SHORT and sweet intro this week because I’ve very little to say about the Reds at the moment.
They were crap for bloody ages and then good against Spurs, so it was nice to win a game of football after what felt like millennia.
I look forward to the next two weekends off before the inevitable dropped points against Leicester, a gang of lads who seem to have realised that their lives will never again reach the joyous pinnacle they ascended to in May 2016, and have now completely given up. Fair fucks to them, I say.
Clatts All, Folks
— Indy Football (@IndyFootball) February 16, 2017
I woke up on Thursday morning and something didn’t feel quite right. I opened the blinds and peered out of my bedroom window and everything looked ostensibly the same, but slightly different. The grass portrayed a duller shade of green. The trees were a little more withered and lurched towards the ground more than they had done the day before. A thin layer of mist covered the sky, rendering it neither bright nor truly overcast, as if caught in an existential purgatory between the two. The component parts of the Earth were all still there, the planet still turning, but to my eyes it had been darkened, muted in some way.
A feeling of dread came over me at the sight of such faux-dystopia. The pit in my stomach felt never-ending, and my skin itched as if covered in dragonflies. I opened Twitter and quickly realised the root cause of this melancholy new world. This was the worst day of my life so far. There it was, written in black-and-white, glowing back at me in the mid-morning gloom. Mark Clattenburg, Clatts, my one true love throughout the otherwise frigid 22 years I have suffered on this planet, was leaving me forever.
All over. Coldly explained to me in a Premier League press release. He was leaving right away for the Middle East. For the money. Perhaps he’s had enough of the stresses of the job. Perhaps he wants to earn enough to set himself up for life. Perhaps he no longer wants to mollycoddle lavishly rich man-children screaming abuse back in his face. Whatever the reason, it hurts.
I spent the immediate aftermath desperately thinking of any way to potentially keep him here. If I delivered a heartfelt monologue at the airport, would it change his mind? If money is the issue, surely we could organise something to change that? Remember that bus that said we’d have £350m going spare these days? Couldn’t we use that to protect this country’s most important asset?
But his mind was definitively made up.
Last night I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned for hours on end, in a semi-conscious state of tear-ridden despair the likes of which I never before knew were possible. Memories raced through my mind: the Tony Hibbert red card, the third penalty at Old Trafford, that weird lizard-tongue licky thing he did in the final when he booked Pepe. I knew things hadn’t quite been the same since the rest of the world began to take note of his peerless radiance, as I had done all those years before, but among the good and the bad, I still felt that he was always there for me when needed.
But now no longer. Not even a proper goodbye. I eventually coaxed myself to sleep, rocking back and forth in the corner, mumbling along to a song that spoke for my soul in that moment:
Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more you open the door
And you’re here in my heart and my heart will go on and on
Goodnight, my sweet Saudi prince. You will never be forgotten.
Keeping Up Appearances
One of the most integral aspects of becoming an elite-level footballer in the 21st century is the creation and promotion of self-brand. As evidenced by the reveal of Paul Pogba’s own emoji a few weeks ago, the days where a player just had to turn up, score some goals, and leave his hair to grow down to his shoulders are long gone.
Image is now as important as ability. In spite of his talent, Cristiano Ronaldo would not have drawn the attention of Real Madrid and commanded a fee that almost doubled the previous record so readily had he looked like Luke Chadwick instead of a glorious piece of Renaissance marble sculpture.
Asamoah Gyan is one of 46 players given a written warning about their 'unethical hair'
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 15, 2017
But the good people at the United Arab Emirates Football Association are not so happy about the rise in individualism based on aesthetic, and are dishing out written warnings to players they deem to be sporting “unethical” haircuts on matchdays. You might even say there’s a bit a bit of a hairy situation going on right now HAHAHAH-*a single gunshot rings out*.
So yes, apparently anybody with only certain parts of their heads shaved, or someone with just an unkempt mop, is contravening the rules of the league and could end up serving a suspension if they don’t pay a trip to the barber sometime soon.
