Uh oh. There’s rumblings at the bridge, and that can only mean one thing: trolls. Trolls are out to eat Billy Goat Gruff and his Portuguese family, and unless he’s got some wise-ass trick up his sleeve, he’s toast. At least, that’s as much as I can glean from the children’s literature I’ve been rescuing from my parents’ attic. And that stuff’s been around longer than Scholesy.
I should point out that the morals of this sort of reading material are usually pretty opaque. The way I see it, sure Chicken Licken was an idiot, but his intentions were good; and the less said about that freak Rumplestiltskin the better, but when it comes to trolls under bridges, the moral is clear: beware!
And yet AVB seems to be ploughing ahead regardless. No rumblings to fear here, he’s safe, he’s got a three year plan. What’s more, he’s got the backing of the owner and players run up to him to celebrate goals and stuff. The trouble is, they’re not celebrating enough goals, and the ones that are running up should really be running back and defending. In fact, Billy Goat Gruff is on dangerous ground and although I’m always one to advocate giving a guy a reasonable stint to prove himself, I’m not the man in charge. The man in charge is in charge, and he’s not known for such worldly stoicism. As it turns out, probably the only thing preventing an early (well-funded) AVB summer hols is the lack of an available replacement. Even the Golden Guus is busy.
But what do we care? AVB goes, in comes someone else. It was a gamble, it didn’t pay off, we carry on. Our worst fear is that Roman decides he’s had enough and jumps ship back to the motherland. But even then, billionaires are ten-a-penny these days, we’ll just pop an ad in the Standard. Does that reveal a lack of loyalty on my part? Maybe. But loyalty to whom? I don’t have any loyalty to cash or to billionaires. Managers come and go, players come and go, owners come and go, even grounds come and go. Football clubs are fluid beasts. The only things that last are the fans and the name. Lose those and you might as well support MK Dons.
Supporting a football club has nothing to do with managers, players or owners. It doesn’t have anything to do with a stadium either. Supporting a football club is all about being part of a group. You suffer together and you celebrate together. You argue, you despair and you worry together. And at the end of it you feel richer for the experience, for all the shared memories. We love our football clubs not because they’re fixed and reliable, but because they’re the opposite: they’re always changing, and every change brings with it that elusive hope that next time, maybe next time…
That’s why I’d like us to move to Battersea Power Station. Think about it: we’d have the most iconic ground in the world. In the world! Everybody else’s ground looks like a soup bowl – expect for Boca Juniors which looks like one of those loo paper dispensers you get in a third world airport – A stadium with four chimney stacks would be legendary. Meanwhile the rest of the club has to keep moving, and if that means letting a young manager, or a senior player, or both, go, then so be it.
The good news is however that senior players and shared memories are enjoying something of a resurrection these days. Thierry Henry and Scholesy came back for a Disney finish, Crespo and Fowler are living it up in India, even Trezeguet has got in on the act, signing up for recently relegated River Plate. The question is, who are we going to call to rescue our season? Tore Andre Flo? Pink Floyd Hasselbaink? Frank The Beef? Come on, we all know the answer… When you’re battling for fourth place and you need that goal to secure Champions League football, who you gonna call? You know who. It has to be time for the return of the Gronk.