Friday, 24 November 2017

Just because you're paranoid...

On a recent edition of Swans podcast The Jack Cast, one of the presenters described Swansea City as 'Circling the plughole' which for me is a pretty good metaphor for where we are right now.

It seems wherever you look there is discontent, conspiracy theories and a whole lot of mess, from on the pitch to behind the scenes and also with the Swans Trust.

I've been wanting to write a 'state of things' piece for a while now as a follow up to the ones I did last season, I've been waiting for things to calm down but that doesn't look like happening any time soon and chances are this will be out of date as soon as it's done but here it is anyway.

The Trust
To lose two Chairman in a week makes the managerial situation over recent years seem like the height of stability.  Whatever the full reasons for this, there's no doubt that we have gone from the Trust looking (at least from the outside) united on the plan to accept the deal to sell 5 of their 21% stake to a situation where rumour and paranoia is rife.

Although people will have their own opinion on the merits of selling vs. legal action, I've no doubt that the vote was influenced by the strong recommendation to sell from the Trust board.

By influenced, I'm not suggesting anything underhand, just that they will have been the one's privy to legal advice and knowledge of all other factors and when making a decision, you'd have to respect their thoughts on the situation.

Personally at the time I agreed that the thought of taking and losing legal action and spending a fair chunk of the £800k the Trust currently has felt too much of a risk vs having a guaranteed £5m plus rights to be included in future sales etc.,

Even if legal advice was that you were (for example) 80% likely to win, would you take the risk? The share payment after tax etc., would be a good amount although it'd take the side going down to league 1 or worse before it'd be anywhere near a meaningful amount to be able to take control of the club.

If the relationship/negotiations got to a stage where Phil the previous Chairman felt it necessary to resign due to him feeling that he could no longer recommend the deal, no matter what final deal gets agreed, the concept of a 'good working relationship' with the new owners seems difficult if not impossible and that for me tips the balance between taking the offer and legal action.

Valuing a club is obviously a difficult task but when the offer was made the thought of spending c£5m for 5% probably didn't seem as big of an issue to the new owners as it does now when according to the bookies we've got around a 60% chance of going down.

The New Owners

There's plenty of good talk from the new owners about the fans being the real stakeholders but when push comes to shove they are here to make money and while the aim will be to have a win-win of a successful (and valuable team), if it comes to a stage where a decision needs to be made that is right for them financially but bad for the club, I'm sure it'll be tough shit.

When I registered in the Summer after the playoffs, I noticed it had been previously registered (and left to lapse) by a Charlton fan which for me is a warning from the past.  Even if Kaplan/Levien turn out to be relatively reasonable guys, who knows who they'll end up selling to.

I'm a bit surprised around the general happy tone around the news that the Swans are looking to take on the lease for the Liberty.  As said before, the current situation at the club is fertile ground for paranoia but for me it doesn't seem something that's a particularly pressing issue.

As things stand there's no doubt out of the Council, the Swans and the Ospreys, it's the Swans that are bringing in the revenue, but if the Stadium naming rights for example are to be sold, I don't see why the three parties can't agree how much each should get without having to mess about with the lease.

The main argument that may be brought up is it enabling Stadium expansion to go ahead.  Personally I think that ship has long sailed, you may get 30k turning up for a game against Man Utd, but even if staying in the Premier League I think crowds above 24-25k would be a rarity without the playing style and results changing drastically.

If you could click your fingers and increase capacity by 2-3k that'd be great to enable a bit of movement to help friends/family sit together and attract more younger fans but I don't see the demand to justify the cost of expansion when for this and the previous 2 seasons there's been a real threat of relegation.

I don't think everything they have done is bad - the new App is good and changing the website so it's no longer white text on a black background which looked terrible are good if relatively minor things but things such as ticket pricing for friendlies/league cup games and the potential moving of the Vice Presidents Club members do leave a bad taste (update here includes some quotes from the club which don't do them any favours PR wise).

This is where we are now, they're not some malevolent dictatorship out to wreak misery, but if upsetting a few people is needed to help the finances then so be it.

I don't think any owners that buy Sam Clucas when already overloaded with midfielders can be seen as asset strippers, but there's no doubt they will have a number of exit plans based on where we are next season.

