Who’s to blame?

The QSF debate is over. He will leave.

In my mind I have an image of thousands of prams sitting in a sea of discarded toys. You may feel insulted by that image, but rest assured two of those prams are mine. One pram for the times I felt pro-Quique; one for the times I felt anti-Quique. I found myself leaping from one pram to the other, hour by hour. The sea of toys rose above the height of the wheels.

The arguments on both sides are well-known. If, after a week or two, they caused you to lose the will to live – as they did me – you’d better skip the next two paragraphs. Close your eyes and I’ll see you on the other side.

Some people blamed the coach himself. Too cautious, they said. Poor team selections, poor substitutions, poor tactics. Dull football.

Others blamed the owners and fans for changing their expectations. Quique had one job and he did it, they said. It’s a results business and no-one had any complaints about the final league table. It’ll be one of the sixth best league placings in the club’s entire history.

That’s it. You can open your eyes again now. The nightmare is over. Take a few slow, deep breaths.

And now think about the deeper reasons behind QSF’s departure.

One reason was the contract arrangement. When Quique arrived, he and the club agreed they would review after a year – an unusual thing. Both sides had to agree to continue the relationship. Each side would have had different motives for this break clause – whether psychological, professional or business motives. But the obvious truth is that people who agree break clauses are people who are likely to use break clauses.

The other thing about break clauses is that they break your focus. They make you think about how happy you are. In most areas of life, this analysis tends to lead to dissatisfaction. In football in particular, it almost always does. The nature of football – its point, its reason – is to want to be happier. (Unless you’re Leicester.)

But the further deeper reason behind this is the intensity of many people’s desire to be happier. Throughout football history, teams have had seasons where – like us in 2015/16 -they’ve never flirted with relegation, done well at times, and ended the season in anti-climax. Since the beginning of football, in leagues of 20 or 24 teams, this kind of season played out thousands of times. Then, in 1992, things changed.

Sky. Money. Hype. Shrieking commentators. The £170m match. Fans crying in their seats. The race for fourth place. Clickbait. Forums. Twitter.

A spiralling vortex of high stakes that finds new ways to suck you in and rob you of the perspective you dimly remember having when you were younger.

So who’s to blame for the upset over QSF’s departure?

Not Quique, not the club. Not you, not me.

As with many other things in British life, I blame a wizened old Australian media tycoon.

At the end of all of this, though, I hope QSF finds another club that makes him happy. I hope our owners find a coach that makes them happy. I hope we fans find happiness supporting our club.

Fat chance, of course – thanks to Murdoch.

But at least the hope makes me happy for now.









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