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Brian Glanville

Greg Dyke, top man at the FA. A great force for change or just one more boring blowhard? His recent “state of the nation” address hardly excited or inspired. Not least his refusal to come out on the side of the Premier League and Richard Scudamore who are logically dead against having the 2022 World Cup played in winter in Qatar and obviously appalled by any prospect of it being staged in the 50 degree heat of a Qatar summer.

After a surprising hiatus it emerged that Dyke didn’t want that either, but relations between FA and Premiership already seem pretty fragile and if as seems all too dismally likely wretched FIFA votes to play the tournament in winter, confusion and confrontation will surely ensue.

Just how Dyke interprets his present lofty post is somewhat puzzling. He didn’t bother to turn up for the recent England v Ukraine game in Kiev not even for a recent match at Wembley. “Other engagements” were seemingly responsible but what other engagements, given that he is now Chairman of the FA?

That supposedly keynote speech contained more hot air than solid proposals. He sets England the “goal” of winning the World Cup wherever it might be, in 2022 when he will not even be in office. Nor will he at the time of another target: the semi finals (only those?) of the European championship of 2020.

He is of course setting up a committee or commission involving chairmen of the Premier and Football League, League Managers Association and Professional Footballers Association who could all pull in different directions. Nor in this context was it reassuring to note that Richard Scudamore, the head honcho of the Premiership got a very late invitation indeed.

Yes of course Dyke is perfectly right about the excessive presence of foreign players in the Premiership. Counter arguments have been somewhat deviously presented stressing the high preponderance of British players in youth teams, which seems sadly irrelevant.

Yes too to Dyke’s insistence that we need more and better coaching, but where are those coaches to come from? Already we have embarrassingly fewer than they do in Germany and Spain but even if the number is hugely increased, what guarantee is there that they will be any good? Remember that the ineffable Charlie Hughes poisoned the wells of English coaching for years with his ludicrous outmoded long ball policies, and one assumes a good many of those brainwashed misguided coaches are still around.

AS for the PFA, the decision to support Gordon Taylor in office surely strips it of any validity. Again it would be hard and unfair to castigate Gordon Taylor the hugely rewarded chief executive for his disastrous, monumentally expensive betting habit; that as always is something for the psychiatrist. But to inveigh simultaneously against the dangers of betting to his members surely – to put it as mildly as possible – was a sublime example of double think.

Now we have Clarke Carilsle a senior PFA executive thundering against the iniquities of the game in his new autobiography. But motes and beams, as the Bible has it. If he is such a staunch supporter of truth and justice, how can he subscribe to the maintenance of Taylor in office?

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Now we hear that Pep Guardiola would like to have been made manager of the England team but that the FA preferred an Englishman: in the event, Roy Hodgson.

We knew already that Chelsea would have like to have him but that probably wisely he chose not to enter the revolving door. Now he is at Bayern Munich which never seemed an ideal choice for him or the club. Seldom less so on the recent occasion of that “prestige” European match in Prague against Chelsea.

True, Guardiola shakily maintained his record of beating Jose Mourinho’s teams – though not in the important case of Inter – but it was a fragile victory. Acquired against an opponent reduced to ten men and even then only on the shabby irrelevance of penalties.

The word from Germany is that his Bayern players are less than enchanted with his methods and how you wonder could it be otherwise. At Barcelona, Guardiola had been an outstanding player who took over as coach a club with an outstanding system, bringing players through virtually from boyhood in a specific, highly sophisticated style. How could the seasoned internationals of Bayern, a club holding the European Cup, be expected to fit into such a system? And if Guardiola could scarcely hope to impose it, what kind of compromise might be feasible?

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Talking of autobiographies Ztalan Ibrahimovic in his ferociously assails Pep Guardiola for whom he unhappily played at Barcelona, calling him a coward, maintaining that for all the 20 goals he scored for Barcelona he was shamefully treated.

There are more violent episodes in the book than even in the autobiography of Paolo Di Canio. For Zlatan, the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi were submissive schoolboys. But the ultimate proof of the pudding is in the eating and these three made Barca formidable.

By Brian Glanville

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