BBC BLOGS - Nick Robinson's Newslog
« Previous | Main | Next »

Team tactics

Nick Robinson | 09:19 UK time, Tuesday, 13 May 2008

He is not "the special one". He is not as charismatic as his predecessor. He faces persistent rumours about his long-term future. A crucial test next week will help determine how events unfold. Gordon Brown had a lot to talk about to Avram Grant last night when they met at a Downing Street reception.

Avram GrantEarlier that day Team Brown's head coach, Ed Balls, had declared that there were great similarities between the ups and downs of leadership in sport and politics. Of course, unlike Chelsea, Brown's team did not even come second in their recent contest and their real focus is on trying to reverse the damage done by a spate of own goals. Today, Labour's team manager will debate tactics and strategy with his squad of cabinet players. In particular, they will consider a plan to compensate some of the losers from the scrapping of the 10p tax rate.

Whilst Avram Grant is hoping to raise a trophy, to bask in the cheers, and to keep his job, Gordon Brown's more limited ambition is to stop the crowd booing. Today may be the first test of whether he can pull that off.

The PM met another grizzled veteran of the nausea-inducing rollercoaster of the beautiful game's fickle fortune, Roy Hodgson of Fulham, last night. Perhaps his advice on how to avoid relegation was more appropriate.


  • Comment number 1.

    Can't believe you've gone so downmarket as to use football analogies on a serious political issue.

    Get a grip!

  • Comment number 2.

    Excellent comparison Nick.
    So very true. Excellent!

  • Comment number 3.

    It would be interesting to know how much taxpayers money has been consumed by parliament in looking to compensate the losers in the 10p tax band debacle.

    I suspect the figure will dwarf the cost of any 'compensation' -- MP's appear to have done very well out it for themselves (a few weeks chatting about it, being paid at great public expense) -- when they could have been doing something worthwhile (if only Brown hadn't made such a stupid gaff).

  • Comment number 4.

    The obvious difference is that Chelsea actually has some talented players and the cabinet is full of minows. In fact, even the comparison is flattering!

  • Comment number 5.

    Ed Balls is spot on to draw analogies between politics and football.

    The Labour party have scored dozens of own goals; need a completely new team to avoid relegation and could do with a new manager.

  • Comment number 6.

    As a Derby County fan I am not really in a position to comment on the woes of Labour. However, just to point out that Derby sacked their manager in November, long before, but making no difference to, our inevitable relegation.

    No matter what they do, labour cannot fight a tide that has turned.

    Roll on Cameron, he doesn't appeal to me as a political operator but I'll give him and the tories a chance considering the alternative.

  • Comment number 7.

    Quite a clever comparison to make, Nick. Of course it falls down in the real world, because Chelsea have to play against ManU and Liverpool, whereas Brown United (if only) has only to beat the equivalent of Birmingham City and Torquay Utd. Nonetheless, anything can happen when it comes to the Cup!

  • Comment number 8.

    Why do you still refer to the "scrapping of the 10p tax rate?" It was a doubling of the 10p tax rate!

  • Comment number 9.

    Goffee @ 10.15am
    'Roll on Cameron...'
    How utterly, utterly depressing.

  • Comment number 10.

    Given Gordon's run of disasters recently, and his seeming ability to plight anyone he touches or is seen with, I'm now going to put a bet on Manchester United winning the Champions League.

  • Comment number 11.

    To gain a measure of the difficulties facing 'Team Brown' or indeed 'Team Cameron' is to understand that they are playing in a league that is about to be recast with more teams.

    That is, the existing league contained teams UK, France, Germany, Italy and so on.

    The new league will contains teams England, Scotland, Wales, France, Germany, Italy and so on.

    To be successful in the game, you must look forward.

  • Comment number 12.

    It's a fitting analogy.

    But unless the Chelsea players start trying to give each other career ending injuries to each other on the pitch, in front of the fans and general public, not quite a completely accurate one.

  • Comment number 13.

    Re the comparison, one thing you didn't draw out was that Chelsea is well financed and the Labour party is broke.

    I wonder what the shocking state of the party's finances will mean for concessions to the unions at conference season this year?

    If GB is still PM by then of course.

  • Comment number 14.

    It is very rare for a politician to admit that they are not up to the job. Estelle Morris famously - and indeed courageously - stepped down from the Cabinet as Education Secretary in 2002 saying at the time “"I just don't think I am as good at it as I was at my other job. I am not having second best in a post that is as important as this”.

    Frankly I think The Prime Minister can learn much more from Estelle Morris than he can from a bunch of football managers!

  • Comment number 15.

    I know this would ruin the analogy.

    To raise every parties game. Maybe we should have 3 credible parties instead of the NONE we have at the moment.

    See the rubbish election turnouts.

    There is no real passion amongst the environmentalist Top Gear fans for the Conservatives. What do you call environmentalist Top Gear fans? Hydrogen Heads? You would have to have a brain lighter than air to fall for this marketing strategy. It was hilarious when Cameron accused brown of too much PR last week.

    Lib dems, I would like to see them succeed. But please we need more than 'The other two parties are as bad as each other' that makes me cringe every time I hear it. and less cringemaking sex scandals and cheeky girl marriages.

    I wont say anymore about the Conservative clones Labour. plenty of people here doing that already. Stop in-fighting and do your job.

    Both labour and conservative are so poor and uninspiring that they depend on the other party doing really really really badly to get back into power.

