The sense of the Winter Transfers

Winter-Transfers and other problems

The last few weeks have produced some interesting transfers, not only in the Premier League, but also across Europe. Adebayor to Real, Dzeko to ManCity and a few others still pending to happen before Monday 11:00PM. Of those that are still pending, the “Torres deal” is probably the most interesting. I am wondering, Liverpool needs some “upgrade” of the squad, no doubt. But why would you just buy a striker and in the same move sell your “biggest caliber”? Selling Torres wouldn’t make any sense whatsoever. Think of it, Liverpool is still in for 5th place and with that some European money, and that is what they need. An exchange, Suarez for Torres, would not be anything more, an exchange not an improvement. Besides that, Suarez would do better from coming behind Torres rather than taking the place on top. My tip, the Torres deal is not happening.

ManCity and the money

Let’s take a look at ManCity and their staffing strategy and business tactics. They spent quite some money in the past. Sometimes, one is wondering about the plan behind it. $40 million for Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg. That’s a lot of money. Was it a necessary transfer? Well, that can be debated. In my opinion, it was not. There were 4 players to fit the position: Adebayor, Balotelli, Jo and Tevez. Considering the system played, 4 guys for one job. With that kind of guns already available, you don’t spend $40 million. That looks like “I just want to have it”. Now with Adebayor gone to Real Madrid (on loan, still paid by City) and Dzeko in, there are still 4 guys for that one spot. As a coach, while it is nice to have such choices, there is a lot of unrest cooking up. Looking at this from the business side, it is not making a lot of sense either. Go and add up the spent money on the forward positions. I claim, they will never get that money back. Not to talk about making a profit in buying and selling.

Real’s misery

After today it appears that in Spain the cake is eaten. Madrid lost in Osasuna and now Barca is sitting on a 7 point advantage. That means they need to lose twice and draw another one while Real has to win every game. Not happening!
They just got Adebayor on loan from ManCity in order to improve fire power and possibly win their games a little easier. After today’s loss, what’s left of this deal? Adebayor will not be able to play in the Champions League and the league title is further away than ever. All that’s left is the Copa Del Rey, which they can still snap from Barca. Well, it might be worth the loan fee.

Another business tip – Importance of sales calls – How to prevent problems in the future.

In my profession I see or speak to somewhere between 50 to 80 business owners and decision makers a week. In order to help, I ask several questions and the answers give me a picture of the good as well as the concerns of these enterprises. When you exchange information in such numbers, certain patterns or problems become visible and repeatedly appear. ​It also becomes apparent who are the most important business partners​ of small and mid-sized businesses and in what areas businesses lack action and activity. ​While every business’ major effort is in sales, business development and marketing​, those that have sales and business open up another box of concerns that are pretty much underestimated, not only by the businesses itself, but by the main business partners of such operations. In my experience, it appears the main partners are the banks and CPA’s or those that take care of the administration process in the back office.

When a business, small, mid-size or big, faces groundbreaking changes, usually problems come to light. As an example for such a ground breaking change or event is financing or lending for campaigns/projects, growth, inventory​ or other. This is the time when the books undergo a thorough test, by the bank/lender. And it is also the time when mistakes or underestimated issues from the past can have a negative influence on planning and taking action for the future. (Please keep in mind that this example is only one of the many possible reasons that can bring light to mistakes from the past, there are really plenty)

Who is to blame? The business owner that neglected to take a close look at his business on a regular basis? The CPA that didn’t mention or didn’t follow up on possible upcoming problems​? The admin that faced “lots of work and problems”, but didn’t mention them in order not to “look over-challenged​” in the job? The bank that didn’t really care of the long time customer since the deposits were made on a regular basis and the account was in the books anyway? The answer is clear, ALL OF THEM!​ How short-sighted that is for all involved is also on the table. Everyone is losing in this example:

  • The business owner that can’t grow his/her business and therefore can’t make more money
  • The CPA is losing out on the opportunity to create more revenue from within

 

  • The admin might lose the opportunity for a bonus, raise or might even lose the job

 

  • The bank all of the sudden has a dissatisfied customer and a long term relationship is in jeopardy

 

What to do? Or, how to prevent such things from happening as a business owner? In order to answer the question, let me ask you a few questions. How many sales calls do you receive in a week? How do you handle them? They are bothering you, right? That is a problem. Many business owners claim they stay on top of new things and inform themselves via associations, their CPA’s or the Internet. While this is all good, one of the most valuable information settings is a sales presentation. Yes, you get a sales pitch and you hear and see a lot of sales/marketing power words. However, you have a chance to ask questions and get answers to these questions.

