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|Immigration, the non-issue of this election. I wonder why?|
at 16:46 10 Dec 2019
Strange isn’t it, that given that immigration was THE central issue during the Brexit referendum that is hasn’t featured at all in this campaign. All the more remarkable given the dramatic changes that have occurred in net migration since June 2016. At that point in time EU net immigration was 189,000, just below non-EU net immigration, at 196,000. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/inter
In just 3 years the situation has completely transformed. EU net immigration has reduced dramatically to 48,000 – i.e. a quarter of the level at the time of the referendum. Net immigration from non-EU countries in the meantime has continued to climb – now standing at 229,000, or nearly 5 times the rate of EU net immigration. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/inter
You would really think that this dramatic change of circumstances would figure in some way in this election campaign, wouldn’t you? For instance, has anybody bothered to ask the question of the Tories “If you’re so concerned about net immigration then why, in the nearly 10 years you’ve been in power, haven’t you implemented a points based immigration system for non-EU citizens?”. You’d almost be forgiven for thinking that the Tories are obsessed with EU immigration specifically. I wonder why?
|Partizan Belgrade vs Connah's Quay Nomads|
at 20:58 1 Aug 2019
Attack versus defence, with CQN very lucky not to concede a farcical goal before half time, when a CQN free kick was passed direct to a Partizan player three yards away with the goalie 20 yards outside his box. Only a desperate last-ditch challenge averted a goal.
I suspect a lot of CQN players will go down injured second half. Time wasting? Nah - just to get the CQN physio on. Watch it on S4C and you'll see what I mean.
at 16:17 27 May 2019
I'd love to see us sign him, albeit that it would be a risky signing given his injury history. In terms of technical ability he's Premier League quality, but he's got a great attitude and good defensive attributes. Given that he'd be available on a free we'd be foolish not to take the modest gamble (financially) of him not being available due to injury.
|FA Cup goal of the tournament - vote now|
at 13:27 20 May 2019
James' and Celina's goals are both in the list. I know I'm biased but pretty much all the goals are superb strikes, whereas Celina's effort was a superb team move culminating in a superb finish. A bit annoying that the clip doesn't show how the move started with Nordfeldt.
Delofeu's effort in the semis is currently leading the way. A beauty for sure - but a single well executed action shouldn't trump a perfect team goal.
[Post edited 20 May 2019 13:27]
at 17:09 19 May 2019
When the speculation started about the who the new Swansea manager came out the names mentioned seemed to be a mix of who is currently available, Welsh managers and sundry managers who have been around the block a number of times. So the likes of Pulis (ticks all three boxes), Flynn and Allardyce have been mentioned and/or featured in the early odds. I don't think even the American owners would appoint any of these, not that I can be entirely confident of that. But for us to appoint the likes of Pulis, Flynn or Allardyce would be utter stupidity. That's not to denigrate their abilities - Flynn in particular has impressed me. It's just that none of these would be at all suitable for the Swansea job. In fact, we might as well close the academy immediately (that's not a suggestion by the way) because it would be a complete waste of money.
What these ridiculous suggestions highlight is the paramount importance of appointing a manager that can continue the excellent job done by Potter this season and make proper use of the players coming out of our academy. Hopefully, we can identify an unknown but up-and-coming manager from Germany or the Netherlands. I'm not holding my breath on that. Failing that Cameron Toshack ticks most of the boxes.
Firstly he knows and understands the qualities of the academy youngsters and presumably has a good rapport with them. This could help us keep at least some of our most promising youngsters on board for a while yet. There should also be a fair degree of continuity in terms of playing style. When Toshack has appeared as a match day summariser he's stood out for the excellence and quality of his analysis, in sharp contrast to most of the alternatives. For comparison, even though Leon was one of the better pundits his comments did tend to be a bit bland and lacking in depth. Toshack was also noticeably reluctant to criticise the players, a diplomatic streak that I didn't expect from him, given who his dad is, but a quality that would earn him a lot of respect in the dressing room.
If I were to make one criticism of Toshack it would be that he lack a bit of hwyl, perhaps a bit too cerebral. But his calmness could be offset by a more animated assistant. Not that Leon is particularly excitable - but he could be a decent foil to Toshack, while he gets his coaching badges.
I hope we discover a manager out there with a track record with a senior side as well as the possession football credentials. Failing that, Toshack would be a decent and congruent appointment. Given his availability and low wage cost I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Americans go for him. I wouldn't be overjoyed, but I wouldn't be wailing and gnashing my teeth either.
|Do you think we've got a short-list of 4 managers lined up should Potter leave?|
at 17:13 17 May 2019
The reason I ask is because I came across this article from earlier this season, which states that Stuart Webber has a short-list of 4 candidates to replace Farke should he leaves - and that Farke knows it: https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/football-league/norwich-city-champi
"Farke understands why Norwich already have a shortlist of four managers that they’d consider as his replacement when he departs in whatever circumstance that might be."
