Monday, April 2, 2012

Norf an Saaf

I can remember from a previous life when London sides seemed unable to break the stranglehold of the northern powerhouses on the league title. To this day Manchester United and Liverpool still dominate the statistic. United have as many league titles as all the London Clubs together (Arsenal 13, Chelsea 4, Tottenham 2 – and 3 of Chelsea’s titles you have to admit have been funded by massive overspending, cheating in my opinion). Other southern teams who managed to lift the championship are Portsmouth (twice) and Ipswich Town (once). So just 22 titles. The list of northern titles is long in comparison : United (19), Liverpool (18), Everton (9), Sunderland (6), Newcastle (4), Sheff Weds (4), Leeds United (3), Huddersfield (3), Blackburn (3), Preston (2), Derby (2), Man City (2), Burnley (2), Forest (1) and Sheff Utd (1). That is 79 titles north of Birmingham.

In Spain the story is similar, or even more marked. Of sides currently in Primera and Segunda, southern sides total only 2 (two) league titles (one each for Sevilla and Betis). Northern sides total, without Barcelona’s 21 titles to make it fair and not include either giant in the statistic, 11. Of the 80 La Liga seasons, only 2 have gone to south. Startling. The cup numbers are also revealing (again, without Barcelona). Southern sides have only 7 Copas (again, split by the Seville sides, 5 for Sevilla and 2 for Betis). Northern sides have 36.

Is it something in the water? Is it people’s character? Maybe. But such stats can’t be coincidence; there is something the north does right that the south does wrong. Although fans don’t score goals, they do help if they support their side. Sadly, and in my experience, southern sides’ supporters have a Real Madrid or Barcelona shirt to fall back on, ready in case of poor results. Problematic, as comparisons will always damage their local outfit.

Our own Real Murcia is a good example. The 7th largest city in Spain, but an “elevator” side at best (up and down and up and down). Why can’t we shake the historical mediocrity off? Lack of support? Bad ownership? Bad luck? Success and quality are no coincidence, and only part luck. It is the result of good decision-making over an extended period of time, and a slice of luck. But you can make your own luck. Or leave the door open to bad luck with bad decisions. We could start with the good decision to invest in proper facilities for training and youth set up. Currently we can’t offer the quality installations or schooling that northern rivals can. Growing your own talent must be a priority – a local kid come up through the ranks is far more likely to die for the cause and give his all, (and then be part of success or sold for further investment in success), than your journeyman footballer whose only concern is his next pay packet.

Music : The Stone Roses - Driving South.

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