Word from the Wise: The thin line between failure and success

There may be differing measures of success but the ultimate one is championships.

manchester united 88 (photo credit: )
manchester united 88
(photo credit: )
In sport, the margin between victory and defeat can be microscopic but the difference in the consequences is astronomical. There may be differing measures of success but the ultimate one is championships. That is all that anyone ever remembers. If France had drawn with Ireland in Dublin instead of defeating them 1-0, Israel would have qualified for the 2006 World Cup and Avraham Grant would be still coaching the team. Instead Israel has another four years wait to see if it will qualify for its first World Cup berth since 1970. Not that qualifying for the World Cup guarantees anything. Israel could have been placed in a tricky group and roundly lost all three of their pool matches. Then what? In this day and age sports is a business and there are no jobs for life, regardless of what has happened in the past and what is happening today. There is always an eye to tomorrow and there is no place for sentimentality in tomorrow. Success is a double edged sword and it creates expectations. Teams such as the All Blacks, Real Madrid and the New York Yankees are expected to win every time they take the field. But it doesn't always happen like this and the consequences of it are merciless. The fate of Australian cricket coach, John Buchanan was reviewed after the Ashes despite what he had achieved up until that point. After Manchester United's recent 4-1 defeat to Middlesbrough some are now saying that the writing is on the wall for Sir Alex Ferguson. Ferguson has led United to the greatest period in their history but there is no guarantee he will still be in charge at Old Trafford by season's end. A poor result against French side, Lille, in tonight's Champion League game will only see his stocks slide even more. If owners the Glazers decide to part ways with Ferguson then the pressure will be on to find an adequate replacement. The last thing they would want is a revolving door type of succession with their inability to find a suitable candidate results in numerous short-term ones. For the fans of Manchester United this will only be another notch in their annus horribilis. There has been the Glazer takeover to contend with as well as Chelsea dominating the league and Europe like they used to. Across the other side of the Atlantic, the good people of New England are still in shock after hearing the news that wunderkind, Theo Epstein, submitted his resignation as General Manager of the Red Sox. Epstein brought the Sox their first World Series title in 86 years last year and was thought to be leading the team to the land of post-season glory after spending many years wondering in the wilderness. Despite any 'job for life' promises he may have received last year, 12 months is a long time in sport. Furthermore, sometimes success creates more problems with office politics then defeat. Dodging blame is one thing but taking credit for something you didn't do is a different thing entirely. Some of the Sox, giddy with their triumph may have let it go to their heads and 2005 was definitely a turbulent year for them. From Foulke to Schilling to Manny they bounced from one drama to another and limped into the playoffs on the final day of the season. There they were swept by the champions to be White-Sox. With Epstein's assistant and groomed successor, Josh Byrnes, already snapped up by the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Red Sox have no idea who their new General Manager will be. Add into the mix the request to be traded by outfielder Manny Ramirez and it looks like it is going to be one very tumultuous off-season for them. They may have won the World Series in 2004 but at this point in time it feels as close as 1918.