Not everything is doom and gloom; football is the biggest and best sport in the world, and there are many fantastic things about the modern game.
So, here are my personal top five favourites:
5. Youth development. 20 years ago, Spain invested huge sums of money in the youth development projects all over the country. Today, the first generation produced by this system has won everything in sight, and plays a style of football envied across the globe.
On a domestic level, look at Manchester United’s golden generation, which also swept all before it; you can also chart United’s fall from Premiership grace by every player they buy rather than developing their own talent again. By the same token, Chelsea and Manchester City have also realised the importance of investing their vast wealth in the future: Chelsea have just won the Youth Cup for the first time in 50 years, and City have already bought up all the land around Eastlands to establish a new training camp and centres of excellence.
Football is at its best at grass roots level; just look at…
4. Barcelona. The antithesis to Real Madrid, they have constructed the most awesome team in a generation from almost entirely home-grown stars. Even the manager, Pep Guardiola, is Barca through and through.
3. Hosting International tournaments in places that need AND deserve it. South Africa is a great example: the whole world was worried and concerned about facilities, stadia and crime, yet the entire competition ran without a hitch, and South Africa will benefit for man years to come.
So I don’t believe England should have been offered the World Cup anyway; no developed nation should, as they simply don’t need it. Give it to those who will benefit most, but who have earned the right to host it nonetheless (i.e. not Russia!)
2. AC Milan. I put Milan here as an advert for classic tradition and loyalty in the game: they are a proud club with a great history, and have always had a great youth development system. Yet the main reason they make this list is their treatment of heroes of the game: they take in all manner of stars, some has-beens, some in their twilight playing years, but all with something left to give. They are each given a unique training and conditioning programme, tailored to their needs, which allows the player to keep playing for as long as they can.
Milan offer respect and loyalty to their players, and in return they get many years of loyal service. I can think of many clubs who would do well to follow this model.
1. Passion. The best thing for football is you, the supporter, and the passion you have for your club. Of course, passion does not mean hooliganism, and we all have a duty to try really hard not to inflict our misery on our loved ones every time we lose, but without our passion, loyalty and support, football would be just another sport.
So let’s have a go at the ref (in moderation, of course) question the boss’ tactics, scream for more of a team effort, get nervous before the big games and gloat when we win – it‘s what fans do and what we deserve!
Well, that’s my top five, and if you can think of something even better for football, do let us know.
And if you were wondering, gratuitous WAG galleries just missed out. Just.
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