A strange weekend. Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Spurs and Arsenal all managed to win in the same round of fixtures, and yet somehow Chelsea could only draw at the flailing Sunderland. Despite that weirdness, it has not prevented the institution of football and its members from finding objectionable ways to act. Here are five of them.
Michael Carrick fans
Manchester United comfortably beat Hull City 3-0 on Saturday, and a fuzzy feelgood factor fell over some of their fans. It was the first time they had three consecutive victories since December. Robin van Persie scored an excellent goal in the midst of yet another lethargic performance, and Michael Carrick played some of his trademark excellent mid-range passes. Of course, winning a game is enjoyable, especially after a year of David Moyes and the struggles after that, but some fans are in danger of getting carried away, especially with Carrick.
He was described by some as ‘outstanding’ and those who defend Carrick routinely seized on it as a vindication against his critics. The problem is that they are overstating their case, just as those who despise him have a tendency to do. Last season, Carrick was appallingly bad. He consistently failed to track runners, was much less capable of starting attacks, and also failed to display any sense of leadership. Perhaps the worst failing for a senior player in his mid-thirties, surrounded by others who couldn’t be bothered to lead by example either.
Against Hull, United and Carrick played well, which is nothing more than should be expected - Hull were willing victims. That is cause for celebration only if merely getting better is sufficient. Otherwise celebrating fourth place all seems a bit Arsenal.
Speaking of which, Arsene Wenger was especially Arsenal after their weekend victory. A few fans had displayed a banner saying, “Arsène, thanks for the memories, but it’s time to say goodbye.”
Which, as protests go, is about as mild as and as Arsenal as you could possible imagine, save for the banner being made out of free trade cotton. It’s also a reasonable request. It’s been the same for a decade, ten years where getting by has been justified with the Champions League, and nothing more. A consistency that guarantees no success or prospect of change. There is the absence of risk, which is clearly what many fans find so thrilling. So Wenger’s response was the worst it could be.
“Look, in the last 15 years we are qualified for the last 16 in the Champions League. Give me another club who has done that,” Wenger said. “I think we have shown extreme consistency and that’s all we can do. We’ve had ups and downs in the league – yes, it’s true, but you only come back again when the spirit is strong and healthy and united inside the club. And I think if you have shown such a consistency it’s because we have that at the club. We have values and we respect them.”
Simply, he is promising more of the same. The growing feeling is not that the same is not relatively impressive, nor that it doesn’t have its merits. The problem is for Wenger, is that it’s not good enough to know what is coming when it isn’t especially interesting anymore.
An excellent player, and an infuriating man. No doubt that is exactly what Chelsea fans, and probably others, enjoy about him so much, but it cannot be denied that there would be a zesty thrill in seeing him sent off for persistent d*ckery.
Glen Johnson’s brinksmanship is hardly his fault
Glen Johnson’s stock has fallen, it is fair to say, fairly significantly amongst his manager and also his club’s fans. Gifs have transposed his head onto the body of Carlton from the Fresh Prince, in a display of contempt and also the lack of imagination of this generation. The scope of references is narrow, and we are all paying for the popular monoculture now.
Johnson, however, did score a vital and brave winner against Stoke City at the weekend, putting his face on the line and duly taking a whack to the head. Well done, Glen. But that he was immediately questioned on his future at Liverpool, as if a single goal would alter the problems with his competence and form over the last year, was witless. It seems many in the press are absolutely incapable of acting to any event as if it has a context preceding it of longer than two days. At least we can be grateful, then, that it wasn’t Steven Gerrard who scored the winner, because there aren’t enough synonyms for ‘soul-destroying’ in the English language.
And an annoying thing the Premier League should really take note of…
Hereford United’s owners
As has been discussed elsewhere, and at length, by cleverer people and actual, proper journalists, Hereford United fans feel excommunicated from their club, and many are devoid of hope for the future. You can read more about the problems they face here, but given that a football club should, really, serve its community first and then only others if possible, it would be incredibly depressing, though inevitable, if it was yet another club used as a method to extract money in unbecoming ways.