5 POINTS: Advice for Wayne Rooney as the Manchester United captain faces decision time, Claudio Ranieri has some record for a 'poor manager' plus Qatar, Team GB and a bit of golf.
Hello again. How are you all? It's been a little while. Now where were we?
Point one: why wouldn't any English club give Claudio Ranieri a job?
Because his inability to replicate winning the league the following year suggests it was a one-off. I don't want to use the word fluke, but you know – all the big boys were in the doldrums that season. The planets aligned perfectly for Leicester. I said it before, genius is genius exactly because it endures, and you mocked me for it. Let's have this conversation again when Nantes finish 10th next year. What's your defence of him going to be then? Bernie Bayou, Madrid.
Same as now: tell me one person who has accomplished anything like it. Look, we went through this back in January when you came with the same old nonsense about genius needing to endure. It doesn't. It can be as fleeting as one idea, or one concept. Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the worldwide web, is no less of a genius because he didn't also come up with a new toaster, a car or a train powered by hot air, too. One genius invention was enough. Has it always been like this? In the days of the Renaissance was there some smartarse standing at the back, going: 'Just the one Sistine Chapel is it, Michelangelo? My mate Kev reckons he can do three ceilings a week if someone gives him a hand with the scaffolding.' There is no required time spell for genius, Bernie. On November 23, 1936, Robert Johnson walked into Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio and over the next three days recorded 16 songs, including alternate takes, that changed music. He recorded one other session the following year and died on August 16, 1938. His entire output is just 29 songs. And he was a genius. Undoubted genius. Nobody had ever played guitar like that and, ever since, guitarists have been trying to capture that same white-hot gift for invention. Some 30 years later other geniuses were still trying to emulate the revolution in Johnson's sound. And some even came close. This gentleman, for instance.
With the advent of social media and fake news it's mind blowing how history can be rewritten or just ignored. We've seen it with the election: despite a Conservative majority vote bigger than Tony Blair's 1997 landslide we're now assured Labour actually won the 2017 election and nobody wants Brexit anymore. It's the same with Leicester. It was the biggest phenomenon in European football and embarrassed a lot of influential people. So it was swiftly pointed out that Ranieri was lucky, it wasn't his team, he didn't do anything, it was the players. Who did this narrative suit? The elite clubs spending hundreds of millions to buy the league. Ranieri's gentlemanly and generous manner was then confused as a weakness – which even that soaking spelt out. It seems we want our managers to be bombastic, spendthrift and arrogant – it's this that wins titles apparently, not ability. Youngchazza, Brighton.
It was a one off. Ranieri's previous is dodgy at best. Don't forget how he did for Greece, Juventus, Roma, Parma, Inter Milan, Valencia, Chelsea – he was poor to say the least. He got the sack from them all. CTRpaul, Manchester.
That's right Paul. And as we know he's the only manager who has ever been sacked. It has never happened to Mauricio Pochettino, Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, Ronald Koeman or Rafa Benitez – just Ranieri. Anyway, back in January, when some were arguing that Ranieri had always been useless, I set out his record. Those who have been paying attention may wish to skip the next bit. Here goes: At Cagliari, Ranieri won consecutive promotions from Serie C1 to Serie A. After that, he joined Napoli in 1991 where, despite financial difficulty, he came fourth – the club's highest position until 2012-13 – and qualified for the UEFA Cup. Napoli defeated Valencia 6-1 on aggregate in the UEFA Cup, but lost 2-0 to Paris Saint-Germain in the next round and Ranieri was sacked. Yet Napoli would only get into Europe by virtue of league position once between Ranieri's departure and 2010-11. Ranieri then won Serie B with Fiorentina in 1993-94, before winning the Coppa Italia in 1995-96 and the Supercoppa Italia in 1996. It was the first time Fiorentina had won the Coppa Italia since 1974-75, and remains the only time they have won the Supercoppa Italia. They were also the first cup winners to triumph over the league winners in that match. Ranieri won the Copa del Rey with Valencia, their first victory in the competition since 1979 – and they have won it only once since his departure. He qualified the club for the Champions League for the first time since 1971-72 and left them the basics of a team that reached the final the year after he left. He beat Porto to win the UEFA Super Cup on his return to Valencia, and won promotion with Monaco before coming runners-up to PSG the next season. Not bad for a poor manager.
