There’s a weekend of England, play-off finals and the Champions League coming up, so keep those mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org
What happens when you choose to celebrate success…
In response to Steven, Dublin.
I’m sure a lot of the people in the mailbox will call me out and claim I’m lying, but this season I made the conscious decision to celebrate other teams’ successes instead of being bitter and jealous towards them.
Let me explain. I’m a Spurs fan, we had a really fun season with some fantastic results mixed in with some truly terrible (5-1 to a relegated team, how Spursy) performances. In my friendship group, and now standard WhatsApp chat, we’ve got 1 Arsenal, 3 United, 1 Chelsea and 1 Liverpool fan, which has always provided a source of entertainment when any, or all, of them put in a dreadful performance. In the Moyes era I was gleeful laughing at the United fans, I always enjoyed poking fun at Liverpool and could never admit I enjoyed the SAS year. However it was draining as a fan to be concentrating on my own team’s dire performances whilst also trying to project hatred towards the other simply because that was expected as a Spurs fan.
It was really starting to affect my desire to watch football, I lost a lot of interest and went from watching any and all football to barely watching it. That changed this season and perhaps it was because all clubs were on a similar level throughout the season, but I would celebrate with my friends when their team did well, or scored a great goal (I’d still mock certain players) but it made watching the football at the pub all that more satisfying.
Take the Liverpool Europa League run. A few years ago I’d be willing them to fail and trying my hardest to ruin the viewing experience for my friend, but when they started their comeback against Dortmund I was cheering them on enjoying my friend’s happiness, even loving the fact he drenched everyone in beer!
Whilst my own personal opinions probably don’t matter to many, seeing the United three seething and quiet when their great rival has done better than them and not really understanding why I was celebrating just as much made it all the sweeter. Ultimately watching football is about the spectacle, if you’re not watching it without any desire to enjoy it what’s the point?
Albert (I realise a lot of people enjoy the suffering of others as much as the football) London
Football adrenalin rush comes from support
To answer Stephen from Dublin, there is emotional high (and low) that comes from following one team which is what you miss out on when you watch football for the sake of the skill and spectacle only. There is nothing wrong with the neutral approach. I live Stateside and have a similar relationship with the NFL. I love watching the games but don’t follow any particular team. But the adrenaline rush and endorphine high when the team who you have followed through thick and thin give you a special moment cannot be attained as a neutral, and it is that addictive emotional high that fans of specific clubs crave. That’s not even mentioning the fact that for some people their football club gives them a sense of belonging where they sadly might otherwise have none.
Mike J, WHU
…In response to Stephen, Dublin’s mail, there are two obvious reasons I can think of for supporting a team.
1) The emotional involvement. As a neutral you can enjoy 90 minutes of a match, but as a fan you get the excitement before the match and elation (or despair) afterwards. And what a roller coaster those 90 minutes can be. It’s a bit like the lottery. If you buy a ticket on a Sunday, you can enjoy a week thinking about how you’ll spend the money and be on a knife’s edge for the draw itself. If you haven’t got a ticket it’s just a load of balls.
2) It’s fun to be part of a group. It’s a great feeling to be in a crowd with people who have nothing else in common but are all pulling together for a common cause. I left the UK many years ago and will probably never live there again, but it’s nice to know that at any point I could rock up at the John Smith’s (or whatever they’ll be calling it) on a Saturday afternoon and click right back in.
Of course there are those who use fandom as an excuse to be an arse, but they’re arses who are fans, not arses because they’re fans.
My last point is that it’s possible to enjoy both supporting your own team and watching beautiful, technical football. And on the rare occasions when it’s your team playing the beautiful, technical football, it’s twice as good!
Eddybrek, HTAFC, Japan
Don’t tell me to support ‘our’ clubs in Europe
The article about plastic fans and the subsequent mailbox submissions made me think about being a neutral fan in a different way.
