Monthly Archives: June 2011
In the past few weeks we’ve witnessed West Ham United and Nottingham Forest praised across a variety of media for the swift, efficient appointment of managers seemingly perfectly positioned to restore these formerly big clubs back to the big time. Certainly a small section of the fans of both clubs have had their misgivings but these pale in comparison to what Aston Villa fans are experiencing right now.
It is the first of March 2004 and two managers sit in their respective offices. They are pondering a match the day before which had seen Steve McClaren’s Middlesbrough narrowly beating Sam Allardyce’s Bolton Wanderers 2-1 in the League Cup Final. Two of the most promising English managers going head to head. Allardyce, with his focus on scientific methods and dedication to pragmatic, aggressive football, had managed to firmly establish Bolton as a Premier League team since promotion in 2001. McClaren had also steadily improved Middlesbrough, using a mixture of young home-grown talent he found within his new academy and an attacking flair borne of his days as assistant manager at Old Trafford. His team would go on the next season to finish seventh in the Premier League and reach the UEFA Cup final the season after that. How exactly did these two successful, unique and talented coaches end up, seven years later, preparing to face off yet again, this time in the second tier of the English domestic game?
“People who love soft methods and hate iniquity forget… that reform consists in taking a bone from a dog.”
- John Jay Chapman
As Sepp Blatter settles into his fourth term as President of the FIFA Family, we have in recent weeks seen an outpouring of opprobrium toward the increasingly sinister and opaque world of international football governance. As more and more members of the so-called Executive Committee are linked to corruption charges, the average football fan is left wondering, if not the ineffectual national associations such as the FA, nor the wider federations such as Michel Platini’s obsequious UEFA, nor the pocket lining overlords in Zurich, who exactly is looking after our beloved game?
The answer, quite simply, is no-one. Unless of course you count those long-neglected, put upon and persecuted people, us, the fans.