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Lateral Thinking 1

Lateral Thinking 1

FFP and Why Chelsea Benefits the Most

Dear friends this is the first of my new series where we try to go in depth into the Chelsea story and what challenges await us in the 21st century. Being a fan of the late Mr. Peter F Drucker, the management guru, I, Saber, will try to apply some of the principles of management to unlock the mystery of the future of Chelsea Football Club in a comprehensive manner. While I don`t claim to be the wise guy, during the course of this series you will understand that my deductions are based on deep logical and analytical theories that are not based on fantasy or love for CFC, just an understanding of it,

In today`s discourse we will try and understand what FFP means to the next decade of English football and Chelsea`s position in this decade. In the last decade we had 4 power centers in English football. Manchester United continued their unrelenting march. Liverpool continued to be a major force in football although they did not win much. The exception being the famous Champions League win engineered by the very man who now leads us (I can see merlin cringing right now, and it wont be because of the virus).B but slowly and surely their star faded. Arsenal enjoyed the early part of the decade but have gone on a barren run for 7 years now. and finally Chelsea, a club whose meteoric rise to fame rubbed many the wrong way as it was 'dirty foreign money' that made us a superpower in the 2003-2010 era. if you could rank the power centers of the last decade it would look like this

1. Manchester United
2. Chelsea
3. Arsenal
4. Liverpool

Now let us look into the beginning of this decade ie the 2 years 2011 and 2012 years. The most startling change in these years is the power shift in England to Manchester and the emergence of City as a new power centre. Chelsea now find themselves in a new scenario where they have two rivals who hate each other. From being a big four there are now three clubs in England thirsty for power. Simultaneous to these changes is the decline of English dominance in Europe (Chelsea's success last year was due to human will power not dominance on footballing terms). Alarmingly in the last two years only 2 English clubs were able to proceed to the knockout stages. surprisingly only Arsenal have qualified both times. So What has brought about this trend??

1. Smaller European clubs. ie teams not from England, Spain and Italy are now much stronger due to a systematic change of qualities on their youth development programmes.
2. Poor youth systems in English soil and poor homegrown talent (the average ones are hyped up refer to - Henderson, Downing, Young)
3. The sudden change of perception of how football should be played in England. The physicality is reducing and the flair is increasing. English clubs are no longer playing the way they are used to. This explains Arsenal surviving the group in both years and also the rise of passing teams like Swansea. This shift of style takes getting used to. so expect this trend to continue in the next two years.
4. Spanish dominance in club and country tournaments is not just due to the la masia story but also due to unfair revenue sharing where 2 clubs (Madrid and Barca) get 80% of the revenue in La Liga rights. This has left clubs like Valencia (who were forced to sell Mata, Silva and Villa) and Atletico no chance of competing. Weak league but very strong top two teams. In England you have a competitive league, a strong league, but the common misconception is strong league means stronger European performance.

Coming back to the English scenario, who will be the leaders in the next decade? The most common answer will be Manchester United and City. Not so. It will be Chelsea, Liverpool and maybe Man United? Shocked? Don`t be! That is the power of foresight. Let`s look at why.

The FFP is the trump card that is going to help the very club it was designed to destroy. When the idea was conceived it was Chelsea -'the enemy of football' and its` purchased success it was designed to fight against. But by the time FFP sees the light of the day Chelsea are the ones who benefit the most. Shocked? Even in this world of economic crisis its quite fashionable to own and spend on a football club. If FFP had taken a few years more there would have been bigger fish than us in the pond. More Man City`s, PSG`s and Anzhis. What FFP does is it ensures we are still one of the big sharks as men who are richer than Roman can not come in and spoil our party. if the FFP had come in a few years sooner or later it would have not have helped us. Chelsea possessed an array of youth talents and an array of veteran world class players in 09-10. What it lacked up to now was 'the generation in between'. we would not have had the generation of Luiz, Cahill, Rami, Mata, Oscar, Moses, Hazard, Azpi and co if it had come too soon leading us to a slow and sure decline. If it had come too late you would have had more Man City type teams outmuscling us to good players with more money. So as you can see FFP is perfect. Stupid Platini has unwittingly helped the club he hates and screwed up the PSG, City and Anzhi type teams nice and proper.

