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 ?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I said on the phone to you today, McLaren may actually have done his best. The blame should go on those who actually thought his best was good enough and gave him the job in the first place.

And as far as these painful press conferences are concerned - the blame should go to those who sent journalists to them expecting to get informative or insightful answers.

A total boycott would make more sense. England fans should stay away from games until there is wholesale change at the FA. And reporters should stay away from press conferences. They are utterly pointless.

You're being a bit cryptic about where this is all leading in part two. I fear you're going to make some greater political point soon and I may have to sharpen my pencil to prepare a reply.

For now I'll ask this - when you say

"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."

are you critical of those who want to withdraw from Iraq without 'staying the course'?

No ... I didn't think so.


10:01 PM  
Blogger Andy_Ward said...

"are you critical of those who want to withdraw from Iraq without 'staying the course'? No ... I didn't think so."

What ? Is this even relevant ? I'm sorry David, this is typical of your petty point-scoring "debating style". As is posing me a question and answering it yourself. Do you admit to always being wrong about everything ? Yes, I thought so.

State your piece by all means but please spare me your "clever debating tactics".


10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I apologise for answering the question. It's rude. I should have left that bit out. It's been done to me many times and I've never liked it.

But I mentioned Iraq because of the bit where you say

"globally, there are some extraordinarily serious issues to deal with"

as Iraq is a place where I think you can agree that there has been a great deal of short-term pain.

Sorry - the comparison just leapt out at me.


10:57 PM  
Blogger Andy_Ward said...

OK. I've often thought that you genuinely don't realise how annoying trying to discuss these things with you can be at times. Let's move on.

There certainly has been a lot of pain in Iraq. Mostly for the Iraqis. We may never know exactly what the US motive(s) for going in there were. A question for you, this is a genuine question - do you think that if the US had realised how long it was going to take (with still no apparent resolution) and how much it was going to cost, would they still have done it ? All the talk at the time was straight in and out, smart bombs, no problem. Someone even projected a total cost of $2 billion on TV. Where are we now, $200 billion and counting ?


11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great question - and of course I don't 'know' the answer. I would think that Dick Cheney would probably press on knowing that the cost was far higher than forecast. I think Condoleeza Rice would not. And Bush himself? Not sure. Depends on which of the above made a better case.

Much also depends on what he thought the 'cost' of not going into Iraq would be. If you really believed that Iraq had a viable WMD programme, what price would you pay to stop it? Considering that Iran seems to have one and that Iraq and Iran fought a deadly war against each other in the 80s, would you spend money to prevent them going nuclear and potentially blowing each other up? People talk of the current mayhem in Iraq as though it's the worst of all possible worlds. But if an Iraq/Iran nuclear exchange were even a 5 per cent probability then I don't think it's the case.

If I may express what I find frustrating about your disagreement with my neo-con views is that my views seem so consistent with your poker advice. If I were to summarise where your advice differs from so many other tournament players in three words it would be 'SURVIVAL IS OVER-RATED'.

And if I were to summarise my neo-con views on foreign policy in three words it would be to say 'STABILITY IS OVER-RATED'.

But maybe you don't find this basic analogy appropriate. To me it is, because both represent situations where things are getting slowly worse and you have to take the initiative before you're too weak relative to the enemy.


12:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long wait for Get Real (1) and eagerly awaiting Get Real (2). I hear so much especially about global warming, and nothing really about overpopulation. Time for an "accidentally" mass culling on a very large scale, DY included if you wish.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At this point I'd like to re-group my thoughts and then make the next post, you have given me some pause for thought David.

As for the last comment, it does anticipate some of what I mean to say. Overpopulation, and its inevitable consequences, is the elephant in the corner.


10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know what really fucking annoyed me?

All the fucking journo's who moaned that the only reason McLaren didn't resign was because he would lose 2.5 million in pay off money.

As if those cunts would "do the noble thing" and resign in the same situation if it cost them a fucking mansion.

Fucking hypocrites the whole fucking lot of them.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Alex Martin said...

Hi Andy,

Still reading as ever. I hope you dont mind but your recent post reminded me of the important things happening in the world today. Global warming and overpopulation take a back seat sometimes for most of us, but we should be keeping a better focus on the bigger picture. I hope you dont mind but i have copy and pasted a paragraph from your latest post. Ill remove it if you object obv.

cheers, Alex

p.s nice November stats.

6:33 AM  
Anonymous mackem790 said...

Getting back to the footy for a moment, that Graham Taylor documentary is the funniest thing I've ever seen and totally exploded the "myth of the manager" in football.

It's hard to believe but Taylor was a successful club manager who had more success after the England job (getting Watford into the Premiership) but if you watch the video you can see how inept/powerless/clueless etc he was once the players stepped onto the pitch.

This is also true for the vast majority of managers now. You see them screaming and shouting on the touchline, holding up one finger on each hand and moving them together or apart as if that's supposed to magically transform Wayne Bridge from a one-footed donkey into an international footballer.

Football is a pretty simple game really, and once you reach "international" level you shouldn't need anyone telling you how to play.

Sadly, most footballers are pig ignorant so.........

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi mackem,

Usually I would agree that I sometimes wonder how much difference a coach actually makes - but then again, the difference this new guy is making at QPR is quite something. I think most people came out of the game on Saturday blinking and rubbing their eyes in disbelief that we were actually playing some football, with half the players who were so poor earlier in the season. Mind you, the new coach is Italian.

Funnily enough though Michael Owen backed up your "pig-ignorant" assessment today by STILL insisting that no Croation players would get in the England team. What a tool.


1:46 PM  
Blogger MackemPlus1 said...

Hi Andy,

Hopefully your man at QPR can be one of the minority who can make a difference - someone like Clough, Wenger etc.

Speaking as a Sunderland fan though, it was hilarious to see the Newcastle fans shouting "You don't know what you're doing" to Fat Sam when he made his substitutions against Liverpool on Saturday.

Few months ago Allardyce was touted as the next England manager, you could name your price now :)

3:11 PM  

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