A true footballing legacy from Socrates

It may be something of a paraphrase but having heard it last week the sentiment sits well enough to be repeated.

In the aftermath of Brazil’s 1982 World Cup exit at the hands of Italy – a game where a draw would have been enough for Tel� Santana’s wonderfully talented squad to make the semi-finals – recently departed Socrates commented: “The point of the game isn’t to win, the point of the game is to play, to create – and we felt we did that today, even if we are going home.”

Quite simply, it is a footballing philosophy that doesn’t exist any more. Winning is officially everything – and it has been for some time.

One bugbear of mine has been the ridiculous burden of success or failure in football. Not necessarily the pain, but more so the reaction.

There was a time when a successful campaign didn’t have to include a major cup final or promotion; just like the fact relegation did not automatically consign fans to tortuous despair and the season as ‘failed’.


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Moving up and down the divisions was something that happened. It freshened the fixture list every so often and provided new tasks and challenges for your team’s boss, coaches and players. It didn’t require sackings and departures to excuse the stain of the drop – something, we shouldn’t forget, that continues to happen to a healthy percentage of professional clubs every season. It’s just part of the competition.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist – or in any other generic position of intelligence, for that matter – to have a handle on why modern football is so far removed from such old school thinking.

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The money now involved means financial stability is intrinsically linked to the division you reside – or in the very least, aim for. The continuity of teams and management isn’t what it was either. For most managers dropping out of the top flight these days, there seem to be two choices come the summer: walk to a better offer, or be chucked – sooner or later.

That is where we are. For some fans packing into grounds across the country, they are young enough for it to be all they know. And there is nothing wrong with that – so long as you make the most of the good times.

What has happened at Carrow Road over the last two seasons – and, on all evidence available, is continuing to happen – is something special. A rise and consistent effort that can be easy to take for granted. A level of football that could only be rivalled by a handful of spells in the Canaries’ long and varied history.

After all, at the moment Norwich City are both winning and creating. That is how special the last 28 months at Carrow Road have been.

• I appreciate there are many Socrates’ highlights on the web but it was one tenuous link from the Monty Python boys that made me smile, so for a bit of a laugh I hope you enjoy the video on this page…

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