The Greatest Fear

by Dominic Blackwell

I am a lightweight football supporter. I don’t spend time or money travelling around Europe watching matches and I am one of the 99.99999% of Manchester United fans who has never been to Old Trafford (although I got a secret thrill when on a brass ensemble tour years ago, our tour bus drove past it en route to a concert in Manchester). But I enjoy watching and listening to the game on radio, TV and live blogs. And while people have written books on the good and bad aspects of football crowds, it is indisputable that they are very much part of the listening or watching experience (and the chants often even make it to the live blogs).

Chants are directed at opposing players and managers which run the gamut from the comic, through the surreal to the nasty, libellous and sometimes the criminal. Now I’ve never been a football manager (although of course as a fan I’m always doing the “why doesn’t he bring on Hernandez? / why don’t they go back to 4—4—2?” thing), but of all the chants directed at managers, you know what I think the most terrifying one I’ve ever heard is?

You don’t know what you’re doing.

That is the ultimate fear. Of basic incompetence in doing what you want or need to do. And it applies when you are an expert as much as when you are a beginner. Some people do nothing because this fear paralyses them. Some people have endless deluded self-belief. But, at the end of the day (had to use that one), you have to feel what is good and do it. People now may judge what you do. Posterity may judge it (and even change its mind several times). But when I have to decide what to do there is one simple universal truth.

I might not know what I’m doing. But I’d prefer to be remembered for having done something than have been forgotten because I did nothing…

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