When football content strays from reality

When football content strays from reality

To be early, Marc Andreessen once lamented, is to be wrong. Andreessen, a software engineer, angel investor and all-purpose Silicon Valley expert, is believed to have applied this adage in the context of some of his own bitter experiences in the world of cloud computing, but it is surprisingly relevant as an analysis of “Being: Liverpool” Works well. ,

If the title is unfamiliar, it will come as no real surprise. showIt ran for only one series, consisting of only six episodes, depicting Liverpool’s preparations for the 2012–2013 Premier League season. Its subsequent cultural half-life has also been limited; The few elements that stuck out explain perfectly why it wasn’t renewed.

For example, there was a fleeting shot of the hallway of the club’s newly appointed coach Brendan Rodgers’ home, dominated by a moody, monochrome portrait of himself. Or footage of Rodgers showing three envelopes – which, he said, contained the names of three players who would frustrate him during the season. His audience appeared bewildered at first and, at worst, disappointed.

Of course, it would later emerge that both incidents were a little more subtle than first anticipated. envelope device The method once used was adapted – albeit with significantly greater success – by Alex Ferguson. The portrait was a gift from a disability charity with whom Rodgers had worked closely during his time at his previous club, Swansea.

Still the loss was done. Critical reception of the documentary was mixed, but the reaction from fans, both Liverpool and elsewhere, was not. It was seen as an exercise in sheer vanity, a source of either embarrassment or hilarity, six hours of continuous nervousness. Rodgers, arguably, has never been able to shake the impression that he has as much in common with David Brent as he has with Pep Guardiola.

It was surprising, then, to learn that Liverpool’s owner – Fenway Sports Group – is at least considering the idea of ​​going back into the well. Nothing has been signed yet, according to bloombergBut the club is in discussions with several production houses to launch something that, you imagine, won’t be called “Becoming: Liverpool 2.”

That Liverpool are even willing to support the idea is testament to how much the world has changed. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when football became saturated with documentaries. This could be 2015, with the launch of “Class of ’92: Out of Their League”, or the 2019 arrival of Formula 1’s “Drive to Survive”. Maybe it was a year later, and the pandemic success of “The Last Dance.” But maybe it doesn’t matter. The effect is almost the same.

At this point, there are hundreds of football documentaries. Some are historical – portraits of players and eulogies for coaches – but the trend is for the present: limited series that promise to take viewers inside the inner sanctum, to show fans what the world inhabited by their heroes really is. How am I?

They, like the “All or Nothing” series, can be commissioned (or at least agreed upon) by teams. Or, increasingly, they may be conceived by the game’s authorities themselves, as with the FIFA-sanctioned/produced “Captains of the World” or the upcoming “Drive to Survive” style project explicitly greenlit by Major League Soccer. Which is slowly being transformed into a division of Apple.

(“Welcome to Wrexham”, in this context, is something different. Indeed, it is not entirely clear whether it should really be presented as a documentary, despite the style in which it is shot. . Documentarians, after all, are not supposed to interfere with their subject. “Welcome to Wrexham” exists only because of the interference; its ongoing plot is defined by it. Even its stars also refer to it, with a frequency that suggests it is intentional, as a kind of reality show.)

This trend can be seen in all sports. Almost every major athletic endeavor – cricket, rugby, cycling, tennis, track and field – has been subject to the same treatment in roughly the same time frame. The sport as a whole has, increasingly, embraced the philosophy that its business extends to much more than just the action on the field. It appears that fans have a surprising and tenable appetite for learning how the sausage is made.

Of course, this can be attributed in part to broader cultural change. Within the game, the widespread importance of documentaries makes this idea less notable, less noteworthy. There is a degree of safety in numbers.

Even outside of this, the feeling that everything can be satisfied – that all of our lives can be curated and commoditized for the consumption of others – has become something close to a guiding ideology. This is not just an acknowledgment that individuals or institutions should tell their story, but an expectation that they will do so.