Now lets look at the current power centers and what will certainly happen to them-

1. Manchester City - This is the club that will get hit the most by FFP. They may somehow manage to meet the obligations and continue to play in Europe but it will hit them. If not now, 3-4 yrs from now. A majority of their team is in its peak or already beyond it. These guys won`t be able to perform a few years from now. City will not be able to dispose them because no club will ever pay those kinds of salaries to anyone. Imagine trying to dispose ten Florent Malouda`s who won`t leave the club because they don`t want to lose out on the money and ten Paulo Ferreira`s earning £200k a week. (Paolo earns very little. the point is he is way past his prime). City are on quicksand and no amount of financial support will save them. While it lasts its going to be great for them but its not going to last long and in 4 years they can`t buy their way out like we did this summer.

How do they avoid this? - seems hard. They don`t have the most talented youth players nor do they look like they are going to develop any. They need to get that part right. They need a couple of really good runs in Europe to shore up the income. Perhaps expand their stadium as they have an owner who can afford it (stadium development costs don`t count under FFP). Plus selling high wage earners which is not only tough but, if done, will screw up their present chances of winning silverware.

2. Arsenal - They come across as a role model club in terms of financial prudence. But if I were an Arsenal fan I would be very, very worried about the future. The board are more interested in the profits than titles. Don`t believe me? I'll tell you a secret. Arsene isn`t going to get fired. Like ever. Because it`s plain simple. Him and the top bosses at Arsenal have a fantastic mutual understanding, 'look Arsene you`re job is safe, it always will be. You can stay here for as long as you like. Just don`t spend on too much money. Just enough to stay competitive' and Arsene is all 'gee thanks. I`m never going to spend anyway. I`m obsessed with developing kids for City, United are Barca to take away; and my lucky number is 4. Thats why I love fourth place although I don`t mind 3. Who cares about silverware anyway, I like qualifying for the trophy well never win because it gets us money. Wait is silverware actually made of silver?'. A club whose owners think 'how do I make money' and a manager who thinks 'lets aim for Champions League qualification' (even before the season has begun) is never going to threaten for top honours. Sure they just may win a cup here or there someday. But it`s the fundamental attitude problem that will never make them winners. Players like winners medals (and better salaries), not 'I used to play for a financially prudent club that had the highest profits'. Top players will always continue leaving. But if you are a young and talented youth player Arsenal is where you should go. Perfect place to spend training till you become bigger than the club (to think they were once invincibles!)

3. Manchester United - Tricky. When one emperor dies, the future of the empire depends on 2 things. How smooth the succession is and how good the successor will be. A lot of Man Utd`s future depends upon who succeeds Sir Alex Ferguson and how smoothly the transition is handled. The positives for United are the stadium size, the fan base (good revenue), good brand image. Compared to Arsenal and City they have a much better chance of continuing as a top power in the next decade. Negatives - bad owners. can a Mourinho or Pep or whoever it is succeeds him be okay with working under really selfish set of owners (I can imagine a Mourinho joining the fans in protest of the Glazers and making them burn down Old Trafford in spite or Pep needing more sabbaticals). SAF and United were a match made in heaven. But will the next man be the right man or will they fade away like Leeds or Liverpool? (I suspect they will continue to be a major force in the next decade. but it all depends on the perfect succession plan)

4. Liverpool - I find it funny that Dalglish managed to blow up more money on Caroll, Henderson and Downing than we 'invested' on Hazard, Oscar, Moses and Azpi! But this is one team that will once again be right up there when the time comes. Why? Firstly the owners are really a shrewd bunch. They are not afraid to spend if need be but they have real foresight. The way they 'interviewed' a long list of managers before hiring Rodgers. How they are building the club from scratch tightening the purses, giving the youth a chance and letting Rodgers build something. Pool also have a great academy and are obsessed about coming back up. Look at Boston Red Sox and you`ll see that Fenway Sports Group are not to be underestimated. In 5 years Pool will once again be a force.

5. Tottenham - A lot will depend on where they find themselves after 3 years. i.e at the end of AVB's 'project'. Beyond that I suggest their support stop thinking about beating us every time they think about the word 'achievement'. That`S not how big clubs are supposed to think.

