Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Get Real (1)

Obviously I was going to comment on last night's debacle on my football blog, but as I was thinking it over it occurred to me that Steve McLaren is so very representative of the times we live in. It's probable that now the enduring image of his reign will be him clutching his umbrella with one hand while vaguely trying to wave players into position with the other, all the while making sure not to get his hair wet [1]. In some ways this is a shame because, prior to last night, the enduring image in my mind was him sitting in press conferences with that awful plastic smile insisting that everything was, and was going to be, great.

And so he would answer questions like this (these are all true to the best of my recollection).

[After going five games without scoring] "What are you going to change in the next match ?" - "Nothing, we're just going to keep doing what we are doing"

"Do you have the same confidence in Paul Robinson as you did in Peter Schmeichel at Manchester United" - "Yes, absolutely"

[Going into this weekend's games, with England 3.2 to qualify on Betfair] "[Generic question about chances]" - "Yes, I'm certain that we will qualify".

It's clear that his main priority was, at all times, to project an image of complete certainty in what he was doing, despite all contrary indications that he was a dithering half-wit, e.g. Beckham dropped completely/recalled/back on the bench, Robinson persisted with far too long and then finally replaced by an inexperienced keeper only for the crucial last game in very difficult conditions ... and so on. The problem with all this is that over a period of time it's hard not to start believing what you're saying, especially if you're surrounded by yes-men, which is not uncommon in football (see famous Graham Taylor documentary).

Basically it was all spin or,as we used to call it in the 20th century, covering your arse.

Now, what I want to link this to is the fact that, globally, there are some extraordinarily serious issues to deal with, and they need to be dealt with now. Climate change. Limited oil reserves. The general threat of overpopulation and resource shortage. Looming over all of these, the fact that we have wired ourselves up with enough nuclear hardware to take us all to hell a thousand times over. Worst of all, we've created a society where it's not in anyone's interest to incur short-term pain for long or even medium-term benefit. Which I'll come on to in a day or two, although if you have half a brain and half an eye open to what's happening, the parallels should be perfectly clear anyway.

1] By contrast, I recall Martin Allen, when he had just taken over at Brentford, standing out in an absolute downpour at MK Dons or somewhere, and saying afterwards that because the fans were getting soaked (in an open stadium), he thought he should show some solidarity with them. And that was just for his supporters, never mind the players. Now who do you think gets most out of his players - McLaren or Allen ?