If we go down there's no logical reason for making us anywhere near favourites to come back up, maybe they'll have one shot at it to get back when the next TV deal starts.  Much was made of them being able to improve the club by 'working smarter', you could argue that getting £45m for Gylfi was incredible business (EDIT - since writing that it's come out that fee was a fair bit less after Spurs' sell on fee and what Everton actually paid so probably closer to £35m.) but in terms of purchases things have been less impressive.

The Team

Whether it's Clement not wanting Mesa in the first place and not picking him out of spite, or if Mesa has been unprofessional in training or off the field, there's no doubt that Clement has little time for him. Seeing as Clement could be out the door well before the January transfer window comes round (or even by the time you read this), there's always the chance of a new manager and a clean slate for Mesa.

The situation with Leon being drafted in to the coaching set-up is a weird one, at the moment he's in this limbo between being fit enough to train as a player but not being part of the 18 man matchday squad.

Having a player manager is a rarity these days but at least in that situation you know who the boss is, for Britton he'll be involved in coaching players he'll feel he should be playing ahead of and you've also got the fact that any playing contract for next years depends on number of appearances he'll make, coming back to the theme of conspiracy theories, the appointment could be a way of softening the blow of telling Leon they don't want to play him enough this season to trigger next season's contract and save themselves £2-3m.

I have no doubt Leon will make a great coach, and quite possibly an excellent manager but right here, right now it's a bit of an odd one and feels more like the club using the love for Leon to create some positive news.

Obviously as a stats guy I'm interested in what influence Dan Altman has on the side, it's always difficult to judge who was or wasn't a numbers signing but the only one that feels stats based was Mesa although this post on Planet Swans mentions a couple of names it was rumoured he recommended.

As Dan is high profile within the football analytics world it's always funny to see people trying to pin Swans transfer activity (good and bad) on him e.g., Martin Olsson when we'd be interested in him for ages.  In reality though I'd imagine the old guard are (or at least were) far more influential, over the last couple of months the odd negative story around transfer policy has come out which could signal a change of approach come January.

Transfer wise you consider Bony and Clucas to be two £30m signings or the signing of someone who was worth nearly £30m 3 years ago and has hardly played since and a kid who may well be wondering how the hell he ended up in Swansea.  There's still time for both to have a big impact on the season but the clock is ticking.

Jack to a King
For me, the production of Jack to a King was the beginning of the downward spiral, the thing about it that bothers me most is that its production was paid for out of club money but it was presented as a great story that had to be made.

If you're being generous, you could argue that keeping the fact quiet that it was essentially a club funded advert (or sales brochure) gives it a level of buzz you wouldn't get if you knew who was picking up the bill for the production.

As of accounts released last year, there's still £891k due back to the club in the form of repaying an interest free loan, the latest accounts will be due in the next few days but I'd be surprised if the amounts change too much as I can't imagine DVD sales have been that hot over the last 18 months.

There's been a fair amount of sniping (and subtweeting - I'm assuming comments about chickens coming home to roost were about the troubles at the Trust rather than any impending return for chicken lover Joe Allen) between those involved with the old regime and those in the Trust and other fans.  What was the truth of how the share sale was arranged, who knew what and when, only a handful of people truly know.

I don't blame the old owners for selling or even keeping it quiet as it's a life changing amount of money for most of them.  The statement from their legal team mentions being 'discreet' and depending on your thoughts on the situation you can consider that any way you want.

I'd rather though not hear the 'next level' guff that came as a result of the sale and I think Judge Judy put it best.

Where do we go from here

To avoid being to doom and gloom about things, it may be a mess but not all is lost.  On the field while the squad is heavy in central midfield and thin on the flanks, there's just about a half-decent first team still available as seen in this tweet:

Clement's not totally finished but it'll take a big improvement for him to see January (sorry the positivity didn't last long).  A lot of the situation isn't his fault, but I don't think he's the right man for now.  A lot of it is a question of intangibles, I'd imagine if you moved Clement to West Ham, Bilic to Everton and Koeman to the Swans then all would improve over their clubs early season form.  Sometimes it's a case of someone different rather than someone better (at least in the short term).

Ultimately though, more important than on-field is what happens with the Trust as what happens over the next few months will help shape where the club is in 5 years time.  The Trust needs to get to a position where it is the first point of contact for all fans and positioned as the true heart of the club.

