The End of the Daddies

30 Oct


Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United refers to his players as “boys” and calls them “son,” when speaking to them of matters most important. His “sons” grow up to call him “father.” Both Beckham and Ronaldo have described him as such. He is the last of the great British coaching daddies.

He ends a line that stretches through England from Herbert Chapman to Alf Ramsey, and Don Revie, in Scotland, it was Jock Stein, Ferguson’s own soccer “father.” These men grew up and played in an era when daddies and their sons were the only people inside soccer stadiums. Women were secretaries in the front office, and tea makers. It was an age when daddy lifted junior over the turnstile, a tradition now gone in the age of season tickets and seats. It was daddy who showed his son that losing control in moments of joy and loss was acceptable, and normal, during ninety minutes on a Saturday. Just don’t cry in the real world, son.

But the old-fashioned coach is rapidly going out of style. The internationalism of club soccer, and the supremacy of the star player, has diminished the need for parenting. Younger coaches treat their players as equals, hoping to bond as a team, instead of family. Servitude to one tribe is no longer for life. Recently, Chelsea’s coach Ancelotti, remarked that talking to the players in the changing room before the game was increasingly redundant as most of his stars were plugged into I-pods listening to hip hop. He listens to Elton John while at home.

There is much talk about the diminishing daddy figure in society. And futbol follows society. We can expect a future age of youthful player tyranny, and a purge of middle age wisdom. Maybe the players will pick the team themselves. And no more will the word “son” be heard in the changing rooms.


One Response to “The End of the Daddies”

  1. alek May 5, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    hi ronaldo

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