6. Chelsea - They will be THE CLUB for the next 15 years (not because i love them). Why?

Well find out in part two of this new series.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Monday January 7 2013
Time: 4:36PM


good stuff Saberman...:) you got me intrigued now - Keep 'em coming...
07/01/2013 16:54:00
Good article am really eager to read the next part
07/01/2013 17:00:00
Hmmmm, it seems today is ''great article day'' one saber but I'm not so sure abt Man Utd
07/01/2013 17:02:00
Saber u freaking genius!!! I don't agree to all ur points but there is logic there, man city have nice players in their academy, but it doesn't have the foundation which chelsea's academy was built, chelsea even have players in the U_12s!! Nice coaching staffs in dermott drummy,steve holland,adi viveash etc, I'll want u to take a note of caution, man city have ex barca officials in their setup now, their owner is shrewd and believe me tjey are revamping their academy now, man utd will always be there and tottenham with AVB will be worth a shout if they keep him, liverpool will be a force again just because they have stability and a very good coach who develops players, arsenal will be up there still if they keep wenger, chelsea should be wary as managerial stability can supercede talents that we have in the academy, if we don't have a good coach, he'll just pawn off this talents
07/01/2013 17:10:00
great article cant wait till part 2. but i disagree with the city points. they will start buying 23-27 players. silva is only 24(or 25) aguero is 23. sinclair is 23. nastasic is 19. kompany is 25. clichy is 25. richards is 23. hart is 24. nasri is 24. the spine is still quite young its just their midfield as toure is 29 barry 31 garcia 25. balotelli is only 23
07/01/2013 17:35:00
Manchester United is an institution. They are Satan's team and therefore are powered by his dark forces....they (as evil always does) will remain a significant force in soccer. We remain as the sole vestige of right that represents the last good in this world. Therefore will shall remain forever locked in battle with them. Anyway lets see if the powers that be will stick by ffp and give it the requisite teeth to give credence to its very existense...esp if as you say the intended harm it was designed to inflict upon us fails to manifest.
07/01/2013 17:43:00
just wondering... do other clubs have 26 players on loan at a given time like we had sept 1 to dec 31st 2012. seems strange that lots of them are now back here having gotten little or no playing time. doesn't say much for our u21 set up. see a friendly arranges today to give them a game as no reserve fixtures are coming up. seems like a right cock up and one that talent could slip through. hope i'm wrong.
07/01/2013 17:52:00
Tottenham-I suggest their support stop thinking about beating us every time they think about the word 'achievement'. :) classic!!
pego sama
07/01/2013 18:07:00
Well written article (as always) Saber. Just one thing. Arsenal may not fade away as easily as you say they will. They have Alisher Usmanov a man rivalling, or surpassing Roman's wealth, who is eager to pump funds into the club. Its the pair of misers Stan Kronke and Arsene who are keeping him back (according to an article I read at the start of the season) and he isn't happy about it. A bad season and the fans will be completely disillusioned with Wenger and yes, he WILL have to leave. That aside, the current crop of players will be a good indicator of their ability to retain talent. If they can hold on to players like Walcott, Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain, they could build a strong spine for a while to come. And there the salary caps will become irrelevant since almost no club will be able to afford to pay 150-200k a week wages. Not a fan of that club, but I wouldn't write them off just yet. It'll still be Chelsea-Utd,Arsenal, pool and City for a long long time. Spurs are and will always been also-rans.
07/01/2013 18:11:00
what i appreciate most about the article is the thinking and logic behind or two interersting debates can be generated from the points raised but what gladdens my heart is that no matter how anybody tries to twist it (even the most ardent chelsea hater), they will have to agree that chelsea is one club that will definitely be there fighting for top top honours for the next decade...for most of the other clubs you can argue for and against really... but our structures are tangible and are the ones built on the least probabilities and only prayer is that we get a tactically astute coach who can develop youth while winning a fair number of trophies and that will be here for 3-5years uninterrupted..then i can relax and enjoy the next decade...chelsea all the way!!!
07/01/2013 18:40:00
@layorh12, you got that right mate. We do have a lot in place, except for one thing. A manager. When we get a manager here, one with a vision and the wherewithal to see it through, of course with the backing of the owner and the guys up there..then we can say that we well and truly are set to ride the wave of FFP and its repercussions. I've said this since Carlo's time, with regards to our long term future, the next manager is gonna make or break it for us.
