Lowe, Clifford and Woodward: A Revolution Postponed

A brief “links” post today, as busy between now and Monday morning.

The departures from Southampton of Rupert Lowe, Clive Woodward and Simon Clifford represent to me in stark form the present unwillingness of English club football to do what is necessary to bring the best out of our players and achieve what our national game is capable of. What could have been a story of rebirth and regeneration has become yet another tale of football’s version of the Old School Tie.

Simon Clifford tells his side of the story (Woodward hasn’t yet, and may not) in two Guardian articles this morning. Jeremy Wilson has done a good job of putting Clifford across here and here, although his reference to Humphrey Walters as a “motivational guru” is tiresome and another reflection of our game. For all that it bewails the loss of street football, in most important respects it refuses to leave the playground.

Over at the always superb Hobo Tread, here’s an account of Clifford’s non-league side, Garforth Town.

By way of contrast, the comments on this post of Tim Worstall’s aptly demonstrate what I’ve been saying about sport being the place where the English opt to be stupid. Woodward gets airily dismissed with a world-weary wave of a hand. How obvious it is, that Woodward is nothing but a bullshit merchant: all we need to do is stuff our players with raw steak, “motivate” them, and if all’s not well after that, there’ll always be a scapegoat for the clever people to stick pins into.

It’s going to be a bleak and unsuccessful few years in British sport. We just don’t seem to be aware that there’s a choice to make. Either accept that we care more about fun and entertainment than winning, in which case our John Smith advert phoney no-nonsense amateur hour approach will do, or accept that winning things on a regular basis involves a change in attitude and practice on a fundamental level. Every time we seem to be on the cusp of taking the second route, we come over all CAMRA. We’re doing it again, now. What makes people think it’s going to work this time?

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