Friday, 18 June 2010

An Insecure World

Listening to yesterday's coverage on BBC Radio 5 live I caught a short discussion by Mark 'Chappers' Chapman and Martin someone or other. After an interview with Shaun Wright-Phillips, the discussion turned to how Capello is not telling players that they are part of the team until the very final moment. Martin said that this was causing uncertainty in the England camp and he detected this uncertainty and angst in Wright-Phillips' voice. "He sounds quite unloved, he's a long way from home, and you've got to start building the players together and you've got to love these players" Martin opined. Capello simply wasn't being fatherly enough to his players, and was being "hardline with the players" and "doesn't share that love around". Because of this insecurity, players cluster around Capello, trying to win his favour, grasping at any hint, "looking for any signs, any signal" that you've made the final teamsheet. This makes being on the England team "an insecure world". Without a lurch into a deep psycho-analytical discussion of this deep ontological uncertainty of being on the England squad, we should briefly note the ruthless infantilisation on display - Chapman's response was correctly akin to "he is a grown adult, not twelve year old boy". Yet this exchange provoked me to think of what the correct management style in fact is for international football. In contrast to Capello's supposed 'distant father' approach, the relationships between Diego Maradona and his Argentinian side was noted earlier in the day as being a hugely friendly one, embracing them warmly when they succeeded, but one where failure will be met with firm, angry, but ultimately loving words. Clearly, despite Capello's Italian origins, the commentators have mapped the management of England and Argentina onto cliches of national fatherhood - the seen and not heard type versus a perhaps violatile, but always loving Dad. Which led me to remember the classic article by Mark E. Smith on football management that surfaced during the last world cup. As readers will doubtless be aware, The Fall have a somewhat revolving door policy regarding personel, and seems to have adopting a similar stance to Capello:
Running the national football team is very much like running my group, the Fall. As a manager, you've got to maintain a certain detachment from your players, and it's the same with my musicians. When we're on tour, I sit at the back of the bus. We're friendly but the secret of it is never get too ally-pally. You can have a pint or two together now and again but you don't want to be going round their houses.

You don't want people to get too comfortable, because if they do, there's no way they'll be on top of their game. It's not a job for life. I see the Fall being like a football team with a two- or three-year cycle. There's always going to be a period where I'll need a new centre-forward.

I always like to keep a strong subs' bench of people who can step into the breach, cos you never know when you might need them in an emergency.
Well worth a read. Which leaves the question, how best is the affective work of managing a football team done? And more vitally, why have The Fall not previously been associated in World Cup football song, until 2010? We have Theme From Sparta FC.

I cannot let this pass without adding this video. Mark E. Smith reading the football results. The interview afterwards is sublime.


In the light of these, Smith's recent World Cup offering, and an outing for his 'soft voice' best witnessed in Bill Is Dead, seems a bit pale. Writing in the band Shuttleworth with Ed Blaney and Jenny Shuttleworth, the video is a sight to behold.

After watching, perhaps Mark is right to insist 'it's not a Fall song'.

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