Looking to build a club up from nothing? Everything you need – and quite a lot you don't – can be found online according to Ian Plenderleith, from players to speakers for the end-of-season awards
You have won the lottery and have millions to spend. Your family and your investment analyst are all pleading desperately with you to think of their long-term security. The problem is, you always wanted to sit in the directors’ box of your own football team, and so with a manic gleam of distant glory in your eye, you buy your local struggling Ryman League Division Two outfit and announce at a press conference, “Champions League within the next ten years”. But where do you start to build a team of champions? The internet, of course!
You can recruit top players from Africa and South America without even leaving your front room thanks to sites run by firms like the Brazilian-Portuguese CC Sports Management . They will give you the rundown on their clients’ reflexes, vertical leap and “ball recuperation” skills, marked out of 20 and rarely lower than 15, so they must be good. Look at Luis “Gatty” Ribeiro of Bolivar, for instance: “Excellent at crossing [and] he is excellent at dribbling in tight spaces. He can run up and down the field for the whole 90 minutes and not tire.” And if he sounds a little like something you might get on Ebay, you can click on video clips to check that he’s for real.
Perhaps you’ll prefer Lionel Liberman of the Brazilian club Nautico, whose “style of play can be compared to that of a Zidane or Rai”. On a good day, presumably. But if you’re starting out from halfway down the non-League pyramid, perhaps Portuguese defender Jose Soares would be a better buy: “Soares is a very strong central defender with good mobility, very physical and very good in the aerial game. He is well suited for the British game.”
If you’re looking to strengthen your team’s youth academy with local players, then footballcv.com might be the place to start, although you’ll need to register to access the virgin talent. The site is run by a company that sets up trials for young players at Kettering FC, and claims to attract scouts from around the country. Its list of “interested” clubs looks impressive enough, especially when topped with the glowing endorsement of Mrs Davies, a washing powder ad archetype whose son recently made his debut for the Manchester City academy. “I can’t speak highly enough about footballcv.com,” she gushes. “They have given Kieran the opportunity he wanted. It really is a fairy tale come true.”
However, you may want to ponder whether your player’s fairy tale will come from the annals of Walt Disney or The Brothers Grimm when you read in the “About Us” section that “we are delighted to welcome to the Footballcv.com team Mr Barry Fry, manager of Peterborough United… His experience will be invaluable as will be his knowledge and ‘eye’ for a player.” No doubt, too, that any deals involving Mr Fry will be absolutely above board.
It may be that you’re the kind of director who, Michael Knighton-style, fancies a run-out with the first XI. It’s your club, so why not? In that case you should turn to Aussie ex-pro Jimmy Petruzzi’s Fitness site. For a mere 500 quid of your fortuitous fortune, Jimmy will get you match fit with his “Power Program”, which has apparently benefited illustrious names like Huddersfield’s Kevin Gallen and West Ham’s Ian Pearce. Actually, the site calls them “examples of players that went through our packages”, so perhaps they were only employed in the post room.
However, while you’re getting fit, or sorting mail, with Jimmy, do not under any circumstances ask him a personal question. I’m sure he’s a great bloke, but if his conversation is anything like his personal column on the “Profile” page then he never stops gabbing, and you’ll probably find your expensive training session has flown by in the time it takes to say: “It was a sad goodbye to everyone, and I was off, I travelled down to Heathrow airport in London from Manchester by train, I stayed the night in London and next day…”
You may not want Jimmy as your after-dinner speaker at season’s end when you award yourself Player of the Year, but you’ll need someone, in which case you can turn to After Dinner Speakers UK Ltd . “Every football speaker has his own stories to tell,” spumes the site blurb, “to shock you, thrill you, delight you and leave your sides aching.”
All the usual suspects are listed as available, from Mellor through Hoddle to Big Mal and The Doc. With characters like these alongside your untried imported players, their agents, various hangers-on and Barry Fry too, who would not shirk the chance to chuck their fortunes at the revered and noble game of football?
But the day will inevitably come when the millions are gone, the club’s back in debt, and your 30,000 all-seat stadium and leisure complex on the outskirts of town stands half-built and deserted. Then it will be time to call in Libero Consulting , an Australian-based company that aims “to provide effective, efficient, and dynamic soccer consulting services and solutions for the global soccer industry”. Step aside FIFA and footy-bonkers millionaires, and make way for the real saviours of the game.
From WSC 192 February 2003. What was happening this month