I am a man of words – if not always a man of my word (satire can do that to people) – so it is interesting to see football being dominated more than ever these days by words of wisdom and words that could have been delivered by Norman Wisdom.
You only have to look at a range of football websites, as I do from my own Football Ground portal, to see how football commentaries now have second lives as football comments. There are more threads here than in sewing bees, more stitch-ups than corrupt referees from the 1970s that UEFA continues to protect, and even more needle than can be found on football pitches themselves.
Tony Benn used to decry the personalisation of politics, urging the people to vote for policies rather than, well, people. ‘Personalities’ are everywhere, aren’t they? How many actually have any substance, apart from the substances they appear to have abused?
Wayne Rooney showed on Sky’s Monday Night Football that not only could he not button up a jacket properly or pat down the make-up from his wash bag, he was simply unable to say anything that wasn’t a cliché or a safe haven for stock phrases. I found myself willing him to say: ‘I’m over the moon, Brian,’ rather than constantly referring, depressingly, to pressing half-backs (which David Attenborough might have explained slightly better).
Apparently, Wayne wants to go into management when he retires as a player. Sky’s speech therapy department is preparing a reference.
Javi Gracia simply said ‘gracias’ to Chelsea’s Tiemoue Bakayoko, not only for being sent off but for also treating his Watford side to 30 minutes of hopeless touches and creating more chances for them than they managed themselves.
Antonio Conte thought Chelsea’s performance was very bad but didn’t know why. This is why he is a successful coach whose exorbitant salary should at least run to a shaver. He did explain that there had been some ‘difficult moments’ but nobody is quite sure what these were or in which year of Our Lord they might have occurred.
Gary Cahill – having cleverly saved his energy – came running to his manager’s defence by stating publicly that players needed to ‘look in the mirror’ following the defeat at Vicarage Road. Most players have compacts in their wash bags these days so maybe that explains why they don’t see the need to be compact on the pitch. At least they look lovely on Instagram. And Gary really, really does want to play for the next Chelsea manager.
Former Everton boss Ronald Koeman was unveiled as the new Netherlands manager on Tuesday, thus ensuring that the Oranje’s absence from this year’s World Cup will not be a temporary one. And he hasn’t even made any excuses yet.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has assured Belgian captain Vincent Kompany that he still has a part to play in their quadruple pursuit. We can only assume that this is down to Vince’s extensive knowledge of bandages and medical lotions which he is happy to bring to all the games in his wash bag and share out as required. Starry, starry nights eh!
Stoke skipper Ryan Shawcross, who is known to be keen on coastal archaeology – which is why he has surrounded himself with rocks and fossils – believes that their game with Brighton on Saturday is the biggest game of the season for the club. This is a bit short-termist in Stoke’s case as this accolade will surely apply to every one of their mismatches until the end of the season.
Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke has accused Arsenal’s new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of ‘withholding performances’ while his transfer was being negotiated. It should be pointed out here that Riyad Mahrez doesn’t read German or, at least, not well.
Tottenham striker Harry Kane has apparently said that being released by Arsenal at the age of eight was the ‘best thing that ever happened’ to him. Presumably he is pleased that Spurs not only paid the ransom but also gave him his own hairdryer which he keeps in his ‘Super Size’ wash bag that also doubles up as an inanimate and unmoving obstacle (sometimes known in football circles as a ‘lovren’) which he can practice tripping over in pre-match dressing rooms.
How lucky are we to be surrounded by so many words whereby the untouchable elite washes its dirty linen in public and then wonders why its senseless statements become the subjects of popular opinions which cannot be commented out of the football code?