Politics, Sport

Tuchel is up and running and deceny returns to the American leadership.

Chelsea’s outcasts now have a second chance.

That’s usually true when a new manager comes in to a club. Everyone wants to work their way into the new man-in-charge’s plans, especially if they were not playing regularly under the previous coach. Thomas Tuchel has already publicly stated he will give every player in the squad game time in his first games in charge and that opens the door for some players to come back in from the cold. While Frank Lampard did not necessarily know his best side, and would constantly change his starting line-up, he did have his favourites. And he definitely had those players that he did not favour. Antonio Rudiger had started to be re-integrated into the first-team before Lampard was sacked, but has started both of Tuchel’s two games in charge. Thomas Tuchel has reportedly been an admirer of Rudiger’s for some time, even trying to bring him to Paris Saint Germain in the past. Rudiger won’t start every game, as Tuchel will look to assess every member of the squad, but his Chelsea career could be back on track after looking like he would be heading for the exit under Lampard.

Marcos Alonso was another who looked destined to leave Chelsea either in the January transfer window or in the summer. He hadn’t played a Premier League match, starting or from the bench, since September when he was taken off at half time against West Brom, when Chelsea were 3-0 down. The fallout was fierce, Alonso refusing to sit on the bench for the second half as Chelsea recovered to draw the game. Instead, the Spaniard watched the second half from the team bus. This infuriated Lampard, who reportedly lambasted Alonso in front of the rest of the squad for it. Since then, he has barely played at all. But he put in an impressive performance yesterday to remind everyone that when he is playing in the right position, there are few better. His best position has always been as a wing-back, purely because he has so much more licence to attack and get forward and can be reasonably confident that the defence can cope with it. He proved the attributes he can bring to the team by scoring a sublime goal on his return to get the new manager up and running.

That’s just two examples of the opportunity that now lies ahead for all of the players who were not playing regularly under Frank Lampard. Andreas Christensen can start to make a case for why he should be playing more often than he ever did under Lampard. Emerson Palmieri will look to prove he can also occupy a spot in the squad beyond the end of the season. A new manager coming always opens new opportunities for every member of the squad. Those on the fringe will want to seize it. If they take the chance afforded to them, they can reassert their place in the fight for selection in the first team squad.

Biden will make mistakes, but it is rather nice to have a decent man in the White House

Joe Biden has been President of the United States for nearly two weeks. And he has got to work with a lot of Executive Orders trying to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control, bringing more doses of the various vaccines into the country, bringing racial equality to the fore, re-joining the Paris Climate Accord as well as the World Health Organization and the Iran Nuclear Deal. He has rescinded Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military that put thousands of people out of work. In the short time he has occupied the West Wing, President Biden has worked to undo a lot of the damage Donald Trump wrought on America’s reputation around the world as President. His first phone calls with Vladimir Putin were to register his support for the protesters marching for the freedom of Putin critic Alexei Navalny. He will not fawn like the worst sycophants in their own power structure to the world’s dictators and undemocratic leaders.

Joe Biden will not be a perfect president however. At the moment he is focusing, as he should, on getting America prepared for living with, and vaccinated against, COVID-19. His other focus for the early days of his presidency is to undo many of the decisions his predecessor undertook. He has not really begun work on his own policy agenda. And he will need to get to work on that quickly. While the Affordable Care Act is safe for the time being, he has major systemic problems to address that those who voted for the Biden/Harris ticket will want to see action on. And some of Biden’s responses in the past have not been hugely imaginative. He is not a true progressive like Bernie Sanders. He has not embraced any sort of Universal Healthcare plan for America. His response to issues concerning the police have not always inspired confidence. I am rather cynical about what he will be able to achieve or what he will even try to achieve.

But, the sigh of relief is that there is once again a decent man in the White House. Donald Trump is not anything that he portrays himself to be. He is not a successful businessman, and even further than that, he did not make all his wealth himself. He is not, as he put it in one interview ‘the least racist person anyone is going to meet.’ Donald Trump’s father was arrested at a KKK rally in the 20s and Donald went along with all of the racist policies Fred Trump put in place to make it much harder for immigrants and people of colour to be able to rent an apartment at a building owned by the Trumps. He went along with that. And you just have to listen to his viscous attacks on Mexican immigrants to the US, to members of Congress (telling them to ‘go back to where they came from’) to his consistent insinuating that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, the racist lie that launched his political career. Some may say, he doesn’t believe any of the racist rhetoric he has used in the past, that he is simply appealing to his base. Well, two responses to that. One, that should not be the base you want to appeal to anyway. And two, if you are actually racist or are merely pretending to be, what is the difference?

Joe Biden is not perfect. He will make mistakes. But he has the decency to apologise for them. And that puts him streets ahead of his predecessor. Because he can never bring himself to apologise for anything.

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