I often find myself watching EPL games not really knowing which team I want to win. So recently I have taken to supporting (strictly on a match-by-match basis) whoever scores higher on the Football Sanity Index. There are many factors involved, but the main ones are the recent history of hiring and firing managers, transfer policy, and generally how well the club is run.
Did someone mention Manchester City? First they were Thaksin Shinawatra's plaything, and Sven-Göran Eriksson was sacked apparently because they had been too successful in the first half of the season. Now with their super rich new owners they are rushing around trying to buy up the most expensive players in the world, so far with gratifying lack of success.
It appears that Robinho was surprised as anyone to find himself at Manchester City rather than Chelsea, and his performances seem to suggest that he is not entirely happy with the way things turned out. Then there was the ridiculous way that Gary Cook and his colleagues behaved in waving wads of cash at one of the oldest and grandest teams in world football and their petulant behaviour when their bid for Kaka was rebuffed by AC Milan. Mark Hughes will be glad to get out at the end of the season, and of course Sven is now available to return as manager after being sacked by Mexico. Go on, you know it makes sense.
Last Sunday, Manchester City lost to Fulham, who have been one of the success stories of the season under Roy Hodgson, a highly experienced British manager, and in spite of having a dodgy foreign owner they score very highly on the FSI and it's good to see them doing well.
Last Sunday's other game was between Aston Villa and Everton, with two more experienced British managers in charge. Everton get a good FSI score, but Villa have out-spent almost every other club in the EPL and again failed to qualify for the Champions League. Does that remind anyone of Leeds United? In the Peter Risdale years they spent very freely but it all went wrong and they found themselves in administration and down in League One (aka the 3rd Division). They will soon be joined there by Charlton, who made the mistake of hitching their wagons to the Iain Dowie Travelling Circus and then sending it on its way again only a few weeks later.
After equally brief spells at Coventry and QPR, Mr Dowie is now working his magic at Newcastle alongside Alan Shearer. I've already expressed my bewilderment at this appointment, and in a season when Roy Keane quit and Tony Adams was sacked as Portsmouth manager, why do clubs imagine that inexperienced managers are the answer?
At least Paul Ince had some experience as a manager before taking over at Blackburn, but was a grand total of two years in League Two (the 4th Division) really enough? Almost certainly not. Was it realistic to expect that he could make the transition from Macclesfield and MK Dons to the Premier League so quickly? Would any other organization take on an inexperienced person and then sack them a few months later? Almost certainly not.
Middlesbrough appointed Gareth Southgate as their manager 3 years ago although he had no experience - but at least they have stuck with him, so they now score rather higher on the FSI than Blackburn or Newcastle.
Or Portsmouth, who should surely have understood that a recovering alcoholic who had failed at a lower league club might not be the perfect choice as manager. They have recovered somewhat under Paul Hart, who started out in management more than 20 years ago (at Chesterfield) and enjoyed some success at Nottingham Forest a few years ago. Who'd have guessed that someone with 20 years experience would be more effective as a manager?