There comes a time when every footballer experiences defeat on a totally embarrassing level. Lionel Messi has lost 8-2; Cristiano Ronaldo has twice been defeated 5-0. Fortuna's wheel is always turning.
But the great wisdom imparted by this game is to "meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same." One must be gracious in victory and defeat, but this old cliché is always put to the test when you're on the receiving end of a thrashing.
To pass, you've got to shake hands with the opponent and then decide how you're going to acknowledge angry supporters. Thankfully you have options.
8 Ways To Applaud Your Own Fans After Being Defeated 7-1
#1. The Thousand-Yard Stare
No footballer has mastered this approach quite like Harry Maguire. Mention his name to me and I immediately imagine a forlorn, solitary Maguire performing his captain's duty after a 3-1 home defeat to Wolves or some shit, approaching the Stratford End misty eyed, hands — looking so very small and fragile in front of his giant slab head — pattering away in supplication and with an umoving grimace on his face that says "please be gentle with me, for I am not worthy."
Maguire's unfocused gaze is aimed at the supporters but he's looking straight through them; the projector in his mind's eye is replaying the horrors of the previous 90 minutes. I don't know if he ever truly escapes from these reveries.
#2. Bring Your Children Or Hire Children To Be Your Children
Two years since Mo Salah's daughter scored in front of the Kop.That's one proud dad ❤️ pic.twitter.com/6pdVdPNS5e
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 13, 2021
This sort of event usually only happens in the early summer sunshine of the final home match of the season, but no one says you can't bring your children onto the pitch for an impossibly cute kickabout after a 7-1 defeat. The supporters hearts that had frozen against you will be thawed as your child stumbles like a lovable little drunk toward the goal-line before toe-poking one just over the line.
If you don't have children, make sure to create a Craigslist ad the day before the match offering money for the services of young ones so that you have them on standby should you suffer such an embarrassing defeat.
#3. Make Sure To Pack Your Thunder Sticks
Often times after a 7-1 defeat, fans want to see who still presents the most passion — these select few remain in their good graces. After the full-time whistle, grab your inflatable thunder sticks and head over the supporters' section making a din of applause that's greater than all your teammates combined. Clearly nobody cares more about the club and its fans than you.
#4. Give It All Away
Ivan Rakitic gave it all to the fans, literally pic.twitter.com/6DHtSxVxOb— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 4, 2022
Everyone loves free stuff, and nothing puts down a potential riot faster than a mascot with a T-shirt cannon. Just give everything away, from your kit to your shin guard tape, but make sure to put a little personality into it — egg the crowd on, cup a hand to your ear and ask which section wants it more, pump fake one way with a cleat and then hurl the other at an unsuspecting bystander.
This strategy works best if you have a bag full of extra jerseys, both to throw at the crowd and to exchange with your opponents. Don't let them know you're doing it but exchange one on the pitch, one in the tunnel and one outside their dressing room. Why? Because they just beat your ass 7-1 and probably have a proverbial Ronaldo de Assis Moreira who'll be known as Ronaldinho in a few years. One of these will be worth something.
#5. Head Straight Down The Tunnel
Cristiano Ronaldo headed straight down the tunnel after United’s 1-1 draw with Everton.Not happy.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 2, 2021
A method perfected by Cristiano Ronaldo, and it certainly works best when you view your personal brand as being bigger than the club you play for. Yes, this one's a cop out, but sometimes you got big plans, like going home and telling Cristiano Jr to film you doing sit-ups, that just can't wait. It's easy — storm off mouthing some profanities and don't make eye contact with anyone to prevent openings for conversation. You're home free.
#6. Placate The Head Ultra With A Bit Of Heidegger's "Destruktion"
This tip is especially useful if you're playing in Italy and have to go explain to the Ultras why you're such a disgraceful son of a bitch.
Take the leader aside and say, "You know, it's not Armageddon. It's a ball game that little boys and girls can play, and the direction of civilization won't be dictated by whether Lazio or Fiorentina wins. If anything, as Jean Baudrillard once said, 'Power is only too happy to make football bear a diabolical responsibility for stupefying the masses,' and never has that point been more obvious with all the unchecked greed and sportswashing. It might be for the best if the club suffers relegation after relegation before entering administrating and ceasing to exist entirely."
This will be sure to make him stop and think, or at least buy you enough time to employ strategy No. 5.
Another sure-fire way of turning ill will to adoration is an impromptu marriage proposal, as perfected by former France manager Raymond Domenech. Moments after Les Bleus had suffered an embarrassing group stage elimination at Euro 2008 after failing to win a game, Domenech fielded a difficult question on live TV about his future in charge.
"I have only one plan at the moment," he replied. "It is to marry Estelle, and it is only this evening that I ask for her hand in marriage."
For the people of France, this was surely just as good as being crowned European champions.
So if you're thinking about taking the plunge with your longtime significant other, a 7-1 defeat is the opportune moment. Otherwise you'll basically have to commit to the Knocked Up movie path of turning a one-night stand into meaningful relationship by proposing to a random fan.
#8. Malice At The Palace
Full footage of Eric Dier jumping over the stands. pic.twitter.com/ZAWNPpf3UH— betclever (@bet_clever) March 4, 2020
The philosophy here is pretty simple: if they're going coupe, you gotta go four door; if they're angry, then you've to be seething with savage hate. The uncontrolled violence of your rage will, with introspection, make supporters ashamed of their own behavior and questioning the need to ever resort to cruelty.
Of course you're now banned for 8 months, but at least no one had the audacity to call you a donkey.