Don’t Panic: Spurs, Liverpool & The Lost Art Of Patience

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 

Follow Dispatches on Twitter: @Sofalife


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13 Responses to Don’t Panic: Spurs, Liverpool & The Lost Art Of Patience

  1. stuart senior September 9, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    should of stuck with rednap had his faults but got sucsess

  2. Andy September 9, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    Gret article.

    Thank you

  3. spur1950 September 9, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    So what would redcrapp have done minus Modders and Rafa 2 world class players and no ledders yea he would have work miracles alright 1 cup in 30 yrs thats sucess or are you 1 of these new age supporters like the nomads have and we seemed to have inherited that believe being in the top 4 is the be all and end all thats not success thats what i exspected to have got with that quality of bale modders sandro rafa lennon ,saying that in the couple of yrs they played he flogged them all to death and AVB is paying for it .
    And now we are left with livermore and even jenas no wonder Norwich had it easy
    If you put out your 11 have a look at whats left the young kids not good enough and 4 keepers great for the balance sheets real low wage bill but no real quality
    AVB doesnt stand a chance with you or the media

  4. j p September 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm #


    ever heard of a comma, full stop or spell check?

    Much like fans of spurs I as an arsenal fan have to learn to be patient…probably more than most!

    We don’t spend much money, we sell our best players, we can be terribly inconsistent and yet as Greg mentions, like so many clubs the stadium is full week on week. Arsenal have the longest waiting list of any club for season tickets and all this despite not a single trophy since 2005.

    However over the last month i have accepted that Wenger is doing what he believes is best. Would i rather have a rich board who pick and choose players and win a trophy or a manager who has changed the way clubs are run (fitness, transfer policy, wage capping, maintaining a healthy bank balance)? Its take a long time but i want the latter, and i now know Arsene is doing the right thing.

    IF Fifa bring in the financial fair play system Arsenal will be in the best possible position in the league. A great youth system, low-ish wages comparative to the top 3, and a stadium that will paid off in full sooner rather than later.

    I have had a love/hate relationship with Arsenal but i strongly believe that Wenger is trying to protect the club for when he eventually leaves…something that Mourinho and others couldnt give two hoots about.

    • Azas September 9, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

      Whilst I agree with most of your points on how a club should be run…..I do think ur being too nice to the arsenal major shareholders who make a dividend payout every year. With all the land and property u sold on highbury ur new stadium wasn’t that pricey. Arsenal have made more money in the last 5 years in transfers than anyone else. Check this out . Just shows u how things are being run. Arsenal made 45 million in the last 5 years just on transfer fees. It’s no surprise ur Russian billionaire is pissed off with how much cash these guys are spending on dividend payouts.

      • joel priest September 10, 2012 at 7:03 am #

        But asaz that’s the wholepoint! Wenger is balancing the books in arsenals favour. It will always show our transfer kitty to be in credit because a) will pay what he feels is fair b) won’t spend it all if he doesn’t want to and c) has been the most succesful manager I think of in turning small investments on unknown players into multi million pound superstars.

        • azas September 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

          i agree. wenger is ghe best manager u could have in terms of making money and havin a team capable of challenging for silverware. but the question is does wenger spend the way he does because he wants to or because he gets told to? noone really know what gets told at these board meetings . personally i think he has a limited budget that isnt as big as it should be due to the voard paying out dividend payments to shareholders every year. it makes the board money every year. not one year have arsenal not taken a payout because they want to re-invest in the team. if u had one major shareholder who had alot of money and owned the club outright im sure wenger woild spend more on players who are instant fixes… united did with rvp

          • joel priest September 11, 2012 at 6:52 am #

            But the glazers at man u just take out money for their own need, infact in most cases to finance other ventures. You have to pay dividends to share holders…that’s how it works!!

            Man united have over £700 million in debt, sure they have one titles and leagues, that cannot be taken away, but how will the live within their means of fifa bring in the new rules?!

        • Steve H September 17, 2012 at 10:40 am #

          How many fans really care about the bank balance at their club (obviously Portsmouth fans aside)? What fans of the so-called big four or big five actually want are trophies. You can say what you like about Man United and debt etc etc but they won’t ever go under and the fans are happy because the trophies keep rolling in. Depending on which list you look at they are equally the richest and most debt-ridden club in the world. It’s not my bank balance that’s affected. You can’t seriously tell me that Arsenal fans would not be happier taking a few risks, winning a few trophies but not having a solvent bank account! It’s nonsense. We’re footy fans, not accountants!

  5. Mark September 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    “If in January it so transpires that things aren’t working out, I’m sure Henry and Levy will assess the situation.”

    This shows just how bad things are getting. Whatever happened to giving a new manager two or three seasons to get things right?

  6. Gillooley September 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    Can’t comment on Spurs but I would suggest that most Liverpool fans are being hugely patient with Rodgers. We don’t expect success this year, and probably not next either but there is a strong faith in what he is doing, and certainly that he is the right man for the job.

    His early media appearances have been passionate, eloquent and revealing and his dedication to a greater level of performance and style has been widely accepted to have bought him time with the Liverpool fans. Yes we have been disappointed by early results, especially the Arsenal game, but these were to be expected, particularly in the first few months of his leadership.

    We have seen early signs of light at the end of the tunnel, Joe Allen in particular has impressed, he looks like a midfielder of real quality, probably the best that we have had at Anfield since Xabi Alonso. Raheem Sterling looks exciting also and we are well aware of a few excellent prospects at the club, who thanks to recent transfer failings will now get an opportunity to prove themselves.

    Unfortunately phone in shows etc tend to concentrate on the cranks with extreme, usually negative views, so if you are under the impression that Rodgers is a man not backed by the fans, it is an error brought on by a media more intent on creating rivalries on message boards to garner retweets than it is in painting a true reflection of fan opinion.

    Excellent article though , and you are right, patience is a virtue. If I have to sit through some lows that make the highs feel even sweeter, then so be it, but Rodgers is the right man for the job.

  7. Maleven September 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

    You’re completely wrong to cite Henry’s open letter in a piece about fans being impatient with managers.

    Henry wrote that letter in response to anger at the incompetence/stubbornness/thrift which saw Andy Carroll become the fourth forward player after Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodríguez and Craig Bellamy to depart this summer, only for him not to be replaced as the board refused to pay/find an extra couple of million to buy longstanding target Clint Dempsry, leaving Rodgers with only two senior strikers and four wide attackers (including 17 year-old Sterling, the unproven Assaidi, goal and assist-shy Downing and the utterly useless, unfit and injury prone Joe Cole) to fill three positions in the team and to get through roughly 25 games until January (at the earliest) with.

    Meanwhile, Dempsey became the second of our targets this summer (the first being Sigurdsson) to instead join your own club this summer, a club who we were *supposed* to have ambitions of competing with and possibly finishing above this season.

    It was absolutely nothing to do with fans getting on Rodgers’ back. No one I listen to or know is, a few thick cranks might be but that’s about it.

    You really ought to do enough homework to get stuff like that right before posting.

    • joel priest September 11, 2012 at 6:55 am #

      Sounds like a miserable liverpool fan to me!

      Go cry somewhere else

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