There’s an epidemic in modern football. No, not COVID, and its a problem that has been slowly developing ever since Sir Alex Ferguson left the dugout at Old Trafford. What I’m speaking of involves several aspects and its hard to put into just one word. But, if I had to give it a guess then it would be ‘instant-gratification’. Everyone wants a quick, easy, simple fix to every problem that arises and everyone wants to win now.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to win now, but sometimes in order to get there you have to put in time and work. There’s nothing easy about building long term success and no one can just walk into it. Take Jack Grealish at City for example. Look at the entire PSG squad and philosophy. Lastly, look at the media in general. One of the most frustrating things I hear on the regular from pundits goes something like “why would he want to go there? why would they want to put in that work?”. You’ll hear those types of phrases when discussing potential transfers and managers. Then you’ll hear a follow up to that, “Why not go here (City or Liverpool), you’ll have instant success.” In a modern culture of instant gratification, easy upbringings, lack of empathy, and an overabundance of knowledge we have become weak.
“Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.”-G. Michael Hopf
Player Power and Inflation
Over the last few decades we have seen a crazy inflation in the price of transfers, and players have gained more power than ever before. Don’t get me wrong, I do think a player should have some personal liberties, but at they end of the day they’re paid to play a game. Players are paid a lot to play a game, and there is plenty of hard work involved but so too is there in many other lines of work. Professionals in any line of work deserve fair compensation, but they can’t just decide they don’t want to work or they’d rather change clubs after signing a contract.
Can I leave my current job? Easy, but I’m not held by a contract. Could a soldier abandoned his post? No, not at all, and a soldier puts in much more work and sacrifice than a professional football player for a fraction of the pay. I’m not here to just shit all over how much athletes make or say they should make less. Rather I’m just trying to put it all in perspective.
What’s it all Mean?
As a professional footballer you’re are making more money in a few months than most will make in a lifetime, with an extremely high quality of life. So, when times get tough for your team, don’t just cut and run. You’re not just playing for your employer, but all the fans that unconditionally support you and look to what you do for a living as an escape, a therapy.
The modern player makes ten fold, if not more, than what any player has ever made before. With easier conditions of playing, better healthcare, facilities, etc. So the least they can do is keep that in mind and giver their all every time they step on the pitch. There are so many examples I could give how players exhibiting this exact issue on a regular basis, but we all know who they are.
“Any other team wins the world series, good for them. They’re drinking champagne, they’ll get a ring. But if we win, on our budget with this team, we’ll change the game. And that’s what I want, I want it to mean something.”-Billy Beane (Moneyball)
Winning just doesn’t seem to mean as much as it used to anymore. There’s a strange willingness to accept, chase, and even prefer the easy route to fame or glory. For example, why are so many great players okay with rotating in and out of Manchester City’s squad? Because they know they’ll win if they do and they don’t have to stress. City has done an excellent job getting themselves into that position but I’m more so critiquing the players themselves.
It is the duty and job of any club to ensure it has the best squad and can achieve prolonged success. The players on the other hand are also chasing a spot in history. But what separates the good players from the greats? The willingness to work and carry a team. For example, Messi is fantastic and I am bias as a United fan, but Ronaldo is on an entirely different level when it comes to his career as a whole. Messi came into a fantastic Barca squad and rode that club through a mediocre league over his entire career.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo came into a United squad in the world’s most competitive league. He won the Ballon d’Or as a premier league player, something often overlooked. Ronaldo then left for giants Madrid and wasted no time taking over as its face. Then left for Italy to play for an aging declining Juventus and was still the leagues top goal scorer each season there. Finally, Ronaldo came back to a terrible United squad and even with inconsistencies is the clubs leading goal scorer at 37 years old. There is no GOAT debate. If all you care about is beautiful play than sure, maybe you prefer Messi; but if you appreciate absolute greatness and a winning mentality, then it isn’t even close.
There’s no way around it, but social media and the media in general have given rise to this new mentality amongst modern players. Young lads are after the likes and followers more so than the goals. For instance, why is Rashford all of a sudden sad now? Get over it lad. So what if some people you never met have given you stick on social media. Go out on the pitch and prove them wrong. He seems to play now with his head down like he’s expecting some grand apology.
In the media coverage of the Leicester City game a commentator said, “he should go where he’s more appreciated.” What the hell does that even mean? United fans have shown him great support his entire career. This is what the media does though. Rashford responds to handful of trolls on social media and then the press reports it as the whole of a fan base.
There’s no secret that negative news and conspiracy are attractive in the world of media. Thus everything is blown out of proportion, taken out of context, or flat out lied about in an effort to get attention. Players today seem to live in these little social media worlds and respond to all of this. There is a balance though.
Cristiano Ronaldo has the most Instagram followers in the world and it isn’t even close. Yet, he seems to also be the most confident and tough chinned player still around. You don’t have to get rid of social media or eliminate it all completely. Its about a work life balance and remembering at the end of the day only what happens in front of you is real.
Social media is the main culprit in the development of this lazy soft generation of athletes. The parents are to blame as well. There’s something to be said when players making millions of dollars doing a job that requires less hours of work than a manufacturer are so easily upset or put off. Becoming a professional athlete is no easy task, but just look at what a pro players actual daily routine consists of. It’s quite nice if you ask me, and honestly I find the training to be quite tame.
Players commonly spend a few hours in practice, a couple hours training, then some hours being massaged and rehabilitating. Then many modern players end their days on social media or playing video games. Nothing wrong with that by any means, but it needs to be put into perspective.
Grow a pair of balls, toxic masculinity aside, and play your heart out for your club and its fans. Don’t chase the easy way out and remember how good you really have it. There are few footballers left that truly exhibit this mentality I speak of, and I fear we won’t see many more for a very long time. Unfortunately, I believe we will have to suffer some hard times before strength grows again.