@jpd26

An extended blog about stuff that really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of life, but which I feel compelled to waffle on about… Omnia mutantur; nihil interit

So Suarez is off then….

If we accept all of the reports then the footballing genius that is Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz (to give him his full moniker) is off to Barcelona for the “mouth watering” fee of £75m….subject to a medical and all that… we can contend then, yup the lad is off. 

Note. If you want a brilliant article on the true likely profit Liverpool will make on the Suarez deal then look no further than The Tomkins Times - http://tomkinstimes.com/2014/07/ffp-and-the-amortisation-of-suarez/ As ever, Paul has nailed it. However, I’m just a simple girl from Barnsley, so the ms.fagpacket figure I have (£75-28m) is a £47m profit, which, on any player is a staggering return on investment…however, as a Liverpool fan I have mixed emotions. 

Do I want one of arguably the best football players in the world to leave my club? Not really. But then I didn’t want Torres to leave either, but on reflection, that worked out better for the fans than for Fernando. The trouble with Luis is he’s so decisive - there is no doubt about it, he is a footballing genius; his touch, his foresight, his passes, his goals are all just sublime. Beautiful in fact.  But then there is “bad” Luis, “naughty” Luis and downright “wrong” Luis. So, before we all get over emotional about losing one of the best players in the world, let’s also think about what has been the cost of having Luis at Liverpool Football Club - the cost to the clubs reputation? 

We knew when we bought him, we were buying a maverick footballer who had a win at all costs mentality - again read Paul’s brilliantly posted article http://tomkinstimes.com/2014/06/thrice-bitten-once-shy/ which provides an excellent insight into what makes Luis tick - but I’m not sure we thought that we’d bought someone who even when we supported them through the thick and thin of the race allegations, he’d repay us by publicly humiliating Dalglish, the greatest No.7 who’s ever worn the shirt by refusing to shake Evra’s hand; that despite everything the club had done for him, he put in a transfer request, which, it has to be said, our owners and Brendan Rodgers brilliantly rebutted; or that we were buying someone who’d sit on the bench for months at a time because he couldn’t stop biting people.

You know what, I am so bored of the Luis Suarez circus. John Henry and Rodgers orchestrated an excellent bit of business for this club.  Their refusal to sell our prized asset last year, knowing in World Cup year, he would still play his socks off to ensure he was the star at Brazil, ensured a magical season for Liverpool fans.  We got what we needed from Suarez, Champions League football, worth somewhere between £30-40m by all accounts. If Luis wants to go, well good for him, like Owen and Torres before him, he’ll probably look back and realise, no-one will ever love him like Liverpool fans loved him, no-one will ever care for him like Liverpool fans did and no-one will ever defend him like Liverpool fans did.

Thanks for the memories Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz; there were times when your footballing genius brought tears to my eyes and I would just be speechless at how you caressed a football around the park.  I adored you, but I could never really love you, because in my heart, I always knew you never really loved us and that your love was purely for yourself.  

You’ll never walk alone because as Liverpool fans we will never let you; one day, you will look back and realise that your dance and your twist and your turn with a football was made easier because you had the wind of angels beneath you, a million Kopites with unrequited love in their hearts.

 

The Best Thing that Never Happened To Me; Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice

Holidays are for reading books, well they are in my opinion. I always go for a serious and intellectual one and a feel good make me smile and cry one, the latter often more enjoyable as you’ve dragged yourself through the intellectual one.

The intellectual one this time was The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall, which was truly brilliant and at several stages made me think he’d been living inside my head so true was some of his observations on life. In many ways the book made me feel like I’d saved my own life just by reading it.

I read it in 4 days. With 2 days of my holiday to go, I pondered on what next and then remembered @JimmyRiceWriter had incessantly been tweeting about a book he and his Uni mate Laura had written together - The Best Thing that Never Happened To Me - and given the reviews were generally fab and included phrases such as Notting Hill and Richard Curtis, I rationalized this would be a great chick lit, easy read to take me through the last two days and journey home to Blighty.

