It’s a Mad Tea Party

There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger! Some say to survive it: You need to be as mad as a hatter… Which luckily, I am!

One of the more signficant contributions to pop culture ever made by Charles Lutwidge Dotson was giving Disney theme parks an excuse to create the Mad Tea Party ride. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s a fantastic contraption that sees park-goers voluntarily decide to hop into oversized, pastel-coloured tea cups and spin round and round until either their eyes cross or their meals are involuntarily ejected. Despite these potential unfortunate side effects, the Mad Tea Party is considered one of the most iconic rides of all of Disney’s tehme park attractions and still quite popular.

A mad tea party also describes what we often see when it comes to the constant movement of trainers in Bundesliga of late, quite often with Felix Magath as the Mad Hatter.

So often when the sacking season begins, we refer to it as the “coaching carousel,” but this doesn’t quite fit the description of how things take shape for managers in Germany’s top flight. A carousel simply goes around in a wide circle, rhythmically moving up and down. Someone gets on, such as when Michael Oenning did in March for HSV, once someone else had been chucked of the horse, to begin a ride. The problem here, is that the carousel only goes in one direction, typically at only one speed, and the movements up and down can be timed so that the rider can come to expect when he’s on a high, and when he’s on a low.

Instead, Oenning just got his eyes crossed after having been spun violently every which way but up during his time in charge of Hamburg and from matchday to matchday likely had little notion of how to predict a high or low. Instead, he hopped into that red-shorted tea cup vacated by Armin Veh and gave it a spin for what many might have thought would be a short ride as a caretaker. The club opted to stay with Oenning to begin this campaign, however, and after one point from their opening six matches, could no longer wait to see if he might be able to lessen his vertigo and see the way forward. Even though it is still early doors at this stage of the Bundesliga season, it was becoming apparent the 45 yr old trainer was about to lose his lunch.

What is the hatter with me? Have I gone mad? 

Also, on the carousel, there is usually a large pole the rider can hold onto for security as the seat moves up and down. In Bundesliga, as in all top flight European football these days, there is typically no sturdy pillar with which a manager can cling to for support when his ride is at its ebb. Even a previous record of title triumphs is often not considered secure enough for them to latch onto to ride out the down times. Rather, in these eighteen tea cups, with some moving faster than particles in a CERN accelerator, a poor runs of form are spun so quickly into clubs being in crisis and managers start to look slightly dizzy and lost as the ride keeps speeding up as they try desperately to slow it down.

In the end, those, like Oenning, end up being spun right out of their seats before they decided to end their ride in the tea cup.

Now, there is the announcement that Ralf Rangnick is stepping away from Schalke 04, citing health reasons. Having listened to Rangnick prior to his appointment as the Royal Blues trainer in April, this is not an incredible shock. After Dietmar Hopp began spinning his tea cup in the wrong direction with Hoffenheim, Rangnick sounded like a person who wanted to take some time away from the game, watch the Mad Tea Party from the sidelines for a spell, before hopping back on the ride.

Instead, when the Mad Hatter himself left and took his party back to Wolfsburg, Rangnick was coaxed to come back for another spin, and he accepted perhaps too early for his own health. Those final days with Germany’s richest village team appears to have made him a bit sick of it all, and probably he should have given himself more time to focus on personal matters he most likely set aside while he remained a guest at the mad tea party.

You’re not the same as you were before You were much more…”muchier” You’ve lost your “muchness.”

So for Rangnick, being a rather seasoned veteran of this particular amusement park attraction, knew he was experiencing that feeling one gets right before they are about to be sick again if they have ridden the Mad Tea Party more than once, and chose to get off the ride on his own terms. As Schalke look for someone to replace him on a permanent basis, the question now becomes if another established Bundesliga manager is offered enough of a sweetener to hop out of their current seat to take a spin in Gelsenkirchen or if another guest is invited to the party.

Either way, it’s a mad ride. And do YOU know how a raven is like a writing desk?

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