Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Continual Flippin' Changes

So - farewell RDM, thanks for all the fish.

Who next? Twitter abounds with the usual suggestions (Pep, Harry, JT, Roman himself, having a raffle) but there's some other possibilities to consider.

1) A Workers' Collective
John Terry as manager? Way too obvious. Instead, in a neat inversion of the ultra-capitalist approach of the ownership and recruitment at the club, things could settle down if all decisions were taken collectively, one player one vote.  Team selection to be decided by single transferable vote.

2) A Senior Female Figure from the Church of England
After yesterday's vote, there is a significant talent pool arguably over-qualified for the highest position that they can currently take on, so why not? My experience of churches is that all clergy have to deal with petulant childish whining quite a lot of the time (when dropping into Sunday School, at Stewards' meetings, and in any dealings with organists) so man-management shouldn't be a problem. This could also, at a time in which many are growing disillusioned with the Church, reach out to a new potential congregation. More fans in the stands = more money for the transfer kitty.

3) George Entwhistle
He appears very easy to get rid of.

4) A Workfare Placement
Even given RA's massive wealth, this manager turnover must be hitting the bank balance hard, so Chelsea could follow the lead of many well-known high-street names in getting somebody in for free for an 'employment-readiness-training' period of 2-3 months, which frankly would be more than enough.

5) Didier Roustan
Because that would just be superb.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Women Bishops, etc and so on.

So, the Church of England (mostly, their house of laity) have voted against having female Bishops. In advance of the vote, some asked for calm - in the aftermath, there was anger, reflectionjokes, and some apparent point-scoring. I got in on the last, I'll admit.

But that wasn't really point-scoring; it was more a long sigh. I was brought up in Methodism - my father went to Wesley College in Bristol in 1980 (I think - I was young) and was ordained in 1982. We were posted to Marlow then, and then to Cheltenham in 1987, then Finchley in 1992 - and I took an interest in what was going on, administratively as well as spiritually, because, well, when you get shifted around every couple of years, you kinda want to know why.

So I was told, when I met my first Deaconness, that women had been ordained in Methodism since the early 1970s, which, as it was before I was born, was 'forever'. And Kathleen Richardson was installed in 1993 as the first female President of Conference (aka top dog), and that was just normal because women had been installed as District Chairs (aka bishops-ish) for ages, so it was nothing strange at all.

And while there is an evangelical wing of the Church which has some 'issues' with some 'people' (and the lovely acronym VOMet - not sure they hold much sway any more) there was, also in 1993, the statement that:

"Conference recognises, affirms and celebrates the participation and ministry of lesbians and gay men in the church. Conference calls on the Methodist people to begin a pilgrimage of faith to combat repression and discrimination, to work for justice and human rights and to give dignity and worth to people whatever their sexuality" 

'Recognises, affirms, and celebrates' - sounds a heck of a lot better than 'tolerates'. Sounds - despite the cautious language elsewhere about marriage and avoiding promiscuity - like they actually mean it. I know, from the experiences of some gay Methodist clergy, that the path for them has not always been smooth; but they have not been fighting the dogma of their own denomination. 

Because - a little like a ban on gays in the military - it always seemed odd (meaning, counter-productive, and not a little rude) to reject those who actually wanted to serve; who felt a vocation for that. Because it always seemed to me that if somebody said they were prepared to die for their country that said country should say 'thank you, thank you' - and treat them with respect. 

And that that respect would not be limited to NCOs, but to all ranks. That it would not stop at a defined point like - well, a stained glass ceiling.

Because - as a girl then a woman, a feminist, concerned with the place of women in the world, and as a gay person, growing up...we all have to deal with the judgment of strangers, and sometimes the thoughtlessness of those close to us...but I never heard anyone I respect calling me bad, or wrong, or ill. That made a difficult journey easier. I am thankful for that.

I like the approach of the Quakers - the silence appeals to me, the quietly activist principles, the lack - ironically, as this is largely an argument about 'levels' - of hierarchy. Sometimes I would think, "well, if I hadn't been brought up in Methodism, I would be a Quaker" - but then the reality is that if I hadn't been brought up in Methodism, but in a more strident and stringent Church, I probably would have sacked the whole thing off, and rejected 'the Church' entirely.

So, no point-scoring, just a sigh. A sigh for people like me, kids like I was, trying to square what their Church is saying to them about what is acceptable with what they feel, what they believe, is more than acceptable.  A sigh for those oppressed, depressed by it - and a sigh for those who get the hell out, when they might not really want to do that.  And a really big sigh for those who don't get that saying 'OK, you can do this job but we're watching you and you'll never get promoted' doesn't exactly score high on the affirm/celebrate scale.

