Had Daniel Levy given Andre Villas-Boas the striker and midfielder he needed last summer, then Spurs would surely have finished above Arsenal. This was a predictable collapse...
Arsenal fans are largely positive after their top four finish, whilst one wag suggest buying Bale from their rivals. We also have an interesting final mail. Enjoy...
There are some things in life I don't really understand. The Aviva ads with Paul Whitehouse, for instance. What's the point in having 'pretend' regular people like the fat Italian character in adverts? Why not just have a real, overweight, garrulous Italian restaurant owner instead of a comedian wearing padding and prosthetics? The whole thing puzzles me, just as the fact that Adele is apparently the best-selling musical turn on earth puzzles me. Fair play to her, but that Skyfall song, that sounds like Vic Reeves doing his pub singer thing doesn't it? Maybe that's why people like it. I dunno.
Anyway, these are small matters compared to one of the big football issues I don't understand and maybe you can help me out on this. As I sat watching Manchester United take on Everton in front of 75,000 people - that is a sodding lot of people - I found myself wondering why it is that the most successful clubs have the most fans?
Okay, obviously, I know the answer to that - it's because successful clubs' numbers are padded out by glory hunters and day trippers just there for the spectacle; but no-one ever admits to being a glory hunter who simply supports a club that is doing well at any given time, yet they must make up a large minority of football fans.
To those of us who didn't get the memo telling us to support a team that is successful but rather decided to support our club based on geographical location, upbringing or whatever, this is all a bit galling but ever was it thus. I recall going to school with kids who 'supported' Liverpool despite ten generations of their family being born and raised on Teesside. Liverpool were winning everything at the time. To those kids, it didn't seem wrong. To me, it really did and it still does. It seems dishonest, somehow. Is that wrong?
However, this rather knee-jerk feeling is complicated by the fact that I know fans of 'big' clubs in the USA who are the most passionate, knowledgeable and educated football people you could wish to meet. They know the current squad inside out, know the history and culture. They've often never been to see the club play live or if they have, they've saved up for a year for the air fare to catch them one time. That's dedication. Much more so, you might argue, than being born next to the ground and walking five minutes to see them play while not even knowing the name of your left-back. So it's a complicated business is this glory-hunting fan thing, perhaps more so than we might initially think.
And what does loyalty to a football club really mean in the 21st century anyway? Why should you be loyal to a business that often abuses that loyalty and seeks merely to exploit it for financial gain in order to pay players increasingly absurd amounts of money for doing almost nothing? Perhaps in fact, the glory-hunter lifestyle now more than ever is an appropriate response to the culture of modern football? Maybe it's actually something to be proud of.
One thing is for certain, you simply can't find a fan of a big, successful club who admits to calling themself a fan of the club simply because they're successful. Out will come all the well-worn reasons for their support - they've always supported them since they were a kid, they were born there but moved away when six months old or their dad was a fan (probably previously also a glory hunter) or whatever. But the fact remains, the most successful clubs have the most support. That's not a co-incidence. Someone somewhere has jumped on the winners' bandwagon.
Nothing succeeds like success and silverware is the best recruiting sergeant for a football club. I really feel like this shouldn't be the case. How much your club wins or loses shouldn't affect your loyalty, should it? Or maybe it should. Maybe it doesn't matter at all. Maybe its an old-fashioned idea like the 10 inch album, collectivised labour or bri-nylon underpants.
Transferring your affections from club to club must simply be a way of life for many people, even though they won't admit it. I often wonder if this doesn't really bloody annoy the long-time fans of successful clubs; the ones that toughed it out when times were not as good. If you went to Old Trafford for over 20 years before you saw them pick up their first Premiership title, didn't you at least feel a bit bitter at all the newcomers who suddenly bcame your compatriots? Didn't the Chelsea fans who watched them in the old Second Division feel sick when all they acquired lots of fans when Roman's money poured in? Are long-time Manchester City fans not inclined to chant 'where were you while we were getting high?' at the new fans?
I'm not just being curmudgonly, this just really interests me culturally because in fact the majority of football fans are like me and don't support one of the big, successful clubs and they, like me, find the very idea that they might quite unpleasant and find it hard to understand how it happens. I've met fans of Torquay United in Santa Barbara, Tranmere in Denmark and perhaps most unlikely of all, St Mirren in the Netherlands. These people were not interested in the glory-hunter lifestyle. Their support was based on personal identity and cultural roots, not on success or failure of the club. That's the same for me with Middlesbrough. So how is this the case for us and not for the glory hunter?
Are we such different animals? Do they see football as a mere entertainment purchase or as part of a lifestyle choice? Do they just see, say, Manchester United on TV a lot - and every sodding game they play seems to be on TV - and just go with the mainstream flow? Perhaps these are the people who park right next to your car in an otherwise empty car park.
Perhaps some people want to aggrandise themselves by supporting a winner; they want to be on the winning side, perhaps fearing being a loser. Maybe the glory hunter's personality is geared towards this throughout their life in general. They want to cozy up to the boss of the company or whoever has the power and seems successful. They think if they associate with winners, they too will be a winner.
But not everyone wants to stand next to the winner. Some of us rather like hanging out with the reprobates, the also-rans and the people who are holding their head in their hands and rocking back and forth. We judge success in a different way and don't need reflected glory to feel good about ourselves or our choices.
Not flitting from club to club is part of my self identity; being forever Boro is culturally important to me and always has been. I could no more start supporting Manchester United than grow a third leg and start working in a circus under the name Johnny Three Legs. But this is just me. Similarly, I've also never stopped liking any band or music that I've got into in the past. I don't do trends. If I liked it in 1975, I still like it now. Maybe this is just very constant or perhaps it's just very conservative. I just don't seem to grow out of things or, some would say, grow up in any way whatsoever.
Is this is a form of loyalty or a sort of madness, I really don't know. But when it comes to football, a little bit of honesty and understanding as to why you support a successful club would, just occasionally, be appreciated.
But who of you is a big enough man to come here and admit to being a glory hunter, to adopting a club at some point simply because they looked like winners? You know you will suffer the approbrium of other fans who feel their support and loyalty is more deeply embedded in their culture, so I'm guessing very few of you will say, loud and proud 'yes Johnny, I am a glory hunter and I don't care who knows it'. But I hope you do.
You can follow Johnny on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JohnnyTheNic
For what it's worth, I was cornered in the playground by some old kids at age 10, and forced to decide who I was going to support - United or Liverpool. This was back in 1990. The kid I was most scared of demanded I picked United. I did. I can't say i'm sorry about it. (There were no clubs anywhere close, the nearest being Swindon or the Bristols, but neither were local, and none of my family gave a damn about football.)- redgenesis