Category Archives: Author
When the news broke that Sir Alex Ferguson was stepping down as manager of Manchester United and the name of his successor was revealed the following day, I was one of those who claimed that David Moyes was the logical and right choice. I expressed this belief on Danish television only minutes after Moyes had been officially “chosen”, but as it happens, I did in fact already indicate in the book Standing on the Shoulders of Giants that Moyes was the best bet, at least in terms of British candidates for the most impossible job in the world. But (and there is a “but” which has become only more visible in hindsight) I forgot to mention that Moyes being “the right choice” came with a precondition. The name of that precondition was René Meulensteen.
When it became clear in the course of July that Moyes had indeed made a clean cut and released Ferguson’s entire staff, I thus immediately felt the dark clouds assembling above Old Trafford. Ferguson is from Scotland, and so is Moyes. No problem in that. On the contrary, if one knows the history of Manchester United one also knows that the two most successful managers – Alex Ferguson and Matt Busby – are both Scots, and, apart from that, they both occupied the Old Trafford hot seat through more than twenty-five years. These facts, the Scottish connection and continuity, are some of the reasons why Moyes was the right and logical choice. In short, Manchester United have a deep love for both Scots and continuity, and this is why they not only chose Moyes, but also chose to give him a six-year contract. So far so good.
But in the wake of the fabulous Treble-winning season of 1999, a season where the Red Devils had shown what one could rightly label an uncompromising, but at times also naive all-out-attack mentality, Ferguson realised that the United engine was in urgent need of a continental component who could provide the team with tactical finesse and new training methods, since United were being punished in Europe for a similar tactic in the following season. In other words, Ferguson went looking for a new assistant manager to replace Steve McLaren, who after the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in 1999 went his own way. Ferguson found the cosmopolitan Portuguese Carlos Queiroz, and later he hired the Dutchman Meulensteen. With their schooling in the Portuguese and Dutch football philosophy respectively, Queiroz and Meulensteen brought elements of technical flair, tactical flexibility and strategic intelligence into the United team. Neither must we forget that Queiroz, apart from his technical, tactical and strategic inputs, also kept his fellow countryman Cristiano Ronaldo happy, just as Meulensteen kept his fellow countryman Robin van Persie happy in the latter’s first season at Old Trafford. The importance in relation to man management of having a staff with a multinational composition is not to be underestimated in this era of globalized squads.
When Moyes led Meulensteen go, what did he then do? In contrast to the master, who had realised the need for a continental ingredient in Manchester United’s English and Celtic core, the apprentice brought with him Britishness, Britishness and Britishness. Worst case scenario for a United fan is indeed that Moyes quite simply brought Everton from Goodison Park to Old Trafford. The signs of this have been clear in several matches. But perhaps they were most unambiguous, and symbolically so, in the match against the very Everton team Moyes only abandoned a few months ago. With Roberto Martinez at the helm Everton not only dominated in large periods of the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford, they also secured their victory in what came close to being Fergie Time – that specific period of the match when United historically have excelled in pushing their opponents further and further up the Stretford End and scoring late winners.
Maybe I am too harsh on Moyes. Maybe I underestimate his own tactical intelligence. But I do fear another post-Busby era. Is that too pessimistic? Is it an untimely premonition (untimely because as a United fan one is committed to give Moyes a chance and committed to thinking long term)? Perhaps too pessimistic and untimely, yes, but Meulensteen’s exit was a bad decision. If it was a catastrophically bad decision, only time will tell.
And I guess we could leave it here, hanging in the air in good postmodern fashion. But there is a merciless point that we cannot neglect, namely that seven years are longer today than they were in 1986. And that is not all. It is also much more fatal for a club today to fall out of top 4 than it was then, not just because of financial reasons, but especially because it influences a club’s ability to attract players from the top-top shelf negatively. The consequence is a vicious circle which is almost impossible to break. Just look at Liverpool.
Søren Frank is the author of a brand new book about Manchester United entitled Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants. The book was recently reviewed by World Soccer Talk.
As soon as we’d tweeted about the Bloomsbury Institute Evening with Graeme Obree to celebrate the publication of The Obree Way, tickets sold out quicker than for a One Direction concert.
Last night an audience of cyclists and Obree fans gathered to hear the great man interviewed by journalist Richard Moore. An hour didn’t seem enough – 60 minutes to cover such a varied career – the world records, the World Championships, the UCI, the movie of his life, the highs, the lows, the Beastie… With Richard at the tiller the audience were guided through Graeme’s career, and his own inimitable take on cycling, life and motivation.
Graeme pulls no punches – his refusal to enter the doping programme for Le Groupement lost him his professional cycling career (and the shortest pro contract ever at 11 hours in total from signing it to being kicked off, he laughed…), but he winningly argued that come what may, he retains his self-respect and pride in his decision. Asked about the UCI he was winningly supportive – while their decision-making damaged his career he argued that it pushed him on to continue innovating, and also that without their volunteers and officials cycling events simply wouldn’t happen. Asked what his greatest wish for cycling was he used the opportunity to despair at the lack of support for women’s cycling – and especially a women’s Tour de France.
