The inevitables of this season: Big 4 at the top? Check. Mike Ashley sold Newcastle? Check. Barcelona to retain the Champions League with the ease they won it (they were just teasing Chelsea)? Check. I’ve never done a blog before, so I don’t know how well sarcasm is well conveyed but there you go. Some things are inevitable though: Wolves will go straight back down with an GD total nearer to absolute zero than the normal zero; Alex Ferguson will have a “war of words” with “inexperienced (in English football)/crazy/optimistic” Ancellotti and Arsenal will have to wait another year for their eggs to hatch into babies who will take another 5 years to win a trophy. But whilst these are yet to come, and are only to pass during these few seasons, there are some events, debates and tributes which occur every year often with the same conclusion. Players will get richer; should more technology be introduced into football and the legend Sir Bobby Robson’s passing away to give examples. But who is to say this year will be any different in changing opinions? And more importantly will those who have the power to make differences, make a change of heart finally?
Leaving his death to the third day of this blog I feel a tad disrespectful to Sir Robert William Robson CBE, but without any mention would be the greatest travesty and I do not fall foul of that. I have to admit his greatest work at the manager’s desk at least was slightly before I got interested in football which was at around 1995, but his work in his charity will last much longer. Now I come to think about it, I think I always played football at every possible moment at school: Before school, break, lunchtime, after school, sometimes in between lessons, and when situation allowed, during them too, with weather permitting. But I started following football at around 6 years old; it was just to make friends at my new school after moving from Preston. Obviously Preston would make the natural choice for my favourite club, but at that stage they were so low, nobody cared (well no 6 year olds anyway). So Liverpool it is, which I kind of convinced myself it was because my uncle supported them too, since my Dad didn’t follow football. Anyway what has this got to do with Sir Bobby? It’s to prove he had a whole lot more dedication than me! He was a loyal, knowledgeable, generous, successful and most importantly kind man. He stuck to his teams through thick and thin. Ok, I admit you’re not going to hear anything new here, but it absolutely must be said again and again so that his moral values live on in a troubled game lacking in what may seem at times any sort of conscience.
I admit when I hear about the death of a celebrity, I feel often the praises are too often given without true reason, but this has never been the case with the stories I’ve read about Robson. He seems a man who was there in the sun and the rain, and even during the tornados and blizzards. Whether you were a security guard, or a future England star, he was guaranteed to give you what he could, his respect and it was yours to lose at your own peril. I’ll leave you to find the numerous stories in newspapers, websites and TV reports given by his players and colleagues who often refer to him as a friend, never as a foe. Nobody has a bad word to say about him now; there were times where the pressure was on, and he could have left, but he stuck through his tenure at England especially to come good and could be seen as the 2nd most successful manager of England of all time. But as I said before, it was his generosity, especially in his later years after suffering with cancer numerous times, that made him truly special. Giving all his players, staff, fans, the press and even opposing teams his time and wisdom (albeit his often misunderstood quotes, note “In a year’s time, he’s a year older” for example). Recently his money and time have been spent towards his own cancer charity and setting up a replay of that classic 1990 World Cup Semi-Final for this cause, where this time he believed the right team finally won. It is inevitable the legends we aspire to be will pass away, but he achieved a massive amount not only in football, but in helping others too. A truly remarkable man will be sorely missed not only in the football world, but one that needs his sort of true kindness more often.
Generosity is something which is often seen as a trait which today’s footballers and managers fail to bear. We only expect them to be so generous because their club is so generous towards them, with wages and transfer fees increasing and seemingly failing to be hit by the recession. What players do with their money is up to them and usually keep it private, if they aren’t on the NOTW bug hit list, but for some reason people see there is room to debate when it comes to what clubs do with their money. Whether it is how much they pay their players on a weekly basis or how much it takes to get rid of the ex-manager, inevitably the tabloids decide it’s too much. Let’s say they do, then where should the money go? Premiership tickets are not the easiest to get, especially the higher the league you get, so can we expect ticket prices to decrease when demand is so high? More on community projects, where often players give up some of their personal time to give back to those who are not so fortunate in places which are often full of schemes to help such children? More on larger stadiums, which would still leave the largest of clubs in hundreds of millions of pounds of debt? Or give it to those which earn these clubs their reputation and money; those who the fans pay to see. Having watched “The Big Questions” when such a topic was discussed, one of the UK’s top psychologists/sociologists/idontgiveacrapologists believed that Ronaldo should be paid a pound above the minimum wage and was followed by a roar from one half of the crowd and pure laughter by the other. Basically a cap is beneficial... for those at the bottom and that usually means you!
An option for all this money is a promotion of technology. But is it inevitable that in the near future, goal-line cameras and replay footage will be used by referees straight after it is seen on the pitch? I hope it is, as there have been cases in cricket and tennis, where it works, admittedly not without a few flaws at first. But when you are comparing rock solid video evidence to a person’s personal view, which can be up to 50 yards away from the incident. Sepp Blatter, the current FIFA President, expected goal-line technology to be in place by 2007, so why is it we have failed to see his plans come into existence? Opponents argue that human error is just part of a game, and reliance on technology is not sportsman like, but surely the most accurate result between two sides is what both teams want. Especially if you’re a Watford fan expecting a replay versus Reading! Another argument, is that relying on technology will imply even less respect for the referee, but surely knowing the result is correct will cause fewer arguments with the referee and better communication between the officials themselves.
I’ve never experienced playing for a proper club at any level at football. I admit the furthest I got was playing for my primary school B team, where my record was an impressive played one, won one and how many players can say they have a hundred percent record? Gareth Bale can’t manage a one percent at the moment! Even as a supporter to the A side we held a 100 percent record when I was there, which was all but the two matches we lost, ironically to the primary feeder school of the secondary school where I ended up. But nevertheless I have read many stories and talked to a few young footballers who tell me of the harsh world of youth football and that annoying American innuendo/phrase “making the cut”. To be fair, many young players want it so badly they would make the cut to make the cut, but if they don’t, is there any hope left for them? Do they try at a lesser league or just get on with their “normal” ambitions? Turn to religion or maybe to Glenn Hoddle, whom they could be calling their saviour if his camp has worked its miracles. The Glenn Hoddle Academy opened in 2008, designed to get players formerly of the top two English leagues back into the game at the top level. The club has had some relative success, but it must be a massive blow when you’re told for the second time and what must be the final time, that it’s time to let go of your dream. It is of note that the Academy is actually based in Jerez, and that it is not only English clubs who have their eye on these players, but if they do move, it is Hoddle’s Academy to receive any compensation fee when a club decides to take the player from the Spanish resort. As we’ve seen recently, England managers are inevitably going to appear in the news and for Glenn, this is no different!