Strange Game This Football
Strange Game this Football
I must admit that the older I get and I suppose I am heading for my dotage, the more confused I become about the goings on in this major entertainment industry called Association Football and all that is allied with it.
On the one hand you have the supporters of a football team. Those people who, once they have made a commitment to a particular team remain, for the most part unswervingly loyal to that team whatever happens. This is whether their fortunes take them to the top of the Premier league or to the bottom of League Two.
Yes, there are varying degrees of passion exhibited by the said fans. From some who are so committed that they allow the passion they have for their team to affect their schooling or work, to those who are just quietly pleased that their team is currently having a measure of success. It is perhaps possible that, if their team was struggling, they may be just a little more vociferous, but who knows. After all, success and failure is always a relative issue.
For example if Wrexham stay up their fans will be as ecstatic as the supporters of the team that eventually wins the Premiership. By the same token supporters of Manchester United will be thoroughly displeased if they fail to win a trophy this season and, to be honest, the thought of that happening warms my heart! You see it is all about expectation and we Villa supporters have had hope and expectation by the bucket full for many, many years, but little to cheer us. We are as durable a bunch as you will find anywhere, but now with restored hope and expectation after the regime change two years ago.
You only have to venture on the any Vital Football site to see the passion and enthusiasm with which the supporters of any of the teams in the leagues address all the issues that concern them. Currently of course it is the transfer window with our beloved leader doing his usual bout of last minute shopping, which most people are thinking about. We are all wondering who we will next see wearing a Villa shirt and will their coming to our team make a difference?
This brings me nicely to the other side of the football equation, to the Manager and players. I suppose the truth is that most of the players and managers are nothing more than mercenaries; with no more loyalty to the team they play for than who gives them their next pay cheque. Well, perhaps that is a little harsh as there are some players who show a genuine passion for the team for which they are playing. I think, perhaps, Villa is particularly lucky, having a number of players who I could never imagine, for instance, pulling on a shirt from that team across the city. I wonder how much that influenced Gary Cahill in his decision to pick Bolton for his move? But for most, well, loyalty is the next pay packet.
I know there is an argument that for the footballer it is just a job and they are employed just as you or I may be employed. The difference is that working for a bank or a manufacturing company does not raise the passions the way supporting a football team does. Can you really see two people arguing about the merits of banking at Lloyds or Barclays for example? It is at this point that the manager and coaches come into their own; building, from a disparate group, a team that wants to die for their club.
Martin O'Neill has worked wonder so far in this respect. I do hope he picks carefully during this transfer window and that he and his coaching team have sufficient skills to alter the mind set of any
incoming players from that of self-seeking to putting the team and only the team at the top of their priorities. If that happens we can go on to greater things, but one bad apple can spoil the bunch, perhaps that is why MON is so careful and thinks so long before acting. I do hope so!