The Fall’s Mark E. Smith has previously compared his dictatorial reign over any number of revolving door lineups to that of a football manager, but for first time, he’s fully explained the analogy in a way that conjures visions of The Dario Gradi Five headlining the Knitting Factory in the year 2010. As told to Dave Simpson in today’s Guardian.
Running the national football team is very much like running my group, the Fall. As a manager, you’ve got to maintain a certain detachment from your players, and it’s the same with my musicians. When we’re on tour, I sit at the back of the bus. We’re friendly but the secret of it is never get too ally-pally. You can have a pint or two together now and again but you don’t want to be going round their houses.
You don’t want people to get too comfortable, because if they do, there’s no way they’ll be on top of their game. It’s not a job for life. I see the Fall being like a football team with a two- or three-year cycle. There’s always going to be a period where I’ll need a new centre-forward.I always like to keep a strong subs’ bench of people who can step into the breach, cos you never know when you might need them in an emergency.
The way the England team is now is ridiculous. A team of superstars is like a supergroup. It’s like picking the best guitarist in Britain, the best drummer and the best singer, and expecting them to produce something that isn’t prog-rock mush. It doesn’t work: this England team will never work at the highest level. I know that. See, Sir Alf Ramsey [who managed England’s 1966 World Cup win] – people never liked him for it, but he’d always have the full-backs from the second division. He took players and moulded them, like I do with musicians. Gordon Banks, the goalkeeper, was from Stoke City, who were bottom of the first division. They’d conceded more goals that World Cup season than anybody else. But it works. You want a goalie who gets bloody shot at every week! You don’t want the Arsenal or Spurs goalie or whoever in any national team, because he’s never got anything to do!He might pull off the occasional beautiful save, but he’s never gonna be any good against a gang of Poles or whoever who know full well they’re going to face the firing squad if they don’t score.