England. 


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Armchair Supporters, Sit Down and Unite

You’re only a real fan if go to the game to watch Football. Armchair supporters aren’t real fans. You’ve got to be in the stands to support your club, right? Right? If that’s true, the future of this game of ours may be considerably less in scale, as the revenue inherited from TV rights indicates. Just as going to the game has grown into watching on TV, maybe it’s time football consumption evolves again.

Seeing a live game of football literally in front of you is difficult to repIicate. Not much comes close to experiencing that atmosphere first hand, but if only real fans are the one’s in attendance at an actual real life stadium then there is only a small finite number of people who can call themselves a football fan. On any given weekend only around 1,014,104 people could be football fans. That’s if every football league fixture in England was a sell out (and depending only on what stadium the fixture was played at). Given the Premier League alone boasted revenue of 3.3 Billion last year, that would cost every ‘real fan’ of every league club £3254.00 a year in ticket purchases just to keep the Premier League in the pomp and affluence it is accustomed to. Let alone the Championship, League one, and League two. For the global, multi billion pound behemoth that English football is 1,014,104 people isn’t going to cut it. Could this mean there is room for the armchair supporter after all?

The basic maths may be reductive but not without merit. The television viewing football fan contributes a significant wedge though TV subscriptions and ad revenue driven through viewing figures. Every couple of years it feels like a new TV deal is in place with clubs, particularly in the Premier League, raking in millions upon millions of additional cash. But just as rising ticket prices forced the average football fans back into their armchairs, growing subscription fees could be in danger of doing the same to the lowly armchair fan. Now one TV package isn’t enough with football broadcasting rights recently multiplying in the shape of BT Sport incroching on Sky’s Soccer monopoly. A rare case of commercial competition where the consumer actually loses. 

Unfortunately after TV there isn’t many places to go for a football fix. Dodgy streams are hit or miss at best and the bonus gambit of free malware or spyware add an element of tension to the Russian Comentary. Certainly not a ‘go to’ for your 2-0 away loss to Everton. But watching football via the Internet is surely now the natural evolution for the game. The consumption of online content  is, and has, been growing exponentially for quite some time. The prominence of Netflix and Amazon Prime, and normalcy of on-demand viewing are testament to that. The powers that be at the Premier League would be naive to ignore this trend and foolish to gate off potential football fans as younger generations grow with web based entertainment as the norm. Sky’s ‘Sky Go’ began to bridge the gap with the app offering all of Sky’s content for PC’s and mobile devices but is still hidden behind the expensive Sky TV subscription paywall. BT Sport also offer a mobile app as part of their service but recently have taken things a step further. Both the Europa League final and the Champions League final were streamed live on YouTube. A noble olive branch to give the most prestigious games in club football to a global Audience for free. 

Like most Sports, Football needs to be seen live as it happens, making an on-demand service all but redundant. A web based affordable subscription must surely be the next step. No ones going to give anything away for free so a nominal fee, similar to Netflix or Amazon, is far more palatable than the hundreds and hundreds of pounds a year required to watch live football at present. A football dedicated, ad subsidised, affordable viewing client that fits how the consumer  wants to consume surely can’t be that much of a pipe dream? It’s almost like the broadcasters are only in it for the money! With an evolving media and pricing wars where the public loses out the Broadcasters and the Premier League should be weary of their greed. Nothing is going to replace attending a game in the flesh, but it’s time for Broadcasters to adapt or die. 


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Cleanpairofshorts Podcast – Ep117 – CPOS Awards

Its the final show of the season and its a bumper edition. Its the CPOS Awards! We dish out the most coveted accolades in all of Football to those most deserving. We also look back at pre-season predictions and measure them against reality, which involves coming to terms with how little we know about football. But hey, we have fun anyway. (Spoilers, this recorded a week ago and we all know how quick things change in football right…) Listen to the last show of the season here:

Or on iTunes


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