Right, let’s pause there. To say this book is nothing more than a chick-lit novel does it a huge disservice. First and foremost the chapter interchange between the two lead characters, Alex and Holly written by Jimmy and Laura respectively is really smart, giving you the boy/girl perspective really rather brilliantly; the perspectives of love and life slanted knowingly through the lens of each author. As a girl you so believe in Holly and because you know Laura has written it, as a girl, you kind of believe in Alex even more because you know a guy - Jimmy has written it. And then there’s the plot line, which is just delightful and lovely and yes a bit cheesy and you kinda know the boy maybe is going to get the girl and it’s all going to be (probably) super at the end (a la Richard Curtis) but that’s kind of the point, and even knowing all of that, it still made me cry towards the end, which is well, just lovely.

The key thing is this is a story we’ve all lived, the one that got away, the one where your heart still quickens at the thought of, the one where if you could stop time and go back to that moment you would. The one that even now if they called, you would stop the bloody world to be there for…wherever they were in the world. And what’s truly lovely about this novel is the guy really does have every chance to get his girl; and the girl really does have every opportunity to get her guy. And just for a moment, every single one of us who has a mended, fractured or still bloody broken and decimated heart, well it makes us believe in fairy tales. And that’s where the tears come from. The hope. The deep downright keep putting one foot in front of another belief that one day, dreams really will come true.

Oh. The only annoying thing about the book? It was mean to last 2.5 days and I consumed it in a day! A total page turner. So, my recommendation, go buy it, just buy another one as well. And read this one first, because there’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than a love story. And who doesn’t want to love and be loved?

#myfashionlife http://www.drapersonline.com/people/my-fashion-life/my-fashion-life-jemima-bird/5061284.article

Faffing with the Savage

A bit of Soho House Madness… #mosslondon

Moss Bros enlists tattooed model Billy Huxley to embody brand overhaul

We need to talk about Kevin…

Has there ever been such a cack handed handling of an exit than that of the ECB’s of Kevin Pietersen? I’ve written in an earlier blog (A disappointed and disillusioned fans view of the Men’s game…) my view of the whole affair, notably that as one of the most charismatic and entertaining cricketers I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, it’s with a heavy heart that I think it best that KP is no longer part of the England set up. No team can pander to one man alone.  Both sides are at fault. However, the ECB should fire their PR agency for the utter debacle that they have allowed themselves to fall into.  Their statement was misguided and simply allowed the social media keyboard warrior a field day.

Given the fall out following the recent TMS interview with Paul Downton, it certainly feels akin to Shriver’s 2003 novel… there is a massacre of commentary currently in English cricket. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/tms)

I can’t quite understand why the interview got so much aggro – if Paul Downton had not been asked about Kevin Pietersen the entire twitterarti would’ve been up in arms saying the programme had bottled it. Yet, when it did, it got utter vitriol for not being “tough enough” - the TMS style is relaxed & what millions enjoy - this isn’t newsnight this is cricket!

It is great that The Full Toss got the right of reply interview; it was insightful, engaging and responded well to the criticisms received. Maxie Allen took a very positive approach to the interview and it felt balanced.  

Opinions are what make twitter fun and engaging, I just can’t see the point in throwing a keyboard punch at someone. In a world where celebrities and experts are prepared to engage in conversations why take an approach of abuse when your carefully worded frustrations can be responded to so positively?

#LFC How amazing to be disappointed. How amazing to be gutted.

The last time I was at Crystal Palace it was 7am in the morning and I’d just completed a 100km through the night bike ride for one of my best friend’s charities - Bowel Cancer. I’d arrived at 11pm the previous night full of optimism, spirit & a we can do it attitude. By 7am, one lost person down, not one but three punctures and having had my brakes fuse to my front wheel for the last 20km I was dejected, knackered and frankly fed up. 

I felt the same last night at Crystal Palace. I honestly thought we’d win. Not hoped or believed we would but actually thought we would. I came away feeling like we’d lost. I know we got a draw but after giving up a 3:0 lead I honestly thought we’d lost. I came home dejected, knackered and fed up. 