And it is genuinely very cool that Stockholm has a lesbian bishop. God moves in mysterious etc and so on.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Montpellier Selection (again) etc and so on.

With 13 matches played in the Ligue and 4 in the Champions League (CdlL excluded because that was very much a 'kids and reserves' situation) I have had a look at the selections so far to test my theory that lack of consistency here is posing a problem.

There is no actual benchmark for this on the current season, and I've lost the spreadsheets used for the PSG / MHSC selection pieces last season when my old computer blew up, but some context:

  • The PSG team pre-Christmas last season used 21 players, 18 of whom got at least 1 start.
  • 7 of those players played in more than one position, mostly across the defence (4 CBs also deployed at FB at some point, one FB on both sides, one occasionally as a winger).
MHSC preferred positions last season:
  • 2 keepers, Jourdren and Pionnier (who covered for Jourdren when injured at the beginning)
  • 3 CBs, Mapou, Hilton and Stambouli
  • 2 RBs, Bocaly and Jeunechamp
  • 1 LB, Bedimo
  • 4 DMs, Saihi, Estrada, Marveaux, Stambouli
  • 2 CAMs, Belhanda and Cabella
  • 3 RWs, Camara, Dernis and Cabella
  • 2 LWs, Utaka and Ait-Fana
  • 1 CF, Giroud
From which can be seen that Stambouli and Cabella were the main players with multiple roles.

Now. So far, 22 players have got a start, 11 of whom have started 9 times or more (so, over half the games in question). Positionally there have been (and these are starters, we will come to the mid-match tinkering later, italics show options only take once so far):

  • 2 keepers (this time due to arguments)
  • 4 CBs - Mapou, Hilton, Congre and El-Kaoutari 
  • 3 LBs - Bedimo, Jeunechamp, Stambouli
  • 5 RBs - Bocaly, Jeunechamp, Stambouli, Congre, Mapou
  • 5 DMs - Saihi, Estrada, Marveaux, Stambouli, Pitau
  • 2 CAMs - Belhanda and Cabella
  • 4 LWs - Ait-Fana, Cabella, Utaka, Mounier
  • 4 RWs - Ait-Fana, Cabella, Camara, Mounier
  • 4 CFs - Camara, Charbonnier, Herrera, Utaka

From this, admittedly small and lacking benchmark, sample, we can see some issues. These will also likely continue, with Ait-Fana possibly out for the season with anterior-cruciate-ligament-knack, Stambouli still recovering from glandular fever, Saihi having been sent off again, and Jeunechamp inevitably going to cop quite a ban if he really did hit a journalist in the face last night.

Cabella and Stambouli have both started in three positions, and while for Cabella that has been a general deployment across the 3 of Montpellier's 4-2-3-1, for Stambouli this has not involved his usual back-up position of CB, per last season, but playing in both fullback positions as well (where he has done a good job). Wing-switches look common, and Girard still hasn't settled on his preferred CF, although Charbonnier may have played himself into that on recent form.  Overall, ten players have been deployed in more than one position.

So far, of the 17 Ligue/LdC matches, 10 have involved a mid-match positional shift - my theory is that given the initial squad selection issues of injuries/suspensions/arguments, the starting eleven normally involves at least one player playing out of the position, and this is only exacerbated by making substitutions.

Substitution timings:

  • First half (usually for injuries / covering sendings off) - 4
  • 45-60 mins - 11
  • 60-70 - 11
  • 70-80 - 14
  • 80-90 - 8
Put that next to the timings of the (27) goals conceded - 
  • First half - 11 
  • 45-60 mins - 2
  • 60-70 - 2
  • 70-80 - 4
  • 80-90 - 8
Substitutions, often involving a positional switch, look to be unsettling an already unsettled selection, rendering the last 20 minutes of games rather shaky and frankly terrifying to watch.  Recent performances against PSG, equalising and then holding onto the draw, and VAFC, again holding onto a draw when down to ten men, have been more positive, but the selection does not look likely to get any more consistent given the points above. This seems to have delayed the development of last season's automatisme and leads to losses of concentration late on, which is largely to blame for the slow start to the season. Things do look to be picking up (in-fighting and, well, actual fighting, notwithstanding), so hopefully they can get their heads down and continue to improve.

Arsenal on Wednesday. Ah.