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I’LL level with you. I’m a bag of nerves. A dead big bag of nerves. A Bag for Life of nerves.

The Big New Ground Blues will cross Stanley Park this weekend on the back of a great start to this calendar year, boasting one of the best records of any side in the division so far in 2017. The Reds, meanwhile, have seen a succession of injuries lead to a severely depleted squad, and will have to form some sort of patchwork midfield come kick-off at 12:30 on Saturday. People are actually touting Marko Grujic for a game, for Christ’s sake, even though he’s played about three games of top level football in his entire life.

That’s not to say I’m feeling negative about the whole thing, however. Previous occasions where I’ve felt edgy pre-derby have led to some of the greatest experiences I’ve had watching football. I was nervous that time in 2012 when our league form was abysmal but Steven Gerrard decided to score three anyway. I was nervous that time they thought they were the business and we beat them 4-0. I was nervous that other time they thought they were the business and we beat them 4-0. History dictates that home games against Everton are not to be worried about, but by God, that Phil Jagielka goal from a few years back has scarred me permanently.

Just win, please, Reds. Please. A post-90th minute scuffed finish preferably, but I’ll take whatever you’ve got to offer. As long as it ends in three points.

Video Killed the Atmosphere

For reasons that I do not quite understand, on Tuesday night this week, with my work all finished and a completely free evening ahead of me, I actually decided to watch an international football friendly. ITV4 took a break from showing re-runs of weird pre-historic crime shows to broadcast France v Spain from the Stade de France, and I inexplicably decided that watching it would represent a useful way of spending an hour-and-a-half of my exceptionally and increasingly short existence on this planet. I had one of those moments, about 50 minutes in with the score at 0-0, where I thought, “What am I doing with my life?”

Now, anybody who has seen the Terminator films (which are aired a minimum of seven times a week on ITV2, coincidentally) has always been aware that it was only a matter of time before the robots rose up and destroyed all that we hold dear. What we didn’t know, however, was that the very first thing the robots were coming for was goal celebrations. Watch this video:

https://twitter.com/itvfootball/status/846818410235383810

Antoine Griezmann, the absolutely boss bastard, gives the French the lead with a relatively simple goal. He and his team-mates head off to celebrate, Andy Townsend chats some absurdly mundane wham in the aftermath, and a full minute after the goal is scored, the referee disallows it for offside. There are thousands of people jumping around, enjoying themselves, and then they have it all taken away from once they’ve settled down again.

The vast majority of pundits and commentators seem desperate to herald the arrival of video technology as a major improvement in the modern game. But while fewer incorrect refereeing decisions will be allowed to stand, won’t the supporter experience suffer as result? Are we all going to end up having a look at the referee to see if he’s chatting to the video assistant before cheering a goal? Won’t the frequent pauses lead to flatter atmospheres and less to moan about in the pub afterwards?

Saying that, imagine the Ev thinking they’ve scored an equaliser this weekend, bouncing around for a full minute, and then having it chalked off. Would probably beat Gary Mac that, y’know.

I’ve talked myself around, here. Bring in all the technology. Bring it in now.

Ronaldo Statue is a bit of a Bust

You’re a footballer at the most famous and most successful football club in the world. You have been privileged to win every possible major trophy in your career. You’re arguably the most talented footballer of the 21st century. You’re a national hero on an unprecedented scale. Your island of birth wants to honour you. So, what do they do for you? They build a tacky bronze bust of you that looks like Raoul Moat, of course.

That’s right, the island of Madeira in Portugal has unveiled its bizarre tribute to Cristiano Ronaldo, while simultaneously naming its airport in his honour, and it looks absolutely fuck all like him.

Seriously, how has he managed to keep a straight face when he first saw it? If someone promised to pay ultimate tribute to me with a life-like recreation in bronze, and then they showed me a finished product that looked like a mutant trying to curl out a particularly painful turd, I’d tell them to fuck right off. But Cristiano stands there smiling, smiling the perfect smile, like he always does, as if he’s genuinely impressed with the metallic monstrosity gazing back at him.

Sculptor Emanuel Santos has defended his work, labelling it “just a matter of taste.” Mate, I’m sorry, but unless you were trying to depict Ronaldo in 30 years’ time after he’s gained three stone and had a series of debilitating strokes, then you have failed.

Rumours are abound that former footballer Paul Gascoigne has arrived at the scene with a fishing rod and some cooked chicken saying he is a friend of the Cristiano Ronaldo statute.

Strictly Hodge

Sometimes in life, opportunities by pass you by that could have changed everything for the better. The attractive person who sat opposite you on the train, but you didn’t muster up the courage to say hello to them. The exam you didn’t revise hard enough for that could have sent your career down a completely different path. The former England and Liverpool manager and national laughing stock who was offered a place on a prime-time TV ballroom dancing competition but turned it down.

Yes, all of our lives would have been greatly enriched upon watching Roy Hodgson dance the tango with a supple 20-something Latin American by dragging her around the dancefloor like a shopping trolley with four broken wheels. It should be one of the biggest regrets of our collective lives, of our generation, of this planet’s history, that this never came to pass.

There’s been lots of chatter in recent years about the TV licence money the BBC receives, and whether they spend it correctly, what with the likes of Jeremy Clarkson being paid annual seven-figure sums, until they finally binned him. But I would suggest, nay, implore, the BBC to pay whatever it takes to secure Roy Hodgson for next year’s edition of Strictly Come Dancing. Pay the price. No matter how much it is. The taxpayer will happily foot the bill. Nothing could unite this divided nation together in joy like Hodgson trying to do the lift from Dirty Dancing and having to apologise for dropping his partner.

Imagine him when the results came in. After receiving a mark of 5/40, Hodgson says, “What do you mean do my methods translate? They have translated from the Waltz to the Rumba to the Foxtrot to the Cha Cha to the Paso Doble! That was good as we have danced all season!”

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