And then I remembered something. We weren’t even meant to be in it never mind win it this season. We were hoping for 4th. We thought it would be a massive achievement for us to get to 4th. We nailed that position weeks ago and then we confirmed 3rd too. And with one game to go, we could still win it. Yes the momentum is with Citeh and yes it’s theirs to lose but to be going into the last game of the season with everything still to play for well I for one think it’s bloody amazing. 

Two weeks after I got off my bike at Crystal Palace last August and vowed never to get on the thing again, I looked back at how 4 mates dragged themselves around London, through the night & that our efforts raised over £1,000 for the Bowel Cancer Charity and was proud of our achievements. 

This morning I look back at 37 games and what my team, our team, Liverpool Football Club have achieved and think wow. How proud am I that in one season they’ve made me believe, made me dream and made me feel so disappointed that we have fallen short. How amazing that I can feel like this so soon into Rodgers reign. He was brilliant last night. No excuses. Just acceptance we were naive and made poor decision on the ball. We Go Again LFC and if not this season then it will be soon because we have our mojo back, our desire to win and importantly our absolute total and utter devastation and gutted feel when we don’t. I have spent so many years expecting to be mediocre & lose I love the fact that I so now expect us to win that I’m gutted when we don’t. How far have we come in one season? 

We are Liverpool Football Club. We hold our heads up high and dream of golden skies. Yes our dreams may have been tossed and turned but we carry hope in our hearts and know that we never walk alone. 

29 hrs & counting #LFC blog (or how Grazia, Vogue, The Middle Stump & David Beckham saw me through)

Saturdays have been really quite trying of late I’m sure most Liverpool fans would agree…waiting for LFC to walk out onto the pitch and go again for those three precious points as we edge ever closer to our first ever Premier League title and first league title in 24 years.

This weekends game against Chelsea has been the worst so far, the anticipation, the recent history between the two teams, the fact what 3 points would actually mean today… naturally, if (should that read when? I’m not that cocky yet, I can tell you so I’ll settle for if) ..if we win today, then of course next weekends game against Crystal Palace will be the worst wait of all, quite frankly it will ruin a perfectly good bank holiday weekend as I wish the hours away right up to kick off on Monday evening… I can’t believe I’ve got a ticket for the game… it’s going to be immense!

Anyway, 29 hours ago when I woke up, the first thought on my mind was Liverpool; it had been the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep, so probably fair to say, it’s all I’d thought about all night; here’s how I got through this weekends waiting game…

29 hrs. - First tweet posted about the fact 29 hrs. to go… flurry of responses from equally anxious reds reinforced that I was not walking this path alone.

28 hrs. - clearly time for a cup of coffee & bar of Cadbury’s chocolate - the classic weekend power breakfast; the cold I’ve been fighting all week has hit my throat like a razor - that’s going to help with the screaming at the TV … the neighbours will be at least happy…

27 hrs. - a fashion fix, read back copies of Gracia - pattern is going to big and particularly animal prints.  I can feel a DVF moment coming on.

26 hrs. - time for the @TheMiddleStump blog - Great interview with Darren “Stevo” Stevens - themiddlestump.co.uk/2014/04/speaking-with-stevo.html - what a bloody character that bloke is, delighted for him and his family last seasons investigation cleared him of any wrong doing.  Bit of banter with the lads re the Yorkshire vs. Middlesex LVCC game starting Sunday at Lords.  I’m heading on Monday, looking at the weather chances are it’s going to be more drinking in the pavilion vs. watching the game…

25 hrs. - Back to a fashion fix and read back copies of @Vogue and swoon at how gorgeous David Beckham is in the Belstaff ads. The boy is just so beautiful #swoon It’s fair to say blue is staying for the bus this season too. This is pleasing given how much blue we’ve brought in at Moss Bros.!!

