February 14, 2012 § 1 Comment
So the Champions League is back. Are you excited? A bit? Yeah, me too. The football’s decent, though there is the ever-present sense that it’s all a charade, played out to line the pockets of men that are already insensitively rich. Plus, Heineken’s shite. « Read the rest of this entry »
December 30, 2011 § 19 Comments
I write this as the new year approaches and as Robin van Persie closes in on an utterly spurious and contrived achievement. Two goals against Queen’s Park Rangers tomorrow, and he will become the player to have scored “the most goals in a calendar year in the Premier League”, taking the mantle from Alan “Not As Funny As Harry” Shearer, a man who currently makes a living describing replays, though as he’s not yet ready to do it in sign language he just uses words. Not only is this record idiotic for reasons far too obvious to waste any words on here, but it is symptomatic of a wider and more sinister habit to which the Premier League is utterly addicted: the obsession with records, with the contrivance of meaning where there is none. « Read the rest of this entry »
November 10, 2011 § 13 Comments
Football is full of vacant concepts, bastard phrases referring to little and signifying less. Sometimes these are straightforward impossibilities: consider “England midfield” or “Portuguese striker”. Other times, they feel like they should be actual things, but are comical in their futility. “Gentlemen’s agreement”, perhaps, or “long-term contract”. But there can be few as depressingly useless as what is now brewing in Newcastle, the “fans’ backlash” against the plans to rename St. James’ Park as “Sports Direct Arena”. « Read the rest of this entry »
September 22, 2011 § Leave a Comment
When Cesc Fabregas left the club he loved for the club he loved even more, he was quick to point out that he would not have departed the Emirates were it not for his unique relationship with Barcelona. No other club would have done. The siren song of the Camp Nou chimed with that now-notorious DNA, and he was helpless to resist. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 26, 2011 § 8 Comments
A thought struck me while I was watching Manchester United against Tottenham on Monday night, moments after the ball struck a United hand and the beer in the hand of the buffoon behind me struck the back of my neck as he bellowed and flapped in incomprehensible, walrus-like fury. I assume he wanted a free-kick. Now, it wasn’t a free-kick, because it was obviously an unavoidable and accidental contact of ball and hand, but that didn’t stop most of the pub first going up, then chuntering about the injustice of it all. United getting the decisions again. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 11, 2011 § Leave a Comment
One of the unintended consequences of the recent civil unrest in London was the opening of a tiny wormhole in Whitechapel High Street, just outside JD Sports, as a result of a teenager attempting to steal a pair of shoes he was already wearing. This tiny rip in the space-time continuum closed almost immediately, but not before one page of a film magazine fell through, apparently from the date December 12, 2039. The only complete review is reproduced below …
Documentary review: The Man Who Killed Football (The Man Who Brought It Back To Life), dir. N. Spooner. Five stars.
In all of the history of football, it is difficult to call to mind a player quite as brilliant, ridiculous, nonsensical, and glorious, as Tiago Manuel Dias Correira, hailed in Portugal as The Hammer of The Gods, lamented in Manchester as The One That Got Away, revered in Barcelona as The Wizard (and feared in Madrid as He Who Must Not Be Named), but known to all the world, and probably the Martians too, as Bébé. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 16, 2011 § 12 Comments
So, that Avram Grant. He’s bobbins then.
Following the dismissal of the Premier League’s most wonderfully miserablist manager — a man once lampooned by Martin Kelner as “looking like he goes to work on a gondola of skulls” — it’s been open season on the poor sod. The well-connected on Twitter have been dripping stories of his organisational and operational inadequacy into the public domain, while those of us less in the loop have been reduced to making jokes about his resemblance to Baron von Greenback.
« Read the rest of this entry »
April 22, 2011 § 13 Comments
Bravery is one of the great intangibles of football. It is a quality demanded by fans and craved by managers; it oozes from some players, it is gapingly and shockingly absent from others. You know it when you see it, and you feel it when you don’t. It has been held up as the quality that separates the good from the great; the inspirational from the inconsequential; and, if you’ll forgive a brief lapse into lumpen cliché, the men from the boys. « Read the rest of this entry »
April 4, 2011 § 11 Comments
What is a football club?
Let’s first adopt a strictly material attitude and suggest that a football club is the sum of all its parts: players, staff, stadia, training facilities, badge, whatever. So Manchester United is Sir Alex Ferguson plus Wayne Rooney plus Ryan Giggs plus Paul Scholes … plus red shirts, white knickerbockers, and an eye-watering soul-sapping maelstrom of debt. Or, in abstract terms, any football club F consists of p1, p2, p3 … pn, where p is a component part of F and n is the total number of distinct component parts. Such a solution is satisfying in one regard, in that it makes a certain intuitive sense to suggest that a thing is made up of its make-up. It has a coldly ontological appeal. And it can apply just as simply to the more abstract concepts we often ascribe to a football club as well; the character of a club is just the interplay of the characters of all those component parts. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 28, 2011 § 2 Comments
Humanity is the keystone that holds nations and men together. When that collapses, the whole structure crumbles. This is as true of baseball teams as any other pursuit in life.
– Connie Mack
Theories about why sport attracts the attention it does are as plentiful and varied as Djibril Cissé’s haircuts, though some at least make a little sense. Sport has been proferred variously as an alternative to war — which is why I take a bayonet to Champion Hill — as a channel for the unhealthy energies of young boys — your John Terry joke of choice here — and as the opiate of the masses — on which this, this and this. Rather charmingly, Declan Hill offers a simpler theory: that the attraction of sport is that it is the one arena of life that is free from bullshit. That it is honest, open, fair and free; that the triumph of A over B is nothing more than the reflection of the relative levels of luck, ability, and performance.
Or at least it should be. « Read the rest of this entry »