Whenever I’ve been struggling with the important things in life – a libido that still sees Anna Ford as an attractive woman; a kitchen without kitchen roll, and car drivers who perceive the using of indicators as optional extras – I try and put myself in the shoes of others who appear to be having a harder time of it than I am.
This can take place in the bath – with an imaginary Anna, obviously; while watching Man City win again and drifting on to a different plain entirely, or when examining football videos, courtesy of Sky or the BBC.
While Sky’s only purpose is to make money at any cost, the BBC remains true to its Reithian origins and its formation on 1st January 1927: ‘to inform, educate and entertain.’ If we adopted truly Boolean logic, we would say the license-payer deserved all three of the above but usually, we get just one or two out of three. Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to be struggling and yet inform AND educate AND entertain.
Imagine my delight when Alan Pardew seemed to feel the same after West Bromwich Albion’s latest defeat – this time to mighty Watford. In my reverie, I thought I heard Alan say what he really felt:
“One big mistake cost us! Some people think that was appointing me as manager. It’s a shame, but I have been wondering the same thing myself – especially when I walk down the Corridor of a Hundred Mirrors which I believe Ron Atkinson had put in.
Tony got to go to Middlesbrough where at least he’ll be getting free petrol and, if he doesn’t choke on the smoke, will be applauded for not being Aitor Karanka. It’s a win, win situation for him – even if the players prefer to win, then lose, just to make a game of it.
I think he probably saw what was happening around him (and that’s the advantage of working at the Hawthorns because it’s 551 feet above sea level and therefore the highest football ground in the UK) and realised that open play was never going to work here. The players are much too slow – in or out of stolen taxis – and would perhaps perform better on a sloping pitch, at least in the first half. This hasn’t changed much: back in 1879 we were known as West Bromwich Strollers; however, our fans do call us other things as well.
People here in the Black Country thought that I would be a great fit as Baggies manager because I come with a lot of baggage. I can tell you now that my Louis Vuitton days are well and truly over – especially after that incident at passport control when I was mistakenly identified as a successful football manager. It’s a shame, really.
No, you have to remember that the Baggies nickname is sometimes thought to come from the men (with police escorts, unlike the Skodas they use these days) who carried large cloth bags containing the takings on match days, around the ground to secure offices under the main stand. Obviously, not having won in the league since August, our attendances are down a bit, so we ask the matchday mascot to leave the purse under the Bryan Robson Mat just outside the medical room these days.
It’s a shame that things haven’t worked out for us yet but, at the same time, no disgrace in coming to one of the big clubs like Watford and still arriving on time, in spite of the M1. Watford are used to playing with roll-on, roll-off managers – sometimes during the match itself – and we have to look at that and learn from it. I think that’s why our Chairman headed for the Chinese this week, even though he knows I prefer pie and mash.
I feel a bit sorry for the players, actually. Having put up with set-pieces under Tony they seem to have gone completely to pieces under me. Jonny Evans hasn’t helped by spelling his name without an ‘h’ and Chris Brunt, among others, has already made it clear to me that he can’t bear things the way they are.
It’s a shame, because I walked through the Jeff Astle gates this morning and met a group of fans on the stadium tour, all of whom insisted on my heading an old-style football back to them for just over an hour (which took about sixty times longer than the tour itself) just to show their commitment. Thankfully, it didn’t mess my hair up too badly.
They seemed to know their history of Albion and understood that fifty years without a major trophy is nothing really.