Friday, 24 February 2017

Farming, a game of two halves; Leicester City Football Club and Black Sea farming

Leicester City Football Club sacked their manager, Claudio Ranieri.

For those of you who don’t follow English football; Claudio Ranieri took over management of LCFC in 2015 and achieved the most outstanding and historic event in any sport by taking perennial bottom of the table strugglers to win the championship that very season.

Ranked 5000/1 outsiders at the start of the season the affable Italian understood his team's strengths but more importantly, their weaknesses. 

He recognised they couldn’t compete against the giants of the premier division on football skills only so he didn’t try. 

He identified his team’s strength was running, more accurately sprinting over short distances and his squad had some of the fastest sprinters in the league so he capitalised on that.

He encouraged his team to defend strongly letting the other teams play possession but when they slipped up his guys were ready to pounce and out sprint the opposition to score more goals and win more games over the course of the season.

Apparently his team drank beetroot juice shots as its proven to make you run faster and all his guys had to do was run slightly faster than everyone else.

It worked, LCFC were crowned 2015-16 champions on the English Premier league, Ranieri was feted as a genius, given loads of accolades and signed a new four year contract.

Role on this season and his team are looking at relegation as they flounder at the bottom of the table after losing game after game after game.

What went wrong? Probably many things but the main issue being the other teams studied the bejesus out LCFC and formulated a counter strategy to cancel out their competitive advantage.

What didn’t happen was Ranieri woke up at the start of the season and said to himself, “you know what, from now on I’m going to go into work every day and do everything in my power to lose every single game.”

Yesterday the LCFC board decided the only course of action was to sack Ranieri.

Now the funny thing about football is if a team has a long run of losing games they will, statistically, have a run of winning games, even if the manager does nothing.

But what happens is that after a poor run, the board, galvanised into doing something, decide to sack the manager, there is no other course of action, they can’t sack the players, not all of them anyway, who’d play the game, they can’t sack themselves because that would be stupid, we can’t be to blame, surely.

The only candidate left is the manager, so he gets the boot, usually just after the board gives him their full support and backing.

The team then go on to have a winning streak which statistically they were going to do anyway; the board see this as exoneration, they were right, that’s why they are on the board, Champagne, Stogies and pay rises all round boys.

At this point you might be thinking, hang on, isn’t this supposed to be a blog about Black Sea farming, indeed it is, the connection being that this is the same scenario played out every season in the world of Black Sea farming.

Expat farm managers are brought in to change the old soviet way of farming and to drag the business into the 21 century and it’s a difficult job I can tell you.

Farming is tricky at the best of times, weather and global commodity markets means that much of what we do is actually outside our control, what we are trying to do is reduce and mitigate the externalities as much as we can.

On top of that every day you have a thousand fires to put out, corruption, theft, dodgy deals, sabotage, funds not arriving on time, government policy, politics, banks, lawyers and so on.

Then, after a couple of dry seasons, low yields, poor results, the board start looking around for someone to blame, they can’t sack the tractor drivers, who’d drive the combines, they can’t blame the board, that would be stupid, so who’s left?

Black Sea farming businesses don’t fail because managers are going into work each morning thinking how can I balls this up today, they fail because the understanding and comprehension of the beautiful game of farming is often not fully understood or appreciated by those in charge.