More in hope than expectation

First published in Ray Mallon The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

ALWAYS leave the audience wanting more. I started thinking about the old show business saying this week while reading about the latest round of musical chairs among Premiership football managers.

On the bright side, I suppose now the permanently glum-looking Mick McCarthy at least has something to be genuinely fed-up about.

Now don’t worry. This isn’t another column about football. It is more about our extremely odd attitude to success and failure, and why it is that we’re never happier than when we have hope.

I think what the sackings of McCarthy and Neil Warnock for that matter, show is that you are probably never so vulnerable as when you have raised someone’s expectations to unrealistic heights.

If those two had still been battling for promotion from a lower league the board and fans would still have been on their side, prepared to give them just one more chance to make good. Basically, people would have convinced themselves that good times were just around the corner.

But having found, like many before them, that success can have a bitter aftertaste, yesterdays’ heroes have become today’s hasbeens.

The fact that they are probably working just as hard and managing just as well, counts for nothing. Expectations haven’t been met, the hope factor has gone. So they must follow.

The irony is that the talent pool is as shallow in football as it is elsewhere. So I’m sure the person stepping into their shoes will be a reject who has gone through exactly the same process just a few months back.

And so the quest for lasting success will go on. Everyone knows that in any organisation stability, continuity and succession planning are the essential for long-term success.

It’s no co-incidence that two of the country’s most enduring clubs, Manchester United and Arsenal, have had the same management team for years.

Some try and secure that one person who will give them sustained success, others indulge in the hire-and-fire frenzy that fills the back pages of every national newspaper.

They don’t seem to realise that every time they do it, they move further away from their goal.

We pay by results, but never stop to think that it might be better to reward for worth and endeavour and to accept that sometimes circumstances defeat the best of people.

Today, across the globe, countries and their governments are struggling with the worst economic crisis most of us have ever known.

Naturally we look to our leaders to provide answers and restore prosperity and stability.

They in turn look to the tried and trusted remedies, things that have worked before, whether it’s austerity measures or printing money to try to kick-start the economy.

So far nothing seems to be working, or at least not working as quickly or as effectively as we would like. That’s because we’re dealing with a wholly new set of circumstances.

The old guides, the route maps to recovery are no use. We’re in uncharted territory.

So unless we’re content to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result, Einstein’s definition of madness, then we may have to come up with new solutions to get us out of the mess. That won’t be quick or easy, but it is a better alternative than a convenient fix that will leave someone else picking up the tab 50 years down the line.


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