David Preece: How Sweden move is helping reconnect me with the game and top up my football education

If there is anything I have learned about football so far it’s that it is so much more than just what happens during those ninety plus minutes at the weekend.

Sunday, 21st July 2019, 8:33 pm
David Preece is a fan of recently retired players going into the media.

And not just that, it’s how little you actually know compared to what you think you do. As football evolves, so must you. And if you don’t you get left behind.

Even if you have perfected your philosophy and way of working, eventually its shelf life will expire and you will be surpassed and your excellence will just become the norm.

Whatever your role though, I’ve found that the best way to approach things as if I know nothing at all.

That said, there are probably plenty of people out there who have seen me play, read my stuff or heard me talking on the radio thinking I actually don’t know a great deal. Which is fair enough depending whether they caught me on a good day or a bad.

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In the three roles I’ve played within the game, I’ve been amazed at how quickly your perceptions change and how you adapt to that role.

As a player you think you know it all. Essentially, you’re the one of the most important, if not the most important, people in football yet despite being at the very core, what you know about the nuts and bolts of the game is actually minuscule.

Rightly, you have a myopic view of the football which consists of training and games. For most the ignorance is bliss and in that sense I was no different from the rest.

What you eat, what you drink, how you sleep and mostly how you perform are basically all you care about so what happens in the boardroom or in the stands is of little consequence as long as you get paid at the end of the month.

As a journalist or a pundit you can easily get caught up in the trap of either expressing contrary views for the sake of a strong opinion piece or exaggerating a point far beyond its actual meaning.

Let’s face it. Who wants to read something an average player being just okay, or a team’s performance being just acceptable. The interest lies at each end of the spectrum, whether the subject finds itself there or not.

And no matter how much you try and keep up to date with the game from your perch as a former player, the longer you are out of the game, the further away from relevance you and your opinions become. It’s just a fact.

I spent two years away from the day-to-day life of the full time game and although it wasn’t one of the major factors in me coming to Sweden, I did feel that however it went for me here, my reconnection to the game was topping up my education in football.

So if I do come back and continue my media work then it I can feel confident in what I’m saying and not just relying on an ageing memory of how it once was.

People say that you tend to forget you were a player and to a certain extent that’s true. It’s not that you forget, your memory just becomes selective and that’s why I love seeing recently retired players in the media. It doesn’t just freshen up the tv screens, it refreshes the memories of all ex-players.

When it comes to stereotypes things are no different now I’m back coaching either and it’s so difficult not to see through glasses that fit so comfortably on the bridge of your nose.

You promise the officials you won’t be shouting abuse at them this time, then after their defender has come through the back of your striker for the fourth time without being punished they show a yellow card to your player for something innocuous and before you know it your iPad is on the floor with a smashed screen and someone sitting at the side of the bench returns your pen to you from where it was thrown.

You start sentences with “Not that this is excuse but . . . “ before reeling off a lengthy list of casualties you weren’t able to call upon that have weakened your side visibly for recent games. You see when you’re a coach, you’re not giving excuses, they are just reasons.

This all reminds me of a an advert for Hugo Boss advert where the subject of a press conference announces he’s not going to be what what people expect him to be anymore.

Well whatever role I’m playing in football, it looks like I’ll forever be shouting at officials from the bench. I’m not angry though, you see. I’m just passionate. *winky face emoji*