A sales call is an information gathering event and it is important to invest more time in these events and inquiries, because if you ignore them, you will miss valuable information. In the example above, whatever the problem was, payroll, receivables, the bank, insurance, accounting, account management or any other, you can bet that you missed a chance solving the problem you are facing right now, just because you ignored the incoming sales calls in the past. Sounds outrageous, doesn’t it? Think about it.

Keep a few hours in the week open for sales presentations. Sort out what is important to you and your individual case. This might be accounting, banking, cash-flow, HR and payroll, sales and business development. Put these on top and make sure you see these people. If you really are so short of time, invite them all together and give each a few minutes to explain what they have for you. The sales guys might not like such a setting, but, if they are good, they’ll go for it. Try it out and let me know your opinion.

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Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley

Somehow this earnings season is something special. Not sure what it is. Sitting here and waiting for the reports feels a little like sitting and waiting until “the game” starts. Maybe it is because I am sitting and hoping the numbers are all good and we all can now look ahead at better times to come. Well, turns out, not so. Some of the important players have reported not as strong as expected, or only reported numbers that would have been called ridiculous a few years back, or both.

I find it especially interesting what Goldman and Morgan Stanley had to report and as a guideline, at least so I thought, JP Morgan. ​Well, while JP Morgan reported some nice numbers and created some hope, the following reporting “big guns” in finance display a struggle. It seems the golden years are really over​. Yes, the mortgage bubble blew up, not in their face it appeared, but now it seems they have a few issues to carry. One of the questions I ask myself, what are they doing now? And I remember​, 10 years back, when the “internet bubble” busted, I asked myself the same question. Then they lost the business of IPO’s. Remember, every website was brought public and nice fees bolstered revenue and profit. Today, the mortgages are gone and with them all the attached opportunities to make a lot of money. Sounds a little like then, doesn’t it? 
So, I am wondering, are they out of ideas? No business model other than trading around for a few bucks? I am afraid so, at least for Goldman. Morgan Stanley didn’t look much better, however, it is said that they are in better shape for the future due to a few adjustments they made (Dean Witter/Smith Barney businesses) and others. This is interesting, there is a bet on the retail investor. Also, JP Morgan has a retail bank attached and that surely helped to create some revenue and profits. I don’t read retail in any of the Goldman news. I am in deed under the impression Goldman is falling behind.
So, I am already looking forward to the next earnings season like I start waiting for the super bowl in September. ​How will they do in the next three months? Will the recent plannings and executions at Morgan Stanley ​help them report better numbers? What will Goldman do? I was thinking for myself, last time they created the mortgage bubble when things were sour, what will it be this time? Watch out, regulations or not, I am afraid something is brewing. ​

What makes a good goalie? A report found on the internet.

The report scratches what is important for a goalkeeper in order to be considered “top class”. Yes, it is the details that make the difference. In many ways and in many different areas. The position in itself is special. You are alone. That’s why you prepare or practice for a big part separated from the others. While a lot of the skills necessary to be a good soccer player also help in the goalie position, if you don’t have a few other major skills and requirements you can only play in the field. As the report stated, there are lots of details that you experience throughout your career. It is impossible to mention them all here.

So, let’s talk about the 12 mentioned in this report. If I am a scout and I have been told there is a good goalie and you need to see him, then I don’t worry about the shots he is going to stop in that game. If he wouldn’t be a good shot stopper or couldn’t catch a ball, nobody would inform any scout about this goalie. Here is what I would look for:

  • Fitness. Absolut physical fitness. Without fitness, nothing goes.
  • Quick feet. If you have quick feet, you don’t have to “fly” to much and too early and you are quick at the “loose balls”.

