At the risk of triteness in quoting Winston Churchill, the former prime minister once deployed one of the most profound quotes I've ever read: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." His words readily convey what counts in surviving the trials of everyday life. And more importantly, football.
We seem to forget that all in all, through the defeats, victories, exciting or frustrating draws, injuries, collapses and revivals, that football is a cycle. Every team has its runs of success and, and every team will endure periods of seemingly incessant failure. And then another cycle starts.
Perhaps your team has won the league for three years straight and raised two European cups in the same span while demolishing Manchester United and Real Madrid. But in the 4th season, you lost the league to your eternal rivals, your manager became a modern-day nomad, and now the once incandescent sheen is going grab. Do not despair. It will probably be OK; there was the era of Cruyff, and the periods of Rijkaard and there will be more after Guardiola.
Or maybe your team, the second-most successful club in the world, saw 13 champions depart in the summer and with them any sense of hope. Maybe that same team was on the verge of a relegation battle and with every day a new story about the sacking of their manager appeared. The media and the fans alike became doom-haunted soothsayers, proclaiming (almost joyfully) that the world of AC Milan was ending. Now they're in 3rd place in Serie A and on verge of eliminating Barcelona in the Champions League, powered by a host of incredible young players and a reborn goalkeeper.
If you're suffering an eight-year trophy drought that is thrown in your face in almost every game, every year and in every interview with your manager, remember that things will probably be fine. Your club is not the last or the first to suffer such trials of faith. Before winning the league in 2005, Barcelona's last title came in the 1998/99 campaign. River Plate's drought spanned 17 years, in which they came close several times but ultimately finished empty-handed. Liverpool's plight is well known. So too is Manchester United's barren run between 1967 and 1992. The list goes on and it includes almost every well-known team. The cycle eventually breaks, leaving a new one to begin.
Your club might be bought by a super-rich oil tycoon with a media presence of a ghost. As the trophies come flooding in, the stadium starts to ring with the joyful cheer of victory and highly touted new signings come on an assembly line like they're in-demand Model Ts. But even the good times will probably end. The trick is to be strong and realize that the downturn is part of a cycle, and that despair too shall pass.
One day North London is red, on the next it might be white. One year you're putting five past Real Madrid and then suddenly you're losing to a rebuilt AC Milan 2-0 in a Champions League game. Another time you're buying players left and right and threatening to challenge the top two teams in the league and then your owner leaves and you can't pay those players anymore.
It happens. Football, like life, is full of breathtakingly bumpy topography, but most of the time the valleys and peaks are not as shallow or as high as you imagine. Sell David Villa, David Silva, Juan Mata and before long you have Roberto Soldado, Ever Banega and Sergio Canales. If things are looking down, it's difficult to step back and realize that the cycle will end, no trophy drought will last forever and no trophy run will either. But unless you're Leeds United or Portsmouth, it will probably get better (just ask Real Oviedo).
In football, there is pain, joy and another chance
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