International break incoming (booo). We can do this. Just take a deep breath and suck it up, it’s only two weeks after all. Cheer up! These are my top talking points for everyone crying into their pints with no Premier League football to watch this weekend.
The ‘Playstation Football’ cliche
Oh hello. I’m an ex-professional footballer whose career peaked when millennials were growing up and getting into the game. I’m slightly too old and unfamiliar with the internet to be making awkwardly executed social media references in my punditry without it being a bit creepy, but why should that stop me? “Wow, that goal would make a great meme!” Shudder.
I think we can all relate to this and attribute it to any number of people we’ve seen commenting on games, and if you haven’t noticed it before you definitely will do soon. For me, the archetypal offender in this sort of thing is Rio Ferdinand. I would like to point out at this point that I have absolutely nothing against him – he’s clearly a very nice guy and he was a very good footballer. But every time he gets roped in for a bit of punditry it’s always the same…
Presenter: “Rio, the defending for that goal was awful wasn’t it?”
Rio: “Yes but look at that pass. You only ever see that sort of thing on Fifa!”
Presenter: “And what about the play leading up to the goal, Rio?”
Rio: “Oh, it’s Playstation football!”
Presenter: “And what about their hopes for the rest of the season?”
Rio: “The two most popular football games are Fifa and Pro Evolution Soccer.”
Presenter: “Will the manager be nervous after that result, Rio?”
Rio: “Sometimes I Tweet.”
Now, millennials don’t necessarily understand this problem. Most have been born into their world of different sized screens with bright colours and moving images and know nothing different from it. “Here you go, son. We’re out for a nice family meal so placate yourself by playing Fruit Ninja on mummy’s iPad which she carries round as a handy hit of sedation for whenever your restlessness would be mildly inconvenient.”
But for the ex-pro pundits like Rio, who remember life before the screens took over, traversing this brave new world can be difficult and awkward. This is especially true in the cutthroat landscape of broadcast media. One wrong move can turn away droves of viewers in a single go.
Come on Rio, artificially engage them with something you don’t really know anything about!
Rio: “Erm, Playstation football…”
Hordes of adolescent viewers: “Hey, Rio Ferdinand relates to us!”
That was a close one Rio…
So, the ‘Playstation Football’ metaphor is merely a meaningless attempt to artificially engage a screen-subservient audience that can only understand lucid references to the unfulfilling activities like ‘gaming’ around which all life revolves… right?
Well, maybe not. As someone sitting healthily on the periphery of that dystopian universe (I lie to myself), I do actually understand that idea of ‘Playstation Football’.
And it can be no more aptly applied than in a description of Manchester City at the moment. Fresh from another dissection at the weekend – this time of a turbulently inconsistent Arsenal side – the form that City have retained since the start of their as yet unbeaten Premier League season is dazzling.
Those with a nuanced understanding of ‘Playstation Football’ will know that it represents a type of football characterised by speedy, sharp and frankly unrealistic passing play that can carry you from one end of the pitch to the other in a matter of seconds.
The thing is, Manchester City have recently made that style of play decidedly realistic under Pep Guardiola. They carve teams apart and set about them from all angles. Kevin De Bruyne plays passes that could split the atom. And they score some very sexy goals.
So think before you judge the Rio Ferdinands of the world desperately trying to connect with the social media generation. Sometimes their awkward cliches are absolutely spot on.
Guess who’s back.
Tell your friends.
Yes, the Scottish Slim Shady has returned to the poisoned chalice of Premier League management. Clearly now devoid of all the bitter disappointment he can muster for the fans of the various teams he has been at in his post-Everton managerial career, he is now directing his attention to driving his reputation as far into the ground as possible.
A specialist at turning relegation-threatened teams into relegated teams, David Moyes has been out of work since he resigned from Sunderland at the start of the summer after seeing them dribble out of the top flight with an audible “plop”.
That was until Monday, when Moyes took the helm at West Ham from the sacked Slaven Bilic who was fired after the Hammers found themselves in the relegation zone following a number of disappointing performances and results.
I felt bad for Bilic. It was strange to me that West Ham should have performed so badly under him, as he always seemed very switched on and refreshingly honest for a Premier League manager. But in the dog-eat-dog world of football, the only reward of virtue is virtue. In fact, Bilic had barely cleared his desk before West Ham’s now retired one-season-wonder defender Alvaro Arbeloa stuck his oar in, tweeting that it was “better late than never” that Bilic had been sacked.
Anyway, step forward David Moyes: the man hand-picked by the great Sir Alex Ferguson to eventually lead the legacy of Manchester United’s greatest ever manager into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights – and a couple of years after that as well.
Moyes’s tumultuous career since his very long and largely successful time at Everton has been well documented. That’s probably why West Ham chairman David Sullivan neglected to mention Moyes’s time at United, Real Sociedad or Sunderland in his statement about hiring the Scot – because since he got going at United he’s been a bit of a laughing stock.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh. Maybe Moyes will surprise everyone with a miraculous turnaround of Hammers fortunes and deliver a storming lower-mid-table finish come the end of the season. Or will West Ham fans soon agree with Manchester United cult hero Andy Tate that Moyes really is “nuffin’, a fool, and a waste of time”?