Liverpool FC’s Leader under pressure

May 9, 2015

Brendon Rogers

Brendan Rogers’ performance as Manager of Liverpool Football Club is now under scrutiny. There’s a sense of disunity and tension between Manager and the club’s passionate supporters

by Paul Hinks

It was just 12 short months ago that the uncharismatic Rogers was crowned League Managers’ Association Manager of the Year. Yet, before Liverpool’s recent home game against Queen’s Park Rangers [May 2nd 2015], The BBC reported that a Liverpool supporters group chartered a small plane and flew a banner over Anfield reading “Rogers out, Rafa in”.  A clear message symbolizing the desire from some fans for the Liverpool hierarchy to make changes and re-instate previous Liverpool Manager, Rafa Benetez.

Liverpool FC remains in a state of perpetual transition

With the close of the 2014/15 season. Rodgers will become the first Liverpool manager since the 1950s to fail to win a trophy over three seasons in charge. The closest came last season when the club finished second in the Premier League. Rogers and Liverpool appear to have dropped back this this season.

Getting it Right … then Getting it Wrong

Rogers did well in the previous campaign. but coming close is often not good enough. A slip by the team captain Steven Gerrard at an inopportune moment in a crucial game against rivals Chelsea gifted a chance for Chelsea who subsequently won the game. Liverpool’s title challenge fell away.

This season, Liverpool and Rogers have never really reached what Tuckman describes as the ‘perform and norm’ stage of team development.

Tuckman’s team development model

Tuckman’s classic model provides a framework usually applied to project teams to help team members better understand the different phases of team development. Manchester Business School’s MBA Global Events and Leadership module uses the framework to help students learn more about team dynamics and their overall effectiveness as a team.

I suggest that Tuckman’s model can extrapolated and applied to Rogers’ and Liverpool’s season.

Rogers has proven man-management skills

The BBC recently provided a balanced assessment of Rogers’ ability to manage the big names providing insights into his leadership style:

“He proved he could handle Luis Suarez, coaxing the best season of his career from the combustible Uruguayan as Liverpool almost won the league after getting tough with him when he wanted to leave in pre-season.

Rodgers also helped Daniel Sturridge to deliver the finest form of his career when he was fit after unfulfilling spells at Manchester City and Chelsea.

Steven Gerrard’s departure was always going to be a hospital pass for one Liverpool manager and it landed at the feet of Rodgers. The debate about whether he was offered a contract early enough continues and is more of a question for Liverpool’s hierarchy but the brutal truth is Gerrard’s form this season proves the time is right for club and player to part ways.

As for Raheem Sterling, it is hard to see how Rodgers could have handled him better. He even allowed him a break in Jamaica at the turn of the year to recharge his batteries.

It is clear Sterling’s relationship with the club itself is now fragile but it is tough to see how the blame could be pinned on Rodgers, who has been nothing but supportive. The idea that Sterling has become disaffected by being played out of position is also a myth.”

Reflecting on a season of ‘Storming’

Liverpool’s season has can be reflected on as having plenty ‘storming’ – both on and off the pitch. Individual Liverpool players have tested Rogers leadership skills. Think Balotelli, or perhaps even Sterling.

Balotelli in particular has struggled to fit into the Liverpool team and its high tempo style. Conversely, Rogers and Liverpool could be accused of being unable to successfully leverage the talent that Balotelli undoubtedly has and play to his strengths. An interesting dilemma itself.

Balotelli’s rebellious streak can be seen in the way that he typically labours around the pitch, rather than demonstrating a level of commitment and high tempo work ethic associated with previous Liverpool stars. A classic example of a team member not being utilized effectively for the benefit of the team?

Liverpool’s team need to grow together if they are to succeed. Rogers must motivate and nurture his team of highly paid talent and get them to gel in such a way that they break through the barriers of mediocracy and start to perform to their potential.

Moving beyond normal levels of Team Performance

As Chelsea clinched the title this weekend [May 3rd, 2015], Liverpool fans maybe forgiven for casting an envious eye was towards Stamford Bridge and the achievements of Jose Mourinho. Recently criticized in the media for playing boring football, Mourinho has motivated and galvanized the Chelsea team to deliver success in the currency that Liverpool fans can relate to.