I’m not really a neutral fan – I support Southend United. I blame my parents for not moving somewhere better before I was born.
But I digress.
My point relates to the premise of supporting English/British clubs in European competitions. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been ‘told’ by various radio presenters, TV pundits, internet forums, etc…, that I should support the English teams in Europe. Why? The most common rationale offered is that those clubs are representing England and therefore I should support them. To which I reply NO!. Most emphatically NO.
Arsenal will be taking part in next season’s Champions League, but they are not representing me. They are not representing England. At a stretch they might be considered as representing the Premier League. But I don’t support Arsenal. Or the Premier League. Or even a Premier League club. So why should I cheer Arsenal?
Do Arsenal fans cheer Southend in the Johnsons Paint Trophy? No, of course not. And rightly so. I’d be laughed out of town if I said “but, Arsenal aren’t in that competition, and Southend are representing the south of England, so all you Arsenal fans should cheer my team against that lot from the north of England”.
Sometimes I hear the cry “but what about the European co-efficient?” Well, I’ll start caring about that when Southend qualify for the Champions League.
Plus, not cheering the English teams in Europe allows me to laugh my ass off when the inevitable happens and they get knocked out.
Surely I can’t be alone in retaining, and sometimes enjoying my neutrality?
Paul Watson, exiled Shrimper, living in Surrey
What happened to surprises in football?
With the (out of nowhere) announcement that The Ridiculous One is now the manager of Man United, it made me realise how desensitised to these type of signings/hirings/firings in modern football I am. There is so much build up that the climax of the actual deed is very underwhelming (I copied this from my love life blog).
Just this week, Granit Xhaka was finally confirmed as an Arsenal player; LVG and his balls were bid farewell and B-Rodge decided that a sojourn in Glasgow would provide sufficient feng shui to his football philosophy. These are all (fairly) big pieces of football news, but I knew that they were all going to happen weeks in advance. When they were all confirmed, it was more of a ticked box than anything else.
I get the ‘immediacy of modern life’ (cheers Gary) means that we want information all the time, and sometimes the click-bait will stumble across some truth, but I’m still saddened that nothing seems a surprise anymore. Every new manager and every new signing is preceded by a deluge of articles mapping said person’s every step towards their final destination. And in this case, the journey is not better than the ending.
So come on summer transfer window of 2016 (I threw up a little in my mouth just saying that), give me a whopper surprise that comes right out of left field. I dare you.
Conor (fingers crossed it’s Ronaldinho to Bournemouth), Sydney
Mourinho: The right man in 2013
I know people are bored of Mourinho at this stage, so I thought I’d chime in with the boredom.
The thing with Mourinho is that he is the right manager, at the wrong time. He was the perfect person to take over after Fergie left. He’d have come in, made some big-name signings, won a few trophies, kept United competitive, and in general reminded everyone that United were bigger than just Fergie. Then he’d have left after his customary third-year collapse. As for him choosing Chelsea at the time? We all know he wanted the United job, he held off on signing for Chelsea until he was 100% certain it was gone.
Now he has to come in and do the same thing, but from a weaker position. The longer United go on not competing for the league, the larger Fergie’s shadow hangs over the place. He has no Champions League to offer. The big-name players are looking at the last three years and wondering if United can make it back to the top again. This may be where Mourinho comes into his own. While he mightn’t be able to attract big name players, he is the best man at creating a siege mentality. He has a squad with some very good players, who have been getting stick for the past two or three years. He’ll have turned that into a ‘them versus us’ within his first week on the job.
It also gives United three years now to scout their next manager. It’s time to start sending Laurent Blanc some Christmas and birthday cards again.
Seriously, how wrong could it go?
Manchester United fans seem divided on the whole Jose issue but there seems like a few general consensuses:
1) he’s the only coach available with a proven record so there really is no other clear-cut choice
2) all his character’s awfulness aside, Mou will return Manchester United to the top, even if for just a couple of seasons.
