The Modern Game – A Rocky Road

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 3, 2013: Liverpool fans protest against high ticket prices with banners 'A Working Class Sport?', 'Football Without Fans Is Nothing' during the Premiership match against Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In light of the controversial sacking of Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City, it is pretty clear that managers have very little authority in the modern game. Managers do not tend to last very long at a club these days, some barely having time to get their feet under the desk before being shown the door. Owners have become extremely ruthless and sometimes brutal in their treatment of managers. Managers and coaches are in the most disposable position within a football club, by a long way.

The manager is always the one that takes the fall, while the players get away with murder. Leicester City beat Liverpool comfortably last night, days after sacking Claudio Ranieri. Under the Italian this season, the players didn’t lift a finger to help drag the club away from the relegation zone. Last night in front of the television cameras, they showed they hadn’t been putting in the effort, a miraculous transformation in performance – leicester were the first to every ball, running tirelessly until the final whistle blew. Ranieri didn’t see any of that from his players this season.

Of course it’s not just at Leicester, the same thing happened at Chelsea last season. The players downed tools on Jose Mourinho the season after they had won the title. Is it success going to the players heads? Or is a breakdown of relationship between manager and players? Whatever the reason, the modern player does not seem to take responsibility when things go wrong. I admit a manager can get tactics etc wrong, however they are not the ones on the pitch. Last night’s win for Leicester had nothing to do with tactics, Craig Shakespeare didn’t have much time to prepare the players for the game. The win last night, was mainly down to the motivation, effort and work-rate of the Leicester players.

I find it sickening that players can simply decide when they want to play to their maximum. The modern day player gets paid an obscene amount each week, the least they can do is put in the maximum amount of effort each week. Managers need to regain some of the power, the modern day player has far too much say on the goings on in a club. The days of Brian Clough where a player daren’t answer back are long gone. The problem with players getting paid so much, they believe they are invincible and that they can do no wrong. That isn’t the fault of the players necessarily, anyone would feel that way in their position.

There are a lot of problems in the modern game at the moment. The vast majority of owners are only in it for the money – not for the love of the game. Football is seen as a business and not a sport. Once upon a time, football was a working-class game, now players seem more interested in the money and luxurious lifestyle than they do the game itself. It is a scary state of affairs when owners do not want to win trophies, their sole mindset is on making money. If you look at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger who has done an amazing job at the club, he guarantees top four and that’s what the owners love. Wenger brings good money to the club with every top four finish. The Arsenal owners don’t want to do anything to jeopardise that, even if it means showing some ambition and trying to win the title.

You see teams from the Premier League fielding weakened sides in the EFL and FA Cup, as they do not want to risk their place in the top flight. Owners want to their club to be in amongst the money, if their club won a trophy and got relegated – they would see it as a nightmare because the drop in revenue is so huge.

I love football and always will, but the situation it’s in now is scary. There is too much money in the game and it is causing a lot of damage. Owners should think of the fans as should the players and managers. Without fans football is nothing. The fans want to see their team lifting trophies, that’s what they dream about, not about the club earning millions each year. Fans pay their hard earned money each week to follow their teams up and down the country, surely they deserve something in return. Of course fans do not want to see their club get relegated, that does not mean clubs need to pretty much boycott cup competitions by fielding a weak team.

I don’t know how the situation can change, but one thing is for sure, it really needs to change. If football carries on like this for the next ten or even twenty years, who knows what sorry state it will be in.