 

  • Player qualities. How good is he with his feet? Deliveries(!!)? Ball handling (feet)? Can a defender play the ball back under pressure and not worry that the goalie makes a complete mess of it? Can you use him as the “11th” field player.

 

  • Is he participating in the game, can he read a game?

 

  • Body control and forward move in pressure situations, is he on his toe’s (literally)? Body in front of his feet (if you get caught on your heels and upper body behind your feet you are done)? This one is very important. If this is not in the goalie’s mentioned in this report, it will probably never set in at their age. You can watch games in all leagues, it happens everywhere. In the English premier league even the best get caught on their heels from time to time. It happens in situations with shots from short distance and it is a natural reflex, you try to protect yourself. It is important to overcome this and it must be practiced over and over again.
Among others, these are the main things a goalie scout will look for, if he knows his business. If you haven’t started working on these major skills, get started. If you need advice, as a goalie or a coach, contact me.
As a reference, the writer was a professional goalie in one of the European top league’s. While reading, I felt the need to mention these mandatory skills and abilities, so some young goalies that read this might have a chance to correct and add a few things.

Bundesliga: Dortmund secured championship, 17 others fighting for positions.

The past weekend clarified the question who is going to win the championship in the German Bundesliga. With Dortmund winning in Leverkusen, one of the main rivals in the race, the cake is considered eaten. Especially since Bayern Munich couldn’t win their game in Wolfsburg. With the major question answered, the 17 others are now playing for position.

There are two spots for the champions league (one of them for the qualifier) and two spots for the Europe league . Not to forget, relegation is a headache for quite a number of clubs. While predictions are difficult to make (see my blog from 01/14/2011, “Bundesliga is back”), I am going to try this again and claim that Bayern Munich is taking 2nd place. They are, despite all the troubles, stronger than the rest and in the long run will distance themselves from the others. I do not believe that Hannover and Mainz will be able to stay in the top three. They will fight and will give Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen a run for the money, however, I just don’t see them hanging in there on 2nd and 3rd place. If you want to hear why, I think experience, or lack thereof, will be the reason. So, Bayern second and Leverkusen 3rd is my opinion. Even I won’t make a prediction for 4th and 5th place. That one is too open. There are some teams luring in midfield and deep midfield, they will have a say as well.
Beside of playing for position, Bayern Munich is busy to work on the roster for the future. In Wolfsburg they played with Kraft in goal and I am sure there will be some other change for the rest of the season. One of the “pending players” is van Bommel. While he recently was in talk with Wolfsburg, it now seems that Liverpool has an interest in the Dutch international. It is no secret that van Bommel is not on the list for the future at Bayern. So for the Dutch, Liverpool would be an awesome opportunity. On whether this transfer is going to happen or not , we will have to see during the next days. My comment on that, don’t do it Bayern. Champions league is coming up and you will need van Bommel.

News of the Day: Steve Jobs is sick. Really?

Today we receive the news that Steve Jobs is sick, again. After the news breaks, Apple stock gets a hit in Frankfurt, up to 8% down. Looking at the stock over the past few months and what analysts predicted, it represents quite a bullish scenario. There are price targets up to $450.00 out there. Not that Jobs’ sickness is a total surprise, he fights serious issues since 2004 and latest since his six month leave of absence in 2009, for a liver transplantation, the experts should be clear about his health. Beating cancer and going through liver transplantation is not dealing with a cold. We all should be aware of this, shouldn’t we?

So, are the bullish news a bet on his health, or are these serious analytical results of a company’s performance and near and mid term achievable results? Reading the news and looking at the market reaction overseas, it seems business facts are not the major driver here. ​Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to downplay Jobs work, he is one of the best leaders in business. However, the last time he had to take a longer break​, there was no business problem visible. Tim Cook did a good job without interrupting any business flow. Steve Jobs doesn’t appear to be so full of himself that he ignores his health problems and therefore believes he is the only one at Apple. I believe there is a clear strategy in business continuity on the table. While the analyst world might not be able to evaluate and consider Jobs issues, I am sure he and the company are more aware of the long known facts and planned accordingly. 
Let’s see what happens tomorrow when the market opens again. We will also get a look at Apple’s results and my guess is, they will beat the forecast again. ​For the current quarter, Verizon is now selling Apple phones, the iPad is coming with some enhancements and a few other much anticipated newbie’s are in the pipeline.​ Besides that, looking at the competition doesn’t reveal any major “oh-so-groundbreaking” new arrivals. Yes, everyone is now playing, or tying to play, in the tablet and smart phone market, but that is no news either. While a target of $450.00​ might be bullish​, a cut of 8% because of Jobs’ health problems does not make more sense. Hopefully today’s news is just an opportunity to buy the stock with a little bonus. ​

