AT first glance, being a football director seems a pretty decent job.
Okay, so there’s the requirement to lavish a chunk of your fortune lining the pockets of often over-paid players. But, chances are, you can afford to indulge your passions a little bit anyway. In return, those minted enough to fulfil this particular requirement are handed the keys to the boardroom door, the best padded seats in the house and enough prawn sandwiches to fill Roy Keane’s packed lunchbox for weeks.
Oh, and a whole lot of bother.
Events at Sheffield United during the close season are proof of that. Although, in truth, they have been played out at countless clubs in the past and will continue at others in the future.
Now I realise that being seen to criticise supporters is, even though I’m one myself, a guarantee of trouble, abuse and a stuffed email inbox. We, and I use that word deliberately, can be a precious bunch at times and damn near impossible to satisfy. Let’s use those charged with running United, and plc chairman Kevin McCabe in particular, as an example.
They’re not infallible and have made mistakes. Often costly both in terms of the balance sheet and results.
But, those of us who spend our spare time sat watching 22 blokes kicking around a bag of air, demand the custodians of the game demonstrate such good judgement that even the Almighty could be forgiven for baulking at the job description. Spend too much and they’re irresponsible. Show restraint and they lack ambition. Choose a big name as manager and, according to our rule of thumb, it shows they’re determined to be a big noise. Opt for substance rather than style and its seen as an indication they’re prepared to settle for skulking around in the shadows. Keep state secrets and they’re being liberal with the truth. Lay everything bare and get accused of raising expectation. Acknowledge you’ve got something wrong and you’re useless or a liar.
Except, in this day and age, the language used is usually far more incendiary. Football, thankfully, is a game of opinions. It’s what makes it great and long may this continue. Fans have just as much right as anyone else to express them. And so they should. They can, in many cases, be perfectly valid, shrewd and sensible.
But am I being a touch delicate when I wish that we can learn to express them in slightly more constructive and intelligent terms?
Perhaps. But if we could then ideas would probably stand more chance of being heard.