24 hrs. - the fashion injection has taken me over, only one thing for it, I’m taking a walk over to Matches Fashion in Notting Hill for a mind-absorbing “review” of the DVF new season collection.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to avoid a purchase… 

23 hrs. to go - Yup! It happened, purchase of a new DVF dress for the Tim Bresnan’s benefit dinner at Lords on Thursday with Steve Denison who’s kindly invited me

22 hrs. to go - the sun is shining in London, so a gentle walk home with a rather large Matches Fashion bag, it is fair to say there is more than one dress in it….Joyous next 30 mins unpacking purchases and deciding what is being ejected from the wardrobe to make room… the Barnsley clan are going to be happy with the Paul Smith’s and Hugo Boss which will be travelling back North with the parents next weekend

21 hrs. to go - late lunch - appetite dreadful; not sure whether it’s the cold or nerves about the game.  I’ve decided I have officially got Liverpool Flu

20 hrs. to go - Great mate Cheryl Marshall arrives, time for a glass of wine and a quick chat.  The kid Jonny Marshall is finally moving out to a flat in shepherds bush - I’m going to miss having him around

19 hrs. to go - The Aussie Big Al has arrived, I’ve promised him red wine, steak and chips at the Ladbroke Arms - I’m working on the basis some good crick banter will while away a few hours before the game kicks-off

18 hrs. to go - Bloody hell, Ladbroke having a refurb and out of steak - how can you be out of your number one selling dish (*muppets*) so a quick Hailo to Soho House for steak and chips 

17 hrs. to go - Soho buzzing, but the House manages to find me a table (not that I’m a regular or anything) steak and chips and a superb bottle of Malbec - the Aussie is a happy boy and is loving the Soho buzz. At least it’s stopped him talking about the 5 nil white wash…

14hrs to go - The Liverpool Flu has taken hold big time, and I’m in a cab heading home to Holland Park.  The Aussie has decided to go and find his Italian compatriots at Bar Italia - he’s definitely more Aussie than Italian, but the boy loves to remind me his family not a bunch of convicts but well respected Italians… surely that’s an oxymoron right?

13 hrs. to go - Time for a Lemsip, honey and frankly sleep….drift off thinking of LFC.  I’m dreaming, we’re dreaming…Dreaming is good right?

8 hrs. to go - I’m wide awake, the Liverpool Flu is streaming, time for another Lemsip - quick twitter review, I’m not the only Red awake…

5 hrs. to go - Ping! I’m awake. Serious inability to function has started, can’t decide whether to get up or have a twitter blitz…the latter wins through 

4hrs to go - A full hour of twitter banter re LFC and YCCC completed - the highlights the being fat frank pies flag and reviewing the Wirral CC score card 3 all out with a cracking knock of 1 by the no.11 and a couple of leg buys - quality. Expecting more from YCCC at Lords versus Middlesex!

3 hrs. to go - Up, showered, dressed and time for a cup of tea and a call to the Nannan - not sure whether this is a LFC stress cold or manflu both equal in severity….

2hrs to go - The Aussie has arrived to watch the game. Let the sledging commence. Gary Neville believes the momentum with Liverpool - not a bad talk up from a Manc.

1.5 hrs. to go - Now that’s what you call a bloody welcome Liverpool.  What a cracking atmosphere.  Message from my LFC season ticket holder Ops Director, “Going to be a long afternoon, nerves kicking in already, enjoy if that’s the word” I laugh nervously and make myself another Lemsip

1 hr. to go - Right that’s it I’m signing off.  A protein shake to build up my strength for the match ….See you all on the other side.

#WeGoAgain

Breathe In Breathe Out #LFC

If you want an intelligent, well written, stats laden overview of Liverpool Football Club, I can recommend no-one more highly than Paul Tomkins - http://tomkinstimes.com - At £40 a year, frankly Paul is beyond value for money, he’s also a top bloke too.  What you are going to get here is an armchair come sometimes terrace “standing” LFC fans view.  In summary, it’s a gentle ramble.