If Swansea had a proper Director of Football in place, like Stuart Webber, then I'd be a lot less worried about the possible departure of Potter. Every time we've lost a manager we've been left desperately scrambling around for whoever's available (for free of course) - without any sign of pre-planning or anticipation that our successful managers might be headhunted.
Webber's success at Huddersfield in appointing Wagner, and at Norwich in appointing Farke, shows the merits of the Director of Football/Coaching model. Although Birch should help us alleviate the legacy issues from out time in the Premier League I'm not aware of anything in his track record that would suggest he can undertake the same constructive role as Webber.
|End of Season stats|
at 10:30 8 May 2019
The end of season stats do make for remarkable reading. The excellent Swans Analtyics has compiled a series of stats - this one being particularly telling:
Creating big chances hasn't been our problem in the second half of the season, nor even conceding them. We've just lacked a clinical edge up front - no surprise there, given that only McBurnie can be said to be a clinical finisher - with countless free kicks and corners going to waste.
[Post edited 8 May 2019 10:33]
at 15:24 31 Jan 2019
I'm not trying to raise false hopes here, because it's unlikely he'll sign on loan for us - but assuming Dan James leaves (very likely), and Bony and Montero leave (likely) then we should be in a strong position to offer Liverpool and Klopp the game time they want. According to this report Hull are keen on taking him, but Klopp mentions a couple of teams that are interested in taking him: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-6637357/Hull-interested-takin
This signing would go some way to make up for James' departure. It's a deal that would make a lot of sense for all parties - for Liverpool they would be loaning Woodburn to a club that play the right way, with a manager with a track record of bringing through youngsters. He would also be teaming up with players, in Roberts and Rodon, who he's already familiar with at Wales U23 level. For Woodburn it would give him precious game time and the chance of making the Slovakia qualifier. For us, we would gain a very talented player who can play centrally and out wide. He's also great at free kicks - which has been a big problem all season.
Chances are this won't happen, simply because of the loan fee involved - but who knows?
[Post edited 31 Jan 2019 17:38]
|Is history repeating itself?|
at 14:46 11 Sep 2017
After Clement made an excellent start to his tenure at the club, up to the Burnley match, we then only managed 1 point from the next 6 games against: Hull, Bournemouth, Middlesbrough, Spurs, West Ham and Watford - a dismal return against almost entirely weak opposition. As we all know we got back on the right track against Stoke with the re-introduction of Britton, and we never looked back with the pass master back in the side.
Even though I rate Clement highly as a coach, and I'm pretty confident we'll be fine this season, it does concern me that Mesa isn't getting on the pitch and Britton wasn't even on the bench yesterday. Clement has shown that he can learn from his mistakes, so it's far too early to judge definitively, but I feel uneasy about the way he can sideline the highly rated Mesa (let's not forget how much of a coup his signature was seen as at the time) in spite of having him for two weeks solid in the international break, and yet can introduce a 20 year old rookie from the start with only two days training with the squad.
Looking at that midfield on Saturday we have a number of decent passers of the ball - but not a single one that you could describe as an excellent passer. This goes a long way to explaining why we were ponderous and our tempo was so slow. This is exactly the rut we got into in the aforementioned run of matches last season under Clement. Cork started so well - but inevitably his inferior distribution eventually started to show. What this did, as it did on Saturday, is it brought us down to the level of our opponents. Newcastle were without Mbemba and Mitrovic, and Benitez wasn't on the bench, and their line-up looked (and still looks) very mediocre. And yet they matched us at the very least.
Against teams like Newcastle we need to put out a side that excels at passing and looks to completely dominate possession, and also looks to work the ball up the pitch through swift, one-touch football. Leaving out Mesa and Britton isn't going to help us achieve that. I hope Clement re-learns that lesson sooner rather than later.
|We need two number 10s to replace Siggy|
at 21:39 19 Aug 2017
Quite apart from Siggy's obvious quality one of the things we will miss with his departure is his availability. We simply haven't needed an alternative number 10, simply because, like Williams before him, he hardly ever got injured or suspended and played practically every game for us.
We cannot assume that we will have such good fortune with Siggy's replacement. On that basis we should be looking to bring in two replacements, not one. I very much doubt that the board shares my thinking, but there we go.
