I have a few problems with the football journalist Barney Ronay. He’s a nice bloke, writes for The Guardian and is clearly intelligent. However, his attempts to package everything about football into a tidy narrative doesn’t work for me.
Ronay wrote the book ‘The Manager: The Absurd ascent of the most important man in football.’ In it, he states, ‘the modern football manager adorns not just the front and back pages but the middle ones too.’ He goes on to imply that a football manager is now ‘a kind of televised public performance. With his windmilling arms and spittle flecked displays of emotion.’ Ronay’s point in all of this is that, formerly, a manager was nothing less than an instrument to take away the wrath of supporters from the board, a kind of middle management person who absorbs the shit. Now, he is a presentation of all things associated with the club.
His book charts the history of the position of a football manager and while its clearly great piece, it misses, in my opinion, the greatest aspect of a football coach, that being: ‘that unique connection.’
Ronay didn’t play football at any level and that’s clear in his writing, Ronay is a middle class journalist totally bereft of the understanding one has to have with those around you in the dressing room.
I played for Chelsea under 16s and while we knew we were a bit crap, we responded to our coach in the best way we could. This, of course, was many years ago and the current climate in pro-football is nothing like it is now, the point being, we knew he was proper Chelsea and he adored the club we played for (thanks Les) and in my time, for the record, I never experienced any racial issues, we were all one, playing for the team.
My point perhaps sounds simplistic, working under a manager who loved the club was a motivation, despite the fact that at the time, we were all local fans anyway, but its standing is long long-standing – much like Pep Guardiola did with Barca, there is no replacement for passion at a club, and I really think we’ve lost that.
A Frank Lampard appointment, while not perfect in its timing during his graduation through the ranks of coaching experience, would at least offer us the welcoming standard of those great coaches I grew up with, who were proper Chels’. If Pep can do it, why not Frank?