Today’s world of rolling sports news, hourly club updates and saturated soccer coverage has given birth to a relatively modern but ever-present phenomenon – the club in crisis. Usually rearing its head sometime before Christmas, it’s a brooding cloud of uncertainty ready to strike any club with a lightning bolt of panic at any time, although this year the crisis talk has emerged at record speed.
We are but four games into the Premier League campaign and yet a host of clubs have already been targeted with talk of crisis. Perennial sufferers Arsenal were, unsurprisingly, the first club to kick off the seasons crisis campaign no later than the first day of the season. An opening day home defeat to Aston Villa was all the encouragement commentators needed to write off the club for another season. The fans were angry at the lack of transfer window activity. People were questioning Arsene Wenger’s moralistic approach, and few were able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Alan Hansen had seen enough in that first 90 minutes to predict a potentially frightfully early end to their season, doubting their ability to qualify for the Champions League proper or defeat rivals Tottenham in the upcoming feature. Ten days later, Champions League football secured and victory against Tottenham, Arsenal broke the bank to sign Mesut Ozil and talk of crisis has subsided. Now Hansen and co are wondering if they are, in fact, genuine title contenders.
With this, the shadowy cloud of crisis had to loom elsewhere, this time settling over Manchester and the reigning champions at Old Trafford. The conditions were ideal – an ‘upset and confused’ Wayne Rooney, numerous public failings in the transfer window, and a new manager with extremely large shoes to fill. They all provided the perfect cocktail for crisis talk. Add to this murmurs of discontent within the dressing room – players unconvinced by Moyes, a frustrated and sidelined Kagawa – and a defeat to Liverpool, and there was a certain inevitability about the comments that followed. An incredulous Robbie Savage decided he only needed two games to determine United had already lost the title, conceding it before September by failing to land a superstar in the summer. Fast forward a couple of weeks to a reinvigorated Rooney, mistranslation taking the blame for Kagawa’s quotes, the arrival of Marouane Fellaini and a convincing start to their Champions League campaign, and crisis talk has been silenced.