Friday, 2 December 2011

Poor potato head

So Steve Bruce is the one to go eh? I read somewhere that Steve Kean is so inept that he couldn't even win the sack race. Good one. I don't think Steve Kean isn't a bad manager but just inexperienced but Sam Allardyce must be happy with the decent retrospective PR he's getting at Blackburn. Time is always the greatest storyteller it seems. It's slightly haphazard in Blackburn at board level and on what can be loosely termed as "football level" from what I've seen this season which isn't as much as previous years. I had to scale back the football watching which affected my writing. Well that and sheer inertia. In life. Football can be obsessive and consuming. Think about it. Match of the Day? Check. MOTD 2 and Colin Murray? Check. Gillette Soccer Saturday? Check. Football First? Check. Revista de la Liga? Check. Live games on Sky Sports? Check. Streaming football online? Check. Joy of Six and endless football surfing on youtube? Check. Milankakabaros and Check. Cheap Carling Cup tickets to provide winter solace in a global economic recession? Check. Serie A? Check. It's exciting you know and we can now add more happy memories to watching Gazzetta. Bundesliga? Check. Best value league in the world apparently, so have to see what the fuss is about.

The point of the endless football "checking" is how engrossing the game can be. There's been no mention, until now of course, of football blogs or websites that many fans read. We spend so much time on football that it becomes a big part of our lives whether we'd be happy to admit to it or not. We need more hits of the game and with the Euro 2012 groups out the fever increases. By the way, who thinks there'll be some surprises next summer? This all does not even compare to the effort, time and money spent by fans on their favourite teams. The anticipation, endless calculations, daydreaming, cursing, personal vendettas, deification, disillusion and more is with us daily. All the rest doesn't even matter when your team is tensely engaged in combat. We can access so many things readily apart from success. For football fans, managers embody where we would like to be in life. They have the power to influence and direct our dreams and it's a powerful and potent responsibility they hold. Their station is not one which is elevated above real matters which can shock and sadden us but the desire is very real. Even recently, we've seen how football can seem so insignificant in comparison to the value of human life.

I'm surprised that we're at the start of the traditional secular/Christian (delete as appropriate) festive month and there has only been one sacking so far. Is it due to the state of a football recession with compensation costs being the most undesirable of all outcomes, mediocrity included? Or are club owners becoming more sensible and giving managers a few months to get started instead of a few weeks? Maybe we fans are more patient because everyone needs a little patience, right? Err, no. Just like the world's going to end for Arsenal in January when Man City come sniffing for the best injury prone striker in the world, the world will end for fans when they've built up a vendetta against a current incumbent and it is foiled by sensible patience/incompetent inaction (please choose depending on mood).

"A football fan is always an innocent child at heart."

Fans want the promised land and believe that they'll surely get there with the next manager. They don't get much better than Martin O'Neill for when it comes to English football. Well yes, there's Jose Mourinho but his desire is placed unevenly on the manager and the only recourse when fans begin to chant against the leader of their team or even worse, drain the resources of the club by refusing to pay to watch others make their millions is to get rid of the symbol or figurehead of such a malaise. There is no other option. You can't sack yourself if you're a director and you can't sack players. No other position in the club indicates a potential drastic change of direction, a promise of renewal and of hope but that of the manager. It is irrelevant that after a brief and positive spike in results, most managerial changes don't alter the results and fortunes of a club. There's only one problem here. Some managerial changes do and some managerial changes have done so. This magical change may have taken place at a local, rival club with heaps of salt and other undesirables in our open wounds. It may have even taken place in strange climes far away up north or down south. But it has happened. Not often. But it could happen to our club.

Where does this leave a manager who has been in the vaunted hot seat for a short while? If his contract is long and rewarding then his job is not under immediate threat. There will be some time and space for improvement. If he was a popular choice among the fans then great. Even better. But popular choices soon becoming immediate mistakes. Fans are excellent at deciding when a previously desired managerial appointment is unfortunate whilst simultaneously proposing a gift wrapped solution whether it be domestic or international. If a manager was an unpopular appointment, then there's very little he can do if things go wrong early. The owners can instantly turn a bad decision into a good one by giving the fans what they want when they didn't even want it in the first place. Yesterday doesn't matter.

"All teams need focus, balance and direction from their manager right?"

Football managers may poke us in the eye every so often when they're discussing a penalty or a transfer target but they try to do their job as best as they can with every skill available to them. Some have a better skill-set than others whereas certain bosses are ideal for certain scenarios, clubs and ambitions. That's it really. Give them some time and decent managers will do a better job and incompetent ones will do a worse job or "no work" as Raphael Honigstein appraised Avram Grant's various tenures. Simple again. But sometimes, decent managers face unforeseen problems in years 2, 3 or 5 which means replanning and recalibrating. There's a new job to do that a manager didn't have 4 weeks ago but he has now. Might take a little time to sort out. What of the managers who overachieve with a squad personnel in years 1 and 2 but needs just a little investment to freshen up a squad which he feels will be predictable in his third year? What if he hasn't spent as much money before and makes mistakes in that year but has assessed what really needs to be done with this squad in year 4? This sounds like processes but that's what management is. Processes, collaboration, discoveries, successes, failures and self-development. Football isn't like that. Managers aren't like a dude in a shoe store who's trying to improve sales and motivate staff. He's a well-paid, public keeper of dreams who will need to accept ageing faster than usual, possible health complications and criticism, plenty of criticism.

This isn't a defence of neither the football manager nor an attack on the football supporter. Managers are our political leaders elected with budgets, agendas and manifestos. Football clubs are our nation states and we supporters are its faithful citizens. Nothing is quite like the motherland. Even Barcelona, unless it's your motherland in which case you can kindly remove that year long smile. Thank you. It's just that in an age where I can fire up the faithful laptop, take control of my favourite team, buy well known and upcoming players from across the globe, restart when necessary and win trophies in a matter of days there's bound to be a little bit less patience. We're a generation who won't hesitate to turn poor potato head into mash.

1 comment:

  1. I can see you clearly got it wrong on Steve Bruce! O'Neill's doing really well mate and sacking Bruce clearly wasn't harsh. Not a bad try on the defence though.