When I went to work yesterday morning and was asked by my Cooperating Teacher how football was over the weekend, my initial thought was, “Doesn’t she know the Premier League season is over?”
So I told her it was pretty quiet.
And then, I laughed, remembering all the craziness that happened starting Saturday, and I began to tell her, “Except…”
The more I told her, the wider her eyes got, and I felt pretty silly for saying it was quiet.
Let’s start with the Scottish FA Cup. As a Hibs fan, short time though I have been one, I told my mother the other day that I felt good about them winning this time. She’s one of those positive people who always roots for the underdog, so she didn’t even blink when I told her the last time they managed it was 1902. After all, this was the year of Leicester, and I wasn’t exactly wrong about that one, either.
Well, after Saturday, I’m thinking maybe I should say Kimi Raikkonen is going to win the F1 Driver’s Championship this season, because I’m on a roll. And why not, right? I could at least declare Ferrari’s going to win the constructor’s championship. (BTW, if either of those things happens, this is totally me declaring them, right here, right now.)
That aside, the scenes on the pitch after Hibs beat Rangers were disgraceful, on all counts. Yes, the Hibs fans attacking Rangers players was awful (and I use the term “fans” sort of loosely here). But regardless of why they did it, Rangers “fans” joining the fight was just as despicable, and the fact that the Rangers Club statements have been pointing the finger everywhere but at their own fans disgusts me.
That Rangers players were injured by any fans is disgusting, and that they had to receiving their runners-up medals in the changing rooms is pitiful.
I mean, to me, there’s nothing else to say about this except that it’s disgusting that we even have to talk about such a mess, and I sincerely hope that the authorities and clubs take proper measures to address what happened, punish those they can and should, and try to see that such things don’t happen in future.
Now, on to part two of this crazy weekend.
Full disclosure, I don’t like Man U. I’m not even sure I’m allowed to like them, my brother-in-law being a Liverpool fan. There ARE, however, some things I admire about the history of Man U.
You hear these things all the time, with varying degrees of accuracy. They’re not a sacking club. They develop young players. They conduct themselves well. They play a style of football that’s free-flowing and attacking.
Okay, great. That’s what most clubs would like to say about themselves. Except that for years and years, Man U could say that with a high degree of honesty. And there’s something to be admired about dignity in a club, conducting themselves well, and expecting players and managers and all to behave that way. I mean, half the headlines for Chelsea this season were about how they were exactly the OPPOSITE of this, culminating in the sacking of their manager.
So is anyone else raising eyebrows that Man U is reportedly going to be signing Mourinho as their new manager? Anyone?
Don’t get me wrong, this will be great fun to watch as a neutral. Between Mourinho, Pep, Klopp, Conte…. I mean, the Premier League is going to be bloated with personality, and that’s not even counting the wonderful personality of Claudio Ranieri, which is going to be a breath of fresh air, for sure, in the midst of all this.
On the other hand, I’m disappointed. First of all, the way they’ve kept Van Gaal hanging is disgusting. The leaking (supposedly and possibly by Mendes, which wouldn’t surprise me) of the story that Van Gaal was being sacked was bad enough, but these things unfortunately happen. That it took over TWO DAYS for them to them formally announce that he was, indeed, leaving, was terrible. Can you imagine how that guy felt, especially after months of speculation and countdown?
On top of that, if Man U’s football development has been taking steps backward in the last few years, I’m prepared to say that hiring Mourinho, while sure to produce a step forward (for a while) on that front, is a step backwards in everything I like about this club.
I’m not talking about style of play. I’m not talking about playing the youth (Rashford and Martial will be played, even if he doesn’t bring anyone else forward). But the man is a ticking time bomb. It’s only a matter of time before he makes a spectacle of himself, and the club as a result, and is that the world we live in? Are we really willing to sell out core values for winning?
Because Manchester United isn’t just a business. It isn’t just a brand. It’s a football club, and that badge should mean a whole lot more than the number of titles won and the number of cups in a trophy line and all the box office mumbo jumbo. It should be a set of values, a philosophy of how the game should be played, and if you do things the right way and lose, well then, that’s that. You’ve lost. And it feels rotten, but next time you will work that much harder to win.
Call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather be old-fashioned than cynical and desperate for silverware. Claudio Ranieri strikes me as a man with values. Eddie Howe seems like a man who is interested in legacy of the club. Who wants to tell me that there’s no place in football for a man like that, in this modern age?