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Mourinho & Cassano!!
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I read this article today and was very surprised at the lack of support and assistance for foreign players to adapt to their new life after getting transferred to a club. What are your thoughts?

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Football clubs splash the cash but scrimp on relocation

By Simon Kuper

Published: July 12 2008 03:00 | Last updated: July 12 2008 03:00

As football's transfer market cranks back into action, one remembers the sad words of the English striker Luther Blissett. Milan bought Blissett from Watford in 1983, reputedly by mistake after confusing him with another black player. His sole, unhappy year in Italy gave football one of its greatest quotes. "No matter how much money you have here," Blissett lamented, "you can't seem to get Rice Krispies."

There will be many more Blissetts this summer. Clubs still sign foreign players and tell them: "Here's a plane ticket, come over, and play brilliantly from day one." The player fails to adjust to the new country, underperforms, and his transfer fee of millions is wasted. This happens because football clubs are incompetent. Just as oil is part of the oil business, stupidity is part of the football business. When a senior Microsoft executive moves countries, a "relocation consultant" helps his family find schools, a house and learn the new country's social rules. An expensive relocation might cost £15,000, or 0.1 per cent of a largish transfer fee. But football's neglect of "relocation" is one of the many inefficiencies in the transfer market.

Bad relocations are the norm, such as Chelsea buying the great Ruud Gullit and then sticking him in a hotel in unlovely Slough, or another British footballer, Ian Rush, marvelling after flopping in Italy: "It was like another country." But perhaps the great failed relocation, one that a Spanish relocation consultant still cites in presentations, was Nicolas Anelka's to Real Madrid in 1999.

Real had spent £22m on Anelka's transfer from Arsenal. They spent nothing on helping him adjust. When the shy, awkward 20-year-old reported for his first day at work, there was nobody to show him around. He hadn't even been assigned a locker in the changing-room. So he'd take an empty locker, only for another player to show up and claim it. As Anelka said later, all Real told him was: "Look after yourself." He left after one unhappy year.

Even a footballer with a normal personality can find emigration tricky. Perhaps his girlfriend can't find a job, or she's pregnant and they can't understand her new doctor, or the player can't understand his new coach, or can't find Rice Krispies. The club doesn't care. It is paying him well. He just has to perform.

The few relocation consultants in football are never called that, and aren't hired by clubs. Instead, they work for sportswear companies. If Nike or Adidas is paying a player to wear its boots, it needs him to succeed. If the player joins a foreign club, the sportswear company - knowing the club probably won't bother - sends a minder to live nearby and look after him.

I once met the minder of a young midfielder who had joined Milan and was struggling. The minder said his job, when the player came home from training frustrated, lonely and confused by Italy, was to take him out to dinner. At dinner the player would say angrily: "Tomorrow I'm going to tell the coach what I really think of him," and the minder would say: "Here, have some more linguine."

But that isn't enough. Too many players still flop abroad. Often, clubs anticipate this by avoiding footballers who might fail to adjust. For instance, Brazilians are the world's best footballers. Yet English clubs rarely buy them because Brazilians don't speak English, don't like cold weather and don't understand the core tradition of English football, which is drinking 20 pints of beer in a night. Few Brazilians adjust easily to English football.

English clubs traditionally bought Scandinavians instead. On average, Scandinavians are worse footballers than Brazilians. But they do understand English, cold weather and 20 pints of beer. Scandinavians adapted, and so the clubs bought them. However, the clubs were missing a great opportunity. Anyone who bought a great Brazilian and hired a good relocation consultant would be on to a winner. Yet few clubs did.

Football is becoming gradually less stupid, but most clubs still ignore relocation. Didier Drogba in his recent autobiography recounts joining Chelsea from Olympique Marseille in 2004 for £24m. Nobody at Chelsea helped him find a house, or a school for his kids. For "weeks of irritation" the Drogbas lived in a hotel. Drogba says all Chelsea's expensive foreign signings would sit around at the club and say: "You too? You're also still living in a hotel?" He writes: "After all these worries, I didn't feel like integrating [at Chelsea] or multiplying my efforts."

I recently gave a talk along these lines to a conference of relocation consultants. Afterwards the consultants literally queued to tell me their horror stories. They had all tried to get into football and been rebuffed. Many clubs had never even heard of relocation. The only consultants who had penetrated football happened to have a friend inside a club, or, in the case of one woman, had married a club owner. Another woman, who entered a German club as a language teacher and worked her way up, said: "I was their mother, their nurse, their real estate agent, their cleaning lady, their everything." Did her work help the players play better? "Absolutely."

[email protected]

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a2993690-4fb5-11dd-b050-000077b07658.html
 

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It's an interesting article but I think the sole analogy that it offers - comparison with the Microsoft senior executive - is flawed because the executive has a leadership role, whereas the footballer is more of an employee. A better comparison with an executive is a coach and as far as I can tell, coaches don't have trouble adapting to the lifestyle of another country.
 

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Mourinho & Cassano!!
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When you go overseas for a corporation, they usually offer you help in finding a place to live there, as well as getting rid of your place at your current residence, etc. As an employee. So I think the analogy can be presented in that fashion as well.
 

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Here, Yoann, have some more linguine
I know Milan puts an effort into taking care of their players and families from housing to education and medical treatment (and letting little brothers knock us out of Coppa Italia).

I think Milan and Inter actually call the same guys on housing at Como. I know I recognized the guy that moved Zlatan into Shevchenko's old home and only way I'd have seen him was from some show of Milan behind the scenes.
 

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I remember reading an article about one guy who is called a liason officer, whose job is to ensure players set in properly and find houses and schools. I can't remember what club it was at, but its in England.
 

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Those guys are millionaires anyway, it's not like they can't hire someone to help them adapt if the club isn't providing such a person (which I think most big clubs do, from what I've read in interviews and such).
 

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That was a really interesting article.

In regards to Anelka, he'd still complain anyway.
 

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Anelka's a bloody pain. He's always complaining about something. The world is against him :howler:

Here's a nice quote from him:

"I'm no longer part of Arsenal. To hell with the English people"
Anelka, 1999

With comments like that he's asking for trouble....
 

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With the type of Money, they can hire a dozen butlers, or french maids.

Clubs should ready one for them. Read sometime ago that Manchester United has all the facilities ready.. the player only needs to concentrate on playing.
 

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Cachorro
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Good article, and it's absolutely right. It's easy to say that the player should take care of himself because they're sooo rich, but not all transferred players will know what to do or which locals to trust with solving their adaptation problems. Many of these transferred players are in their early twenties and leaving their country for the first time, and it WOULD be smart for the clubs to assist them more directly. Saying that "they can hire a dozen butlers" is easy and excuses the clubs of any responsibility in the process, but it's also the sort of attitude that allows expensive transfers to end up in disappointment just because the player didn't adapt.

Offering a relocation assistant to recently-signed foreign players is a SMART investment. Thanks for posting this article, Facchetti. :)
 
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