Posts Tagged ‘al-Qaeda’

And so, with the end of the football season, the newspapers have once again descended into transfer-window madness. Rather than jetting off to a Caribbean island like the footballers they report upon, the unlucky sporting journalists must be chained to their desks over the summer, and expected to maintain a similar output as the height of the season. And so we have crazy speculation, over-analysis of any comment or action by a player – “someone that looked a bit like Carlos Tevez spotted in estate agent in Moldgreen; move to Huddersfield Town imminent” – and the daily pledges of loyalty from players to clubs they will immediately stab in the back as soon as the money is right.

I can’t really complain though – withdrawal symptoms from the football season have meant I consume all this crap nearly religiously. And then go on forums to discuss it. And then write blogposts criticising it. Whereas normally I will only really follow the Old Firm in Scotland and the Big 4 in England, due to the summer madness I’ve been checking out transfers at home and abroad, including Stirling Albion’s revolutionary X-Factor style auditions for a new team. I think having any knowledge of the transfer process at Stirling Albion is a sure sign that you need to get a job.

This season is perhaps unique in that managers seem to have joined the carousel of activity. Mark Hughes and Alex McLeish gave their clubs two-fingers in the hope of chasing higher profile jobs; in McLeish’s case, a move from Birmingham to bitter rivals Aston Villa. Perhaps he misses the vitriol and venom of football in Glasgow, and is trying to engineer a similar level of hatred in Birmingham.

Whilst I now feel that I am an expert on transfer policy from the Midlands to Scottish minnow’s, I have been nowhere near as obsessed with the other important managerial announcement of the previous few weeks. After much deliberation, Ayman al-Zawahiri has been given the top job of al-Qaeda. al-Zawahiri spent many years as assistant manager to Osama bin Laden.

For a bunch of religious fanatics, the appointment can be criticised for lacking a certain amount of ‘razzle-dazzle’. Compare Wesley Sneijder’s perspective on who will employ him next season..

only God will decide where my future lies

… to the announcement from the Islamic fundamentalists…

The general command of al-Qa’ida, after completing consultations, decided that the sheikh doctor Abu Mohammed Ayman al-Zawahiri take the responsibility and be in charge of the group

I don’t normally praise al-Qaeda for realism or having a sense of perspective, but I think that, in comparison to the arrogant and farcical opinion of Wesley Sneijder, perhaps some praise is due. The statement from al-Qaeda also seems to reflect more planning and foresight than the managerial chaos at Villa Park stretching back to the start of last season when Martin O’Neill left in acrimonious circumstances.

So, how will al-Qaeda’s new appointment fare? Obviously, following Osama bin Laden, perhaps the most successful manager of al-Qaeda, gives him some big shoes to fill. Al-Qaeda supporters, in the face of recent setbacks, will be impatient for al-Zawahiri to deliver some instant successes. Whilst he has a very different style to bin Laden, seen as a much less charismatic and unifying figure, it is likely there will much tactical continuity with the bin Laden era. This continuity will be important to keep much of the faithful on side, but could be problematic; the world has moved on since the glory days of bin Laden, and without some major changes al-Qaeda could risk being stuck in the past, like the great Italian sides of the 1990’s who have struggled recently. This has been demonstrated most vividly in the Arab spring – fundamentalist Jihadism is no longer looked upon by the angry and disenfranchised youth as a solution to their problems. al-Zawahiri’s biggest challenge will be to maintain the unity of al-Qaeda, and to impose itself upon the Arab revolutions that are currently spreading like wildfire. Whether he can achieve this remains unknown, but will likely come down to which formation he picks; 4-4-2, 4-5-1 or the traditional al-Qaeda line-up of 9-1-1.