Valuable Football Tools: The Angst-O-Graph
As promised, I give you the wonderful innovation that shows you concisely how to map the depths of your despair. See, when analyzing United, it's helpful to remember that there are two dimensions to the nihilism that threatens to overwhelm any football fan. There's the depths of the abyss to which you've fallen at any given moment. But this game can be a game of moments, so just as important is the duration through which this existential angst must be endured.
Now, if we were to indulge our dorkier sides, we might create a graph upon which to plot the angst we feel. Let's have a semi-logarithmic scale for time, and a normal Cartesian scale for the angst. Time is self explanatory, but let's set the boundaries for angst: No angst is the equivalent of running through a magical meadow where the bees sing songs from Rogers and Hammerstein and the flowers bloom $100 bills. Ultimate angst is having an eagle arrive every day to tear out your liver, which regrows overnight, while Diane Rehm yammers in your ear about the delightful new tea cozy on which she embroidered the greatest blog comments appearing at FireDogLake. Ok, that's settled. So if we were to graph that, this is what it might look like.
Neat enough, but let's throw some examples on there to get the hang of it (the Real Salt Lake game in question is this one):
Now, wouldn't it be useful to actually use this graph for something? Indeed, I think it would be. So let's introduce the concept of the Fire Line. This is the line above which a change must be made, but it varies depending on the nature of what we're talking about. Angst about players is really based on game performance, and they can be benched before they're traded, so the tolerance on a game-by-game basis is lower, with some variation (and leeway) for your established leaders on the field. Coaches don't get fired over an individual game, but within a season if things get bad enough then a change must be made. There's a little leveling off around the season mark (reflecting the desire to give a coach a chance to remake a bad team that was inherited, or to fully implement a season) but after that the decline is steep. Ownership matters have an even longer time scale to consider, and we're all fairly impotent in dealing with them, so it would have to take a lot to have fans rebel on ownership related matters. So, here's my shot at mapping out those lines...
See, this is how I think I tend to view matters when writing about them. Game-by-game decisions rarely discuss coaching matters other than tactics, and when they are discussed it is in the scope of the longer season (reflecting where the Fire Line for coaches exist). Ownership matters are even bigger in scope. But in terms of player performance, the biggest change in their Fire Lines is within a game to a series of games. Which is why talking about effort and ability makes sense here. It doesn't discuss the methodology behind putting a team together, that's not a players responsibility. And during a game, I am not rooting for the ownership, or the coach, but for the players on the field. Over the course of the season I may have a rooting interest in a coach, and over multiple seasons the ownership issues.
So, for me personally, here's how I have plotted my Angst-O-Graph. Please feel free to use the blank provided to create your own, and certainly I do not perceive my opinions as the ultimate arbiter (at least, not in this matter. Angst must be a personal matter, or what else is the point?)