'It's not the winning, it's the taking part that counts'. A phrase I'm sure we've all heard before and perhaps even experienced first hand. And whilst it does have its place, when you're in the world of professional sport it is a belief that's often replaced by 'winning is all that matters'. The truth is we can't adequately sum up sports participation with a phrase because this ignores all of its nuances. For example, in football winning may well be all that matters, but then most people would agree that diving to win a match-winning penalty is against the spirit of the game.
For some football clubs though, their recent history suggests that they do have a bit of the 'taking part that counts' ethos. Now let's be clear, footballers at all levels have a burning desire to win every game, but only a minority of teams can ever win a trophy. Each club has expectations from the board, and depending on a number of circumstances, success will be quantified very differently from one to the other. So it turns out that some clubs in the English Football League (EFL) have become winners in their own unique way, they don't get promoted and they don't get relegated, instead these are the most consistently average teams in the country:
Yes you read the title correctly, Pep Guardiola remains unproven as a football manager! It's a point of view that I've had for a while, but only now is the evidence beginning to mount in my favour thanks to how the Spaniard is finding life with Manchester City and the Premier League. It seems that even the man himself is having a crisis of confidence, judging by his own recent shocking admission.
As we get ready to bid farewell to 2016, it seems appropriate to sit back with a glass of festive cheer and think about the last twelve months. Forget for a moment about Brexit and Trump, and focus on the beautiful game, because as we all know football is far more important in the grand scheme of things anyhow.
Who will consider 2016 to have been a success, and who will be glad to see the back of it?
The green and white tickertape that lay strewn across the Hampden Park turf in the aftermath of Celtic’s League Cup celebrations at the weekend may not have been removed yet, but already most Scottish football fans and scribes are speculating. Speculating about whether the undeniable domestic dominance of Brendan Rodgers’ side will almost certainly result in them landing the treble, and indeed going unbeaten for the entire campaign.