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The Importance of Sport (NEW CONCEPTS)
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Mick Harper
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You have ignored the obvious. If Porto and Ajax can recognise diamonds in the raw, why can't everyone else? Take your own Manchester United who, I just heard in a documentary, have for fifty years always had a youth product in the first team squad (or something). Anyway a useful (and the prog claimed, a profitable) youth set-up. While, I think you will agree, Manchester is nearer Glasgow than Porto as 'an acceptable environment', the United name will get recruits through the door despite that. Barcelona, they say, is their Spanish equivalent. Can't think of any others.

So that's two of each type and the mystery is doubled. Any professional club, even Scottish ones, could do the same if they knew how to spot diamonds in the rough. The only reason you have advanced that might work the oracle is 'success breeds success' -- and that might be true of United and Barcelona who certainly don't qualify under any of your other criteria. We are missing something.
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Grant



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The fact that Jamie Vardy was playing non-league football until he was 25 shows there must be something wrong with the coaching/scouting system. Also, how can the French uncover Mbappe and Pogba in the banlieus of Paris but we don't seem to find any truly world-class black player?
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Wile E. Coyote


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Mick Harper wrote:
Who can explain the Porto/Ajax phenomenon? Every year these two minor-market teams make vast sums of money flogging off the family Silva (better than Tourettes, Chad), produce another Euro-contending team, then the following year have to sell off another coupla Hectors (think about it ... Ajax) because they're minor-market teams, and produce another etc etc

They've both been doing it too long for it to be a flash in the pan (think about it.... Ajax). If they can do it, why can't everyone else? Avoid saloon bar answers in your answers.

Maybe it is the very best young players want to move to these clubs....as they provide the best stepping stone to the elite clubs. Who in their right minds wants to join Chelsea and be loaned to Orient?

No that is rubbish, actually I would happily play for Orient for £30,000 a week. But, I would rather go to Ajax and get noticed, then get signed for Chelsea, and only then play for Orient....
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Mick Harper
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Grant, your logic is dazzlingly bad. If everybody has to keep coming up with Jamie Vardy the system is close to 100% perfection. We have had a constant stream of world-class players from the London banlieus of Peckham and Thornton Heath, starting with Rio Ferdinand. Selecting out these two -- a used to be and a will be -- is simply a matter of timing.

Wiley, you're worse. You have selected the problem -- that the best young players choose Porto and Ajax and then get sent on to elite clubs -- as the reason for it!
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Wile E. Coyote


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The Art of Good Man Management.

I was watching All or Nothing last night on the LA Rams. After a bout of on-pitch fisticuffs the match referee called on the Rams head coach to have a quiet word with his players to calm things down between players. It was a classic example of "good refereeing", the thing that pundits love. The coach took his players aside, praised them for their aggression and advised them to ramp it up. Everybody including players, head coach and match referee was happy with the way this was handled. They had created an illusion. They had acted out their role in the spectacle.
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Chad


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If Porto and Ajax can recognise diamonds in the raw, why can't everyone else?

Recognising rough diamonds is the easy part, being able to sell the dream requires certain prerequisites. The four clubs we have identified so far, have several factors in common.

1. Domestic league dominance during the era of global commercialisation (post 1990)
2. Historic popularity (pre 1990)
3. World renowned players associated with club
4. European Cup winners
5. Track record of producing elite players

Our four tick all the boxes. None of their domestic rivals do.
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Wile E. Coyote


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You have to hand it to Kabib, nobody figured him out. Justin told us he wouldn't allow himself to be put against the cage, and so he wouldn't get submitted. Justin ended up exactly where everyone else did. At a time where increasingly the model UFC fighter is mainly a kick boxer/striker, Kabib looks and thinks differently. Basically folks try to kick him and he is too close, they punch him, he ducks under and moves to takes down in one movement. So they retreat until their back is on, or near, the cage. Kabib, seems safe the closer he gets to opponents, whereas most would seek distance to get out of range. It is easy to see and describe, impossible to deal with, even for the world's best fighters and trainers.

