Benitez, Mancini and Wenger: victims of the English game or their own egos?

Originally published for The False Nine on February 28 2013.

As he held the League Cup aloft in victory, shares in Michael Laudrup rattled up the ranks of the managerial stock exchange. His worth had already soared far beyond and above the valuations placed upon him in the summer, and come the close of business in May, it looks likely that Laudrup will have all but confirmed his place as one of the most attractive managerial investments around.

Swansea’s first major trophy in their 100 year history; Europa League entry for next season; exquisite football; the likelihood of an entirely respectable final position in the Premier League; and named as the man fans most want to takeover the reins at Real Madrid – it’s an impressive end-of-season growth report to reflect on for the Dane who co-founded a free-market think tank in his homeland in 2004.

In almost every possible manner, Laudrup has made the perfect first impression on English football. Charming, charismatic and handsome, there is something almost Mourinho-esque about how the league has fallen under his spell. In tabloid speak however, he is the jovial Scandinavian to the Special One’s fiery Portuguese. No wild pronouncements or headline grabbing antagonism, just calm, cool composure and sincerity. Both present comfortable identities that play up to familiar English stereotypes and folk heroes – after all, Mourinho is the much anticipated belated successor to Brian Clough. Continue reading

MCFC: Just why did Manchester City sign Jack Rodwell?

Depriving bored fans of repetitive articles over a multitude of months, last Sunday it was announced that Everton had agreed a fee with Manchester City for the sale of Jack Rodwell, and by the end of the day Rodwell was a Manchester City player.

The Blues had finally made a move in the transfer market, becoming the final team in the Premier League to do so. A fee said to be £12m rising to £15m for a versatile 21-year-old England international doesn’t appear quite so egregious, but the transfer has been met with bemusement by some City supporters, and mockery from rival fans – type Jack Rodwell into Twitter and in a matter of seconds you will be inundated with various repetitions of the same ‘retirement’ joke. Many do not seem to understand why the Premier League champions would take a chance on a player whose progression has stalled since he made the breakthrough to first team football at just 16, but this could very well be a move which will benefit all parties.

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