    Less of a conservative comeback more like a victory for the "Whats the difference? may as well stay in and watch eastenders." party.

  • Comment number 16.

    Poor old Mr Brown. Without Charlie Whelan, where is he?

    If Mr Blair had been in a similar rocky (disasterous, more like) phase of his premiership, I can bet that Alistair Campbell would have said 'Meet Avram Grant and have the press make the obvious comparisons? Not on my watch'.

    Of course, having thrown 'spin' out of No 10 Mr Brown will have to continue to suffer such indignities.

    Mr Brown, someone needs to do the thinking ahead for you if you can't manage it for yourself.

    Otherwise you will be as sick as a parrot...

  • Comment number 17.

    Interesting analogy Nick, if you hadn't been 'inspired' by yesterday's Telegraph

  • Comment number 18.

    I thought Gordo wasn't going to court celebrity.

    Yet so far we have seen: George Clooney
    American Pop Idol Avram Grant Olympic Flame - oh he didn't touch it! Shakira

    Is he actually getting on with the job or just hob nobbing? Any policies to discuss or is that too much to ask of government?

  • Comment number 19.

    The lack of belief in "team Brown" and potentially the replacement "team Milliband" is so low that I cannot believe they can survive in government till 2010. Surely there was never as much public contempt as this even for Major. When people think about "team Cameron" I suspect the number of people who may start claiming Scottish citizenship - or the Welsh later - will increase hugely. I am too old to emigrate myself unless Canada counts me as a refugee.

    But for me this situation of no confidence relates to politicians treating government as a fiefdom. Then its exacerbated by spin doctors like Campbell and Balls who create a situation where when politicians talk about listening to the public nobody even believes there is a shred of truth in it.

    Still in my analysis this could all have the silver lining of the UK breaking up and an English Republic being formed with a President and a constitution that would prevent the fiefdom issues we currently endure. Probably a forlorn hope.

  • Comment number 20.

    To continue the analogy theme - what about Brown as Steve McClaren.

    He's was number two to someone who promised much and delivered little at the start of the decade, and having waited ages to take over the job he'd wanted all his life has proved a complete flop and is now seen as a laughing stock.

  • Comment number 21.


    You forgot to point out that the major teams in the league are being swallowed up by foreign owners or are under foreign control. Given the impending ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, I think it is fair to say that no mater the players or managers, the ownership is about to change, and yet again the 'supporters' have no say in the matter.

    Might team GB (UK) be saved by Cameroon at the 11th hour?

    All the best

  • Comment number 22.

    When Jose departed from Chelsea he left behind a charisma free Avram plus a strong backroom staff,and a team of top class players blessed with talent and ability.

    When Tony departed Downing Street, he left behind a charisma free Gordon and -er that's it.

    Maybe Gordon should start by learning some Balls control.

  • Comment number 23.

    Yesterday the dear leader was discussing reform of policy concerning the aged members of our population, today he says that he's going to tax them. Today he is talking football does that been he will be taxing it tomorrow ?

  • Comment number 24.

    'Team Browns' attempts to manage 'Team UK' are rendered almost impossible when for example, discussing policy reform for aged members.

    In that case, a few of the players in 'Team UK' i.e. the Scottish players, have declared themselves 'unfit' for 'Team UK' and have bunked off to 'Team Scotland', which transpires, have offered highly attractive transfer fees, including not confiscating their home as they age plus other health benefits.

    Methinks 'Team Scotland' is onto a winner.

  • Comment number 25.

    Please Nick next time you talk to any of NuLabours top brass will you ask one question.

    People are a bit confused with Mr Beans NuLabour relaunch - Which level of rebranding are we at NuLabour, NuNuLabour, NuNuNuLabour, ReallyWonderfulLabour or could it still be tired old NuLabour!

    Alas I am at a loss which party to back or indeed give a kicking!!

  • Comment number 26.

    I think Gordon would do well to remember Maggie in the early 80's, she was less popular than Michael Foot.

    She kept her head down and got on with the job and was there for another 10 years (or there abouts).

    Forget the spin, smiles and popularity; just get on with the job.

  • Comment number 27.

    All bets are off now. Manchester United are definitely going to win the Champions League.
    Remember when....

    Brown went to the England game... they lost.

    Brown fiddled with the 10p tax rate (that he introduced)... it blew up in his face.

    Brown sold our gold reserves... the price rose to a historic high

    Brown made the Bank of England independent... we had the first run on a bank in a century.

    Everything Brown touches seems to turn to ashes. What's the opposite of the Midas touch? Whatever it's called, Brown has it.

  • Comment number 28.

    In keeping with the team spirit/football analogy may I suggest one of the best tried and tested practices to encourage flagging team attainment, in a variety of organisations including football clubs and corporate circles is team bonding.

    This is where the whole team goes away and spend some quality time together. Two of the most well known examples are paint-balling and role playing. They then can all, at least, sing the same song sheet.

    Can I suggest that team NuLabour are in dire need of such an initiative and that they stay away as long as is needed…..10 – 20 years would be great!

  • Comment number 29.

    As we're in metaphor mode today, we can visualise Capt. Brown of the SS United Kingdom, which has just hit iceberg Scotland.

    SS United Kingdom is slowly sinking beneath the waves of history and will finally go stern up in or around 2010/2012.

    However, at present, the Brown band plays blindly on.

  • Comment number 30.

    Regarding comment 26, it took a war to get Maggie's popularity back up. Hope Brown doesn't go down that path though.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.