Possible areas where this could be done include:

  • Communications manager - Current trust rules suggest no board members to be paid, personally I feel employing someone for 2-3 days a week (on a proper salary, not just for the love of it) to drive contact with fans, drive membership etc., could easily pay for itself.  I'd imagine working on the Trust can be an almighty ball-ache at times (especially times like these) and expecting people to do this work on top of day job/family etc., is pretty tough. Someone whose sole job it is to spread the word can help to drive things forward
  • Build the brand - this is probably the wanky kind of stuff the club itself will come up with, but it's true.  'Not Just Another Football Club' is dead and buried now we're ultimately owned by Swansea Football LLC registered in Delaware but the Trust can still claim to be run by fans for fans

  • Be a bit more militant - It's not a case of demanding fan protests every match, but part of the problem of being a large (but not large enough) shareholder is that rocking the boat is awkward.  If the new owners look to change something and they get the odd grumble here and there then that's not going to stop them, a block of several thousand Trust members acting together however could keep them more 'honest'

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Lawro: Master Bayesian

With another season over I wanted to look again at the accuracy of Mark Lawrenson's predictions in the Premier League.  I've been doing this for a number of years now, starting with an analysis of the 2012/13 season and I'm always amazed at how well he does.

At face value, Lawro's table based on his weekly predictions for the BBC look a bit ridiculous, not least his prediction that Liverpool would go through the season unbeaten:
League Table of Lawro's predictions (via BBC Sport)
If you'd used his selections and placed £10 on his predicted result (Home/Draw/Away), you'd have made £501.50 profit from 368 matches (I've excluded the 12 rearranged games) and actually made a small £7.45 profit on his Liverpool predictions.

Lawro's 92 points prediction for Liverpool may seem a bit extreme but you have to consider that this is built up from a series of individual predictions rather than a single prediction of their points total.  In any single game it may make sense to not predict Liverpool will lose (even if you put aside the fact he's an ex Liverpool player).

I previous years most of Lawro's profit has been derived from sitting on the fence more than the average punter and taking advantage of the fact that draws are often overpriced as people in general want to back a winner rather than a stalemate.

This year however, his profit (and I'm sure what has been a bit of a hit on the Bookies in general) comes from the fact that the bigger teams have got their act together and this season has very much been a two-tier league (or 3 if you consider Everton in no-man's land on their own).

If I had to summarise what I thought made Lawro successful all these years, I think it's the fact that he isn't too swayed by short term noise and to some extent you could largely predict his predictions from early on in the season (not least the scorelines used)

For years now, Lawro's kept a pretty simple system and almost always predicts a draw as being 1-1 rather than 0-0 or 2-2, as mentioned in previous years this makes sense as it makes you more likely to be closer to the true result as although betting wise predicting 1-1 when a match finishes 2-1 is no closer to being right than predicting 0-0 it 'feels' closer
The difficultly of any prediction system or model is how much to weight the recent past vs. more historical data. e.g., Is form over the last 1/3/12 games more predictive than what happened last season or even further back.

A great example of this would be Leicester, although a serious title defence was always going to be incredibly unlikely, their results under Ranieri could also be considered to be somewhat surprising.

Obviously clubs don't work in a vacuum and changing managers impacts things (both positively and negatively I can tell you as a Swans fan), but trying to judge whether something is an outlier or the new normal is hard.

People often talk about things 'regressing to the mean' but the whole issue with that is it assumes you've predicted the right mean to start with but as Lawro's predictions have proved over the years, having an opinion and sticking with it isn't the worst strategy in the world.

I'd like to thank MyFootballFacts for collating the Lawro results each week and for collating results and betting odds, both are great resources.

It's still a work in progress but I've used the info from the Football-Data site to create an interactive dashboard of shots taken/faced by each team:

Twitter: @we_r_pl

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Llorente: Lion King

With just 2 games left, it's going to require a huge team effort to get over the line and although I'd love to think we'll be safe by Sunday afternoon, I think it'll go down to the final game. One of the key things that's even kept us in with a chance is the goal scoring of Fernando Llorente.

Over the course of his career, Llorente has focused on doing his work 6-10 yards out from goal which is a large reason why any criticism of his sprint stats is misguided. As with any stat, context is king and Llorente's relative lack of sprinting isn't the sign of a lazy player, more one who is doing what he's good at and what he's been told to do. If you used him for an aggressive press you'd end up with the worst of both worlds, it wouldn't be very effective and you'd also then knacker him out making him less effective.

