Flint's Off on One

Anyone who bemoans the direction the game nowadays has headed in is deluded. What else did you expect to happen from the most popular global game? Players to still wear knee-length thick cotton shorts and knickerbockers? A half-time cigar and flat cap? Business, unfortunately, was always going to mix inextricably with the sport given its popularity. Once the devil’s bed had inevitably been lept into, the accoutrements of gluttonous glitz, glamour and self-aggrandization couldn’t be kicked out from under the sheets because they leave a bad smell.

I can understand many grating their eyeballs thoroughly then glazing them in vinegar at the mere concept of the garish FIFA gala award events – you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t to an extent. I thought about scripting this week’s edition of the column to the World Player of the Year garbage, but I realised it is something a little more nuanced that was truly irritating the hell out of me.

If Cristiano insists on perma-tanning his Adonis sculpture but still trains manically to preserve his physical condition as a premier athlete, then I almost say let him have his regular moments to massage his ego. Arrogance is, in my opinion, one of the most important characteristics involved in football. Fans love it, opponents open up endless debate in disgust at it, and it adds an intangible edge to mere training and dedication.

It is the pathetic arrogance of the spotty 13-year-old keyboard warriors that makes me want to deep-fry my nut sack. Listen as they harp on about how the number of personal and team accolades is somehow a determining factor in assessing the greatest is maddening. Why the obsession with numerical categorisation? You know any ‘Top 10’ list is by the very definition impossible to prove, right? Another spin-off resulting from the explosion of different variations and overall volume of data analysis that we could happily do without.

It is so embarrassing to watch this particular brand of garbage spewed forth on our various screens. I could list a whole bunch of examples that make an utter mockery of this OCD number-based fetish… so I will. Ryan Giggs never appeared in a major tournament so he ‘can’t’ be considered a GOAT? George Best also missed out, so is automatically considered inferior to Maradona, Beckenbauer and Cruyff because of it? Go get a plate of cookies and a glass of warm milk from mummy and go to bed you oxygen thieves.

Yes, I get the argument that performing in therefore highest-pressure matches is an indicator of mental fortitude. Trying to compare two individuals’ credentials from different teams, competitions and eras though is just plain thick. Managers, pitch quality, atmosphere, moods on the day; the list of factors that ought be considered thoroughly when entering these debates is endless. If one player wins three major trophies and a similarly-talented player wins four, why should that number of titles be a factor at all?

The ceaseless thirst for justifying one’s opinions is one of the least palatable side-effects of the modern game. Just accept that people will have different opinions you muppets, and stop desperately trying to make yourself the latest ‘ITK’ (see previous column…).

So next time you accidentally tune into the live stream of FIFA’s latest back-slapping extravaganza, don’t blame Leo Messi and his gaudy suits. Don’t lambast Paul Pogba’s ridiculous shaved monogram or personal emoji. Throttle the life out of the clueless moronic tosser who claims [insert top player’s name]’s latest cocky stroll to the stage actually means something instead. For as long as idiots keep lapping the tat up, the tat will keep on coming.