Claudio Ranieri has an enviable record but has been ignored by English clubs since Leicester
Two things. Firstly, the season before Ranieri arrived Leicester didn't have N'Golo Kante, who is one of the best midfielders in the world. Funnily enough, Ranieri didn't want Kante to begin with. Steve Walsh had to beg him for his approval. Secondly, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy were new to the Premier League that year as were many of Leicester's squad and needed a bit of time to adjust. When you're a newly promoted side, much time is spent establishing which of your players can hack it at this level. It was a learning curve for everyone so you couldn't have really expected anything spectacular. Both players started hitting their strides towards the end of the 2014-15 season, when Leicester won six out of their last eight games. Bthep94, Leicester.
Oh yes, that's the twist on the 'brains behind the manager' theory that I mentioned in the column. If we're not giving all the credit to a secret genius coach (Craig Shakespeare for Claudio Ranieri, Colin Harvey for Howard Kendall, Ray Harford for Kenny Dalglish), we're arguing the manager was a clown who didn't rate the player who transformed the season. How often have you heard that Harry Redknapp didn't fancy Gareth Bale? The reality? He started him in his second Tottenham game in charge, away at Arsenal. And Ranieri didn't fancy Kante? Who puts that about? Steve Walsh? I also notice that while Kante's absence is the excuse for a poor season in 2014-15, it is not advanced in defence of Ranieri in 2016-17. Equally, Kante was as new to the Premier League in 2015-16 as Vardy and Mahrez were the previous season – so isn't credit due to Ranieri for getting such an immense season out of him, while at the same time switching the full-backs, switching Mahrez's position, transforming Marc Albrighton, making Danny Drinkwater an England player, Vardy a Premier League player…
Manuel Pellegrini? Maine Road Pitch City, Manchester.
Yes, the same argument could be made. In hindsight, seeing what has happened this year, his achievement in winning the Premier League and League Cup double in his first season in English football was greatly under-rated. Unfortunately, he had two years of comparative decline after that and, by the time he left, the slide was fresher in people's minds. I agree, though, one could make the same case for Pellegrini being overlooked in England; and Roberto Mancini.
Point two: Team GB or Team UK?
While I agree that the name Team UK would be more representative of all athletes, I've never seen an international cricket match which refers to 'England and Wales' on scoreboards or headlines. It's always England. That doesn't seem to have put off the likes of Eoin Morgan, Robert Croft or Simon Jones. Michael, Watford.
Yes, but the concept of an England cricket team stretches back centuries – Team GB is a branding exercise from 1999. We are not exactly messing with history here.
Point three: on Wayne Rooney's next career move.
Rooney was never the same player after Euro 2004. Maybe Manchester United ruined him, maybe it was the injury. We'll never know. But considering he doesn't have any money worries maybe he should move on. Cloughie2000, United States.
I think you're the one who should move on, mate. Not the same player after 2004? That takes in his entire career at Manchester United: five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, the Champions League, Europa League and Club World Cup. He has won every prize available in club football, and broken the club's scoring record. Yes, indeed – where did it all go wrong?
Hey, Rooney what about you paying a club to play – giving something back to the supporters who have paid your wages for years? Your £280,000 a week is 10 years wages for me. Saul2, United Kingdom.
So what? Why is he responsible for that? If what you bring to your employer has a value of £28,000 annually, then that is the going rate in your field. Rooney's salary is the going rate in his – a reward for his unique talent, and for being at the top of his profession. Without knowing your occupation I cannot make an assessment but I imagine your professional status is not equivalent to being the best footballer at one of the biggest clubs in the world – as Rooney has been for 10 years.
Wayne Rooney (centre) added the Europa League to his trophy haul at the end of the season
Rooney should stay as a squad player. If he isn't guaranteed first-team football anywhere else he may as well be at Manchester United, especially with this squad relatively low on Champions League experience. If he does move, I can see only one realistic destination: Major League Soccer. The Voice of Reason, England.
We've got so many people claiming to be the voice of reason, they could form a very reasonable club, but the ideas here do at least seem logical. If Rooney is going to be named in the Premier League and Champions League squads, he may as well do a job for Manchester United as be an infrequent starter at, say, Everton. Equally, a swansong in Major League Soccer has more appeal, perhaps, than China. The counter argument is that in China he would be seen as a trailblazer, with the same legacy potential David Beckham has enjoyed in MLS – if he goes to America he is simply the latest Englishman to make that journey.
Point four: about the challenge of the US Open.
Regarding the rough at Erin Hills. If the players are so disenchanted with the USGA's set-up of the course, they always have the option not to play. Do they take that option? No. so stop acting like prima donnas and get on with it. I think the US Open makes a nice change from the normal target golf of the PGA Tour. Avro 748, Thailand.