Llorente's shot location in the League games over the last 5 seasons, focused on the danger zone
For the Swans, the location map is pretty similar, he has 13 goals from his 50 shots with anything long range at a minimum:
Majority of Llorente's activity is within 10 yards of goal
Not surprisingly, an awful lot of that shot activity are headers with 35 of Llorente's 50 shots (and 7 of his 13 goals) coming via his head.
Opta have reclassified his goal v Everton as 'Other Body Part' but I'm keeping it as a header
Llorente using his head a lot is no big surprise but the fact that 70% of his attempts were headers actually puts him quite a way out in front of 'similar' players (Rondon 42%, Benteke 47% and Crouch 50%), also no surprise that he has more headed shots than today's opponent Jermain Defoe but was interesting that 0 of Defoe's 96 attempts have been headers.

One thing that should be highlighted though is the comparison with Llorente's fellow Spaniard Baston. Looking at things now, Llorente seems a massive success (and supposedly coveted by Chelsea during the Jan transfer window) and Baston a flop.

Comparing their figures though, Baston has scored 1 goal in his 549 Premier League minutes. The fact that those minutes are spread across 18 games (athough only 4 starts) makes it feel as if he's had plenty of chances and not taken them.

As a comparison, in the first 549 league minutes Llorente played, he also scored only 1 goal. You could argue it's taken time for Llorente to settle in and for the team to work out how to make the most of him but surely you could put the same case forward for Baston.

Whether he'll come good at some point is difficult to tell but certainly too soon to write him off, even if this season (at least so far) has been a bit of a waste for him.

Opta Data via Statszone, Whoscored  Squawka

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Swans 200: Swans Managers compared

Monday night sees the arrival of Swansea's 200th game in the Premier League. I'm fully aware that Swansea City existed before the Premier League but it's still quite an achievement for the club to now be in its 6th consecutive season in the Premier League even if the money and notoriety that brings seems to have poisoned an awful lot of the club.

Away from off-field matters, I've started to look at a number of stats around our time in the Premier League so far, the first one being performance by manager:

When looking at a rolling 38 game period (i.e., the equivalent of a league season), there have been some ups and downs. Laudrup's league activity started well but started to dip shortly before the League Cup final and at the time of his sacking Swansea had taken 36 points from their previous 38 games which is arguably the kind of tally that would get you relegated if in a single season.

The high point came towards the end of Monk's full season in charge (2014-15) when the figure was 59 points from a 38 game period.

At the time of Monk's sacking Swansea had 48 points from the previous 38 games which is pretty much the average for Swansea's time in the PL as a whole.

Guidolin was in charge for 24 games (although was ill for part of that time and question how much influence he would have had for what was technically his 1st game vs. Watford), but during his tenure, Swansea's 38 game average never went higher than 49 or lower than 42.

When split by manager, the thing that stands out is that Rodgers had 47 points from his season in the Premier League with the Swans and that's pretty the same rate for the 161 games (46.3 points per 38 games). For the last 5 seasons at least, Swansea have been an upper mid-table team with a variance of a few points either way.

Whether an underwhelming couple of transfer windows have changed all that we'll find out in the next few months or possibly sooner if things don't start to improve.

For anyone interested, an interactive version of the 38 game rolling average by manager is below (and also available here if any problems or you want to view full screen).

Monday, 10 October 2016

Giggs, Savage and Content: The New Numbers Game

Media and Journalism are a far different thing today to the past, as referenced in Simon Kuper's excellent piece on the change:
Part of Kuper's piece which is well worth a read
What's this got to do with Swansea City? If you haven't already seen it, Robbie Savage's piece on why Swansea should have 'Given it to Giggsy'  is probably a masterpiece of the new world of 'content'.

Balanced and nuanced debate generally get you nowhere, it's more important that you are heard (and read) than what you actually have to say.

Savage's piece came out on Friday around 8pm, with the Mirror itself tweeting about it, then the man himself (along with a subsequent tweet on Saturday morning).  As they used a Bitly link it's possible to see the kind of level of activity it got:
These figures are for clicks for this link only so won't include activity which directly refers to the Mirror's URL (of which there'll be plenty), but these alone are fairly impressive when you think usually any response from a tweet dies out within 15 minutes (if not sooner) unless it goes viral.  If you put the article link  into the search for twitter you'll see a couple of Mirror journalists promoting it, alongside plenty of people linking to it in tweets saying that Savage has lost the plot.