It was a fascinating opportunity to hear from a cycling legend – an iconoclast and innovator who has pushed the boundaries throughout his career.
Post by Charlotte Croft, Head of Sport
Do you think you have what it takes to write a netball coaching guide?
Do you have top coaching tips and training plans for improving player performance?
Do you know what netball tactics, skills and drills will help players in their different roles on the court?
Bloomsbury Sport are looking for an experienced coach to share their coaching knowledge with netball players, coaches and teachers in a practical coaching book to keep the game fun and challenging, and help players improve their game.
If you think you’re the right person for the job, then get in touch.
Enter your name and email address, along with a bit of background about your netball experience, in the form below, and we will get back in touch with more info.
Posted by Naomi
Guest Post by Anita Bean, Author of The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition.
Proper nutritional recovery is vital to performance. Failure to replenish fluids and fuel after training can quickly result in sore muscles, fatigue and under-performance at your next training session. Here’s how to promote full recovery after a hard session:
Priority 1: Replace fluids
Your muscles cannot fully recover until your cells are properly hydrated. So make drinking your priority – start drinking while stretching, before you’ve showered. The exact amount you need to drink depends on how dehydrated you are after your workout. The ‘pee test’ will give you an idea how dehydrated you are, otherwise weigh yourself before and after training. For each 0.5 kg (1 lb approx) of body weight lost, drink 600 – 750 ml of fluid (e.g. water, diluted juice or squash, milk – but not all in one go.
Drink little and often – I suggest 100 – 150 ml every 10 or 15 minutes over the next hour or so until your urine is very pale yellow.
Priority 2: Refuel
You need to replace the fuel (carbs) that you’ve used otherwise you will feel sore, achey and tired during your next session.
Take advantage of the 30-minute window: This is when your muscles restock energy levels faster than normal. The sooner you supply your muscles with carbs and protein after training, the quicker they will repair and rebuild. So have your recovery drink/ snack ready in your kit bag or in the car to eat on your journey home.
Eat carbs with protein: To help the body repair and rebuild, you need carbs with protein in a ratio of 3: 1. Ideally you should consume approx 20g protein. You can achieve this either in the form of drink (milk) or food (see below). You don’t need commercial recovery drinks
Opt for a milk drink: Milk, flavoured milk and milk shakes are near-perfect recovery drinks. Research shows that all types of milk after training speed up fuel recovery, encourage muscle gain and even reduce muscle soreness after training. They also help rehydrate the body more effectively than sports drinks, according to recent studies. Opt for whole, semi or skimmed milk; ready-to-drink milk shakes or make your own yoghurt smoothie from fruit, yoghurt and milk OR milk shake powder and milk.
Here are some ideas for post-workout snacks supplying 20g protein:
- 500ml of milk or milkshake plus a banana
- 250ml milk or milkshake plus 2 pots of fruit yoghurt
- 500ml milk or milkshake plus an oat-based bar or flapjack
- 200ml milk or milkshake plus 1 pot yoghurt plus 1 slice of toast and honey
- Homemade milk shake: Blend 1 cup milk, 1 banana, 1 pot yogurt, 1 tbsp chopped walnuts, 1 scoop chocolate milkshake powder and 6 to 8 ice cubes
- Fruit yoghurt smoothie: whizz together 2 pots of yoghurt, 1 banana or a handful or berries and 150ml fruit juice in a blender
- 50g nuts (e.g. almonds or cashews) plus 2 pots of yoghurt
Anita Bean is also the author of the following titles:
Okay, we won’t keep you in suspense anymore. Here’s the second half of the top 10 wackiest and weirdest sports…
(And don’t forget to click on the pics for action videos.)
5. Bog snorkelling
Started in Wales in (surprise surprise) the Seventies, supposedly as a result of a conversation in a pub (as most new sports probably are), bog snorkelling involves racing through a flooded trench dug into a peat bog about 60 yards long, and then racing back again. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Competitors must wear a snorkel and flippers and aren’t allowed to try to swim. Wetsuits are not mandatory, but are probably advisable.
4. Cheese rolling
A round of Double Gloucester cheese is given a one second head start down Cooper’s Hill in the Cotswolds. Hundreds of people charge down after it. The winner is the first one to the bottom of the hill, or the person who catches up with the cheese. But seeing as it reaches speeds of up to 70mph, that never happens. The prize is the cheese, and international fame. You might not want the cheese, given where it’s been. In 1993, 15 people were injured, 4 of them seriously. Organisers received death threats in 2011 after trying to charge a high entry fee, supposedly to try and reduce the number of competitors to comply with the health and safety laws that saw the 2010 event cancelled.
