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The Butterfly Effect

Wayne Rooney

Global sportswear merchants Nike remind us that the football world can be a fickle place. The causal effect of a poor decision, of a few mere inches can sometimes have a catastrophic outcome on the life and career of a footballer – insert your own Ryan Giggs joke here. Not only the decision-makers are affected however. Many teams have suffered at the hands of misfortune, either brought by one player or collectively as an XI, or even boardroom greed and foolish mismanagement. In some cases, this can be down to luck, or the lack of it, but it also comes down to physical ability, cognitive process, patriotic pressure or even politics.

With football indoctrinated into the lives of those who watch it, the supporter can also feel condemned by a decision made by others – a decision made on our behalf by a footballer earning more in a week than most in a lifetime, by a manager digging his own grave, by a boardroom more concerned with accounts than ability. We dream of being in their shoes, yet are compelled to denounce their actions if they make mistakes – we know we can do better, but only because we will never get that chance to prove it.

These players and managers have only one chance to get it right, often with the voyeuristic eyes of the masses burning in their backs. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they don’t. But have you ever dreamt of an alternative world, one that might have been?

What if…

// …Everton were relegated in 1994?

// …Howard Wilkinson didn’t phone to enquire about Denis Irwin?

// …Stan Collymore had blazed over in the last minute of Liverpool 4 – 3 Newcastle?

//  …Bayern Munich had won the Champions League in 1999?

// …What if Phil Neville chose to play International cricket?

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