The following day, Football 365 did a fantastic bit by bit takedown of Savage's argument:
The main thing to note here is the retweet volume, over a thousand retweets where they'd normally get double digits so what we are left with is:
  • Man with reputation for saying daft things, says something daft, gets a reaction
  • Someone points out daft things have been said, everyone laughs at daft man
  • Someone points out that some people have pointed out that daft man has said daft things
I'm fully aware that I'm at the back of this human centipede of content, but ultimately people get the content they deserve.

Back on a Swans focus with regards to Giggs, he was being reported as possible target as early as Sep 21st in this Telegraph piece with Huw Jenkins apparently keen but the new owners less so, fast forward a few weeks and Rory Smith's article in the New York Times is almost falling over itself to stress how much Bradley is Huw's man:

It is Bradley’s job to quell that doubt and disprove that charge. He has started well. Of the three who conducted the interviews, it was Jenkins — Welsh through and through — who was arguably most impressed by the American, won over by the range of his experience and the clarity of his vision. Bradley still has questions to face, but Jenkins, for one, is convinced he will find the answers.

It may well be that Bradley impressed more than Giggs at interview (given Bradley's first press conference, there's no doubt the guy likes to talk), but the thing that concerns me earlier is that earlier in that Rory Smith piece a source at the club is perfectly happy to insinuate that one of the other interviewee's (presumably Giggs) basically just said that the players need to run around more.

It's easy to laugh at that, but coupled with their lack of communication with the Trust and the fact that they are currently using Talksport rather than other channels to speak to the fan base still leaves a lot of questions about their behaviour.

For more on the new owners, there's an earlier piece here, and also one on the old board and the Swans Trust.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Swans review pt2 - Swans Trust and Old Shareholders

Following on from part 1, where I looked at the background, comments and possible motivations of the new shareholders this part was initially going to be a bit more in-depth but recent events have overtaken that but wanted to get this out anyway:

Old Shareholders

While there's an enormous amount of credit in the bank for the work (and financial input) from the old shareholders there's plenty in the last 12 months to feel aggrieved about.

Although both the sackings of Monk and Guidolin could to differing extents be justified, both were handled pretty badly.

Monk's in terms of making him take training even through everyone knew he was finished and Guidolin for the case of re-hiring him in the summer then pulling the plug effectively after 5 league games and leaving him to deal with the (not-so quiet) whispers of the last couple of weeks.

Being a shareholder at Swansea City in recent times must have been like balancing an uninsured Ming vase on your head: technically you're a rich man but one slip and you're just left with a mess to clear up.

Personally, rather than the 'Taking Swansea to the next level' stuff I'd rather they were honest and said it was a life changing amount of money you can't really say no to and it was time to get out while the going was good.

The fact that the sale went ahead largely without the Trust's knowledge suggests the shareholders didn't want anyone rocking the boat which when you consider the sums of money involved I can understand. It's one thing to say you'd do the decent thing but to be honest in the same situation I'd be tempted to do the same.

It does however leave the question of how much of a selling tool Jack to a King was, given it appears to have been funded by an interest free £1.2m loan from the club, it may be that ticket + DVD sales and other rights bring a decent return and the club breaks even and gets its money back but question is how much of Jack to a King was to promote the Swansea message and how much to help draw in a buyer?  Given the number of messages from the club about how tough things are financially this seems like an expensive vanity project at best.

The Trust
I think the Trust have a pretty much impossible job, although 21% brings some rights and influence ultimately if people don't want to deal with you then you have no way to force them through the normal legal channels.

This from Trust Chairman Phil Sumbler on the Planet Swans forum was interesting and an insight into the difficulties the Trust face, say too much and be accused of washing your dirty laundry in public, or on the other hand risk others thinking you're saying too little and being ineffective.

They are also in the difficult position now of not being in desperate need for members financially in terms of what £10 memberships can bring in when they have several hundred thousand pounds from club dividends and also have to answer the question 'What difference will my membership make if the Trust get ignored?'

Arguably that's precisely the reason the Trust needs a strong membership, this may all end up a fuss over nothing or it could be the start of something quite messy for which a strong and vocal Trust is required. If you want to join, you can sign up online here

Ultimately a large part of what made Swansea City different and in the words of their own marketing 'Not just another football club' has gone.  That doesn't mean that everything will now fall apart, Bradley's not an idiot even if he's not the most inspiring choice, the squad is OK if not great and I'd put us to finish around 14th-16th.