3. Running of the bulls
Because as every real man knows, it ain’t a real sport unless something bleeds. Made famous by Ernest Hemingway, with the encierro at Pamplona in Spain now the best known, bull-running involves penning a bunch of bulls in the streets and then letting them run wild whilst a bunch of idiot humans run in front of them and try to avoid getting gored. The path leads to the bull-ring, where the bulls are tortured until they collapse the following day whilst the same idiot humans whoop and cheer. Over a dozen of these idiot humans have been killed by the bulls at Pamplona in the last century. The heart bleeds. Theirs, mainly. Ours, only sarcastically.
2. Tossing the caber
Perhaps the most emblematic event of the Highland Games, tossing the caber secretly impresses us weedy Sassenachs, but it still amounts to chucking a bit of a tree around. The caber is typically an almost-20ft-long pole made of larch that weighs about 80kg. The aim of tossing it is not just to achieve distance, but to have it land perfectly. The top of the caber should land nearest to the thrower, so the caber can’t just be pushed up into the air and allowed to fall. Ideally it should come to lie at exactly twelve o’clock to the thrower. He loses points the further it lands from this sweetspot, and if the caber doesn’t turn over in the air. The person throwing the caber is called a tosser. No comment.
1. Chess boxing
But surely the weirdest sport currently played is chess boxing. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Competitors play six rounds of chess in the ring, interspersed with five rounds of boxing – if both competitors last that long. Having the strongest fist won’t necessarily secure victory here. Competitors need to be equally skilled with their knights and bishops, because chess boxing matches can be won either way. The sport is currently enjoying an explosion in popularity, though the first proper matches weren’t held until 2003. Interestingly, chess boxing first appeared in 1992 – in the pages of a comic book.
Guest post by Jonathan Eyers. Follow his blog at http://jonathaneyers.com/blog/
Having persuaded Rouleur to allow us to publish their supremely gorgeous cycling books, this Wednesday we opened our doors to the great and the good of the cycling fraternity to celebrate our new Rouleur Books imprint and the first offspring, Coppi and Le Metier.
Slightly overwhelmed by the rabid RSVPing which followed the invites being sent out, we’d been forced to emergency-order more booze, so the signs were good, and we weren’t disappointed. A jolly crowd, many sporting an assortment of slightly troubling Movembers, mingled, caught up with old friends and suffered through the obligatory speeches.
As a Bloomsbury someone who shall remain nameless whispered to me half way through – ‘one of the best launch parties we’ve had’ – a resounding success full of strange but enjoyable conversations (sample facts unearthed: 1. Never fall asleep in a field in the Cotswolds on a cycling trip – you will wake to find red kites circling above, assuming you are dead 2. The roof of Number 50 was the perfect place to do a tab of acid in the 60s), which was only broken up by the rather flashback end-of-school-disco switching on and off of lights to encourage the last few stragglers to stick on their helmets, rev up their Bromptons, and weave their merry way home…
Musings by Charlotte Croft, Head of Team Sport at Bloomsbury
Canadian cycling star Michael Barry has announced that he is calling time on his professional cycling career at the end of the season. Having ridden for US Postal, Discovery Channel and Columbia-HTC, Barry will end his successful career at Team Sky and will no doubt be missed by his team mates and everyone on the professional cycling circuit.
Team Sky’s website said:
In a career spanning 14 years, Michael has earned a reputation as one of the hardest working domestiques in the peloton and has captivated many cycling fans through his way with words and an infectious love for the sport
He was a founding member of Team Sky when he signed at the end of 2009, and over the last three seasons has set an example to the rest of the squad with his positive attitude, unwavering commitment to the cause, and wealth of cycling knowledge.
If you’d like to read about life as a cycling domestique, the third edition of Michael Barry’s book Le Metier: The Seasons of a Professional Cyclist (including photos from the 2012 season) is available to pre-order on Amazon here.
Tune in your radios, turn up the volume, and sit back and listen to Richard Witt on the Hawksbee and Jacobs show tomorrow (Wednesday 4th July 2012) on TalkSport Radio between 1pm and 4pm.
Richard, author the Olympic book A Lifetime of Training for Just Ten Seconds, will be talking about the book – a collection of quotations from Olympic athletes and commentators. Inspiring, devastating, and often hilarious, it is a fascinating insight into the Games and its cast of characters. This live radio interview will no doubt be full of the same. Don’t miss it.
Posted by Naomi
Been inspired by yesterday’s marathon, well get ready for next years London Marathon with the new edition of Richard Nerurkar‘s bestselling book Marathon Running as recommended by Nell McAndrew, who finished this year’s London Marathon in 2 hours 54 minutes.
Written by Richard Nerurkar, Britain’s most successful marathon runner of the 1990s, the fourth edition of this classic, invaluable guide is packed with the latest training information and tips that will help you get the most from your distance training.
Fully updated to take account of the latest developments in running science and programme design. This guide also includes tips on how to choose a good marathon and the pitfalls of bad ones, as well as more insights from Richard and other leading runners.
The new edition is available September 2012. Pre-order on Amazon.