How did he do it?
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Mick Harper
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Recognising rough diamonds is the easy part

Chad means 'the impossible part', as well as he knows. Otherwise the number of youths taken onto professional books would not outnumber 'diamonds' by a factor of thousands to one. And even zirconium players by hundreds to one. Nevertheless the factors he has identified are sufficiently valid to allow further careful exploration.

For instance, it may be that the four clubs act as top predators so that the thousands get winnowed to the hundreds to the dozens as the diamonds-to-be are gradually recognised at all the other lesser or non-youth oriented clubs before being induced by (or, as may be, voluntarily attracted to) the big local name with a reputation for 'producing diamonds'. After all, it is a success in itself for anyone to say, "Yeah, I was on United's books" whereas there is something infinitely sad about, "Torquay let me go."
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Mick Harper
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Today I logged the 179th time the commentator said, "We must apologise for any swear words picked up by our pitch-side microphone" without me hearing the swear words. Could they please improve the quality of the pitch-side microphones.
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Mick Harper
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For the first time in living memory I gave up watching one of the Grand Tours (the Giro d'Italia) when all the Brit contenders dropped out and the only British team, Ineos, consisted of obscure domestiques. Ten days later I discover that Tao Geoghegan-Hart (Ineos) has just won the Giro d'Italia. What makes it worse is he's the first true Brit (Hackney born and bred) to win a Grand Tour after a succession of Australian-Brits, Kenyan-Brits, Welsh-Brits and Bury-Brits.
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Chad


In: Ramsbottom
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Cut his teeth climbing Harper’s Rake in Hackney.
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Mick Harper
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Arsenal 0 Leicester 1

We marmelised 'em but even so the result wasn't especially unjustified. Look, Arteta, there are now only two set-ups in the Premiership, the press and the two banks of four. Is it too much you get the lads prepared for both? And have personnel ready for both? Speed is no use against two banks. Lacazette as Nat Lofthouse is no good against two banks. Not one over-the-top into the box, not one wall pass in the box, not one dribble in the box, not one killer pass into the box. We were lucky to get nil.

The weakness of the two banks is you end up playing attack versus defence for ninety minutes and it's only a matter of time before it's 1-0 and then 2-0 when they have to chase. It's worthwhile for duffers away from home because it could end up 0-0. As this would have if they'd played for 180 minutes without Jamie Vardy coming on.

Now everyone knows how to play against Arsenal. You either press or you play two banks of four.
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Mick Harper
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Man Utd 0 Arsenal 1

So the long wait is over and it's our first away win over a Big Six side since the crossbar replaced a piece of tape stretched between the posts. Or maybe Man Utd are not a top six side. But I was surprised since I thought, after recent European strides, they had turned the corner and we were still searching for one.

However two things are required from the Arsenal hierarchy. Heed the words of (1) Bill Belichick (and the deeds of Alex Ferguson): it is better to get rid of a player a year too early than a year too late. and (2) the words of M J Harper: if you're not going to be a contender this year, prepare for next year. Who cares whether we come ninth rather than seventh? It's obvious Aubameyang and Lacazette (and Willian) are not the present, never mind the future. It is true none of the youngsters are ready but they never will be unless you play them altogether and all the time. If they don't work out, just buy another ready-made Aubameyang and Lacazette.
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Mick Harper
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Lallana 0 Kane 1

I wonder. Lallana is rubbish in the air, Kane is a master, so Lallana knows his only chance is to take a running jump. Kane carefully watches him coming and, against all expectations, refuses to jump. He even slightly ducks down. Lallana finds himself hanging in thin air as opposed to being braced against another jumping body and starts to topple over. Kane places his body carefully underneath the flight path and as soon as a Lallana hand reaches his body, he falls over in a heap. It's a pen!

There's an argument for the free kick going the other way, and even Kane getting a yellow card for dangerous play.
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Mick Harper
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Oh shit, Martin Keown's just made the same point. I can hardly say great minds think alike since I'm a polymathic genius and he's a centre half. with pronounced brow ridges.
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