Where Mourinho effortlessly relates to ‘his’ Chelsea team and Chelsea supporters, its clear that Rogers now needs to build and foster emotional attachment with both his Liverpool players and the Liverpool supporters.

Football is frequently described as a ‘results’ driven business. The better run clubs support their appointed manager in different ways: funding for new players, providing adequate training facilities to allow their players and team to develop, the list goes on. The BBC’s reporting of support for Rogers from Liverpool’s former chief executive Rick Parry is timely – Rogers and Liverpool will need to break out of the ‘storming’ phase of Tuckman’s model and reach the elevated standards of previous Liverpool teams


GE 2015: “A night is a long time in politics”

May 8, 2015

Tudor Rickards ‏@Tudortweet
On the first day of hustings the pollsters said to me:
There’s no party with a clear majorityTudor Rickards

One the third day of hustings Grant Shapps said to me:
You can’t believe their pledges but you can believe me

Tudor Rickards @Tudortweet · Apr 21
Nicola Sturgeon named as the most dangerous woman in Britain

Tudor Rickards @Tudortweet · Apr 24
English votes for English voters. The prospects for survival of the United Kingdom declines again.

Tudor Rickards @Tudortweet · May 2
On the last week of hustings the media brought to me
Red Ed derided
Dodgy undecided
Audience one-sided
On the very unbiased BBC

PiratePartyUK-Maria ‏@PiratePUKMaria May 8th
UK electoral system logic: @TheGreenParty got 1 Seat with as many votes as SNP (56 Seats) via @nblanchart Maybe they just counted the ballots wrong can we start again tomorrow?

The twelve hours that changed the British political scene

The General Election campaign took place over five weeks in which the polls stubbornly refused to predict anything but a hung parliament. At precisely 10pm on the 7th May 2015 a comprehensive exit poll announced that the Conservatives would win enough support to be to form a Government. By midnight, widespread disbelief turned to shocked acceptance of the prediction. By midday, Prime Minister Cameron was on his way the Buckingham Palace to announce to The Queen that he would be able to form a new Government unaided by other parties.

I was among those shocked by the unexpectedness of this exit poll, and then by the speed of subsequent events. My intention was to watch for a few hours for a general indication of how events were turning out, and maybe get a clearer idea in the early morning news bulletins.

As it turned out, the exit poll was more or less confirmed by the first few results. I went to bed having made the following notes.

Read the rest of this entry »


Murray v Kholschreiber, Madrid 2015. Questions for coaches

May 7, 2015

Andy Murray printwords[Notes prepared during the match as a mini-case for coaches with case questions]

May 2015: Andy Murray wins his first clay court Tennis title, in Munich, in a tight match against clay court specialist Phillip Kholschreiber. Can he continue his progress against the same opponent, again on clay in Madrid, a few days later?

Murray is least successful when playing on clay courts surfaces such as Munich and Madrid. He shares this relative weakness with British tennis players who have little experience of the surface as juniors. No Britain before Murray had won a ranking clay court tournament for nearly forty years.

The result at Munich was somewhat surprising, considering Murray’s weakness and Kholschreiber’s comparative advantage on the surface. The return in Munich offered a chance to see whether Murray might sustain the form h showed in Germany.

The context of the Madrid match

There are considerable factors to disconcert Murray. He was recently married with considerable accompanying media pressures. There have also been major changes to his coaching team.

Additional more immediate distractions included a bizarrely late start around one a.m., after inflexible scheduling. Bad for the players and arguably worse for spectators who would expect to be watching well into the early hours of the following day.

Early exchanges

Murray starts the faster and moves 3-0 with two breaks before dropping his own serve. Kholschreiber breaks back. Commentator Petchey, formerly Murray’s coach suggests his game plan was for an intense start which had been followed by a dip after the initial adrenaline rush.

Murray wins first set

Andy Murray retains aggressive but not over-aggressive play and holds break to win 6-4. Kohlschreiber demonstrates his strengths on this surface.

Second set

Both players playing well. Kholschreiber wins a brilliant lengthy rally and breaks at 2-0.

3-1

4-1 2.15 am. Stadium has nearly emptied. Murray holds. Slight dip by Kholschreiber. Drops serve.

