25 January, 2006

In praise of inexperience

Forest to win the European Cup (again)?

or England to win the European Championships?

One of my favourite memories is my friends and I being thrashed at football by some six year olds in the Myrtle (pub) garden - we were trollied at 11 in the morning after watching England beat Argentina (we beat Argentinaahh!) - and the great thing about it was that loads of my friends were involved, no matter which club they supported - or even if they didn't really like football. That's the power of international football.

But deep down, I think club football is better. It happens more often. The rivalries are deeper. The chants are better. Imagine holding three fingers up to the Man U fans (OK, so it's not going to happen but imagine!) I'd love to beat Australia in the World Cup (Sven's major mistake was misjudging what the English feel about Australia) but imagine defeating Colin in the FA Cup Final. It would be priceless.

Which brings me to my point. I've not really thought this through but a lot of people (not just Man U fans) feel like this about their clubs. Even shoddily run third division clubs with rich benefactors.

International football, in this age of million pound bungs (allegedly) and "4th place Champion's Leagues", just doesn't cut it. In fact, compared to the demands of club management, it's quite leisurely (apart from the press intrusion) - you don't have to worry about finances, a large proportion of your squad is picked for you, you only have training for about two days every six months. As an introduction to the job of football manager you couldn't get much better. Which is why Wales opted for Mark Hughes, Holland opted for Van Basten, Germany opted for Klinsmann.

So let's give it to Stuart. He may not have much experience but, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter like it used to. It wasn't Glenda's lack of experience that did for him - it was his man-management and dodgy beliefs. Stuart doesn't have those problems (apart from maybe that Stiff Little Fingers are worth listening to). And he'll gain tactical know-how that will be vital when he takes our team to the Champion's League - and let's face it, that's what counts.

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