No Room for Patience in the Premier League
This morning there are two main headlines in the great world of English football – are Tim Sherwood’s days numbered? Are Robin Van Persie’s days numbered?
Same wording, same sentiment. Tim Sherwood was brought in as a temp after the dodgy sacking of André Villa-Boas from Tottenham Hotspur in December 2013, and offered a contract until the end of next season. In fifth place of the Premier League, still in the running of the Europa League and eight wins from eleven League games, the rumour mill is spinning regardless to see Sherwood off early.
RVP took to the papers ten days ago to complain that Man Utd teammates were getting ‘in the way’ of him being able to do his job to win the points for the Reds, as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat against Olympiakos. One of Sir Alex’s prized strikers, it seems the Dutchman feels unloved under Moyes and there are now debates as to whether he should be sold.
Spurs are admittedly wading through thick mud now after their gamble to sell Gareth Bale and invest in a new, youthful squad (perhaps Utd should take note while they work out whether to put a price tag on RVP’s head). But what is evident in both situations is an obvious lack of patience with – or even tolerance of – a transitional period after a change.
There were, of course, thousands of persistent critics of Sir Alex Ferguson and his former team – Shakespearean deaths followed by Biblical recoveries after a bit of ‘magic sponge’ treatment, ‘Fergie Time’ of up to double the real stoppage time if Man Utd were not winning, a word in an ear here and there. What has transformed the former super-fortress of Old Trafford into a deflating bouncy castle is the players on the field, and not a change of manager. They are still the same men with the same abilities who seem to be having a teenage strop at the loss of their Scoutmaster. Calling for Moyes’ head so early is not the answer – people forget, Fergie didn’t win a trophy at Manchester Utd for six years after he first stepped in.
This year, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham FC Shahid Khan has had a sacking spree that made unemployment statistics out of Martin Jol and Renee Meulensteen in less than three months. Jol was let go after six consecutive losses for the Cottagers, and Meulensteen likewise after gaining just 2 league wins from 14 games. Looks justified on paper – kind of.
When Man Utd beat Arsenal 8-2 in August 2011, enraged Arsenal fans took to Twitter and Facebook to demand an immediate sacking of Wenger on the spot, two weeks into the new season for their worst defeat since the 19th century. It was horrendous, no doubt about that. One more win in the bag after that and it was all forgotten about. Was it, then, so easy for fans of a persistent top-four club (who admittedly haven’t won any silverware since the Spice Girls were in the top 10) who had made progress in the Champions League, FA Cup and Carling Cup the season before, won 19 and drew 18 of their 38 Premier League games – but one dodgy afternoon and its guillotine time for the Frenchman.
An article was published on Bleacher Report later that day entitled ‘5 Reasons Why Arséne Wenger Must Be Sacked Immediately’ and it received almost 6,000 views. It’s not a lone wolf, either, as there are other similarly-titled pieces out there accusing Wenger of every sorrow and sin from encouraging complacency to progressive inconsistencies with youth and Academy players. It’s not that the writers don’t make a good point – they do – but these pieces sprung up on this particular day of a humiliating defeat.
The issue at hand is that fans and club superintendents won’t wait for a period of adjustment. It is an attitude of ‘we are used to winning, and if we don’t win when we expect to, close the door quietly on your way out.’ No formerly proud and grinning Gunners fan wanted to walk into work on the Monday morning and face the grief, so it’s easier just to find a scapegoat and call for the man’s head – then it’s nothing to do with the fans. Once they return to winning ways – apart from the occasional #lasttimeArsenalwonatrophy’ trending on Twitter – all is forgotten, and all is well.
Patience and faith are absent; not just from disgruntled and occasionally embarrassed fans but club chairman and seniority, which once instated no longer trust the managers to do the job they themselves hired them to do.
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