You have to love the press here.
They are forever coming up with new ways to try and devalue what we’ve done, and to cast doubt on what this team might yet be able to accomplish.
Recently, I read a bizarre new line of attack; it’s called “the trick second season theory.”
The idea behind it is that it’s harder to pull off a successful second season than it is to achieve a first.
One of the things that makes this amusing is that if you’ve not just heard of it there will be a familiar tug at your consciousness, which is very deliberate; you might be thinking “I’ve heard of this …” and you would be right.
But it’s not from football!
The “tricky second season theory” is actually from television.
The theory goes that if your first season has been a hit that it’s extremely difficult to pull off a successful season two, because a lot of writers end up recycling ideas and others tend to overcomplicate the plot whilst more still, in an effort to expand the story universe, add a lot of new characters and lose what made season one so special.
Football does have a similar sounding theory, but it’s about season three and it’s a phenomenon I’ve written about before, and it comes from a widely talked about belief in the game that a manager starts to lose his power after three seasons in charge.
The idea is hard to prove or disprove, and for one simple reason; most managers never get three years at a club. The best ones get snapped up and the others get the sack. And for every person who can name you a manager who seems to bear out the truth of this, someone else can throw at you another name which seems to refute it entirely.
Jose Mourinho is one of the “three-year cycle” managers.
But even those who acknowledge that there is some truth in the idea that his optimal time is before that milestone is reached would argue that it is not that Mourinho loses anything from his box of tricks but that certain things peculiar to him – his aggressiveness against the media, his relationship with his own directors – tend to become a bigger part of the show as time goes on so that by year three, he has exhausted a lot of goodwill and patience from those around him.
Some point to Guardiola; his first three years at Barcelona were exceptional and there was a fall-off in year four. He also seemed to undergo a dramatic slide in year four at City, but he has bounced back strongly there to be the undisputed master of the EPL. Jurgen Klopp is another for whom the theory doesn’t hold water at all.
That some in our media are clutching at such a straw is pretty dire.
The idea that Ange will run out of ideas or that teams will figure him out in year two has not been evident at any of his clubs; indeed, Year Two is when Ange’s team really starts to motor.
You only have to look at the numbers to realise that this team of ours isn’t even close to hitting its peak yet. Starting with the striker’s stats, which we’ve gone over on this site over and over again, the pattern that emerges is of a side which is still finding its feet and still getting its fitness up. Ange’s rebuild is not finished either; he has some tweaking still to do.
Not only is there nothing to support the idea that manager’s start to slide in their second campaign, but Ange’s career history suggests the complete opposite in his case.
It contradicts all past precedent. It flies in the face of what we know.
But this is the kind of pitiful straw-clutching at which this media excels.
Anything to cast a doubt on us, anything to cheer up the mob across the street, who have spent the day celebrating that the rebuild they expected has been put off for another year.
And that’s the thing; a team needs refreshed every few seasons, and that is how some of the best managers have bucked the three year trend. The likes of Alex Ferguson and others renew their sides with fresh blood and fresh ideas every few seasons … and that’s how they stay in front. That is why Ange will be a huge success next season and beyond.
Apart from anything else, the average age of our squad assures that we will have foundations to build on for a long time to come. The media’s tendency towards wishful thinking is not going to change that, and nor is anything else.