4-3

Murray also drops serve with poor first- serve percentage

5-3 and closes out

Third Set

Murray holds a strongly-contested game. Murray breathes heavily at one stage,

Kholschreiber and Murray scramble. Kholschreiber makes last mistake.

2-0 to Murray who then holds serve to love

3-0

4-0 as Murray breaks easily.

5-0 as Murray holds

6-0 as Kholschreiber eventually capitulates.

Murray survives and overcomes an unusual set of problems, Kholschreiber eventually weakened both mentally and physically.

Questions for coaches

What factors would you consider in preparing Andy Murray for the match?

Murray appears to have started with a tactical plan. What do you think it might have been?

Why was the lower-ranked Kholschreiber considered a favourite before playing Murray in Madrid, even after his loss to Murray in Munich the previous week?

What aspects of Murray’s game might have contributed to the result in Madrid?


Mayweather’s secret boxing skills revealed by US Air Force psychologist

May 1, 2015

Floyd Mayweather’s boxing skills are placed under the analytical microscope by psychologist and former US Air Force force and White House Strategist Gary Kline

Floyd Mayweather’s fight with Manny Pacquiao is billed as the the richest bout in boxing history.

The contest itself is of considerable interest for students of sports management and promotion.I want to concentrate on a study made by author and psychologist Gary Klein in his recent book Seeing what others don’t .

Klein had been working on a theory of how insight occur. His interest in sport and boxing had prompted him to study an unexpected result of a fight between Mayweather and the British boxer Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton for the welterweight championship, also for the welterweight championship in Las Vagas [December, 2007].

The contestants had similar records. Neither had lost as a professional boxer.
Hatton was considered the more explosive puncher, Mayweather the consummate boxer.

Hatton’s power threatened Mayweather at the start, although Mayweather, according to Klein hung on, until with two rounds to go, Mayweather launched what Klein saw as a desperate but lucky punch from a defensive position, and with Hatton moving in. Lights out for Hatton.

The end of the fight was as surprising to Klein as it was to Ricky Hatton.

Was it just luck?

Klein took the video of the fight and analysed carefully and repeatedly what had happened. His original view was that he had witnessed a ‘get out of jail break’ by the American.

But as he looked more closely, he finds the pattern which he and Hatton had not. In the early rounds, Hatton’s fierce left hand sweeping hook damaged Mayweather. But Klein began to see how Mayweather pwas increasingly coping in defense. He was learning that the attack brought with it a weakness in defense and was waiting for the time to make his own reply.

It almost worked in round eight. Hatton, tiring, continued his plan, now against an opponent waiting. In round ten, Hatton continued his strategy against a prepared opponent. Mayweather took his second chance. Hatton lost on a technical knockout.

Klein suggested that Mayweather had also analyzed Hatton’s style in advance, but needed to learn it again from experience. It suggests how expertise is acquired.

Other examples

Other examples abound. The unexpected slice of luck may be open to another interpretation. It may be the reaction of a goal keeper saving a penalty, or a great tennis player ‘guessing where an opponent’s serve or reply is going or even a strong chess player playing a move likely to induce an error rather than a technically sounder move.

Klein suggests his own change of belief, from seeing a lucky punch, to seeing a process of experiential learning, weakens the ‘aha’ theory of insight.

It also helps those interested in the fight to see what is going on in a different light.


Katherine Viner faces big changes as the new Editor in Chief of the Guardian

May 1, 2015

Katherine Viner takes over a unique organization newspaper operation whose cultural influence [as parodied by Inspector Grim] belies its rocky finances and declining print circulation

In recent years, The Guardian has gained international attention for its part in the wikileaks drama. The business operates through The Scott trust, established to preserve the liberal values of its founders. As such, editorial appointments are made by the board, but after taking cognition of the result of a vote by its journalistic staff. Ms Viner won 53% of that vote.

The values do not include making money, which is just as well, because the Guardian doesn’t, at least not from its core print product.

Guardianistas

The new editor will be well aware of the long and distinguished history of the Guardian, through which it seen as a custodian of the moral compass of cultural correctness in the UK. As such, its faithful readers, the Guardianistas, are mocked satirically by Detective Inspector Derek Grim [in the you tube above] as being “Namby pamby wishy washy hoity toity, snotty snooty,” and as a personification of “political correctness gone mad”.

