Wayne Rooney took the time this week to talk about the power of visualisation. Needless to say, given that it was Wayne stepping outside of his usual brief of talking about how he done the goal, it was not particularly convincing. The Roonster (TM) described how he “lie[s] in bed the night before [a] game and visualise[s] [him]self…doing well.” Who wants to read this kind of thing? I thought, as I read exactly that kind of thing.
But, dear reader, I am a little embarrassed to reveal that I was wrong. Not about Wayne’s words being unconvincing nonsense, but about other people. Seemingly, other people (people like you), just like Wayne, are fully convinced by the power of visualisation. In fact, in terms of helping to realise how widespread this new philosophy is, there could not have had a more enlightening week for me than the one which has just passed.
The week’s first convert to the “If you believe it’s true, it is true” lifestyle choice was Roy Hodgson, who selected Stewart Downing in his England squad on Wednesday afternoon. Roy has always seemed like a pure logic kind of guy; he knows five languages and stuff. But it’s time to tear that notion of Roy up, bin it and burn it alongside your novella (which was crap), because the belief that Stewart Downing can be worthy of a place at Euro 2012 can come from but one place, and I think it must be common sense to see where that is (thus I’ll explain): Roy, evidently, reckons Downing will be good if he just keeps hoping he’s good. A quick skim of the rest of his squad confirms it: Gareth Barry, Glen Johnson and Andy Carroll are all in: Roy’s imagination has taken over. England are being managed by Roy Hodgson’s unadulterated imagination.
Something bad is going to happen.
He wasn’t the only one affected. Look at Liverpool. With Kenny Dalglish, the brains of the operation—the voice of reason at times of crisis such as these—now departed for no doubt another top job, the club set about replacing the King with Pep Guardiola. This morning’s tweet, asking fans who they thought should come in as the new manager, might suggest that the whole thing is a joke, but no, the club does seem to believe that it can get the world’s most successful manager of the last four years to come to Anfield. And where can that belief come from? Yes, another convert to the visualisation method.
Finally, there was Samir Nasri, who fancied his chances of convincing everyone that his move from Arsenal to Manchester City wasn’t about the ol’ moolah (money) now that City are Premier League winners (yes, I watched the football, so I know that.) This might be the saddest case of them all: a player so indoctrinated into the cult of visualisation that he has bought into its potential to change the opinions of millions of people.
In Nasri, we see that football’s latest fad is more than just a spark for hilarity. It doesn’t just produce incidents like Rooney going past Barry, Lescott and Kompany with one of those Maradona turns, putting the ball into the net and running off to celebrate, all before realising he’d not had the ball. Belief in visualisation is also plain old dangerous.
Those who believe what they want to believe are heading for big falls. Who will be there to pick up responsibility for the England team once Roy Hodgson actually sees Stewart Downing in training? What will Liverpool do when their Guardiola ambitions are exposed as the first throws of madness, leaving them with a Steven Gerrard-Jamie Carragher coaching staff? What will Samir Nasri do the next time he visits North London and sees firsthand how few people are convinced that he didn’t leave Arsenal for the money?
The answers to these questions are varied, and are only tied together by violence, but the conclusion to take from this week is easy: no-one in football has a clue what they’re saying or doing. We are drifting into the arena of the unwell. We’ve been here too long. I feel unusual. We’re in danger; we’ve got to get out. How? Where can we go? I don’t have any ready-made suggestions, but I think if we all visualise then maybe it’ll be alright. If we can get into Samir Nasri’s reality, or Roy Hodgson’s, or Wayne Rooney’s, maybe everything will be fine. Visualise. Visualise. Visualise.