As a great man once said - ‘change is inevitable, except from a vending machine’, and in football we love change. New owners, new players and, especially, new managers. A new manager is the panacea that’ll turn around the fortunes of the club and put it right back where it’s generally perceived it should be.
And perceptions differ between clubs, which can make the job of the manager either easier or much, much more difficult. Graham Potter coming in at Brighton is going to be judged against a totally different set of criteria than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is at Manchester United. The difference of course is down to what’s been achieved in the past, because that sets the bar and the expectations of everyone associated with the club.
Which is why you have to admire Jurgen Klopp. He came to Liverpool after a string of management ‘failures’ at the club - and we’re including cup wins and Champion League wins, none of which could save the resident incumbents from the old heave-ho - stretching back to the last time they won the league in 1989-90.
And whilst it’s true that Klopp hasn’t won the title yet, he’s got Liverpool believing that the glory days of Shankly and Paisley are back, and the delivery of the Champions League has resulted in an extended contract offer which would keep him at Anfield long enough to establish his own chapter in Liverpool’s history if he wanted to.
And why not? The guy’s a breath of fresh air to the Premier League – he doesn’t pick fights with the other boys, smiles a lot, plays great football, hugs everything, has great teeth and his middle name’s ‘Nobby’ - what’s not to like?
Even if I didn’t know anything about him, his presence on the touchline would sway me as a neutral. He’s passionate, animated, relatively well dressed (or at least doesn’t look like a pervert like some of them) and his goal celebrations come straight from the heart.
Which brings me to CPR - obviously. We all know the rudiments of CPR, some poor soul goes down in the street like he’s just realised that Boris Johnson really is going to be the next Prime Minister, and you have to pump his chest until someone who knows what they’re doing comes along to take over. And, we’re told, you need to be singing ‘Staying Alive’ by The Bee Gee’s in your head whilst you’re pumping so as to get the rhythm right.
But what if you’re deaf? If you’re deaf, you’ve never heard ‘Staying Alive’, never had the pleasure of the throbbing back beat and high pitched warbling of the men from the era that fashion forgot. What happens if you keel over in the street and the person next to you couldn’t whistle the chorus from Saturday Night Fever to save his life – or yours for that matter?
Enter Jurgen - of his many heartfelt expressive and varied goal celebrations, there’s one where it looks like he’s vigorously inflating a small dinghy, and that’s exactly what you need to show to a deaf person when instructing them in CPR. They could call it the ‘Klopp Technique’. Put some context around it and the job’s a good’un – Jurgen Klopp, life saver.
So whilst Jurgen is bringing the good times back to Anfield, just down the road, Ole Gunnar Solksjaar is trying to fill a Sir Alex Ferguson sized hole at Old Trafford. What I don’t understand is that Ferguson goes to every game, and, it has to be said, Man Utd have been pretty terrible, pretty much all of the time since he left. What pleasure can he get from it? It must be like spending years lovingly restoring a classic car down to the last polished detail and then watching some moron drive it sound a stock car track every Saturday afternoon.
However, it’s now down to Ole, a likeable bloke who has the misfortune of looking like his own Spitting Image puppet, to restore the fortunes of the Whalley Range cowboys. And opinion is pretty much polarised about how he should do this, half think he should base the team around Paul Pogba, and the other half – don’t.
We all have days when we have no energy, when we’re apathetic, we can’t be bothered, and it doesn’t have to be self-inflicted, it’s just you wake up one morning and think - ‘meh….’ . I call these ‘Don’t give a sh*t days’, and I think it needs to be recognised by the Govt and employers as a genuine medical condition.
I also think that employers have been remiss in not recognising its existence and could do more to accommodate it in their benefits package. For instance you could be entitled to two or three such days a year, when you still have to go into work but if anyone asks you to do anything, you just say ‘sorry, I’m having a ‘don’t give a sh*t day’. Then you can stare off into the distance with a clear conscience and do sod-all till home time.
Paul Pogba’s contract must have a clause giving him unlimited access to these. From what I’ve seen, unless it’s a World Cup Final, he pulls one every week. Should he be peddled to Real Madrid? I’d wrap him myself and lick the stamp.
However I think someone should point out to Ole that it’s taken Liverpool 29 years to get the good times back at Anfield, so he should strap himself in for the long run... if he lasts that long.
Then there’s Arsenal, who found themselves in much the same boat last year, and turned to Unai Emery to replace the irreplaceable Lord Wenger. And, not wishing to be cruel, but he looks like a second-hand car salesman - the ‘Swiss Tony’ of the Premier League, a man who uses so much hair product there has to be specialist units from The Environment Agency on stand-by whenever he takes a shower.
But my main criticism of him would be that he hasn’t made a difference.
The Arsenal of this season looks and plays exactly the same as the Arsenal of last season. Hell, buy Theo Walcott back from Everton, get yourself a big coat to wear on the touchline and it’s 2017 all over again.
However, he was employed by Arsenal not because of his prowess in winning leagues, because he’s only done it once - with PSG - but because he would always deliver the Europa League, guaranteed. So yes. That went well…
And then we had the Nations League, which people decided we’d take seriously if we won it. Which we didn’t, so we didn’t. ‘We’ve learnt lessons for the Euro’s’ said Gareth.
Let’s hope one of them is not to pick players who can’t get a game for their clubs.
Still it finished with Jordan Pickford saving a penalty - and scoring one as well.
Nice to end on a high.