Preserving a culture

The history of the Guardian is briefly recounted in a 2002 article in the newspaper:

The Manchester Guardian was founded by John Edward Taylor in 1821, and was first published on May 5 of that year. The paper’s intention was the promotion of the liberal interest in the aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre and the growing campaign to repeal the Corn Laws that flourished in Manchester during this period. The Guardian was published weekly until 1836 when it was published on Wednesday and Saturday becoming a daily in 1855, when the abolition of Stamp Duty on newspapers permitted a subsequent reduction in cover price (to 2d) allowed the paper to be published daily.

The Guardian achieved national and international recognition under the editorship of CP Scott, who held the post for 57 years from 1872. Scott bought the paper in 1907 following the death of Taylor’s son, and pledged that the principles laid down in the founder’s will would be upheld by retaining the independence of the newspaper. CP Scott outlined those principals in a much-quoted article written to celebrate the centenary of the paper: “Comment is free, but facts are sacred… The voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard.”

Today’s paper is now utterly comfortable in its metropolitan clothes, but still with more than skin-deep liberal tendencies inherited from its Mancunian predecessor.

Its new editor in Chief faces challenges of all print media, but at least does not have a Proprietor and a board of activist shareholders urging her to place financial considerations before all others.


Walmart Store Closures, plumbing and a burst of conspiracy theories

April 26, 2015

Operation-Jade-Helm-is-real-USThe temporary closure of five Walmart Stores in the United States broke as a business story recently. It has developed into a full-blown conspiracy theory linked to secret military operations, and foreign invasion plans across the whole of Texas

[Author’s Note by TR: At times, a news story such as this one takes such a bizarre turn that I feel the need to assure readers that I have not fabricated any of the material reported]

The Walmart Stores closures

Walmart faces employee anger [March 2015] as five stores are peremptorily closed for several months.  This led to its involvement of a series of bizarre conspiracy theories.

The move is officially explained as a necessary one to deal effectively with serious ‘plumbing problems’. In total, Walmart laid off over two thousand workers.  A Fortune article [April 4th, 2015] summarized the industrial relations dispute:

Wal-Mart workers are fighting back against the retailer’s decision last week to close five stores in four states for what the company says are plumbing repairs. Last week, the retail giant, which employs 1.3 million workers in the United States, temporarily closed five stores—two in Texas and one each in California, Florida, and Oklahoma—for six months of plumbing repairs.

The closures gave workers just a few hours of notice that they were losing their jobs. The company provided two months of paid leave for both full-time and part-time workers. Employees could try to transfer to a different Walmart location during that time. Full-time workers who fail to find another Walmart job are eligible for severance starting June 19, but part-time workers aren’t entitled to that benefit. END

Workers at the company’s Pico Rivera, Calif. store who are associated with OUR Walmart, a group that advocates for better pay, say the closings are “retaliatory” in nature. They filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday, claiming that the termination of more than 500 employees constituted an unfair labor practice.

Background

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon was appointed in 2014 and has focused his plans on improved customer service. Over 500,000 workers received a minimum wage rise in February coupled with support for the company’s drive towards improved customer service. Although efforts are being taken to minimize redundancies, efficiency measures are intended to eliminate a layer of management

 Jade Helm 15 and conspiracy theories

The conspiracy theories prior to the Walmart involvement appear to have arisen from a large-scale military training operation scheduled for this summer, and code named Jade Helm 15. This was picked up by journalist Dylan Baddour. Writing in the Houston Chronicle [March 25th, 2015] Baddour’s headline was “Covert warfare coming to Texas sparks some fears of federal takeover” Baddour was broadly critical of the conspiracy, drawing attention to the long-time interest (obsession?) of another Texas-based TV and radio commentator Alex Jones, who has been warning the citizens of Austin of a government takeover for over a decade.

Baddour noted:

Plans for a 17-city Army Special Operations exercise in Texas stirred some ultra-right-wing fears of a government takeover in the Lone Star State, but local law enforcement say they’ve long been aware of the drill. Army Special Operation Command spokesman Mark Lastoria said soldiers would practice “emerging concepts in special operations warfare” .

