Hair today and gone tomorrow, along with your mojo
About ten years ago, I was sitting outside in the garden, enjoying the first real sunbathing of the year, leaning against our back door, when I felt the back of my head go cold, as if a cold compress had been applied to it suddenly. "Heh up," I thought. "That's foony." I always say "foony" to indicate that it obviously isn't funny, just vaguely, possibly half interesting.
Over the winter, my bald spot - hardly a spot, really, more a dot the previous year - had grown big enough for it to feel icy when in contact with a colder surface.
I'd gone through life with a fine head of dark hair (oh, yes, and I have pics to prove it) and had not really taken in men's hair, ample or otherwise. But since that change-of-life moment, I have become awfully conscious of other blokes' hair, observing the thinnings, tracking the recedings. And I've come to a conclusion that I'd like to share.
To get ahead as a manager in the Premiership, you need a good head of hair. Look at Fergie, Carlo Ancelotti, Arsène Wenger, Harry Redknapp, Roberto Mancini and Kenny Dalglish - managers of what look like our top six clubs this season (Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, Man City and Liverpool). Observing them from all angles using mirrors and by getting up close to the telly and creeping behind them at post-match press conferences, I would say all of them are sans bald spots. Some are going greyish, like Wenger and Mancini, and some are a bit thinner than they were, like Dalglish, but no cheeky kid could creep up behind them and shout, "Baldie head!"
At the bottom of the Prem, we have a clutch of definite receders, if not actual baldies, such as Steve Kean of Blackburn, Ian Holloway of Blackpool, Tony Pulis of Stoke and Avram Grant of West Ham. Mick McCarthy of Wolves has some sticky-out, healthy-looking grey hair but it's stuck at the back of his head, about to slide down over his neck.
Why is this? Being a successful manager is the same as being a successful player - confidence is vital. Having a fine head of hair helps to make you decisive, unselfconscious, strong.
I think Rooney began to lose some of his confidence when his hair started disappearing. Berbatov's loss is less obvious, but since thinning at the temples he's been a lesser player. And since Torres stopped dyeing his hair, he's been worried about everything, really.
Rubbish, you say - there is no connection, how could there be? This is all bollocks. You'll be theorising next about their star signs or reading their tea leaves.
OK, then. Note how those six hirsute managers have deputies and assistants who are far from well endowed on the hair front. Fergie's deputy, shoved in front of the cameras when Fergie can't be arsed, which is most of the time, is the almost hairless Mike Phelan. Joe Jordan at Spurs is definitely thinning, though you wouldn't say so to his face, as is Steve Clarke at Liverpool. Hmm, not sure about Pat Rice at Arsenal. Wenger never lets him out unattended or appear in public, so it's hard to check his hairline. At Man City, you have David Platt, now a proper slaphead, while football's most noted baldie, Ray Wilkins, was assistant manager at Chelsea till he got the boot. And why? Lack of hair. Lack of confidence. Lack of respect. It's obvious.
So the best you can hope for with unfortunate hair is to be a deputy, not a leader. It eats into your soul: you get seen as second fiddle, an also-ran, and you begin to act accordingly.
Look at William Hague - never had a chance of staying leader, not with his bonce - or Iain Duncan Smith. Cameron is in for the long haul, till he leans back one day and feels that cold compress sap his mojo.
It's pretty obvious that José Mourinho's success is due to his fine head of hair. Gives him strength. He could walk into the Spurs job, once Harry ascends to England, or Fergie's.
There is one exception to the rule: Pep Guardiola at Barcelona. Must have been alarming as a young man to lose so much so quickly, yet clearly it has not hindered his progress. So far. But watch carefully. Mourinho is beginning to get him worried, hair-wise . . .