Since my move to the Home Counties, the tweed capital of England, several things have changed in my life, but none more so than the conversation you overhear in the pub [sorry I mean Gastropub]. In came these tweed-wearing men, who must be part of the local history society and they begin to argue the topic of comebacks. One man argues that Charles de Gaulle, is the greatest ever Frenchman to make a comeback as it was he who was in exile, with the Free French, and then swept to power upon the extinction of the Nazi regime. Then came the turn of the second man and he went royal. King Richard III, who unlike a phoenix rising from the ashes made a twisted-comeback following the discovery of his kyphosis framed in a car park in Leicester, and was later reinterred with the honour of a being the last Plantagenet King. They went on with their conversation as I went back to the bar for a lager.
This conversation about comebacks made me consider who from the world of sport have graced us with a comeback that has made a difference to those fans. In football management, comebacks are a rarity, a vast (minority or majority) of Nottingham Forest fans lauded Mr Chairmen for his appointment of our now de-throned King, Billy Davies. However, Billy’s tempestuous relationship with the tyrannical Chairmen saw him pushed aside once more and into the Football Manager wilderness to not be seen again. Similarly, Jose Mourinho made a triumphant return to Chelsea, admitting his love for the club and all things blue. Yet, whilst the fans were glad to have their leader back. The players were becoming restless in their penthouses and Ferrari’s and when Mourinho upset the players by sacking their favourite doctor, for merely doing her job, we all expected the marching orders. The players put the nail in Mourinho’s coffin, and after Chelsea recorded their worst start to the season under Roman Abramovich’s wallet, the Russian travelled back from his homeland, this time without love, but a shredder for Mourinho’s contract.
On the playing field, I read in The Telegraph [The only sun in the south is that one that shines] that Andy Goode was to retire from professional rugby for the second time in a year. For those of you that are unaware of the talent and corpulent nature of Andy, Andy was actually quite eponymous, 17 caps for England, 400 Premiership rugby (PR) appearances, and second on the all-time points scoreboard. Andy’s sense of humour and inability to tackle world cup winner, Dan Carter, in any other manner than high, has seen him flourish on the pitch and off the pitch when working as a pundit. In football, the last time I witnessed a decent footballing comeback was Paul Scholes who came back in 2012-13 season and played an impressive 33 times despite having a most of a year out of the game coaching in the academy.
This made me think, who would I have back at my favourite club, Nottingham Forest, would it be Wes Morgan who is putting on one hell of a show at the topic of the Premier League, Peter Shilton who arguably was the best purchase Forest have ever made, or John Robertson, the fat winger. If I had to, I would chose John Robertson, just to relive those moments of pure brilliance from Munich and Madrid, crosses that David Beckham would be proud of and shots that even Peter Shilton wouldn’t be able to save. However, on reflection would I want a player or manager to comeback to my club, No I would not. Painting the wall with the same magnolia will over time; reveal the same wall. Relighting nostalgia is great and if anything that is worth paying £1500 to attend your clubs anniversary celebrations, or £15 in the ticket office for the latest testimonial match, but to reincorporate a player who left for whatever reason(s), or manager who felt it unjust. We have to plan ahead and remember when they were here, what impact did they really make, have we changed since then, and if so, where are we going, and if we are going places, by a ticket like everyone else and sit in the stands.
Inviting a player back will only further deepen the players coffers in this current climate and as we don’t have any recent players of Andy Goode or Paul Scholes’ ilk, we should continue to reinvest our funds into the academy, player recruitment and retention, and facilities to strive the club forward for the future.