07/01/2013 19:01:00
I hate to burst the bubble, but each of the other clubs mentioned have footballing people at the helm. Unless we recruit someone in the mould of Guss Hddink to be our technical director, problems loom ahead. The days are going to dissapear, when a ill informed owner can splash large amounts of cash on a singular player as he has done in the past. Because that could use up all the transfer budget in one purchase. The reason that we came 6th last year, was because of poor decisions from the top, both on and off the field and there seems no signs that this will change in the near future. 26 players on loan, simply highlights the poor decisions that are continually made, I`m afraid.
07/01/2013 19:05:00
excellent saber. totally love the artcle. Kepp 'em comig. interested in what you ave to say about Chesea.. You could teach "Fleet Street" a thing or two
07/01/2013 20:53:00
0 my opinion, 26 players on loan do not highlight bad decisions made by the club, i see it part of the club's strategy for the might want to think this way...if we assume that none of the 26 players on loan actaully make it at chelsea and we decide for one reason or other to sell many of these are we going to sell at a loss?...i am sure the answer will be near zero...the very best from our pool of loaness should ideally transition to the first (the process will be made smoother by some managerial stability)..while the other ones will be sold mostly at a profit...and worst case at break i dont think that is bad decision making or i said earlier, we are set for the future, if we can get the manager bit right and Roman does not meddle into things too 1 cent!
07/01/2013 21:05:00
Hmm! Interesting article,city have a very rich academy which has produced players like SWP,hart(not sure),richards,onuoha,sturridge e.t.c, and they have got a relatively young squad(aguero,nastasic,sinclair,hart,nasri,rodwell,garcia,silva,guidetti e.t.c) and a very good administration which include ex barca administrators so they would stil be a force to reckon with in future..however,i pray after everything chelsea would be the ultimate winners
07/01/2013 21:25:00
Back in them days an article like this would have generated a good debate on the comment box...Miss them insightful peeps. Nice article Saber,a step back from the humorous you. Top lad.
07/01/2013 23:40:00
no amount of all this plan like great academy, has any value if we do not have a strong vision and mission statement. The 3 people who drive our player purchases are no football brains. When the need is dm and striker we are still linked with attacking mids. A stable philosophy and philosophy driven asset management, be it academy or player purchases will lead to cost savings in the long run. for that to happen managerial stability is important. If that is not possible than hire a good director of football and have people like rdm, steve clarke, brendon rodgers coach (and not manage) the team. Atleast there will be some stability.
Blue India
08/01/2013 03:08:00
RDM voted 4 best football manager by fifa. 1 delbosque 2. Jose m 3. pep guardiola 4. Rdm
Blue India
08/01/2013 04:58:00
@Blue India I disagree, I completely trust in Emenalo, all signings from Ramires to Ba have been done marvelously, except Torres, who's been RA's personal signing. In this time we have signed Rami, Luiz, (Torres), Mata, Lukaku, Romeu, KdB, Marin, Oscar, Hazard, Azpi, Walace, Moses and Ba-all top prospects, all are young (besides Ba) and for none of them have we overpayed (perhaps just Lukaku a little bit). But I agree with you on the matter, that we do need someone in the board like Hiddink. Who is the best suited manager for cfc? Mou doesn't develop youth and will be fighting with the board and the press all the time, Guardiola in my opinion would burn with us-we might have 3 ˝Iniestas˝ (Mazacar), but we don't have Xavi and Messi, plus he has never won against us, with the best team in the world; Benitez is good at the moment, but how will he be longterm? I personally don't know who to wish for our manager for the 13/14 season.
08/01/2013 06:29:00
@icebluelg. My point being we have to look at the dortmund model. A proper football club run by proper football people. They are a top club (they defeated city) playing in a difficult league. Yet they have not spent money on buying stars. They have developed them to the extent that the value of their team is about 200 million and they did it by spending less than 10% of the total value. Teams like bayern munich, united, barcelona, dortmund are successfull because of a system and philosophy. they do not spend insane amount on buying players and managers. Look around, chelsea academy has produced good players like Di santo, johnson etc. We have produced managers like clarke and rodgers and avb. If we had proper systems we would not be in the current conundrum of buying so many players. If you look at tito villanova you will realise barcelona are not performing because of the managers but because of the system and philosophy.
Blue India
08/01/2013 10:13:00
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