Tag Archives: failure

The Walking Man: Julio Cesar

gutted

Sometimes the game is simple. It can be stripped bare to its base components. Sometimes it just hurts to lose a game. Julio Cesar felt this so viscerally on Wednesday night that all he could do was apologize to his teammates and fans, then trudge off into the night, back home. He walked past his car, through the departing fans, with only his thoughts for company.

I would eloquently describe this as being ‘gutted’. And in a basic way, I know just how Cesar felt. As I’m sure does anyone who has ever played a game in which they were so personally committed that to lose felt like abject failure. Or, something approaching that for a while. And to suspect you had some hand in that failure? Thoroughly disconsolate.

That’s why I enjoy hearing of reactions to that feeling like Cesar’s ‘stroll of shame’. Sometimes I don’t want to hear the carefully rehearsed answers about ‘giving it our best shot’, or ‘manning up’. Sometimes I just want to see a player look like they got punched in the stomach when they lose, just like I do.

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Trying to Reach the Nadir

I have been thinking about what it means to fail. Specifically, what does it mean for your football team to fail? What is a big enough failure to register?

Over the last few weeks Roy Hodgson has suffered the ignominy of having his own fans plea he take a job elsewhere (chants of ‘Hodgson for England’). Has seen the team he manages reach historic levels of ineptitude in its modern history (lowest point total at end of a calendar year for 57 years). Two recent games (against Wolves and Blackburn) seem to have sealed his fate and most fans/ media/ sentient beings expect him to be fired soon. But, has he been bad enough, yet?

As a fan, I want to see the team play exciting, attractive football, receive hyperbolic accolades and be bestowed with trophies. Maybe even an acknowledgment from a United manager that the 5-0 drubbing we just gave them was richly deserved. Perhaps not this season, then.

Unless we really hit relegation form, we’ll probably finish within a place or two of where we are now (12th). This would be a historic low for Liverpool, as we’ve never finished below 8th since returning to the top flight in 1962. But, in reality finishing 12th in England’s top division is pretty decent, right? It’s exactly where Roy left Fulham last season and they seemed fairly happy with that, so why aren’t we?

Consider Manchester City. In the last twelve years they have been as low as the third tier, before rising, phoenix-like, to the summit of the English game and could soon win their first title in over 40 years. What an achievement! What a journey to have traveled as a supporter!

As much as I wish for the current malaise to end, it still only feels like a blip. An embarrassing, annoying blip, but one nonetheless. It’s unlikely we will be relegated. We’re not in danger of going out of business; the team will still be here next year. Some clubs cannot say the same for certain. My only fear is that we haven’t gone low enough to truly see a revolution (we were relegated before we received Shankly). We want inspirational leadership, not ship-steadying anymore.

So, let’s celebrate our mediocrity! Raise your glass to tactical buffoonery! Naïve defending? Prost! If we are to take anything from our slump, it is that we will rise again at some point and it will feel that much more rewarding for having been here.