John Andrews takes a look at the media attention football receives and whether or not overanalysing of the game is taking away from our enjoyment of the sport.
Sitting watching the comedy that is the American presidential debate and licking my lips at the prospect of having a man such as Donald Trump (for comedic purposes only) leading the so-called biggest country in the world, I couldn’t help but cast my mind to the managerial merry-go-round in the English Premier League.
The three, four or five-year contract has become a joke in a career that has the stability of an icy bike ride down a steep hill.
Was it not only six short months ago when the Special One was being lauded for bringing the glory days back to Stamford Bridge, and Gary Monk was being tipped as a banker to be a future England manager? Fast forward to January and both are on the shelf after being relieved of their duties because of one or two of the new buzz phrases.
Jose ‘lost the dressing room’ and Monk ‘lacked the experience’ to guide Swansea out of their current situation. Manchester United fans are in ecstasy as Chelsea have had a worse and more “boring “ start than they did, and Monk is now a forgotten man despite his continuation of the great work both Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers had done before him.
However, as is the norm, let’s concentrate on the bigger clubs (apologies Leicester). If mainstream media was to be believed, Jose needed a rest to recharge the batteries, and yet, no sooner had Chelsea got what they wanted and he was out the door, we were reading that he is the hot favourite to be the saviour of Manchester United’s season, as Louis van Gaal missed a training session and Ryan Giggs has had more influence.
Being a former manager myself, in Iceland, I think I was blessed that I was unable to read the language. I could speak it, but not read it. Had this been going on up there, I’d have given a few reporters a frosty welcome – pardon the pun – and calling one of them a ‘fat man‘ would have been one of the nicer things I’d have said.
So I will cast my mind gloriously back to the time when British managers managed British teams, there was nothing lost in translation and people couldn’t be misquoted. Imagine how a Brian Clough, a Jack Charlton, a Bill Shankly or more recently an Alex Ferguson would have handled this criticism. With Clougie, two words come to mind. We will not be saying those here, use your imagination and I reckon you’ll nail it.
Big Jack could have quite possibly got the hump and refused to talk to them à la Eamonn Dunphy. Only God knows what Shankly would have said, and Fergie – the all-conquering – could quite simply ban them for a time.
Cloughie had long-complained about over saturation in football, and once famously told the BBC‘s John Motson that:
“You and your colleagues are turning us off from family entertainment on a Saturday night by lecturing us at the moment. I think you’re becoming too deep, and you’re setting yourself up as judge and jury.
“I think you’ve gone over the dividing line, where you have a contribution to make, to one of being dogmatic, overbearing, boring, and you can go on and on.”
Can you imagine a manager saying that today? He’d be laughed at, accused of losing the plot, and would be set up to be destroyed in the eyes of the public, and in the name of headlines. Sounds kind of like what is being said about LVG right?
Every man, woman and dog has an opinion on their team and I am delighted that even with monstrous ticket prices, and never ending streams of data and analysis given to us on TV, people are still talking about the beautiful game in the cafe’s, bars and meeting places of this great land.
However, we all have the friend who has sat all night on his tablet/laptop or phone checking stats, possession percentages and shots on target so he can bore us to tears about the “ins and outs” of the game. Keep it, bottle it and feck off.
I’ll watch the game myself, I’ll formulate my own opinion about it and I don’t need two hours of build up and three hours of reviews to tell me if a manager is doing his job or if a match was entertaining.
I can do it myself, as after all it is a working man’s game. So, can we please have it back?!