I suffer from a peculiar, as yet undiagnosed, twenty-first century affliction and I blame Steve Jobs entirely. It is called iPod Twitch. Whenever said iPod is on shuffle, my poised thumb hovers over the skip button ready to move onto the next song within three seconds of hearing what is currently playing if the latter does not match my mood or fancy. I have over six thousand tunes stored in the little plastic and metal tablet and with such a collection temptingly at my disposal, I’m always greedily anticipating what lies ahead rather than what I’m actually listening to. As a consequence of this, I haven’t listened to an album in its entirety since 2007 where once I would allow myself to be consumed with the delights of the highs and lows of a band’s latest release.
This inability to show the requisite amount of time and patience to one’s endeavours has seemingly seeped into all aspects of modern day living. Pop stars are created in an instant, food is cooked in minutes and consumed on-the-go and instant credit pays for your weekend breaks in Venice and Bruges when such things as holidays used to be saved for. As the song goes, “I want it all and I want it now.” Football, as in most things, is not immune from the slow sad decline of that most treasured of virtues: patience.
Three games is all it took. Two hundred and seventy minutes before phone-ins and message-boards were awash with Liverpool and Spurs fans calling for the respective managerial heads of Brendan Rodgers and Andre Villas-Boas. A myriad of reasons were given for such premature outcries: they’re too inexperienced, they’re not Dalglish or Redknapp, they haven’t bolstered the squad with names that could fill the shirts of those departed. However, the most ridiculous of all these is the insinuation that Rodgers and Villas-Boas are not the right men for their clubs because they don’t understand the respective traditions associated with both.
And here’s where another of this bold new century’s peculiar phenomena enters and becomes inextricably linked with our current aversion to letting things evolve and see themselves out. It’s called the culture of self-entitlement. Everybody is now free to voice their opinions by any means possible and despite the unquestionably positive effects of such a culture, it has also given rise to a mode of thinking that just because one has these means, that one also has a right to be respected. This is how you come to such cultural low points as The Jeremy Kyle Show or Leon Knight spewing misogynistic bile on Twitter.
There are those within the fan bases of Liverpool and Spurs (and I speak as a fan of the latter), who somehow believe that these clubs have some kind of divine right to be challenging for silverware or qualification for the Champions League every season. Anything other than this is deemed a failure, not taking into consideration that there have been vast and rapid changes to the game with the ascension of ‘petro-dollar’ clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea. For some reason, many believe this is still the 1980s and both clubs inhabit that mythical Big Five.
Liverpool and Spurs are without doubt illustrious and heavily decorated teams in football’s long history. However, many naysayers forget that the foundations for the golden periods they both enjoyed at various points in their respective histories were laid through a process of evolution and development. Success was neither immediate nor was it taken for granted. As a result, both clubs flourished under the stewardships of Bills Nicholson and Shankly.
Times change though. The modern fan is hungry for glory and he/she is not afraid to tell you about it. As a result of this impatience, Liverpool’s owner, John W Henry took the unprecedented step of writing an open letter in order to placate the restlessness of some of Liverpool’s fans this week. While such a gesture of openness is laudable, Henry should not really feel the need to explain himself to a vociferous public. As fans, we invest a lot of our emotions and finances into the clubs we support. Nevertheless, the harsh reality is that apart from a few notable exceptions, our clubs don’t really need us. They are privately-owned businesses and can choose to manage their affairs in whichever way they wish. We can threaten to cancel our season tickets all we want, but big clubs have huge waiting lists and like it or not, there’s always somebody else willing to pay for and fill your seat if you wish to vacate it.
Henry and Daniel Levy are not imbeciles. They are shrewd businessmen who would not have risen to where they are today if they were completely clueless. If chairmen continually kowtowed to the wishes of fans then Sir Alex Ferguson would have not been afforded the time to turn Manchester United into the trophy-gobbling club it has subsequently become. It could of course be pointed out that Jose Mourinho has enjoyed rapid success at every club he has managed. The problem with this argument though is that Mourinho’s equally swift departures create vacuums that his successors struggle to fill and sustain. It took Chelsea some time to get over losing him and despite the club’s continued success, there is always a sense that the whole enterprise could come crashing down if Abramovich tires of his plaything.
Villas-Boas and Rodgers have tremendous amounts of potential. The latter achieved promotion with a tiny club and was the architect for some of the most attractive football played last season. The former has won more trophies at the age of thirty-four than Harry Redknapp has managed over a lifetime in football. Personally, I find AVB’s bizarre dedication to American management speak vaguely irritating but both men deserve to be given a chance to implement their own ideas and manage their teams in their own way. If in January it so transpires that things aren’t working out, I’m sure Henry and Levy will assess the situation. I daresay most level-headed Spurs and Liverpool fans would concur with such an outlook.
The act of contemplation is something that should be revered. It allows us to stand back, assess and process all the information at our disposal. History shows us that rushing in and making rash decisions is infinitely more dangerous than taking your time. And with that, I’m off to make a playlist of songs I actually want to listen to. They will of course include songs by Take That, Guns N Roses and Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
Further reading: Revolutionary Road: All Aboard The Managerial Merry-Go-Round
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