Saturday, March 31, 2007
It's not just money
I know a lot of it is down to the historic levels of expectation in this country and the feeling that we really should beat Johnny Foreigner; plus it's not helped by the fact that the FA so clearly did the wrong thing by appointing Maclaren as manager; NONETHELESS, the level of abuse directed at the national side this week betokens something more significant. That's the breakdown of the historic feeling of affection between fans and stars. It's not just the money they earn. Pop stars earn similar sums but people aren't constantly carping on about that. We will tolerate footballing millionaires as long as they perform. The minute they don't we would like them taken out and shot. Footballers used to be regarded as privileged members of the working class who would use their ten high earning years as a free pass into the middle class or run a pub and drink their way into oblivion. Either way nobody minded. But the graceless behaviour of this new generation of super-rich – which has been encouraged by their purported handlers and the brewers, gym pump manufacturers and online gambling companies for whom they actually work – has driven a wedge between them and the people who used to worship them. When this generation retire it's going to be interesting to see what they do with their time and in what kind of affection they're held.