For these reasons, all United fans should eventually come around to warming to Jose, which isn’t incorrect. However, it’s number 2) that I have a real issue with.
Yes, Jose has won 97 trophies in 56 seasons as manager of 34 clubs (arbitrary numbers, as you can guess), but why is literally no one talking about his last season at Chelsea? I don’t, personally, believe ‘negative football’ exists if it yields a win and so that’s not a concern with Jose. But something happened in that locker room last summer that caused Chelsea, runaway champs last year, to plummet to 17th in four months under Mourinho. Something happened in the locker room that caused Fabregas, Hazard and Matic (best players last year) to want to stop playing football every weekend. This sort of drop in form/ability has nothing to do with a lack of signings, fatigue or anything of the sort. Something happened that made multi-millionaires not want to do their jobs to the extent that they did, yet (crucially) still not want to leave their company/place of work. I want to know what it is (Chelsea fans, help me out here).
For that reason, when people say ‘Mourinho is the only man to return Manchester United back to the summit of world football’, I make a phone call to a contact named ‘bull sh*t’ (I call BS…Get it?). Because what concerns me most is how bad it could, under even the smallest of chances, go for United.
Yes Mourinho will make marquee signings and do all the nice stuff nicely. Granted, financially United can not afford another 1-2 seasons out of the CL (a good point, well raised earlier) but for all hypothetical situations Mou supporters are bandying about for how incredible Jose is, I’d like some aggravated Chelsea fans/staunch anti-Mourinho supporters to, hypothetically of course, educate me on how t*ts up Jose could go too. Just so I can be ready for it.
Also, Zlatan at Old Trafford is like straight out of a dream. Theatre of Dreams they call it, eh?
Emad MUFC Boston
PS: Nick Miller’s article on United soon becoming the assh*les of world football again definitely made me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.
Blaming players for injuries? Bloody hell.
Stu, London – I have to presume this is some kind of bait for responses, right?
Like the only two variables in the equation of a players fitness is the player’s attitude and the physio’s ability. Every physical body is different. Take Ledley King for example. The problems with his injuries stemmed from having flat feet. Constantly adapting to this caused hip injuries and he then ruined his knees.
Jack Wilshere is a small player who likes to control the ball close to his feet, invite challenges and then dribble past. His playing style would appear to lend to his contagiousness to picking up a serious injury.
Then there is luck. The biggest variable of them all.
And then there is coming up against Charlie Adam.
It’s my job to be at work every day but I’ll still contract a cold. Damn my immune system for not fighting off all disease.
Chris, THFC (Stu must be a ruddy strict boss)
…Stu, London could not be more wrong if he tried and honestly I think he set out thinking “right, how wrong can I be today?”. You can’t honestly think that all players have the same likelihood of getting an injury provided they all look after themselves? Different players have a different genetic makeup which can contribute to the possibility of different areas of the body being naturally stronger or weaker. That’s a fact (Thanks Rafa).
Also on the point of Michael Owen collecting his wages while injured. Yeah because the club promised to pay him once a week, every week of the year. It’s a thing called a salary. Sure he’s on bucket loads of cash but if that’s the problem then the club should have offered him less. The club knew the risk of buying a player with a proven injury record. You can’t not pay him because he gets injured again. You would be p***ed off if you got sick or injured thanks to work and then your employers were like “Nah mate you can f**k off if you think we’re paying you”.
Cian LFC (Also cheers Stu for making me defend Michael Owen, I feel dirty all over)
One memory of Jamie Redknapp
Was interesting reading your injury-prone player column when reading about Jamie Redknapp having only played 39 minutes for England at major tournament football. I wondered if that was the only time I remembered him playing, coming on as a sub at halftime for England against Scotland at Euro ’96 before coming down on his ankle from a header to be ruled out for the rest of the tournament. Looked it up and it was. That event alone in what was an otherwise brilliant match pretty much summed up his career.