Let’s start with the facts – WE HAVE QUALIFIED FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – Now I for one am so excited re this, I can’t begin to explain, as I’m sure is the view of most us – the Champions League for god sake, the holy grail of Cup Competition, and we are back, where we belong, after a long 4 year wait.  The best part of today, and qualifying for the CL?  We can be no lower in the league than third, meaning no pre-qualification, straight into the Group stages – amazing - less games to play, more focus on the main event - Not a nearly there in fourth opportunity to balls it up – toffee-style… but instead “there-there”. Brilliant.

European Nights at Anfield are electrifying….in fact a bit like the last few home games which have felt the same – when Anfield is rocking, there is nowhere on Earth that can beat it. Everyone says so. It’s why John Henry has, rightly in my opinion, decided the future of LFC is at Anfield and like his approach with the Boston Redsocks and the redevelopment of Fenway Park, the redevelopment of Anfield will ensure the magic is retained.

At the start of the season I would’ve bitten your hand off to be Top 4, but now, am I being greedy when I say….I want it…I want to win…I want Steve Gerrard to lift that bloody trophy and I want LFC to be crowned Premier League Champions for the first time and our first title in 24 years?  I’m not sure, do we deserve it? Well, why the bloody hell not?! How fitting in the 25th anniversary year of Hillsborough, what a reward for the long struggle for justice for the 96 and their heroic and brave families and hell-fire, if any man deserves to lift the PL it’s Gerrard who, if Liverpool was not in his heart and soul, would’ve been off many years ago, but to (mis)quote Clough, you may as well throw your medals in the bin if you can’t share them with your mates and your family and Stevie is Liverpool through and through.

And so here we are, three games to go, five points clear at the top of the league, the title seductively close, almost in touching distance. Apparently, we don’t have the bottle or the know how, of how to win according to those down the Lancs Rd or the rent boys of West London.  Not doing too badly so far are we. As those around us drop points, we quietly go about our business, picking up those 3 precious points, time and time again – eleven times so far – that’s some run. In fact it’s exceptional. “Quietly” is an oxymoron of course…there is absolutely nothing quiet about our fans, we are astonishing, we are blowing the opposition away, be it at Anfield or Carrow Rd, we are without doubt the twelfth man. But Brendan, wow, how impressed are you, with how this guys has gone about his business this season.  He is quintessentially Liverpool Football Club. The traditions of Shankly, Paisley, Fagan and Dalglish embodied in this proud Northern Irishman – no big fuss, no downer or histrionics when we lose, no over the top celebration when we win, just an elegant clenched fist and a steely smile of a job well done.  His press conferences are a work of art, simple, stylish, sophisticated. Quietly spoken, always focusing on the positives and importantly the next game.  What a joy. How proud does he make you feel. I love him. I adore how he makes me feel about my football club. Not only are we winning, we are wining with poise and elegance.  There’s nothing tawdry or bought about us, just a cool, steady, quiet deadly march towards the title.

It’s a bloody good job Rodgers is managing the team, he’s got the players focused, and on it. Gerrard say’s he’s the best man manager he’s ever worked with.  You can believe it.  As we sit in our armchairs, or stand on the terraces, and remind ourselves to breathe in and breathe out, these boys, our boys, are going about their business and not only making us dream, but also making us believe. That’s what Rodgers has brought to this team, belief, confidence, a will and desire to win – quietly and elegantly. As for the twelfth man, he’s letting us do the shouting.

#WeGoAgain

YNWA and as always Justice for the 96.

 

An objective view of Peter Marks reign as CEO of The Co-operative Group

Let me start by stating this is absolutely a personal opinion.  

I should also point out, I am a massive fan of the Co-operative model and ethos, and there are a great many decent and good people still at the Group, many of them personal friends.  It is also well known that I have tweeted over recent months my disappointment and general disregard for the Executive management at the Group, post Martin Beaumont’s Executive team. However, what follows is my honest and genuine, emotion removed as far as I can, view of what has happened to a fantastic and proud 170-year-old institution.