If you wanted to place blame for where we are now I wouldn't put too much of it at the door of the new owners as things stand. It's not time for the burning pitchforks just yet but they've certainly a fair amount of convincing to do.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Swans review pt1 - The New Owners

For some, the glass is always half full and 'In Huw we trust', for others we're on the fast track to oblivion as the yanks slowly screw us.

As always the reality is somewhere in between, but for me there's no doubt that the amount of spin 'keep the faith' messaging has increased over recent months, although I would agree with Lee Trundle's view that being overly negative can end up impacting the team a hammering v Chelsea next time out and things could get toxic, even if that's being unfair.

In this piece (and subsequent parts) I'll look at the various areas of concern and try and take an objective view, for me neither blind faith or blind panic will get you far.

The New Owners
The biggest problem the new owners have is that while at face value they are saying the right things, these things are also the kind of soundbites that you'd trot out to keep the plebs happy the way a rock band might say this was the best night of the tour.

"We were driving down the M4 and thought they knew how to support a team in Cardiff, but no-one rocks like Swansea!"

For what it's worth I don't think their asset strippers (although they are obviously here to make a profit). A bit like with privatisation, the aim is to exploit inefficiencies and both be more profitable and provide a better service (in the Swans case I guess that'd be consistently 8th-13th with maybe the odd cup run).

If we assume club was valued at £100m, then the controlling stake would have cost £68m.  I've no idea what kind of return an investor would expect given the potential risks but I can't imagine it'd be less than 5% so you'd want to make £4-5m a year on average either through regular payments or by selling the club on in perhaps 3 years time when the next TV deal comes in.

TV Rights have exploded in last 2 rounds of bidding, the new owners will hope competition from Google or other online firms could drive it even further
The term investors has been used for Kaplan/Levien and is both correct and misleading. If I invest in a property, I'm an investor, but you as my tenant may see no difference now that I'm your landlord. Other than putting enough in (if required) to keep the Swans in the Premier League I don't see them putting in their own money just to move the club up a place or two in the league.

There will be some that will say 'Look at Leicester' but by that argument you could say 'Look at Blackburn/Villa/Charlton' or, God forbid, Blackpool.

In their interview with the BBC they talk about being 'faster, smarter, craftier' and while from the outside a lot of clubs look like their being run by monkeys with dartboards, most will be using data in one form or another.

One possible ray of light in this area is that analytics firm 21st Club were involved in the due diligence when buying the club and are a smart set of people (see press release). Although I have no idea how involved they are in our transfer business, this from one of their analysts at the start of last season about Eder made me smile in retrospect given his season (even if he did end up scoring the winner in Euro 2016).

From 21st Club, a basic, 'Reasons to get X' with Eder as an outlier (not in a good way)
The new owners talk about the club no longer being 'a stepping stone', but that to me sounds like a load of nonsense, if Borja for example has a good season then he'll be off somewhere else for £25-30m next season.

There are a few ways to avoid being a 'stepping stone':
  • Become so good that there's nowhere better to go (this is unlikely)
  • Don't sign players where you're punching above your weight, just get those without too much upward potential or ambition.
Bony/Ayew are good examples of players using the Swans as a stepping stone, I don't see being talented, driven and ambitious as a negative.  If you want a player to have a major impact on the team, it's inevitable that those higher up will show an interest, you can't have a team full of 'unsung heroes'.

I'm delighted that Gylfi has stayed, but I'd imagine his contract has more Clauses than a reunion at a Father Christmas training school.

Landon Donovan's role is a bit of a strange one, this quote from that linked interview with him doesn't fill me with the greatest of confidence:

“The new owners met with me a few months back and said this is likely going to happen and admitted that they didn’t know a lot about football and said ‘we know that you know the game and you’re passionate about it, you played at Everton, spent time in world football and sort of understand it a little better, would you be willing to help us, advise us and consult with us on certain things?’ I said yeah, that would be great and that’s something I am certainly open to."

The above sounds a bit like an attempt to get the face of a 'Friendly American' out there to try and placate people rather than a real in-depth involvement (at least for now, especially since first writing this he has now signed up for LA Galaxy).  As I said earlier, sensible ideas and cynical plans look very similar so time will tell, with regards to analytics, Wales Online yesterday reported a revamp of recruitment methods including a more analytical approach.

Subsequent parts (whenever I get round to it) will look at the old board, the team, the transfer window, finances and where we go from here.