The Blagger's Guide To A Premier League Career
How can you have a long and successful career as a player or manager in the Premier League? Today on the blog Football Cliches delivers the definitive guide of how to climb your way to the top in no time at all.
In the modern age of record TV money, transfer war chests and having six games to save their job, managers (and their chairmen) are still throwing hopeful cash down the wishing well of mediocrity. The last two decades or so of the bloated football bubble (which has either burst, is about to burst or never will burst, depending on your perspective) should have taught the profligate many a hard lesson on the virtues of patience and prudence.
Transfer-window free-for-alls and the media-fuelled concept of pressure have been exploited to the full by innocently ambitious players and managers. There are various factors that play a part in this process (which can justifiably be described as a widespread and distinctly unsophisticated con) which will become clear as I go on.
If there are any budding Premier League players or managers reading, please pay attention - the following guide is your shortcut to the top:
For better or worse, the position of goalkeeper has always been one in which making a name for yourself is fairly straightforward. Confusion often surrounds England's supply of top-quality custodians, which tends to range from a dearth to an array at a moment's notice. Up-and-coming young goalkeepers may wish to fulfil the following criteria to attract the interest of top clubs:
Sign for a relegation-threatened club - This will result in all-comers taking hundreds of potshots at you, increasing the opportunity to pull off the odd save for the cameras. Usually, regardless of whether your team staves off relegation, you will probably be one of the few players to emerge with any credit.
Further support can be garnered from reputation-enhancing Opta stats detailing that you've made more saves than any other keeper. Of course, forward-thinking young English managers will pay full attention to this precious nugget of information.
Save the odd penalty - Take advantage of a bottling choker of a penalty-taker and produce an utterly straightforward save, ideally at a good height for a goalkeeper. I must emphasise the point - any penalty save for a goalkeeper has the potential to be described as "heroic". However, don't revel in the save - make sure you produce the textbook clichéd reaction of looking fully concentrated and shoving your gleeful teammates away to prepare for the ensuing corner. After about three or four penalty saves, you will have earned yourself a reputation as a penalty-saving specialist.
Feel free to ignore your defensive responsibilities – Scoring several goals in relatively quick succession will have easily-pleased Match of the Day pundits singing your praises, temporarily papering over the cracks of your average defending. Won't it, 2007/08's David Wheater?
See the danger and deal with it - By completing some rather routine interceptions, booting out some Row Z clearances or displaying the sophisticated skill of throwing yourself at a goal-bound shot, you can earn yourself a desperately-cobbled-together MOTD montage and an endorsement from the increasingly auto-piloted Alan Hansen. This will go some way to establishing your growing reputation for "accomplished" or "sterling" defensive displays.
Be prepared to bring the ball out of defence - Rio Ferdinand is solely responsible for the modern preoccupation with defenders having to be comfortable on the ball. In 2013, it seems that it still hasn't dawned on pundits that a footballer who's uncomfortable on the ball is, quite simply, not a footballer at all.
Be a team player and get yourself a head injury - Independent studies have (probably) revealed that, if a player suffers a head injury that requires an excessive and highly-visible bandage to be applied, there is an overwhelmingly good chance that his team will avoid defeat. The player himself will be held up as the photogenic icon of that heroic team effort, like Terry Butcher or Paul Ince.
Forget silly ball-work drills in training - work on your fitness. Despite a Spanish-inspired appreciation for the finer midfield arts these days, we Englanders still have a soft spot for good engine that's full of running, like Scott "Scotty" Parker or Jack Rodwell.
Pass the ball a maximum of 10 yards - This will ensure that you never put a foot wrong, keeping your all-important pass completion stats above 90%. Update your proverbial locker - throw out your 40-yard-long Hollywood rake in favour of a trendy slide rule or a reliable old metronome.
Don’t worry about the first seven months of the season - Concentrate on scoring goals in April and May. These will no doubt be seen as ‘vital’ and, if your club does stay up, then it won’t matter that you’ve scored four goals all season - you'll be hailed a hero. Go down and it won’t be your fault - you'll be signed by some other top-flight strugglers in the summer.
Keep that up for long enough and you'll find yourself in the comfortable limbo of being too good for the Championship but not good enough for the Premier League. Robert Earnshaw was there for years.
Plough that lone furrow - Benefit from the aforementioned great-engine approach and you can be hailed just for "making a nuisance" of yourself - a strategy pioneered in the Premier League era by the Dirk Kuyts of this world, and now showcased notably by West Brom's tireless Shane Long.
Be brand-aware - Quickly construct for yourself a reputation for "playing football the right way" or, lower down the leagues, simply "getting the ball down and playing". Never before have managers been so firmly pigeon-holed for a particular brand of football, and it's difficult to reinvent yourself.
Be Mr Nice Guy - Tetchiness only attracts the vultures and defensiveness is a magnet for the dreaded, ever-mounting pressure. Keep smiling, politely refuse to talk about referees' decisions and never, ever fault the effort and commitment of the players. It won't protect you forever, but it'll certainly secure you another job (and another future pay-off) before too long.
So, there you are. Forget staying behind after training to work on those free-kicks, don't bother with those year-long sabbaticals to study training methods on the Continent - just blag your way to the top.
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- Tag: Football