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If Steve McClaren…

5 years ago

If you can keep your head when all about you  

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,  

[Well, yes, this seems to be happening a lot at the moment, but perhaps they have a point.  You have done a brilliant job of keeping calm while almost everyone around you is going spare, it’s not all your fault but you are getting the schtick.  However, as they say, the buck stops with you.]

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;  

[You have to trust yourself, Steve, and you continue to do so, but at the same time, you can see why everyone is ‘pure radge’ right?]

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

[I have complete sympathy with you on this.  The wait may seem agonising to fans, but we are talking about your job, your livelihood.  It is not fair that other names are being bandied about to replace you.  Just keep your dignity Steve, I think we can all agree you have done that, unlike some previous managers *COUGHPARDEWCOUGH*]

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

[There will be people who hate you, we are 19th in the Premier League! Don’t rise to that though, you are clearly a nice man and nobody doubts that you have been trying your hardest even though what you have produced hasn’t been up to scratch.]

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;  

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;  

[I think the dreams of the summer became your master, and ours too, we dreamt of European qualification and rigid stability.  Unfortunately this came before thinking, which has since led to overthinking.  Starting with Riviere up front at home is overthinking…]

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;  

[Well, we’ve met the latter many times, in fact we are fairly intimate with it, the former is the true imposter, but one we would have liked to have seen more often…]

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

[Nobody is calling you a fool, but some of the post-match interviews have, while ostensibly truthful, created the mire into which you now fall ‘judge me after 10…no, 25…games’, no knaves were needed, just journalists.]

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

[Well, you may not have given your life to NUFC, but you have certainly put effort in, and now, with a significant number of the squad broken, you are relying on worn out tools like Steven Taylor to rescue you.  It’s a harsh game, but you’ll be getting a bad back with all that stooping.]

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

[I’m not sure if 6 wins really makes that much of a heap, and you certainly have been risking it every week with the tossers on the pitch.]

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

[Well, that’s the problem really.  You haven’t faced up to your losses, it’s as if they haven’t happened.  Yes, we start again, several times, against Norwich, against Liverpool, but while denial has been a buzzword we are all aware of the losses we have suffered.]

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,  

[Back to injuries, and most nerves and sinews have let us down again, but it is the heart we are really lacking.  After you are gone, which might be quite soon, it is unlikely those same hearts will serve you, they don’t do it now.]

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

[You are holding on, and with dignity I may add, but perhaps the more dignified position would be to let go?]

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,  

Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

[I’m not sure if the crowds you have spoken to would agree that you have kept your virtue, some might say that any virtue was long gone, but then again, the kings with whom you walk are certainly in possession of a touch, not common, not midas, much more faecal than that.]

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

[Everybody is trying to hurt you Steve, I don’t like it, I think you are a decent bloke, and personal jibes are off colour and unnecessary.  I’m with you Steve, but not too much, you haven’t succeeded for one reason or another, and for your sake as much as ours, it’s time to move on.]

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,  

[Every minute in your job is unforgiving, it is the original poisoned chalice, but you have been running hard, nobody can accuse you of a lack of effort.  Your players maybe…but if/when you leave, it is not backed by vehement hatred of you.  You will be in the Hughton category, not the Allardyce, Gullit, Souness, Pardew, Kinnear, Dalglish category.  You don’t make it into the Keegan and Robson category though.]

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,  

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

[Well, if you are sacked, that might not be far from the truth, look forward to a generous payoff.  You’ll have lost your ‘ager’ though, and simply be… a man, my son*.]

Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)

*A bit patronising…sorry about that.



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