Call me the ultimate football pessimist, but I would like to try and bring a little order to the English game. After listening to a certain new football show hosted by a couple of ex pundits, it suddenly dawned on me that football fans have started to lose the plot a little bit. In the wake of some outrageous reactions to events on the field, I question – where has our perspective gone?
Allow me to clarify. As recently as two days ago, I heard some Everton fans phoning in to talkSPORT questioning whether David Moyes had come to the end of the road as manager. A successful nine years in charge meant the caller wasn’t as harsh as asking the Scot to be sacked, but replaced that with saying, “maybe Moyes has taken Everton as far as he can.” Bless him, he’s trying to the old ‘cruel to be kind’ trick. After all, he was obviously looking out for Moyes, right? Wrong. If somebody could tell me a manager who would be prepared to take over from Moyes and do a better job than him, I’ll give up writing and admit to what many of you may think, that I know very little about anything at all. The fact is Moyes has done a terrific job on a very small budget. Yes, he’s made some poor signings but who hasn’t? You could even question his decision making, but again I’d argue that he wouldn’t be the only one to get things wrong now and again. If we put things into perspective, (there’s that word again) Everton are having a bad season – by their standards. These standards didn’t exist until Moyes was on the scene. If you look at how small their squad is, you could even argue they have been punching above their weight for quite some time.
Secondly, I would like to invite you all to turn your attentions to the man everyone loves to hate at the moment (apart from Chelsea fans): Fernando Torres. A Liverpool fan phoned in and proposed the idea that instead of wondering why such a talented player is struggling to find form at his new club, maybe, just maybe, Torres is now playing to his level because he’s not actually a world-class player. He was even likened to Andriy Shevchenko. Am I the only one who finds this ridiculous? A month ago, scoring or not, the Spaniard was a hero at Anfield but now he’s just an average Joe? I’m not calling people with this opinion fickle, but well, actually I am – it’s incredibly fickle.
It’s been proven on several occasions that signing players in January doesn’t make for a great start. Signing somebody in the summer on the other hand, allows for a pre-season and some time to get to know your team-mates, on and off the pitch. Torres has gone to Chelsea, unfamiliar with the faces and the way they play. It takes time – Edin Dzeko is experiencing the same problem at Man City. Cast your minds back to when Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic first joined Manchester United. They were ripped apart, especially in their first game at Man City. If I’m right in recalling, Evra was dragged off at half-time to spare further embarrassment. They haven’t turned out too bad now, have they? I wonder how Torres’ doubters would react if the striker fired them to their first ever Champions League win. Probably with the old anecdote “I always said he’d do a job for them.” Whatever the case, I’d put good money on the former Anfield idol being back to his best soon. Maybe not this season, but certainly come August.
Now I come to the most recent of events. Arsenal overcame a brilliant Barcelona side the other night, and for that, I congratulate them. But can I remind everyone that it is only a job half done. In fact, with that all-important away goal, I’d still have the Catalan giants as favourites. So it’s more a job quarter done, really. They always score at the Nou Camp, meaning Arsenal have to do the same. It’s still an uphill task, and that’s being generous. I take nothing away from the result, but I’d also like to point out a couple more things. If Arsenal are as good as everyone says they are, why are we all so excited that they beat Barcelona? Arsene Wenger would have us believe that they can win the Champions League outright, so surely they would need to beat the best?
It’s a radical approach I know, but stick with me on this on. Maybe, we trust David Moyes to continue to maximise the minimal potential at Everton and let him bring his side back up the Premier League where they now belong. Why not give Torres a little longer than two games before we allow him to go and play ‘heads and volleys’ with Shevchenko and Adrian Mutu on that football scrapheap. And as far as Arsenal’s ‘great’ victory is concerned, call me a pessimist but can we wait until they’ve actually made it into the next round at least, before we start comparing them to the all-time best football team?
I don’t mean to rain on the parade of English football, but I feel that someone should provide a forecast at least before the heavens open and catch us all off guard. The Premier League has never looked so good, and the success our teams are having in Europe is great to see. But before we all go buying t-shirts with ‘Tottenham v Arsenal – Wembley 2011’ on, can we all just gain a little perspective?
Want to join me in bringing people to their senses? Follow me on Twitter @Joino
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