Fighting a losing battle?

Without giving too much away, I’m not exactly a spring chicken in terms of age. I watched the recent documentary about James Hunt and Nikki Lauda during their battle for the 1976 Formula 1 World Championship and it surprised me how I could easily recall watching the coverage at the time. Lauda, literally going up in smoke, James Hunt the morning after a typically well done night before… Those were the days… The epitome of an era that has long passed. There was a different mindset then, as there is now. Whether better or worse.

Hunt and Lauda were described as the first superstars of their sport. Listen to Sebastian Vettel and his sadly unconvincing congratulations to “the team”…, “great job guys!” and you see how bad things have become. Football also, has sadly changed to follow suit. Gone are the days when the expression that “No player is bigger than the team” was actually true. It has since left the building along with Sir Alex Ferguson.  

At the time of writing, there are at least three managers who, sadly didn’t notice the departure. For whatever reason, probably their own ego and to confirm their status they’ve inadvertently created a situation where some players, do appear to be, bigger than the clubs. I’m talking about Manchester United’s David Moyes, Paul Lambert at Aston Villa and Liverpool’s own Brendan Rodgers. All of whom are fighting, often very public but losing, battles with those who have frankly become too big for their boots. In each case, they’re letting players dictate to them – even when the exact opposite is apparent. Moyes is showing that this approach with Wayne Rooney obviously isn’t working. 

In one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s last interviews after his final match at Old Trafford, he was asked how he would handle the Rooney situation. He diplomatically used words to the effect that it’s not his problem now. Quite rightly in the circumstances, but anyone that has watched his team go from strength to strength since their crunch game against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup back in 1989 will know exactly what he’d have done with Rooney. Ask Jaap Stam, Paul Ince or David Beckham. He’d have sold him quicker than Rooney’s Range Rover Sport does the 0-100KPH sprint. The fact is he wouldn’t have stood for it. 

Brendan Rodgers, like many a Liverpool fan seems to have this unconditional love affair with Luis Suarez, when the guy is clearly only interested in his own promotion. Suarez should be sold. Point. With the utterings coming from Liverpool that Rodgers is “on the phone to Suarez every day” in an effort to convince him to stay, being a prime example. What the hell for? Why behave like a mother who’s last born is leaving for University? Rodgers should be on the phone to the Real Madrid, Arsenal and Chelsea to see if they’re looking for a spare part! Suarez’s behavior is absolutely not befitting of a Liverpool player, in the way that genuine fans would describe one. It’s not just down to ability, but also attitude and Suarez’s attitude stinks more than the browny-green stuff in a babies nappy! There should be no place for him. Liverpool Football Club has managed very well before Suarez and I’m sure they can do so after he’s gone. His behavior is a smack in the face for the club that has stuck by him, even ill advisedly through thick and thin. LFC, literally, is bigger than that. 

Lastly, we have Christian Benteke at Aston Villa, again arrogance abounds. Not turning up for training, threatening to strike as he did at his old club FC Genk. Totally unacceptable, and instead of “threatening” to fine him, Randy Lerner should have docked a sizeable sum from him already. Threatening is what powerless parents do with their spoilt and belligerent children. Action is what gets results be they pretty or ugly. Football, is a results game after all. The guy has played one season in the Premiership and thinks he’s all that already. He has some ability, but lets hope the phrase “one season wonder” isn’t his descriptive come May 2014. 

I don’t know if these lads are just badly represented, misunderstood, or if what gets into the press is simple maneuvering, but it leaves a sour taste in the mouths of the fans and the public in general. Whatever it is, the teams, the managers and all associated with them need to take a stand. They need to send the right message. Nobody is irreplaceable and nobody is bigger than the club. 

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