Ok, let me put my cards on the table straight away, I’m from the Martin Beaumont camp, everyone who works at the Co-op knows it and I make no secret of the fact I thought Martin’s standing down as CEO to ensure Peter would merge United Co-operatives with The Co-operative Group was one of the most misguided pieces of “governance” undertaken by the then Co-operative Group Board. To be clear, Peter indicated he would walk away from the Co-operative Brand Project (unification of the Co-operative Movement under a single brand identity) if he didn’t get the CEO role in any merged organisation – I know this, as I was the Director of Brand for The Co-operative Group at the time and was informed of Peter’s decision to pull out of The Co-operative Brand Project unless a merger went through.  Peter very clearly informed the Group Board that he would not merge United Co-operatives unless he became CEO.  The main prize to the Group Board at this time was bringing the second largest Co-operative Society at c. £1bn turnover into the Group at c. £10-11bn turnover. Peter’s subsequent reverse take-over of The Co-operative Group and the replacement of Martin’s entire highly successful incumbent Executive, with his regional Executive was just plain daft in my opinion, and was poorly managed by The Group Board.  It is why I and many other Senior Managers at the Group at the time chose to resign.

Peter was handed by Martin Beaumont’s Executive team a golden inheritance, a well established single brand identity developed by Zoe Morgan’s Group Marketing Team, with over half of the independent societies signed up and a highly emotive advertising campaign ready to go including the much lauded Bob Dylan Blowin’ in the Wind campaign - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_UFaKt5Yqo - (yes to be clear Zoe’s team developed this under Martin, not Peter’s team who simply sat on it for 12 months before rolling out the campaign without any changes – astonishing given this was post Lehman Brother’s and at the time, the Co-operative Bank seen as a well run, ethical bank; the opportunity to simply change the John Hannah Voice-over to maximise this, simply lost on Peter’s senior team). 

The financials speak for themselves.  The Group’s 2013 Annual Results have just been posted. 

2006 is the last full year that Martin Beaumont’s Executive team was in charge. The 2006 Net Tangible Assets were £2.8bn with a Net Debt of £380m – (13%) 

In 2013 Net Tangible Assets is £0.8bn with Net Debt at £1.4bn – (175%)

Using the movement on net tangible assets, the value destroyed over 7 years is £2bn (£2.8bn-£800m).  I do not have the figures, but I believe the value of the assets inherited from United Co-operatives following the 2007 merger (and therefore not included in the 2006 net tangible assets) to be c.£400m. So in real terms a value destruction of £2.4bn.

Wow. Now as I say I’m no Peter Marks fan, and my colours are firmly stamped to Martin Beaumont’s reign, but emotion aside, the reign of Peter Marks, his strategic (if one can call them that) choices have been woeful and desperately damaging – be it the Somerfield acquisition and delayed sale of the larger supermarkets, to the, in my opinion, hubris inspired approach of Project Verde – the proposed Lloyd’s acquisition, which basically saw the undoing of the Bank’s financial processes - to the poor acquisition and integration of Britannia; all have found wanting in choice. 

The Co-operative Group Board singularly failed to see the benefit in agreeing a timely merger of United Co-operatives with the Group in a controlled and measured manner.  The more sensible approach would have been to tell Peter to wait a year to 18 months as understudy to Martin Beaumont, allowing Martin’s planned timing and management of his strategy to be fully embedded, including the timely execution of the Co-operative Movement Brand launch, the fully implemented food strategy of Guy McCracken and the sensible acquisition of Somerfield including the immediate exit of the larger food stores.  At which point a merger could have happened with Peter taking over as CEO with a fully formed and defined strategy for the Group.

This never happened and the result is what we see before us today.

In Euan Sutherland, the Group had someone who recognised the problems he’d inherited and worked tirelessly to try and develop solutions.  The Group Board yet again scuppered their best chance, with reported, leaking of remuneration packages; it’s simply not the way you manage an £11bn business.  In Ursula Lidbetter, they do have a Chairman who is commercially smart and forward thinking, one hopes she is allowed to steer the Group through these difficult waters and the internal politics of the Group does not act as the final nail in the coffin of this once proud and successful organisation.

I for one hope so.