Football: Renaissance Is Easy These Days - Just Look at Megson; POST MODERM

Article excerpt

Byline: Hyder Jawad

The French have a word for a rebirth: "renaissance". A beautiful word, which moves around mouth like a rum truffle, it has been stolen by every language in the world and its meaning has become so blurred that it can now refer to what has happened to such diverse characters as Gary Megson, Gareth Barry, Avram Grant and Eva Peron.

The real Renaissance took place in Europe in the 14th century after the horrors of the Black Death. That was the problem: there needed to be something bad (like Europe losing half of its population) before there could be a renaissance. But then came all of that art, all of that scientific advancement, all of that philosophy, all of that music.

These days, a renaissance can come after something only mildly inconvenient. In the case of Megson, who spent 18 months in a state of unemployment then landed two high-profile jobs in the space of six weeks, the original inconvenience was dealing with anonymity. Only Leicester City, who appointed him on September 13, seemed to remember who he was. But soon Bolton Wanderers jumped on to the bandwagon and acquired him for themselves.

The original Renaissance needed 300 years to take effect. Megson staged his in just 42 days (without art, philosophy or progressive thought).

In the case of Barry, the Aston Villa captain and now apparently the subject of interest from Chelsea, the original inconvenience was being ignored at international level. He has enjoyed two renaissances: the first with Villa, which began when Graham Taylor became manager in February 2002; the second with England, when injuries to other players (Frank Lampard being the most notable) gave Barry a chance to translate his club form into an international context.

There are renaissances in all walks of life - especially in Argentina, where Eva Peron has made a comeback in death because the likely new president there is seen as a latter-day equivalent - but that does not conceal the view that the this beautiful French word has been hijacked by football.

The football man seems to suffer one month so he can enjoy a renaissance in another. It can all appear so choreographed.

Avram Grant was an anti-hero when he replaced Jose Mourinho as manager of Chelsea in September. Grant did not begin well. Results were indifferent, talk of mutiny rife, and it seemed after all that the club had more money than class. …