Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Are Liverpool the new Newcastle United?

It must be more fun supporting some football teams than others. Not so much because of the success they enjoy or the entertainment they provide as because of your expectations.

So if your team is Crewe Alexandra you are probably happy - not just because of your club's charming name or its tradition of good football, but also because you have no pretentions to be being better than you are. If you get promoted it is pleasing: if you get relegated the following year it is not the end of the world.

By contrast, there are a lot of clubs whose supporters think they are entitled to be in the Premiership and feel cheated if they are not there. Wolves are one example and there is even an element of this attitude amongst Leicester City fans.

I remember a fan of Stoke City - one of the better English sides in the 1970s - saying that it took years for the club's team and the crowd to shake off the view that they were bound to get into the top division soon. The result is that no one put in the the required effort, and Stoke never did get promoted again.

Such an attitude can exist even at the top. As an armchair Chelsea fan (though I was there when we drew the FA Cup final in 1970) the advent of Gullit and Vialli and "sexy football" seemed like a restoration of the natural order of things. Chelsea should be a glamour club that wins a cup now and then. The subsequent Premierships under St Jose were something quite outside the expectations or experience of the club's fans.

But Newcastle United fans are different. Despite not having seen their club win anything since Methuselah was in short trousers, they still remain convinced that their is a great club that should be winning trophies. For this reason, their brush with glory under Kevin Keegan in the 1990s left them dissatisfied in a way that it would not have done the fans of most clubs.

The result is that any manager of Newcastle United is bound to fail because the expectations of the club's supporters are so unrealistically high.

I am rambling on like this because I see a danger that Liverpool may become the new Newcastle United. Despite not having won the English title since 1989-90, they still see themselves as the biggest club in the country and, more destructively, somehow deserving of success simply because of who they are.

You will say that they won the Champion's League a couple of years ago, which spoils my theory. But (beside the fact that the ball was never over the line in that semi-final against Chelsea) I suspect Liverpool fans should have regarded that as a wonderful exception to the order of things rather than their natural right.

2 comments:

port vale said...

Stoke Shitty have probably the worst attitude in England (Wales being different, obviously). They are our local rivals. Whenever I tell people I'm from Stoke, they always assume I'm one of their fans and behave accordingly.

One of our favourite chants is "We hate Stoke" repeatedly. Good times :)

spread bet said...

Being a Newcastle fan was never meant to be this hard! just when i thought things were looking up, after the return of legendary Geordie, Kevin Keegan, i go and read this article on some online sports spread betting company (follow link to see the article) that is already writing off his chances of turning round the clubs fortunes. This got me thinking, after seeing managers sacked after relatively short periods of time and new gaffer’s chances being talked down before even one game in charge, along these lines...

Are the football managers of today given enough time? I personally believe time is the answer - look at fergie at man u and Wenger at arsenal... My beloved Newcastle will never improve unless a manager with reasonable knowledge of the game is given time to put structures in place... I know its a cliché, but these people in the media and at this spread betting company site are putting the pressure on Chairmen and club owners to sack managers without thinking about long term managers. It angers me intensely reading the kind of stuff i saw on sporting index this morning! Read it for yourself and let me know what you think...

Click Here to read the article in full...