Replacing Greatness: A Ferg-etful Experience


The other week your correspondent managed to get through a Simon Barnes’ sports article in the Times newspaper without being provoked. Not an easy task, this correspondent can tell you (from previous experience). Simon’s style of scribing (for those unaccustomed to him) is best read while in a relaxed frame of mind, as his views (on sporting topics) can aggravate an already irritable mood.

To demonstrate this case in point your correspondent shall use the last article read of Simon’s (story he wrote about following an Autocrat; David Moyes failed succession to Alex Ferguson) to display how a reader’s temper can go from frayed to livid.

Simon informs the reader in his piece, that in a fully evolved Autocracy (an organisation in which one person has absolute power), the highly successful autocrat cannot be replaced. He cites examples (other then Moyes replacing Ferguson) of John Major replacing Margaret Thatcher; King Louis XV replacing Louis XIV; and asking the reader if they can recall who took over from Attila the Hun, to back up his argument.

Simon develops his theory by comparing the keystone of a building with the autocrat in an autocracy. He states one cannot take the Keystone from a building and replace it with another exact-sized Keystone, as by taking the Keystone out, the building will have already collapsed.

He sums up his argument by saying you can follow a successful autocrat with a good understanding, listening people’s person and they will fail; or you can follow a successful autocrat with another autocrat and they will also fail.

As said at the beginning this correspondent got through the story, then took a sip from his cuppa and turn over to read the Obituary section.

However had this correspondent been a Liverpool F.C fan (which he is not) things might have been different. (At the time of reading (25th April), Liverpool were in contention to win the league for the first time in twenty odd years, with Man City hot on their heels).

One can picture an already nervy, Liverpool F.C supporter (informed of their history) opening up page fifty-nine of the Times that day and starting to read through Simon’s (‘highly successful autocrat cannot be replaced’) article, and finding no reference to Bob Paisley.

Your correspondent can only speculate on the readers’ re-action to the obvious omission (different Liverpool F.C. fans have different tolerance levels), but as someone who likes the occasional flutter, this correspondent would bet that both the tea and the paper would go subsequently untouched by any knowledgeable L.F.C supporter.


Simon, if you wish to know how a highly successful Autocrat is replaced, read ‘Three Sides of the Mersey’- oral history of Liverpool, Everton and Tranmere Rovers by  Rogan P. TaylorJohn WilliamsAndrew Ward.

Image courtesy of CNN

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