Michael McCarthy: Don't do it, Woy – it's not worth it
Football fans want action men, geezers who sail a bit close to the wind with a knowing wink
Michael McCarthy, formerly the Independent’s longstanding Environment Editor, now its Environment Columnist, is one of Britain’s leading writers on the environment and the natural world. He has won a string of awards for his work, including Environment Journalist of the Year (three times) and Specialist Writer of the Year in the British Press Awards in 2001. In 2007 he was awarded the Medal of the RSPB for “Outstanding Services to Conservation,” in 2010 he was awarded the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, and in 2011 the Dilys Breeze Medal of the British Trust for Ornithology. In 2009 McCarthy published Say Goodbye To The Cuckoo (John Murray), a study of Britain’s declining migrant birds.
Monday 30 April 2012
Well, if you're a Fulham fan, it leaves you torn. All of us who revere Roy, or wevere Woy as he might say himself, were delighted when the news broke that Mr Hodgson was in the frame to be England manager. But as it became clear that nearly the entire footballing side of the country seemed to want 'Arry, on the irrefutable basis that Mr Redknapp is a geezer, indeed a diamond geezer, not to say the übergeezer, I began to have second thoughts. As I suspect did a lot of Hodgson fans.
For here is Roy presented with the identical situation which faced him in June 2010, when he was Manager of The Year, fresh from taking Fulham to the Europa League final as the culmination of three fantastic seasons in charge at Craven Cottage. He was offered a job so big – manager of Liverpool – that he couldn't turn it down. And Roy went off to Anfield, and the results didn't go well, and, in short order, the Scousers started to hate him.
It wasn't just the team's poor form. There was something about Roy – in fact, there were two things – that they just couldn't stand. One, he wasn't their hero, Kenny Dalglish, and the other, that he was – he is – cerebral.
I saw more than once, on the Liverpool Echo website – really and truly – fans angrily objecting to him scratching his chin. Well, Roy does scratch his chin. Fifty years ago, he would have smoked a pipe. In fact, I have never seen such an obvious pipe-smoker in a pipeless world. For Roy, besides being an entirely decent man, is a thinker, a lover of literature and a philosophiser, as we might say. And football and philosophising don't mix.
Football fans want action men, not philosophising. They want geezers, guys who sail a bit close to the wind with a knowing wink. Kenny Dalglish is a geezer. 'Arry is the apotheosis of geezerness. He is the Boris Johnson of football. Whatever he does, we love him.
And if Roy now takes the England job, once again on the grounds that it is simply too big to turn down, when the entire fanbase is longing for 'Arry just like the Scousers were longing for King Kenny, the same fate awaits him, except this time on a national scale, with opprobrium he has never dreamed of (unless he succeeds, when of course, all is forgiven).
It isn't worth it, Roy. If it goes wrong with England, as it has every year since 1966, they'll hate you all the more for your literary side.
I mean, it won't help you, will it, if I mention that Albert Camus played in goal, enthusiastically and successfully, for Algiers University?
No. I didn't think it would.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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