With Roberto Di Matteo gone, who should be Chelsea’s next manager?

Joe Joseph

General David Petraeus: If there’s one place outside a battlefield where the skills of a military tactician come in useful, it’s on a football pitch: sneaking down the wing when the opposition’s attention is diverted elsewhere; throwing all your resources into the Big Surge around the 85-minute mark – all to ensure that you leave with a victory under your belt. But best of all, this is a man with a proven talent for playing successfully both at home and away.

Abu Qatada: To be fair, he doesn’t win many matches, but he does have a marvellous track record of getting the authorities to overturn his team’s losing scores. Roman Abramovich may try to shift him after a few poor results, possibly with the lure of a foreign transfer, but Abu Qatada has proved himself a very hard man to shift anywhere.

Sir Mervyn King: Managing Chelsea could be the perfect job for King after he finishes his stint as Governor of the Bank of England, given the club’s history under Abramovich of throwing more and more money at the problem. After all, this is football’s equivalent of quantitative easing (with, so far, similarly inefficacious results).

Mitt Romney: Being possibly richer than Roman Abramovich, he won’t be cowed by the Russian’s cash. He also has “binders” full of players he can hire. And if it turns out that they’re no good, he likes being able to fire them. The size of Stamford Bridge itself won’t faze him, the pitch being slightly smaller than Mitt’s own back garden (one of them). Romney’s trademark match tactic is the flip-flop, in which Chelsea players will suddenly start running in the same direction as the opposing team, towards their own goal. It’s a trick that’s guaranteed to confuse everyone, even the Chelsea squad.

Dr Rowan Williams: Having failed in his bid to allow women to be appointed as bishops, the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury could channel his efforts instead into allowing women to play for Chelsea’s first team – a laudable strategy, given the success of England’s women footballers in international competition compared with their male counterparts.

Read more: Gabriele Marcotti, European Football Editor, on why Di Matteo’s departure makes no sense

The Hillsborough disaster was unique in being the only catastrophe in which the victims themselves were attacked; in which the asphyxiated were accused of being somehow responsible for their own deaths and their corpses tested for alcohol — even those of children. Has there been another instance in Britain where the newly bereaved, confronted with the still-warm bodies of their children, have been treated with such brutality and contempt by the State as though, being football fans, they were somehow lesser beings?

The families of the 96 who died in the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster have shown incredible dignity despite being kicked in the teeth time and time again, says Carol Midgley

Times Opinion today | Diamond Bob, Islam and human rights, the beautiful game

Goodbye, Diamond Bob

Bankers who spent £44,000 on wine at the Michelin-starred Pétrus restaurant broke Bob Diamond’s “no jerks” rule. This rule can be extended to all walks of life, says Rachel Sylvester

And the £291 million fine for Barclays pales in comparison to its £3 billion profits. The bank should have been fined no less than £1 billion, says David Davis, the chair of the 20120 Future of Banking Commission

“It is hard to overstate the scandalousness of the bank’s behaviour or its significance for the wider economy,” says The Times


“This would effectively be in/out/shake-it-all-about,” says a confused Hugo Rifkind of a three-part referendum on EU membership

Middle East

Islam and human rights are not mutually exclusive,” says Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish journalist, praising Turkey’s aggressive stance on Assad’s Syria


Football “is not merely a tribal experience but an aesthetic one, too,” says Matthew Syed, in praise of Spain

The Times has been investigating the “export” of damaged children from care homes in London and the South East to cheaper homes in the North West and West Midlands. The Times says this is an “outrage”

Nasa’s new Orion spacecraft brings back memories from the race to the moon

(Times Opinion, Tuesday July 3, 2012)

Times Opinion today | welfare, Roy Hodgson, defence cuts & punishing bankers


“The Tories keep saying “work must pay” and it’s a ruse. It’s not the differential that bothers them entirely. It’s the concept. The Left will never understand how much this concept appals the Right, and the Right will often not let on, because it doesn’t want to sound like somebody with a talk show on Fox News.” Hugo Rifkind writes about welfare…

…as does The Times in a leading article examining what the limits on welfare should be


In praise of Roy Hodgson: the football wasn’t uplifting but he guided the team with great professionalism, The Times says

Liverpool College moves from the private to the public sector today. We need more of this, says Andrew Adonis, Tony Blair’s former education adviser

What is customer service? New recruits don’t have a clue, says the chairman of Poundland

Entire regiments and battalions are to be axed as part of defence reforms. David Cameron, fresh from alienating the bishops over gay marriage, now risks antagonising the generals, says Rachel Sylvester

Use the fear of jail sentences to stop banks behaving badly, says historian Niall Ferguson

The election of a president from the Muslim Brotherhood puts Egypt on the road to democracy, The Times says

(Times Opinion, Tuesday June 26, 2012)

Times Opinion today | amoral Jimmy Carr, damp e-books, dress codes & the firecrest

Jimmy Carr

He’s amoral, not immoral, says Janice Turner. And we just don’t like it when comedians turn out to be not very like us at all

Giles Coren went for dinner with him on Monday. So he can’t write about him. It’s e-books instead – they’re not waterproof, apparently


Simon Barnes, award-winning sports writer and birdwatcher, is on the trail of the firecrest


"For any stable European future you need the consent of the people, a shared conviction that it is worth making sacrifices for the idea of Europe. That consensus has shattered." Roger Boyes on the revolutionary spirit of 1989

"With less qualification than Ed Miliband, we celebrate the arrival here of the Polish plumber, the Asian computer engineer and the Slovakian chambermaid," The Times says on immigration

Culture for vultures

Hate sport? Scared of the Olympics? Worry not: it’s like “an ace culture festival with quite a nice sports gala attached”

Dress codes can be useful but not if they suppress self-expression, says Ed Smith

Give our grime kids the respect they deserve, says Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale

In case you forgot

England v Italy is on Sunday at 7.45pm. What are you expecting?

(Times Opinion, Saturday June 23, 2012)

Obama’s chances of re-election | Daniel Finkelstein

During US elections I try not to let too long go by without consulting Nate Silver and his brilliant fivethirtyeight blog.

At the moment he gives Obama a 62.7 per cent chance of winning a second term. Which accords broadly with my intuition.

That figure, by the way, equates roughly to the chance that Bayern Munich had of winning the Champions League final.

Twitter: @Dannythefink

Consult the Fink Tank

The Greek football team is everything the country is not: highly competitive, disciplined and focused on collective effort. The foundation of Greek footballing success was built by a German manager years ago. Every now and then it is a good idea to follow German advice.

Clemens Wergin, Foreign Editor of German newspaper Die Welt, gives Greeks some friendly advice ahead of their Euro 2012 quarter-final clash. Read more

Leaders and Thunderer | The Times, June 16, 2012

Spurs have been fooled by the randomness of results | Daniel Finkelstein

One of the few tiny consolations of the financial crisis is that now, surely, we understand numbers better.

We will – we must, obviously – realise that gains come in clusters and are randomly distributed. We will understand – after all we’ve been through we must understand – that we shouldn’t reward people or punish them for results produced by numerical illusions.

No more being fooled by randomness, that’s us. One small cause for optimism, as I say.

Then along come Spurs.

Read more

Cover of Private Eye's June 15 edition. And an excuse to get football on our Tumblr for the first time.

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