Outside the Box: Demise of Barnes proves great teams provide poor managers

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The Independent Football

John Barnes' sacking at Tranmere not only offers further proof that great players rarely make equally good managers, but even suggests that the very best teams have the highest percentage of unsuccessful ones. Being associated with a side like England's World Cup-winners can earn you a job but hardly guarantees results, as Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles and the West Ham trio of Moore, Hurst and Peters all discovered. Only Jack Charlton and to a lesser extent, Alan Ball, ever thrived. Consider, too, Liverpool's team of 1988, who played much sublime football and would have done the Double but for a bad day in the FA Cup final against Wimbledon. As well as Barnes it included other managerial failures in Steve McMahon (Swindon, Blackpool), Nigel Spackman (Sheffield United, Barnsley, Millwall), Jan Molby (Swansea, Kidderminster, Hull), Gary Ablett (Stockport), Bruce Grobbelaar (various African teams) and Steve Staunton (Ireland), now trying again against all the odds at Darlington. Only Steve Nicol (New England Revolution) and John Aldridge (Tranmere) had any degree of success.

Celtic play United in Cup

"United v Celtic in FA Cup" is how those cheeky chappies from FC United of Manchester are billing today's third qualifying round tie against, er, Stalybridge Celtic at Bury's Gigg Lane. The club, started and supported by former Old Traffordites disillusioned by the Glazer takeover, have received a timely, if unwitting boost from Martin Edwards, the former chairman who made a fortune from selling his United shares 10 years ago. Still an honorary life president, he warned last week of the perils of United carrying such a huge burden of debt, which is exactly the refuseniks' complaint. Today's tie has been declared a "Seventies Revival Day", though there has not been enough time for the anticipated crowd of up to 3,000 to grow their hair and sideburns.

Just superb for William

No sooner had we suggested that the astonishingly low number of draws in the Premier League this season was a mere statistical freak than five out of 10 matches last weekend ended all square. Whether the unusually high number of goals also reverts to something closer to normal remains to be seen; thanks to Arsenal's 6-2 epic with Blackburn, the average per game has now reached exactly three, the highest rate for 40 years. Talking of statistical freaks – no, that is too unkind – our old friends Fort William have actually won a match in the Highland League – something they failed to do all last season. The triumph came by two goals to one away to newcomers Turriff United, a first win on the road for three seasons, shooting the Fort up the table to third bottom.

France are porn winners

As France took on the Faroe Islands yesterday with their qualification for the World Cup in jeopardy, the beleaguered coach Raymond Domenech received an unexpected boost from the most unlikely of sources. His approval rating has apparently increased since the release of a highly suggestive song by Catherine Ringer, "Je Kiffe Raymond" (I fancy Raymond). A former porn star, Ringer is the leader of well-regarded French band Les Rita Mitsouko, and has recorded with Iggy Pop, the topless "Grandfather of Punk" currently starring in an odd advert on British TV for an insurance firm. All of which will be no consolation to Domenech if France don't beat Austria on Wednesday.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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