I dread to think what they’d make of ket wigs over there. Banned for life, I reckon.
— Telegraph Sport (@TelegraphSport) February 13, 2017
The good ol’ MLS however, in the red-white-and-blue home of unabashed capitalism, is right at the forefront of turning players into marketing tools. The Philadelphia Union, which sounds more like a Civil War army regiment than a football club, are actually advertising for a full-time tattoo artist to ink players and supporters with club symbols on the regular.
Now I’m not sure how many ardent Philadephia Union supporters there are out there, but I’m guessing whoever they hire is going to have a bit of free time on his hands. Also, American soccer teams very rarely last more than 10 years anyway, so you’d be best off getting a henna instead, so that when the club inevitably folds or is transported hundreds of miles away, you’re not left with the indelible stain of a defunct ‘franchise’ tarnishing your skin forever.
Arsenal Fans’ Arsene Anger
It’s fair to say that Liverpool fans have had a relatively rough time of it recently. After months of unnerving unity and calm in the ground and on the internet, old arguments have resurfaced, rampant joy has been replaced by unbridled vitriol, and at one point we actually had to watch Connor Randall play football.
But please spare a thought for the poor lot who follow Arsenal everywhere. Every single year they could tell you the exact route and final destination of their season in August. The journey never alters. They always start in a middling fashion, pick up quietly across the Autumn, look handily placed in January and then completely collapse around February/March, and spend the rest of the season arguing about Arsene Wenger’s contract and net spend figures, with only the possibility of one of the lesser domestic trinkets to placate them in the short-term.
We’ve had a chat about Arsenal Fan TV on here before, and it’s back once again with an absolute classic following the Gunners’ 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena this week.
This particular man, known as “Troopz”, I believe, is clearly no Wenger fan. He visibly warms up for his two-minute rant, screwing up his face and tilting his neck around as perennial question-asker and refined host Robbie asks for his views on the game. And my word, he absolutely flies into it.
If the feller had a pound for every time he said “blud” or “fam” in this interview, he could buy out Stan Kroenke and install whoever the fuck he likes as head coach of the club. He bombards Robbie with all manner rage-induced hyperbole, the anger building as we watch, us the audience sat at home watching. All of us like weirdos who get turned on by football fan fury instead of porn.
People often ask who your heroes are, or who you most admire, and everybody says footballers, or musicians, or artists. But you know who I most admire in life? Robbie off Arsenal Fan TV.
Because throughout all the chaos going on around him, Robbie’s always there. Standing tall. Stoic as ever. Unflustered. Keeping the peace. He’s there week, after week, after week, listening to the insane tirades of grown men, all of them dressed in an amount of Arsenal club shop gear that would embarrass a five-year-old, screaming in his face about the lack of leadership in a centre-back pairing made up of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi.
One supporter has gone one step further this month, penning and performing what I am reliably informed is known as a ‘diss track’ in grime circles. Have yourself a bloody good listen to this:
— سرمد (@sarmadbdk) February 6, 2017
Now, I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it is a crying shame that the Grammys aren’t going to roll around again for another year, because this sonorous masterpiece is worthy of winning every music prize ever conceived.
I’m not messing here, this is legit good IMO. It ramps up with the line “In Arsene we trust, but on the first day we lost, I swear it was tough,” with the rhythm becoming more determined and the plosives being expulsed with the kind of force that demonstrates this young man means business. I think my favourite part, however, is the line, “Ramsey right mid…. That don’t work!” because he appears to have completely forgotten to adhere to any kind of melody or rhyme scheme, and begins just shouting out random tactical advice whenever it comes to mind.
His frustration is most palpable as he reaches his crescendo with a bout of repetition. “But Wenger paid one pound… for Suarez… Wenger paid one pound.” The words which will echo in the minds of a generation of Arsenal supporters.
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Ben Johnson - 27 March 2017
- The Big Interview – Luis Garcia
The Anfield Wrap - 25 March 2017