My suggestion for a budget squad no 10 would be Jonny Williams - who isn't getting any game time under De Boer, in spite of just signing a two-year contract extension. He should be available for a few million tops (perhaps with generous add-ons). He would be a bit of a gamble with his injury woes - but he has the quality.
at 19:52 28 Jun 2017
It doesn't take a genius to work out that when a terrible tragedy on the scale of the one seen at Grenfell happens then something has probably gone terribly wrong with the regulatory framework. Even without any understanding of the specifics of the situation it's obvious that at even at "best" it could be a one-off case of a rogue builder slipping some shoddy and dangerous work past an inspector. But what is becoming eminently clear is that the Grenfell disaster could have happened at any of a huge number of properties across England. At the time of writing 120 high-rise buildings have failed inspection failures - a truly shocking 100% failure rate. This sort of systematic failure points unequivocally to a catastrophic regulatory regime failure.
This Newsnight article is very damning: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40418266
What this article suggests is that the regulations in England that cover high-rise buildings are stringent enough - but that their enforcement has effectively been handed to the building industry itself to "interpret" as they see fit:
"The first thing to know is that local officials no longer run all building inspections. England has a so-called "Approved Inspector" regime. Contractors must no longer wait for a local authority official to check their work. Instead, they may hire people to check their construction processes meet the required standards. There is no single regulator - or arm of government - directly upholding standards."
It has been deemed legitimate for contractors to bypass the required A2 standard of low combustibility cladding by a variety of options, including "Desktop studies":
"Option 3 is for a so-called "desktop study":
"If I have conducted tests of a cladding product in a few different scenarios, then I might not need to bother with a new fire test. I can convince inspectors to sign it off by hiring an expert who will say "based on these results, I am confident that this cladding is safe in this context" without doing any further trials."
Just how self-serving these "studies" have been - carried out at the contractor's behest remember, not a council or government appointed inspector - is immediately obvious in the 100% failure rate of real-life scenario testing of the actual materials. It's not hard to see how an expert might have a vested interest in judging a design safe given who was paying for their services. Had every desktop survey they produced come up with a 100% failure (as it self-evidently should have) how many reports do you think the "expert" would have been commissioned to produce by the contractor? Any advance on one?
But it gets worse:
"We reported last night, however, on a troubling fourth route. The National House Builders' Council (NHBC) is a big player in building inspection. Last year, they issued guidance which states that you can use a variety of sub-A2 insulation boards with B-grade external cladding - and you can do all of that without even a desktop study.
That effectively means that a sector body has unilaterally decided that largely using B-grade material is now sufficient, not A2. NHBC themselves state that "this is on the basis of NHBC having reviewed a significant quantity of data from a range of tests and desktop assessments."
Truly shocking stuff - and yet outside of Newsnight this doesn't seem to have been picked up on by the wider media.
One of my immediate thoughts after the disaster was "I wonder how the cladding regulations and their enforcement differ between the UK and continental Europe". I needn't have looked so far away. So far, in Scotland, no high-rise building has been found to use the sort of cladding used in Grenfell (and apparently all over the place in England). This may just have something to do with regulations introduced in Scotland in 2005, following the death of a man in a tower block in Irvine in 1999: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-40406057 It's also worth noting that the Welsh Government has said that the specific brand of panel, Reynobond PE, is not in use in Wales. However, the results of on-going tests on the cladding used in Wales (including 14 in Swansea, the highest number in Wales) have yet to be published. It will be interesting to see if the results deviate from England, and if this is a reflection of any differences between the regulatory regimes in Wales and England.
Which brings me to the point of my article. The Tories have demonised red tape and regulation for decades - it's a part of the crazy neo-liberal (actually neo-anarchist would be closer to the mark) creed of the Tories. Don't take my word for it. Here's a direct quote from the Conservative Party Manifesto for the recent election:
"... poor and excessive government regulation limits growth for no good reason. So we will continue to regulate more efficiently, saving £9 billion through the Red Tape Challenge and the One-In-Two-Out Rule."
Red Tape exists for a reason. It's not some sort of fungus that grows surreptitiously in the night. It exists, invariably, to enhance public safety and well-being. At times it's cumbersome, at others out-dated, so a case can always be made for continually reviewing the necessity and scope of regulations. But the Tories have made a religion out of relentlessly attacking red tape. The shameful thing is that no other political party has offered any meaningful counterweight to their systematic attack on regulations and safe regulatory practice. Outsourcing the policing of regulations to self-interested bodies should be a complete no-no, because of the obvious conflicts of interest. But in the Tories feckless Brave New World anything goes. No one has stood up to them because defending Red Tape is as dull as ditch water, and doesn't win any votes.
No wonder the UK has became a World leader in man-made disasters. You'd think that we would learn to question our approach to things after calamities such as the one at Hillsborough. Nah, get another drink in...
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