Football. You win some you lose some.
It was only basketball’s Harlem Globetrotters who didn’t do defeats.
Accepting that sometimes things aren’t quite going to plan on the pitch can sometimes require intelligence and immaturity. It’s not always the sign of a defeatist or someone who is past caring.
But have you noticed that all perspective has now gone from football. Every defeat becomes a crisis. Every bad result a surge of speculation over the manager. Every drop in the table a melodrama, tearful fans and media foaming at the mouth and keyboard.
No-one is allowed to lose. The sense of entitlement for mediocre teams is extraordinary, while the failure to accept a big club can have a bad season is lunacy.
It’s unsavoury. It’s plain stupid. It’s time for a reality check.
This website rightly acknowledges football is a business and has a bigger role in society. The smart people running it also have it in perspective.
But football is not actually big business is it? The only thing that is substantial is player’s pay. Otherwise the figures are almost laughable when you put them in perspective.
The biggest clubs in the world are not profit-making. Very few clubs are. Some are backed with oil money, some a lone businessman (be good for a lone businessWOMAN to run a club), many operate in debt, some have a hand-to-mouth existence. Some in Spain have a magic wand to finance them. Cough.
For me, Rob Harris of Associated Press hit the nail on the head when he tweeted some perspective during the over-the-top summer transfer window frenzy: “The football transfer spending eclipsed by…$130 billion generated by Vodafone selling its stake in Verizon wireless today.”
The basic point we’ve all forgotten about a football match is that a team can lose. It can lose a match, it can lose 10. It happens. Taking a step back can be the hardest thing.
By the time you read this David Moyes may be out of a job. When he took over last summer I said there would need to be patience. Proper patience. Near-Ferguson patience. I said they would be trophy-less this season. Not bold or outlandish stuff is it? If you are quoting United’s comfortable title win last season as evidence Moyes inherited a strong team you clearly weren’t watching properly. Last season United benefitted from a Fergie Factor while others offered pathetic non-challenges.
Moyes may have been the wrong choice. Then again he might start to succeed. He will be learning an incredible amount in adversity. Would Kloop of Dortmund really come in and done a better job? Surely many of the under-performing players should go before their manager?
To be fair to them, many United fans have done their best to get behind Moyes. But others misunderstand United have no right to keep on winning. The best thing that can happen to them is finish 7th and start next season out of Europe and with a chance to make a refreshed, clear attack on the trophies that matter.
The Moyes-baiting has been sad to watch. I’m all for Schadenfreude, one of the joys of football, but it’s the knee-jerk scattergun ‘analysis’ that gets me.
Then there’s the good old UK media. Will those journalists who predicted Moyes would be sacked weeks ago, hinting heavily they (wink wink) knew something (because so many journalists know what the Glazers are planning) now hold their hands up and admit their pieces were pure ill-informed clumsy speculation? Of course not.
Likewise my favourite subject: social media speculation. Moyes has been sacked at least 34 times by vast armies of clueless keyboard know-alls. And it only takes one opportunist broadcaster with over-inflated gullible twitter base to say ‘I hear from the NY stock exchange he’s gone, may not be true but that’s what I’m hearing” and the rumour wave engulfs our old dear friend – the truth.
Most Premier League fans are ‘at it’. False expectations. Distorted reality.
The reality: Arsenal are exactly where a team with one half-decent striker should be. I was lambasted in the Autumn for suggesting they couldn’t win the league. With Mourinho’s organisation Chelsea would have been title-winners weeks ago if it wasn’t the shot-shy gang up front. Another obvious flaw. Tim Sherwood anyone? Yes Tottenham are exactly where the transfer and managerial activity would dictate they should be. All the top 4/title contenders stuff was dreamland. Only Liverpool have surprised.
Yes still the fans and the pundits dissect these teams as if they should never lose a game.
One of the funniest things about football clubs and their off field activities in recent months has been the ‘official partnerships’. Newcastle has an official pizza provider, Liverpool an official doughnut firm. Wow, big time.
In what other field would we even be reporting this? It’s literally small fry. But football has a spell on us. We can’t see it as the game it is. We can’t see results as unpredictable, transient, entertaining. We overestimate football’s importance.
This is not to bite the hand that feeds me.
I’m lucky enough to cover some genuinely important subjects that stem from football. The World Cup hosting is a big political story with increasing xenophobia while the Hillsborough tragedy never fails to give me perspective.
I hope I have it in context. Yes as a Liverpool fan I remain furious with referee Howard Webb for messing up in the games against Chelsea and Arsenal. Yes I shouted and waved my arms about and clasped my own bald head in my hands.
But you won’t find me taking bad results and using them to speculate wildly, or call for change indiscriminately.
When I started watching football yes I was partizan, we were partizan, the GAME was partizan. But we knew it was a game.
Football is huge. Huge. But it’s not the be all and end all. Realising that might even help some achieve their ‘all-important’ goals.
Lee Wellings is the Sports Correspondent for Al Jazeera English based in London. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow Lee on twitter @LeeW_Sport