Time To Stop All This Crisis Talk

Relax, the crisis is over, for now. Manchester City won a football game, and everything’s now ok, until they next fail to win a game, and then the vultures will circle once more. There will be talk of the manager moaning, of him cracking up on the touchline, manically waving imaginary yellow cards around, greying by the day, inching closer and closer to his own Kevin Keegan moment when he will stare wild-eyed into the camera as a terrified Geoff Shreeves looks on in the background, ranting “Is football, we played well, but is difficult, is long season, is red card, is need for players, and I tell you what, I would amore eet, amore eet, to get more players.”

Leading up to the Wigan game, the press told us City were in a slump, going through a rocky spell, the season was threatening to unwind. One goal later, and the form table for the last six league games shows the top team, with 13 points, to be – Manchester City. They are three points clear at the top of the table (the gap has never been greater than five), are still in the Carling Cup (though with a tough task ahead), so the crisis basically amounted to exiting the FA Cup having played 80 minutes with 10 men. Is football.

As Joleon Lescott commented only yesterday:”It has been funny, None of the boys thought we were cracking or something was going wrong. Then suddenly a big thing is made of it in the media. It was crazy. We sat there and thought: ‘Wow, we must have arrived’. People were saying we weren’t going to win the league and we are thinking: ‘Hold on a minute, we have lost two cup games’. I don’t think we are doing too badly.”

Now the press can concentrate on Arsenal instead. Perhaps Darlington fans should stop moaning – after all, Arsenal’s situation is far worse if some of what I have read recently is to be believed.

But there always has to be a “big” club in crisis – it’s pathetic, and unnecessary, but it seems an integral part of the footballing world. Arsenal are already in their second crisis of the season, Liverpool have had a few, City stagger from one crisis to another, and Manchester United and Chelsea have had a fair few too. And it only seems to be big teams too – a crisis seems to equate to not winning all your games and being in dange rof missing out on the cash-cow that is the Champions League.

City could still win a treble this season. They probably won’t, but the fact is it’s possible. But lose on Sunday to Spurs and they will be back in the mire despite being assured of top spot as their two closest challengers head into a tough spell of fixtures. As for Alex Ferguson, he’s been reported as coming to the end of his reign for a decade now, the United team written off more times than you could mention. Crisis after crisis, but they struggle on. Such troopers.

It’s been said by me before, but it’s all a result of the exhaustive coverage the sport now gets, the need not only to report news but create news too. To exaggerate, to speculate, to sensationalise. And there’s clearly a market for it. Coverage is everywhere, 24 hours a day, on the television, online, even lonely men in their bedrooms can write endlessly on the topic (oh, hang on…). There’s not enough to talk about, so let’s make mountains out of molehills, and create a storm.

And then there’s the pressure on teams and managers, the lack of time to get results, to build a club up slowly. Instant results are demanded by fans, the media, and by impatient fans. No wonder a bad result is painted as a low ebb in the club’s history, the manager was a disgrace, the left-back isn’t good enough, change is needed, the club’s a laughing stock.

A crisis is the real possibility of the club you support and your father and grandfather supported going out of business, out of existence. Crisis is your team’s players not being paid, the administrators being called in, relegation, point deductions, a future with no hope. A big team having a bad month is not a crisis. They can change the manager, spend some more of the Premiership millions and try again. Or they can have a disappointing season and try again the following year. But as Darlington head towards oblivion, Talksport is dedicating a phone-in to Roberto Mancini’s actions on the touchline, and the world of football has officially got its priorities all wrong.

It’s part of how those who cover our beautiful game see everything along two distinctive lines. Everything is black and white, either brilliant or terrible. Players are world class or rubbish. There’s no such thing as an average run of results, you’re either doing well or in crisis. No one cares about the real crises though – the really big problems that are affecting clubs, players or managers. The Premiership is king, and two defeats on the bounce in the “EPL” is akin to anything Wimbledon fans had to endure.

So just remember, the next time your team has a defensive crisis, or a striker crisis, or a mascot crisis, a catering crisis, or the board are having crisis talks, or your club as a whole is in crisis – just keep calm and trust your manager. Give it a week and they’ll be challenging for the title.

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