The art of forgiving and forgetting in football

Often used in everyday life, the phrase ‘to forgive and forget’ can be sometimes much easier said than done for a number of reasons. Whether it be depending on the severity of the circumstances or just personal feelings towards a certain series of events, we all find ourselves at certain points in life wanting to forgive somebody for something, yet to completely forget what went on can sometimes be that bit more difficult. For each person that forgives in hope of eventually forgetting, there’s usually somebody who simply forgets to forgive, yet in football there seems to be little choice in the matter with the need to both forgive and forget increasingly becoming more and more prominent by the season. Whether it be down to player power and its influence both on and off the pitch, the sometimes unfathomable managerial and executive decisions made or just a bewilderment in regards to the extreme amounts of money so often spent, it goes without saying that in European and World Football that forgiving and forgetting have become integral parts of the modern game both on and off the pitch.

In a week where Steven Gerrard has publically announced that he is to depart Liverpool after nearly 15 years on Merseyside in order to play out the remainder of his career for LA Galaxy in the MLS, as with any montage looking back at an illustrious career and highlighting both the best and the worst bits of it, it only became apparent to me how quickly fans perceptions of sports stars can change. Footage of printed Gerrard shirts being burnt following speculation that the Anfield legend was considering his future at the club after a rumoured move to Chelsea in 2005, were quickly followed up by scenes of sheer jubilation shared between player and fans later on in his career as Liverpool Football Club both shared and enjoyed some of the England internationals finest moments in his career.

In October 2010, Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney reportedly considered a mega money move across Manchester to ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City as their supreme spending shown little sign of dying down anytime soon, that of course until FFP came into effect. Inevitably this didn’t go down very well with Manchester United fans as the news of a potential move to City met with a mixture of anger, frustration and confusion. Yet six months later, if Wayne Rooney’s commitment to the club and signing of a new contract hadn’t already won Manchester United fans over, the quite simply incredible bicycle kick he was to score against the very side he had reportedly considered joining must certainly have done the trick. In the space of six months, Wayne Rooney went from hero to villain before elevating his status to heights (literally) he’d never previously been at prior to the events which unfolded surrounding a move to City.

Even the noisy neighbours couldn’t avoid the common curse in modern football of forgiving and forgetting – let’s take Yaya Toure for example. On the back of a successful 2013/14 league campaign which resulted in Manuel Pellegrini’s side coming out on top as Premier League champions, the Ivory Coast anchorman proved to be integral for Manchester City. Regardless of the many goals, assists and his superior presence and influence the Ivorian gave reliably on the pitch, his commitment to the cause seemed unquestionable throughout the 13/14 season. But a mere couple of weeks after the season finished, I do not think anybody could have predicted what birthday cake madness that was to follow. Yet nearly six months on, thanks to a gradual return to form and signs of the Yaya Toure which gripped the hearts and minds of City fans initially, the Ivorian has slowly began to recapture the affection and admiration he experienced last season for The Blues.

However as much as it may have taken time to forgive the Ivorian for what seems in hindsight a feeble attempt to orchestrate a move away from the Premier League champions, to forget Steven Gerrard’s unwillingness to commit his long term future to Liverpool Football Club or to erase any recollection of Wayne Rooney edging very close to a move across Manchester, all these examples serve to prove that it’s now become commonplace in modern football to forgive, to forget and to support the player, manager, chairman or whoever in question for the common good of your beloved club. Of course one cannot deny that in exceptional circumstances certain incidents may always be unforgivable given the severity or individual detail of the case. But largely in regards to matters such as player power, it really is far easier to try and move on not solely for the good of the individual but more for the love and affection of a club fans and followers choose to spend their hard-earned money on.

Who knows who will be next to complain about a birthday cake, to declare an interest in a move across the city to your club’s fiercest local rivals or to simply stutter over extending their contract? However one thing we do know is that regardless of who it is or for what reason they may cause any unrest, it will only be a matter of time before they’re idolised again, until fans are eating out of the palm of their hands and all is forgotten once more.


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