Won’t Get Fooled Again?

12 Dec

I was labelled ‘cynical’ this week. In my opinion unfairly so. Because as I understand the term, a ‘cynic’ is someone who readily dismisses subjects and topics with an air of negativity and a lack of faith. A cynic is someone who participates in a grown-up discussion about a particular theme but stifles any possible outcome with sneering suspicion. In short, a cynic for me, is the kind of person who plugs up his earholes with his fingers and says ‘no’. If people are so keen to attach labels to others, than the term I would give myself is that of a ‘pessimistic optimist’.

Allow me to define this term. I am someone who has high ideals and strong beliefs as you might have ascertained if you’re a regular reader of Dispatches. I will forever champion the ethos that football as a sport and the human being in general has the unerring capacity to elevate itself beyond pre-conceived notions and prejudices and in very rare occurrences can shine a light on how beautifully unique and magical life on earth can be. All very noble and romantic, isn’t it? However, I also believe that if you set your moral benchmark too high, football and humanity will inevitably let you down. Because experience has taught me, that everybody views life through different prisms. We all come from different backgrounds, live by varying principles and fluctuate on a nigh-on daily basis between nobility and debauchery with every other human state floating in between. The events of this week, coincidentally, happened to cement this philosophy even more.

Take the farce that has rumbled on at Newcastle this week. An understated, unassuming and good man like Chris Hughton was ungraciously consigned to the limbo of the managerial merry-go-round seemingly because he lacked the necessary experience. This, despite taking Newcastle back to the Premier League in his first season in charge with a flourish and swagger that a team as habitually schizophrenic as Newcastle United have not displayed for nigh-on a decade. He has rehabilitated the career of an apparent lost cause in Joey Barton, developed the skills of a burgeoning young talent in Andy Carroll and bucked the traditional trend of newly-promoted teams struggling in their first season in the top tier as Newcastle have more than held their own and registered some excellent results most notably against Sunderland and Arsenal.

Evidently, Hughton’s sterling efforts were not deemed ‘starry’ enough for owner Mike Ashley and his coterie of hangers-on who continue to labour under delusions of grandeur, hoping as they did to lure a ‘blockbuster’ manager to Tyneside. They ended up with Alan Pardew, a manager whose track record does not point towards a talent equal to that of the world’s most illustrious coaches such as Guus Hiddink and Jose Mourinho. So Hughton’s efforts have been negated and disgracefully so, due to a shameless pursuit of commercial viability and ‘coolness’ by a hierarchy that continues to sink to lower depths in its moral bankruptcy. We can patronise Hughton all we like with praise but how might he feel after having all his efforts so thanklessly undervalued? Why should he even bother next time?

And for that matter, why should we even bother listening to the empty pledges made by politicians? On Thursday, the flagrant careerism of the Liberal Democrat establishment was clearly exposed as the vast majority of its leading lights elected to renege on the promises made to students to abolish tuition fees during the General Election campaign. Many people were sold the image of Nick Clegg during the process as a force for change. He skilfully presented his party as an alternative to the bickering Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee politics of the traditional left and right. It was all so believable, all so aspirational. And then came the about-face…

So many shapers of public opinion have been quick to condemn the students for the outletting of their justifiable frustrations in London. Sky News’ Kay Burley even described them as ‘insurgents’ and the ‘twitterverse’ was awash with bile and venom towards the young people for having the temerity to ‘defile’ Churchill and to ‘attack’ the royal entourage. Of course, what the angry mob of anti-students failed to acknowledge was the fact that the students had a clear and legitimate reason to be angry and before the impulse to condemn them is spewed, perhaps the police’s role in such matters should be under greater scrutiny? If people are provoked, prodded, cajoled and ignored by the authoritative elite and in turn the media, the only natural consequence is to resort to violence. Over two million took to the streets in 2003 to protest against Tony Blair’s decision to take this country to war with Iraq. Did he listen then? I think you know the answer to that. Yes, peaceful protest is always preferable but sometimes there are situations when the very beliefs and policies your leaders have sold to you and subsequently allowed yourself to believe in, are so betrayed, that the only option is to resort to extreme measures. If it keeps happening, generation after generation, something will inevitably snap. Thursday’s events, like the Poll Tax riots, and the inner-city riots of the 1980s are symptomatic of what happens when you’ve been spun a line, over and over…

