In defence of Big Sam

My colleague and friend, Neal Thurman (formerly of these pages), had this little nugget buried in his Monday Morning Manager post:
"As much as I appreciate what Big Sam accomplished at Bolton back in the day, it seems like a poor fit of manager and roster. The Black Cats are handing a roster full of attacking midfielder-types to a guy best known for blood-and-guts football."
Neal, you're talking about a manager who ran out Jay Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff, Stelios Giannakopolis, etc behind (pun intended) the not-inconsiderable backside of Kevin Davies. At West Ham, he converted Stewart Downing from a winger to a (temporarily, at least) surprisingly effective number 10.

Big Sam has a plan, and works that plan to a hard edge. It may not always be pretty, but sometimes it can be.

At Sunderland, he has some talent in the likes of Jermaine Lens, and Yoann M'Villa. He has the target-forward he likes in Steven Fletcher. And while Bruno N'Gotty isn't walking through the door, he's got... well, maybe the less said about Sunderland's defensive options the better.

I'm not saying that Sunderland are poised for a run at the European places, but Allardici is a good manager who has done more with less in the past. I'm fascinated to see what he can do with the Black Cats, starting this weekend against Newcastle, who may have just had their own dead-cat bounce against Norwich.

The Five Stages of Fantasy Manager Grief

With the news that Sergio Aguero has injured his hamstring playing for Argentina, we turn to Twitter, the internet's id, to demonstrate fantasy managers going through the classic five stages of grief.
  1. Denial — The first reaction is denial. In this stage individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.

  2. Anger — When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, it becomes frustrated, especially at proximate individuals. Certain psychological responses of a person undergoing this phase would be: "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; '"Who is to blame?"; "Why would this happen?".

  3. Bargaining — The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise.

  4. Depression — "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die soon so what's the point?"; "I miss my loved one, why go on?"
    During the fourth stage, the individual becomes saddened by the mathematical probability of death. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.

  5. Acceptance — "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."; "Nothing is impossible."
    In this last stage, individuals embrace mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event. People dying may precede the survivors in this state, which typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable condition of emotions.

Serious Question

Has anyone broken the news to them?

Amidst all the, justified, excitement around Jurgen Klopp's appointment as Liverpool manager is one thing I haven't heard. How do Liverpool fans - not ones to give up on their image of the club as a premier destination - feel about Klopp's deigning to take the job in the first place?

“I’m really very relaxed – but only because I know that is how it goes sometime. I’ll be back to train a team. It must be somewhere in the world that is not an absolute top club, there are other good projects that are exciting who need help.” 

"not an absolute top club"

"good projects"

"need help"

Really? And Liverpool fandom is accepting of this? It seems to me that some of their most fundamental self-images (Delusions, if you're being mean. Which I'm not.) are being challenged.

But, hey.... YNWA and all that.

Robin Van Persie is not impressed

It seems as if the ex-Arsenal, ex-Manchester United star isn't happy with his lot in life with Fernebache. Here he is, on the bench, "celebrating" one of teammate Fernandao's recent goals:

I don't know why it's gone wrong for him. Maybe he's just past it. Maybe all those injuries didn't save his body from wear and tear - the theory when he was healthy and scoring - and he can't compete physically anymore. Maybe he's just missing London. If that's the case, I have a wonderful idea! I know he'd probably just end up at Chelsea on a loan back to the Premier League. It's just the sad way things work. But they already have a Falcao-batross (™ © ® Jeremy Spitzberg) around their collective necks. The last thing they need is another reclamation project.

However, no such baggage weighs down the Eagles of Crystal Palace. Hear me out on this.

This January, Chelsea recalls Patrick Bamford from his loan spell at Palace. He's not getting any playing time there anyway so that is helping no one. Bamford, with youth on his side, and a chip on his shoulder, immediately becomes second choice at the Bridge behind the oft-suspended Diego Costa (27? You're having a laugh!) and we finally learn whether or not he's good enough for Chelsea.

Making that possible, is Robin Van Persie's loan to Palace. He is miles ahead of the other options like Gayle, Campbell, and Wickham. His movement (albeit slowed by time) allows Palace's other attacking players new, and more dangerous lanes to... attack. His finishing turns chances into goals. Humbled by his travails in Turkey, he's a team-player, deferring to Yohan Cabaye, and the other leaders already at the club.

There! It all adds up!

Sadly, porcupines are allergic to raisins.

What I'm reading - October 7, 2015

I do love this photo.

First, the fantasy tips:

Premier League Power Rankings: 5 October

Fantasy Premier League Gw9 Tips – The Early Bandwagons And Sinking Ships

FPL Scout Extra: Chips should be held despite Aguero heroics

Hopefully, you don't have any of these players in your fantasy side:

The Premier League's underperforming (but undropped) players

Of course there's a lot more about Jurgen Klopp to Liverpool. Today's trend is pragmatic, leaning towards pessimistic. Yes, he's a great manager, but what about the players and what about the boardroom?

New approach needs to follow new manager at Liverpool

Assessing Liverpool's Klopp Coup

What Jurgen Klopp can do with the players he inherits at Liverpool

Finally, ESPN FC has an interesting, side-by-side look at the Milan clubs.

Roberto Mancini has rebuilt Inter into a throwback side all about athleticism

AC Milan are in crisis again despite summer transfers and a new coach

I'm intrigued by the notion of Inter "zigging" when others are all "zagging". Are we seeing a return of the colossus midfielder? The Patrick Viera, Roy Keane type? Arturo Vidal... Nemanja Matic... Paul Pogba... Blaise Matuidi... Moussa Sissoko...

Wow, the French are stocked in the middle of the park! Throw in Yohan Cabaye and Morgan Schneiderlin for good measure and you're looking at a collection of players that would be the envy of any manager - international or club.

What I'm reading - October 5, 2015

What I'm reading, on the heels of a fantasy gameweek that saw me jump into the top 3K places despite having sold the player who scored five goals and was the leading choice for everyone's coffee cup (that's the captaincy for everyone not making jokes based on old AOL Instant Messanger icons).

Six things we learned from Norwich City’s narrow loss to Leicester

EPSN FC Tactics & Analysis Blog

When replacing Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool need to think weird

Should Jurgen Klopp replace Brendan Rodgers?

Southampton Were Never Bad