Barclay’s English Premier league is Special

Really, the EPL is something special. While a lot of leagues offer excitement for the fans, the EPL is special. 5 teams are fighting for the championship and after 22 rounds everything is open. I understand that ManU fans see this differently, but that is fine. Well, in deed, looking at the table after the world famous “holiday season” (which I call the games between Christmas and the 10th of January), ManU looks the best. Sitting on top of the table, two points up, two games on hand, there is no reason not to be optimistic. Besides that, they haven’t lost a game in the league, yet. What a run! Here could be the problem for United. Every run will eventually end, so will this one. The problem with such situations is this, once they ended, it is very difficult to create another one like it. At this point I want to mention Chelsea. Remember the beginning of the season? They looked pretty good for a long time and were six points up. Now they find themselves even in a discussion about the coach and other stuff, besides not dominating the games anymore and sitting on 5th spot. When you have a run like United’s, you want to play. Due to the weather, two of the games have been canceled and have to be played at another time. Maybe “the run” will end until then and they face a minor “crisis”. And so on…..

I think, at this point all of the five are in the race. Admittedly, Chelsea and Spurs have less ace’s in their hands , but they are still in. Spurs can actually turn this race into a totally different game. If they win against United this Sunday, they not only bring this entire group closer together, they also end United’s run and possibly create a change on top. Read above what that can mean for ManU.
Looking at the other three clubs, ManC, Chelsea and Arsenal, they will win their games this weekend, at least I think so. I also believe that ManC and Arsenal have the best cards on hand. They can “settle” into business as usual, while anyone else has to catch up, either on games or on points. And from the view of catching up with games, ManC. is the team that wins the championship. Am I betting on it? No!
The EPL is great. Due to the density of quality, the league creates a top game(s) almost every week. With that, the dynamics of the game and the season can change on a weekly basis. Anyway, there is much more excitement coming and I look very much forward to it.

Bundesliga is back

This weekend the Bundesliga is coming back from hibernation. Let’s see who took advantage of the short nap. According to the experts, the championship is already decided and Borussia Dortmund can get ready for the celebrations. Well, not so fast. “The ball is round” as they say in Germany. “You never know in what direction that thing rolls”. ​Important for the outcome will be today’s match between Leverkusen and Dortmund and Bayern’s game in Wolfsburg tomorrow. Leverkusen and Bayern wins will open up new views.

In Munich the officials and players state they will be ready, if Dortmund shows weakness. I am sure they will do more than be ready in order to force the issue. Get ready for some mind games out of the Bavarian capital. While Bayern is 14 points(!) behind, they have nothing to lose and it is easy to operate from that position .
Today, Dortmund starts the second part of the season in Leverkusen. They are “only” 10 points behind Borussia. A Bayer win today will be the key to an open competition. Not much to hear out of Leverkusen. They prepare and get ready without any verbal actions towards anyone. Ballack is back on the roster, however, as it looks like, he will have to take a seat on the bench. It is interesting to recognize that it seems no one really looks at Bayer as the main hunter of Borussia. For Bayer’s purpose today, that is a good thing.
Back to Bayern. As always, the press is busiest in Munich and the club always finds ways to stay interesting. Goalie change, Demichelis left, lots of talk around van Bommel, and, Robben is back. It is also reported that there will be a new Ribery. Whatever that means. 5th in the table, 14 points behind and still “the club” in Germany. Well, Robben is important. It will also be important on how the goalie change, Kraft for Butt, will play out. While the Bayern are eager to stay in the competition, a weakness in goal can be expensive. If they don’t make it into the first three, they must win the champions league in order to be in big business next year. Not to be in is a problem in Munich. For Bayern fans it is important that van Bommel will finish the season in Munich. And to be honest, I believe he is the most important player there, right next to Schweinsteiger.
It is three hours before the Leverkusen – Dortmund game and it is time for a prediction. Leverkusen will win, Bayern will win. That will give the Bundesliga an incredible boost and we will see a very interesting second part of the season. Watch!

Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona, or who will make it?

Following the Spanish league, like all the others, I can’t hide a certain excitement about the possible outcome. The two super clubs, Real Madrid and “Barca”, feeding the excitement week by week. It seems that major changes in the table are only possible when the two play against each other. On first sight, that doesn’t sound very interesting.

Well, it is more interesting than it seems, especially when you watch them playing. You watch one playing, and winning, then you watch how the other one is trying to catch up. This, if you have soccer in your blood, is excitement pure, at least as long as it is happening like this weekend when Real followed the Barca win with a win against Villareal. Barca is winning the game on Saturday 4:0 and Real follows with a 4:2 win a day later. If you wonder who will run out of gas first, or who will eventually win the titel, those results (just the results) could give you an indication. While Barca in the most cases delivers a clear gameflow, the flow in Real’s game isn’t that fluent. Real’s problem is clearly in defense. That is not only visible since the game in Barecelona a few weeks back, but was also visible in the Villareal match.

As of yesterday, Real has only one solid defender, Carvalho. The other solid one, Pepe, is out injured. While Sergio Ramos and Marcello do a lot for the offensive part of the game, they are weak points in defense when the going gets though. Barca clearly took the two to the cleaners and with them the entire team of Real. Problems on both positions were visible in the Villareal game again. “The special one” works hard to find solutions for the problems, however, it appears there is no solution without losing creativity in the offensive game. Marcello does very well in the forward move, coming from behind and using the creativity in Real’s midfield. If you take him off the field, you lose that strength. If you take someone else from the offensive department off the field in order to secure Marcello’s position, you lose forward power as well. For the moment, Mourinho’s best bet is to use the two “6er’s”, Khedira and Alonso and let them support the two problem cases. Until April, when the two giants meet each other again, this might just be good enough. Then,  “in the game of the games” we will see how it turns out. Let’s all hope Real can keep up with Barca, so that we have a real cracker coming up.

Liverpool and the “p…”!

Manchester United vs Liverpool 1:0, 01/09/2011

Soccer is life! Who of the Liverpool supporters would disagree with this statement? Ownership discussions, issues with the coaches, all kind of other stuff and, most important, no results. Legend Kenny Dalglish took over and the move created high hopes for the FA-Cup game on 01/09/2011. After 90 minutes the result displayed nothing else than the results before: Empty hands and watching the coming rounds in the cup from the sideline.
Soccer is a game of physical fitness, strategy, desire, will power and trust in your own abilities. Everyone who has ever played the game knows that and is operating accordingly. However, there seems to be a rule the Liverpool supporters experience first hand: Once you sit in “p…”, the ladder rolls up the hill (one can express it a little milder and say, they just have no luck). The game just started and you are already behind. Penalty kick for nothing, 1:0 United. Not enough with that, the most important player sees a red card for “not much”. If you go back some time, to the more successful time of the Club, both situations would have resulted in a corner (at the most) and a yellow card. But because it is Liverpool at the current stage, it is the game deciding goal and finishing the game with 10. Adds to the frustration.
Looking at the game, ManU wasn’t that much better, but they sit on the other side of the hill. Everything they do right now works. Or, if you want, the “p…” rolls where its supposed to roll. So, what can Liverpool do? Man, if I would know, I would be the best paid coach in the World. Well, here is the best I can say: Sit down, lay back, accept the situation you are in (the “p…” rolls up the hill) , write-off the season, have a beer together, keep practicing as hard as you do, play the game as good as you can and, wait. Sometimes soon some ridiculous event will occur that will help you win a game and luck will come back. Yes, sometimes it is that easy in soccer. I admit, this is not something you can openly state in front of the press, so, blaming the referee or the weather is a good way out. Keep trying, it will get better again.