Through Gritted Teeth #41: Glenn Hoddle
September 28, 2011 § 1 Comment
by Sarah Flotel
Why did you let him draw you in? Why did you have to say that?
You should have kept your game face on, sinking those kind of theories to Pacific Ocean depths. Not the greatest career move to discuss your already scrutinised religious beliefs with a smart-arse journalist who was ready to hang you to get his name in bright lights . You could have blamed the referee, and loved tracksuits more than the Downham estate. You might even have got away with having a pea-sized tactical brain. Telling us you were gay would have been acceptable and a blessing in disguise, though not the kind of ones you base your life on.
Your halcyon playing years can only be seen by this fan of yours through the eyes of those wiser in years or on a thirteen inch screen, but how exciting it was when you swept your way to Stamford Bridge, rolling out passes through the 1980s, a decade when hoofing was as fashionable as shoulder pads and wine bars. Your arrival brought on the joy akin to finding a foil sticker for the Panini book. He who played against His Holiness Johan Cruyff in a 6-2 winning Spurs team, he who partnered Chris Waddle to levels of musical greatness on Diamond Lights, coming to Chelsea as player-manager, a species now sadly extinct in the Premier League. (The thought of Martin Jol donning his Puma Kings and squeezing into the ever so stylish and streamlined Fulham away kit is not a pleasant one.)
Thanks to you, Chelsea reached their first FA Cup final since 1970 and made it to the semi-final against Zaragoza in what is now a trophy for the relegated and well behaved. How wonderful it was of you to attract the fine form of Ruud Gullit; the rest, as we know is written in chequebook history.
Going back to religion Glenn, it is easy to get carried away with inspiring tales of woman being fashioned out of mans rib, victims of crucifixion rising from the dead and multiplying bread but some of your players, the more stoic creatures, like Gary Neville and Robbie Fowler weren’t convinced at the time. Gazza was always going to be an easy target when it came to those healing conversions, catch them when the limbic system is all out of kilter and that will seal the faith. What kind of miracles were actually performed? Folklore has it that Darren Anderton was a regular customer but little is heard of Danny Maddox these days. Ian Wright or Paul Merson never speak of those injections of spiritual cortisone; would you be prepared to round up the troops for a Justin Lee Collins re-union show?
As someone who had previous in the knockout competition success stakes, you could have been the man to take England all the way to the semi-finals; alas, forever a supposition. You could have had a few more years in charge, and look what happened in the wake of your departure: two years of gloom and then the money spoke to Sven-Göran Eriksson. His reign was neither exceptionally good or bad, and maybe his calming sensibilities as manager set the precedent for the general disposition of the England team today.
But imagine if you were at Chelsea now, with your hands laid upon on Fernando Torres, begging for forgiveness over the Mike Reid-inspired racist remark that slipped out during your commentary against Fulham, your apology statement polished to perfection. When you have him under your spell, please deliver a wheatgrass shot strength of cure for his interminable dose of striker’s block.
Enough of the past, its time to move on. Your current work is admirable; picking up young players discarded by their clubs and giving them a career at your academy. You say you won’t leave for another managerial post until the establishment can run itself; adorable politics and philosophy. You are a true practitioner of this game that is surgically woven into the fabric of our hearts and souls
God bless you Mr Glenn Hoddle.