Manchester City v Wigan: If you want to be a winner, is it essential to be gracious in victory or defeat?

It may be harmful for our competitiveness as a nation if we see such a display of insouciance from those who have just been vanquished in agonising fashion

Share
Related Topics

Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser.

This aphorism is from the back catalogue of Vince Lombardi, the legendary American football coach whose insights into sporting success later became the tenets of naked capitalism.

Winning isn't everything: it's the only thing. That was another Lombardi saying that was adopted by Wall Street's Masters of the Universe. I was thinking about all this when I was driving back from Wembley on Saturday. I was listening to Radio Five's football phone-in show, which was rather like having a car full of people all shouting at the same time.

Anyway, if I have this right, Robbie Savage, one-time professional footballer and Strictly Come Dancing contestant, was highly critical of the Manchester City players being so generous in defeat to their opponents from Wigan Athletic. For Robbie, losing hurt so badly that he just couldn't face offering congratulations to the victors.

By way of contrast, Gary Lineker - a winner if ever there was one - was extremely impressed by Manchester City's behaviour as the beaten team. "Great dignity in defeat by Manchester City and their players. We seldom mention such things," he tweeted. City's Belgian captain, Vincent Kompany, who was diligent in shaking the hands of his opponents after the match, also took to Twitter later to express his admiration for the way Wigan played.

In other words, he was a exceptionally good loser. But, to Robbie Savage, he was just a loser. It is a very interesting point, and one that has a resonance beyond the sporting field. If you want to be a winner - in business, in politics, in life - is it essential to be so single-minded that the concept of grace in victory or defeat becomes redundant?

We are told that footballers are role models, so maybe the example set by Kompany and company is a bad one. It may be harmful for our competitiveness as a nation if we see such a display of insouciance from those who have just been vanquished in agonising fashion. What kind of message does that send out to our impressionable youngsters? Winning or losing. It's all the same to us.

Football is more than a game, and not quite a business (very few of the customary rules of commerce apply), so it is easy to understand why there is so much disputation over standards of behaviour. It is Vincent Kompany's living, and although he has a gilded existence and will not suffer too drastically from Saturday's unexpected reverse, his professional pride will have taken a hit. And the fact that he was able to conduct himself with dignity in the aftermath is surely to his credit.

It is not just footballers whose conduct often leaves a lot to be desired. Some of our politicians and business leaders betray a gracelessness and petulance that blights public discourse. My friend Eric has a great strategy for conflict resolution, and in times of victory or defeat. Be the bigger man, he says. So, with deference to Messrs Lombardi and Savage, perhaps it's not all about the pain of losing and the exultation of winning. It's about whether you have the courage to be the bigger man.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I’m not sure I fancy any meal that’s been cooked up by a computer

John Walsh
Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers a speech on his party's plans for the NHS, in Sale, on Tuesday  

Why is Miliband fixating on the NHS when he’d be better off focussing on the wealth gap?

Andreas Whittam Smith
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore