Dear Roy Hodgson,
I’ve got nothing against you and happen to think you were on a losing to nothing when you came to Liverpool last year. We all know the results of that story and there’s not much to add to it now.
The new story you’re now part of though is alarming in the way its already being constructed: you’ve ‘steered West Brom to mid-table safety’; you’re a blazer man who ticks all the boxes; an FA man for the FA. Well, lets hope your appointment doesn’t’ lead to sweet FA, or that if it does, you fail spectacularly and come crashing out of the football heavens burning on all cylinders.
Because Roy, your appointment has all the hall marks of what is tired and miserable about English sporting culture and indeed our public life in general.
Steering your team to mid-table respectability has an air of desperation about it, its risk averseness wearing its heart on its sleeve or on another respectable part of your anatomy. Respectability? So that we can look forward to saying things like “unfortunately we just missed out on scraping into the quarter finals but second place in the qualifying qualifying group stage is no mean achievement?’ Is that the extent of the endorsement we can expect from your boys at the FA after the summer?
Because those boys at the FA, Roy, are trying to anoint you as one in the image of themselves: Blazer Men, the stalwarts of the English sporting club tradition. We all know a Blazer Man. He’s the bloke on Saturday afternoon who kicks you off the tennis court cos you’ve not got your membership card with you. The bloke in the bar holding forth on all things, unctuously and loudly. The bloke in the car park who has driven his Jag up the back side of your Ford Orion and driven away, oblivious to the trail of damage behind him cos he’s as pissed as a Friday afternoon lunch time fart. The bloke who will lead us to mid table security making sure his blazer elbow patches don’t rip and tear at the strain of it all. The Blazer Man. As exemplified by Trevor Brooking and his collection of gold plated carriage clocks. Cuck-bloody-oo.
Beware all those carriage clocks Roy! It’s no wonder you’re in danger of ticking all the boxes. All of them. Hoo bloody ray. A box ticker! We’re all living with box tickers every day Roy, they make up almost every department of every large organisation everywhere in England at the moment; they sit there in the neat and tidy offices, underlining things in red, covering their audit trail arses and ticking their boxes with a rapidity which puts the fastest PC to shame.
We don’t need box tickers Roy in our public life Roy, we need our sports heroes to tear up the boxes and start again. We need our public figures to show us there’s life after the box, the target, the service level agreement.
We don’t need you to tick the FA’s boxes for them., Roy. We need you to win convincingly, after much struggle, heart break and living on the edge of our collective nerves; but failing that, please fail gloriously and utterly. Please prove once and for all that the FA Blazer Men and their ticking clocks and ticking boxes should be thrown into a container and carted off to the South China Seas for them to live the rest of their lives in Rousserian decadence. For Gods sake, for all our English public lives’ sake Roy, go and fail properly: disasterously, noisily, embarrassingly.
However you do it, just do it with conviction. We may not like the results but it will be infinitely better than being steered to mid-table respectability. No one wants that in their lives, never mind in their football team.