I have long tended to agree but, recently, the US Open seems to have strayed from rigorous test to the simply bizarre. The USGA want to make golf seem accessible to non-players then set up the course so it becomes hell on toast for even the most gifted, and everyone looks frustrated and angry. I don't think the majors should be birdie festivals, but some of the arrangements in recent years have been ridiculous. If a tournament is won in level par, fine by me – it is when it becomes random and wildly variable that I think it is unfair.
Erin Hills, this picture shows the ninth hole, is set to provide the stiffest of US Open tests
Point five: about the charming hosts of the 2022 World Cup finals.
I don't know what your problem is with Qatar, but that list you refer to is BS. The United Nations said it was nonsensical and that they worked with many of those organisations and they help millions of people in troubled areas. Saudi Arabia, are you kidding me? Qatar is a far more civilised country than Saudi Arabia will ever be. Holf, Kuala Lumpur.
Martin, you are taking a one-sided look into Middle East politics. I would say adopt a neutral position and you would find out who the real terrorists are. All roads lead to Saudi Arabia and they have just managed to blame it on Qatar because of their ties to Iran. The 9/11 hijackers were all Saudi, Bin Laden was Saudi and they have supported extremist groups from day one. Chat2206, Melbourne.
I've seen Qatar Airways' appeal for help easing the blockade, but I haven't seen any UN reply calling the act nonsensical. And if you want to bring up 9/11, what say we revisit the evidence around the planning of those attacks? This is from a column I wrote linking Qatar to terror on March 24, 2014:
"Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, regarded as 'the principle architect of the 9/11 attacks' according to the United States Commission Report, worked as a project engineer at the Qatari Ministry of Electricity and Water between 1992 and 1996, and lived for some of that time on a farm belonging to government official Abdullah bin Khaled al Thani, who had invited him in from Pakistan. Abdullah bin Khaled al Thani was Qatar's Minister of Interior from 2001 to June 2013, including the time of the successful World Cup bid. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is now detained awaiting trial for his part in terrorist atrocities including the 9/11 attacks, the 1993 assault on the World Trade Centre, the Bali bombings and the beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Abdullah bin Khaled al Thani was described by former CIA agent Robert Baer as an Al Qaeda 'sympathiser and fellow traveller'. Former US Counterterrorism Director Richard Clarke thought him to have 'great sympathy for Osama Bin Laden and great sympathy for terrorist groups'. He revealed the Minister was 'using his personal money and ministry money to transfer to Al Qaeda front groups that were allegedly charities.' This man was a senior figure in the Qatar government, at the time they hopped into bed with FIFA, do not forget."
So while the 9/11 attackers may have been Saudi, some of the planning quite probably originated on Qatari soil, and in premises owned by a senior government figure. I do not exonerate Saudi Arabia from the many implications, I do not hold a candle for its society, but let's not pretend Qatar are innocents, or framed. Read the report, as I have. It isn't short on specifics, believe me.
Very true, Martin Samuel. However, your hypocrisy is amazing: not one comment from you over the World Cup in Russia, a country that has treated minorities and LGBT communities like garbage. Stephen, Liverpool.
Always nice to meet a new reader. However, if you had paid any attention to my columns since long before I joined the Mail – so that's over eight years, minimum – you would find plenty deploring many aspects of the Russia World Cup, not to mention the Sochi Olympic Games. I'm writing, you've just not been reading. That's not my fault.
Why does the Daily Mail even bother to report this? Why, when Saudi Arabia was allowed to get away with its disgusting performance in Australia, and England gets fined for its poppies. Make a difference and do something about that. Scott Edmondson, Brisbane.
Oh for God's sake, we've got real terrorism on the streets here, mate. This is serious stuff, a bit bigger than the annual confection around the wearing of poppies, and even the minute's silence so poorly observed by the Saudis. Those are matters of protocol, gestures, niceties, no more. We may feel offended faced with the Saudi players disdain – and understandably so – but nobody died. Qatar's dalliance with terror is real and deadly.
It is probably safer in Qatar than the United Kingdom, that's the sad reality. There are 43 Qatari links to terror – we've had more than 43 British citizens join ISIS. Randal Graves, United States.
Yes, it probably is safer in Qatar than the UK right now. Then again, it was safer in the United States than the UK throughout those years when so many of your fellow citizens were funding sectarian violence. That's how terror works. It is funded from beyond the target area. Until next time.
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