From that vantage point, “Being: Liverpool” no longer seems wrong. But, unlike Andreessen’s cloud computing venture, its only mistake was not being quick.

The thing that unites all the documentaries that followed is how little they actually reveal about the reality of football. There are, of course, notable moments: Jose Mourinho’s failed attempts to reinstate Dele Alli in Tottenham’s “all or nothing” season; Fabian Delph took it upon himself to explain “the basics of football” to clear up Guardiola’s apparent confusion in the Manchester City edition.

But mostly, they are so tightly controlled, so carefully edited, so sophisticated and expertly crafted that any hope of insight is lost in the gloss. They are documentaries created through the most fascinating Instagram filters. They capture the story that the club or individual concerned wants to tell.

They are authentic in the sense that goods with official seal and hologram watermark can be authentic. They are not authentic in the way that the previous generation of football documentaries appeared in an era of less creative control. They show, but don’t tell.

And, perhaps, that was the real problem with “Being: Liverpool.” It was not polished to the highest possible shine. There were some candid moments that showed what football looks like when he’s not putting his best face on camera.

Yes, there are plenty of passionate speeches and examples of close camaraderie that stir the soul. But sometimes your manager tries to do some corporate team-building exercises in the hotel dining room and no one really gets it. These were the parts that made “Being: Liverpool” embarrassing, but they also made it real in a way that few of its successors can match. It’s safe to say that, if a sequel airs, that mistake won’t be repeated.

The Africa Cup of Nations is fast turning into a graveyard of legends. Apart from Senegal and Nigeria, some of the continent’s powerful countries are finding great fortunes in Ivory Coast.

Of course, the host nation has suffered the most, being humiliated by Equatorial Guinea in their final group game and then only qualifying for the knockouts by the skin of their teeth, and then. fired your manager, But Ivory Coast is far from alone. Algeria, Ghana and Tunisia all remained without winning a single game.

To avoid the same situation, Cameroon needed a goal in the 91st minute. Egypt – has lost Mohamed Salah to get hurt – Made things even better, scoring in the 99th minute against impressive Cape Verde to seal a place in the last 16. (It seems that every game in the tournament only really starts when injury time arrives.)

It’s too early to have a definitive explanation, but here are three theories, in descending order of plausibility but – importantly – in increasing order of interest.

It could be one of those things, essentially an arbitrary confluence of factors that could easily be mistaken for a pattern.

This may be a sign that Africa’s top is flattening but its base is widening, as has been the case for much of football in recent years.

Or it may also be possible that the stars may have double duty. Sure, guys like Salah, Ghana’s Mohamed Kudus and Ivory Coast’s Sekou Fofana emit light, but they also generate gravity. Their presence can lead to dependency, leaving their partners little more than a supporting cast. (See Egypt’s reaction to Salah’s absence.)

This is both inhibiting for their own sides and encouraging for their opponents. For example, this is not a problem familiar to Equatorial Guinea and Cape Verde, and they appear to be better off for it.

At this stage, Manchester United fans are willing to look for the slightest glimmer of hope as a sign of renewal. If things were as United believe they should be, and England’s biggest club was performing like a giant in the Premier League at its best, the appointment of an executive would be little more than a footnote. Given that they are not, a lot is being read into Appointment of Omar Berada,

Barrada, a Catalan, of course, is the first appointment made by Ineos, the group owned by Jim Ratcliffe, who has been installed as both minority investor and majority controller of the “football” part of Manchester United Football Club. Berrada’s arrival as chief executive has (understandably) been taken as a sign of the vision that Ineos – an organization that has long considered itself a leader in the sport – is taking to Old Trafford. Is.

But while Berrada is without a doubt a shrewd hire – smart, well-regarded, fun to follow on Twitter – and snapping him up from Manchester City is a popular move, it has to be seen as an innovative decision. It’s a little difficult to praise. United have gone to the best performing club in football (asterisk pending) and taken the highest ranking executive they could get. This is a smart move. This is not a novel.

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