…as done by Barcelona. Two weeks ago I wrote about the moral and ethical values that this club has and how it has been a beacon throughout its history. I believed in Barcelona. Totally, unswervingly, romantically. And then on Friday came the news that the club has signed a £125 million deal to display the logo of a sponsor for the first time. The Qatar Foundation, although not being a business, will sit alongside Unicef’s logo as of next year. A club that for so long, sought to demonstrate its region’s individuality by patriotically keeping the Catalan flag of the shirt untainted has finally succumbed. And with manager Pep Guardiola’s endorsement of the Qatari 2022 World Cup bid suggesting further collusion between ‘brand Barca’ and the newest richkids on the football block, it would seem that everybody, in the end has their price.

So, tell me, after such a week, when I’ve seen so many ideals and promises destroyed and ignored, how can I not be pessimistic about the world in which I live? A cynic, I am not, because I still believe there is good out there. You just need to look a little bit harder. People should attempt to understand the definitions of the words they choose to use about others before they assign labels.

Next week, I promise to write about something truly positive and uplifting. I need to. It’s nearly Christmas after all.

5 Responses to “Won’t Get Fooled Again?”

  1. Michael December 12, 2010 at 20:43 #

    Ashley gave up on big names after Keegan and Shearer. They tend to ask lots of uncomfortable questions about transfers and the running of the club. Pardew was always the choice, someone so grateful for the job he’d accept it on any terms Ashley demanded. I’m sure that long contract includes a clause about compensation payments. I’m also sure he’s been told he’ll have to sell anyone if the right bid comes in. They were the terms Hughton was on.

    Ashley thinks you can run a football club like a discount sports shop. Both have a habit of producing shite results.

  2. Peter White December 13, 2010 at 20:48 #

    yeah but my wife still isnt in labour, and she is five days overdue! I was told the 8th. I was sold a lie!!!

  3. Joel December 14, 2010 at 11:08 #

    I feel sorry for Hughton i really do and I think the ideal would have been to give him a pat on the back, ask him to step down to assistant manager and get his mate Martin Jol in to take over.

    However Hughton was a big part of the management that took Newcastle down so his record is not exactly unblemished. This is also a season in which no team is flying away with the title, and therefore if you can get a few wins here and there you can jump from 18th to 9th or 10th in a couple of weeks.

    Newcastle are only 6 points off relegation and they have to face Man City, Spurs and a tough away match at Birmingham in their next 3 games.

    Pardew is perhaps not the answer but lets judge in 3-4 months time.

    Re Barcelona, it was only a matter of time, they have massive debts (£350m and rising) and whilst it was a lovely gesture to donate to Uncief and use their logo it made no business sense at all.

    On a positive note all i want this year for Xmas Mr Santa is for Sepp Blatter to dissapear, taking his fat, racist, homophobic and disgustingly corrupt friends with him.

  4. Kevin December 16, 2010 at 16:52 #

    Barca are the devils team of choice. Cheating love dogs in bed with UEFA and FIFA for a good few years now. It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that they now have a Qatar based sponsor and the dodgyness surrounding that.

    Anyone who thinks they gave up their shirt sponsorship for ‘free’ needs to be checked out by a doctor. It was a measured marketing tactic carried out with aplomb

  5. Kevin Clark December 16, 2010 at 23:27 #

    Cracking stuff, never a truer word ‘people, politicians, organisations, MP’s, football teams’ they’ll let you down eventually…

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