I don't know about you, the reader, but I have a very flat empty feeling
right now. Some of that is undoubtedly due to the disappointments of the
past season. However I can't help but think that my passion for football
on the whole has wained. About a year ago football came home. Euro '96
was here and we loved it. There was the tension of the Scotland match,
the demolition of Holland and the passionate game against Germany.
Football was alive and kicking and the new season promised much at all
I guess where these feelings come from is more from watching the
Premiership week in week out on the telly. Rarely did we see a
performance that matched any of England's attempts over the summer. Even
by Christmas there was an air of inevitability about the way the leagues
were shaping up and deep down we all knew that Man Utd were going to win
Perhaps it is the money in the sport that has done the damage. Too many
overpaid, beer drinking stars who, when it comes to it, just can't be
bothered. We pay our money and watch, seeking entertainment and passion,
and all we get is a dour game the result of which could have been guessed
after five minutes. It seems the price of failure is now so great that
teams won't risk the extravagant.
Newcastle under Keegan were perhaps an exception. Whilst people may
doubt his managerial abilities, he gave a refreshing approach to the game
where entertainment was a high priority. Since his departure Dalglish
has employed the same tactics he used at Blackburn when they won the
title - grinding out results at the expense of entertainment.
In other walks of life we would not put up with this situation. We would
be critical of the lack of passion and commitment and demand a change.
In the end football in this country has
become rather like the Conservative Party had in the last few months.
Unimaginative, stale and yet desperate to hang onto its place as the
nation's number one sport. The England performance against Italy
demonstrated clearly that more than skill our players lack imagination,
vision and passion. A change is needed.
What that change is I don't know. Maybe summer success will bring
renewed hope. Maybe summer spending sprees will dampen it forever. It
seems that in the world of football money doesn't just talk - it shouts
very loudly. Sadly it is killing the game that many of us love and give
up our time, money and energy following. Perhaps we need just to take
the money out the game. The star of the season was, in my opinion,
Juninho. Here was someone who seemed to relish stepping out and
playing. Giving his all and not afraid of that bit of magic. Contrast that with
Emerson who, when push came to shove, couldn't be bothered.
Whatever happens over the summer come August we'll all be there. Ready
to shout and cheer, even if from afar. Ready to give our all for the
team we support. Wouldn't it be good if just for a change the players up
and down the country did the same?