Operation Jade Helm will bring a coalition of forces, including the Green Berets, SEALS, and special operations commands from the Air Force and Marines to Texas for two months of “realistic military training” in a simulated “hostile” territory between July and September this summer.

Among the planned exercises, soldiers will try to operate undetected amongst civilian populations in some towns and cities where residents will be advised to report any suspicious activity they notice as a means of testing the military’s effectiveness, said county law enforcement officials who had been briefed by the Army.

Baddour went on to explain the conspiracy theory reported under the headline Austin-based TV and radio commentator Alex Jones, who has been warning of a government takeover for decades, and reported the operation under the headline “feds preparing to invade Texas” after obtaining an unclassified Army document:

“We’ve got huge news ladies and gentlemen,” said Jones on his Sunday TV show. “They’re having Delta Force, Navy SEALS with the Army trained to basically take over.”

His biggest concern was Texas’ designation as a “hostile” territory on a map included in the Army document. “Texas is listed as a hostile sector, and of course, we are,” he said. “We’re here defending the republic.”

A swarm of followers picked up Jones’ reports of the impending invasion, but the exercise had actually been reported months before by local newspapers

Walmart’s involvement in the conspiracy
The Walmart closures started to be ‘explained’ as part of the conspiracy .  The stores were appropriated and converted into underground bunkers.  The mass plumbing claimed by the firm was no more than a mask behind which were to be found sinister  military activities.
On this, the theorists split into those suspecting the operation was a simulation of an invasion by an alien power, and those believing that a real and present Invasion has begun.
 No big deal

An initial search took me to parts of the web I rarely visit.  Then I found a balanced account in The Washington Post. What seems to have set off the conspiracy theorists is the designation by the military during the Jade Helm 2015 operation of large parts of Texas as foreign-held territory.  At some point, reported facts became part of wilder assumptions.

 Interesting.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Twitter Manifesto

April 23, 2015

ManifestoGood morning and welcome to the launch of the Twitter Manifesto. I speak on behalf of our great spiritual leader Stephen who is fasting for forty days as a gesture of his humility

He has trusted groundlings such as myself to capture his will (if not his incomparable wit) in presenting our Manifesto to the world.

Today is a further step forward to millions of tweeters who until now have no representation in any Parliament outside the twittersphere. Our pledge is to work towards a referendum for an independent Twittersphere.

The digital click

We seek a poll  based on a simple digital yes or no click, on the question:

Should The Twittersphere be granted complete political and economic independence from any outside influences?

Our Manifesto outlines the overwhelming case for a yes vote, and the steps we, The Twitter Nationalist Party, intend to take, to secure such an outcome

Our triumphal journey

First, I would like to indicate the enormous strides taken by twitter as the dominant global communication movement over the last ten years. Since our inception in 2006 by founding fathers Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass we have gained worldwide popularity.

The ecstatic formation

The conception took in a pronged day of ecstatic frenzy held by board members of the podcasting company Odeo. Within months, the enlightened ones had formed Obvious Corporation and acquired Odeo, together with its assets.

By 2012 our 100 million users were posting 340 million tweets every day. EVERY DAY. Now, at the start of 2015, we are proud to report that number has grown to an incredible 500 million users, over half of whom are dedicated and serial tweeters.

From Larry to Twitter Bird

In that year, we unveiled the replacement to the beloved Larry the Bird with an updated icon we have called “Twitter Bird” .

Our triumph over naysayers

In 2014 we triumphed over a cynical world of naysayers who doubted that we had a business model, and launched our glorious Initial Public offering.

Over a tumultuous decade, we  have overcome many setbacks. Vicious and spiteful individuals attempted to abuse our high moral intentions with outbursts of malicious trolling.

Our achievements

Twitter has been used to organize protests, sometimes referred to as “Twitter Revolutions”, which include the Egyptian revolution, (2011) The Arab Spring, (2009–2010) and other outburst of e-activism. Twitter has proved itself as an effective emergency communication system for breaking news. For example, The Boston Police tweeted news of the arrest of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing suspect through our services.

Today, Twitter is used in scientific studies to track epidemics and acts to signal natural disasters such as bush fires.

Truly, Twitter is the global political movement of the future, and I commend it to all for your support in achieving our noble goals.

And now for your questions

Thank you. And now for your questions, (in no more than 140 characters, please).


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