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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
This is something a little different, it's for a magazine given to professional footballers. I'd be interested to know what you think.



Football, as you'll probably know better than me, is a game of stark contrasts, subject to swift changes that are rarely polite enough to warn of their impending arrival. You can go from zero to hero or back the other way on the basis of one split second, a perilous existence that must keep you up at night occasionally. Well, unless this is the first time you've thought about, in which case I can only apologise for planting the seed of insomnia and I highly recommend Camomile tea.

Stephen Hunt, for example, came from the obscurity of Brentford to the glare of the Premier League with Reading, chased Petr Cech to a loose ball in 2006 and almost killed him, opening the floodgates to months of death threats from Chelsea fans. Gael Clichy, more recently while 4-3 up against Tottenham, was caught between kicking the ball out of play and dashing into the corner to run the clock down. Unable to decide, he elected to fall over, and we all know what happened next.

But isn't it life-affirming to be reminded that no matter how low you go, no matter how many people tear you apart in the press, football will always give you a chance to come back? Few in the game could have sunk lower than Steve McClaren, last spotted by most of us sheltering forlornly under an umbrella, shivering and looking for all the world like a five year old at a school nativity play, blinking nervously and trying to not to wet himself. When you're described as 'the wally with the brolly' in the nation's biggest newspaper, that cold thing you can feel under your buttocks is Rock Bottom.

But in November this year, something quite beautiful happened. McClaren, back in England with FC Twente, coaxed a performance out of his players that warmed the heart. It may have been abject long-ball with England, but Twente were under instructions to pass the ball about on the ground. The national team might have crumbled against Croatia, but this lot fought back twice against a superior side, almost snatching a draw at the death. At the time of writing, McClaren, the laughing stock of England, was just two points off the summit of Dutch football.

Of course, it's too early to start talking about title challenges or even European qualification, which would be quite a feat considering that his key players were sold off before his arrival. However, just seeing him in charge of such a fluid, impressive team should give us all hope, in whatever walk of life we tread. However bad you think it is on those long sleepless nights that must follow an own-goal, a red card or a feature at the wrong end of the Sunday tabloids, just remember. McClaren had it worse and he's alright now. Sleep tight.

Iain Macintosh is the UK Football Correspondent for The New Paper in Singapore and the author of 'Football Fables' available from all good bookshops.
 

seany t

President
Joined
May 11, 2006
Messages
3,566
Ah bless him. When the cameras zoomed in on his gutted face at the end after THAT miss I nearly shed a little tear...
 

Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Christ, I've had a ****poor week! Re-read that three times as well. I need a PA, never mind a Sub!

It's for a mag called The Locker Room, so not quite as glossy as Icon!
 

sufcintheprem

This is a modified caption
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
10,185
Location
Putney
Sorry to be another voice of proof-read but I'm pretty sure Clichy's slip gave possession to Jenas who beautifully curled home the goal to make it 4-3 rather than being 4-3.

For some reason it's hard to imagine your average footballer being able to understand a lot of the words in there.
 
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