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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Five things War and Peace taught me about football

Inspired by the BBC's radio version of "War and Peace", I bought a copy of Tolstoy's book, which is almost fourteen hundred pages long. I finished it the other day. It made me think. It made me think about football.
  1. Much as sports journalists might wish it so, the outcome of football matches isn't as a result of the managers' planning any more than the outcome of history is decided by the generals. Wise leaders simply find a parade and march in front of it. 
  2. There is no guarantee that what worked in the past will continue to work in the future. Napoleon did the same things at Borodino as he did at Austerlitz, "yet the terrible stroke of his arm had supernaturally become impotent".
  3. If anyone makes history it's the supporters. They are the life-force of a club. "Kings are the slaves of history. History, that is, the unconscious swarm-like life of mankind, uses every moment of a king's life as an instrument for its purposes."
  4. Players, like soldiers, do nothing most of the time, which is irritating but it's the way things have to be. "The chief attraction of military service lies in compulsory and irreproachable idleness." 
  5. For the overwhelming majority of clubs each new season will be much like the last one. "Every action, that seems to them an act of their own free will, is in a historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity. This particularly applies to Spurs."