Arsene Wenger’s folly and the dull commentators
DISGRACE, says one paper. WENGER LOSES PLOT, another. As well as that, we had plenty of, ‘that’s really not the kind of thing we’d like to see.’ Well, if you take a look at the muck that is often served up in the Premier League for us to watch, you might start to disagree.
Arsene Wenger standing up for himself, finally, in a slightly less pathetic way than usual gives us all hope. Jose Mourinho has bullied him and held Arsenal in deserved contempt for the best part of a decade, and the look of genuine shock on his face when he realised Wenger was borderline miffed and wasn’t going to take it anymore was the highlight of the match.
You know what you have to do next though, don’t you, Arsene? That’s right, a proper Hollywood punch. Clock him right in the jaw so we can all see slo-mo captures of Mourinho’s flesh juddering around his skull. The commentators will tell you it’s the worst thing since the Falklands, but we’ll all be proud.
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Brendan Rodgers exploiting victory to blow smoke up his fundament
Rodgers is at the least a very good coach, with the potential to prove himself an excellent one, and perhaps also capable of spotting talent. This year was his first transfer window with more control, and he elected to buy young and trust his talents. While the win at the weekend wasn’t anything special, it was important to buy breathing space in the international week and continue to organise. All very encouraging.
But what is maddening is that Rodgers jumps on any success or perceived success in order to speak to the press as if he’s just invented football, or is a modern savant leading his crew in a way that has never been seen before. Just look at this:
“I encourage the strikers to get into the framework of the goal, wide players to come in and get into the framework of the goal and to break the lines.”
Or, in English and without the surfeit of hubris:
“I tell my forwards to get close to the goal.”
Well, aren’t you a genius?
Yaya Toure’s return to form
Toure scored the winning goal for Manchester City after months of struggling with his form. The highlights of the match did not do justice to the superiority of City’s overall play over Aston Villa. Villa have now started to struggle after an early start against poor sides, and have discovered the limitations of buying defenders on free transfers. The talk is that Toure has come back and proved his ‘enduring worth,’ which isn’t really true.
Toure has scored a goal against a fundamentally poor Villa side, and has yet to prove anything like useful this season at any other time. He is continuing to be linked with a move away, and he made clear in the summer that he and his agent are more than ready for a move, giving us the chance to make bad cake-based jokes for a month. Toure is not especially annoying - he’s just your typical footballer trying to make the most money in a slightly embarrassing way - but the press throwing themselves at his feet in order to have a new angle to write about, is.
Manchester United and Liverpool supporters working as pundits
As Manchester United took on Everton, Paul Scholes and Steve McManaman watched from the sidelines. At half time, Scholes referred to Manchester United as ‘we’. McManaman then watched a replay of Luke Shaw obviously touching the ball when he conceded a penalty, and said he ‘possibly’ touched the ball. Both reactions are understandable, but they are unjustifiable in the context.
If you are unable to put aside bias to such a degree you will simply deny the truth in front of you, failing to even admit a man kicked a ball despite evidence proving you wrong in front of your face, then there is simply no point taking work as a pundit. It is fraud.
The same goes for Scholes. His contempt for Manchester City and Arsenal has its basis in reality – especially Arsenal, who richly deserve criticism for specialising in failure – but he has yet to take on the Glazers, the cause of the misery at his old club.
Of course, the only thing worse than having ex-footballers on television as pundits is having journalists on to discuss things, so maybe we shouldn’t meddle too much.
Criticism of Mario Balotelli
He cost £16 million and has a consistent record of scoring. He wears funny hats and has interesting haircuts. People cannot square the two things, and seem to believe he is some kind of Italian Eric Cantona. He is not; Mario Balotelli is simply a restless striker who needs to feel comfortable to find his best form.
The criticism he has received, of laziness, doesn’t take into account the type of player he obviously is - one who mainly plays in the penalty box. Give him the ball and he’ll probably score, but don’t expect him to be the creative genius that he never was.
Balotelli has suffered more criticism than most in an underperforming Liverpool side, and it seems to be because people can’t grasp a foreign surname and occasionally brash behaviour does not make him a genius. Obviously, this is more interesting than the real situation: when the excellent Daniel Sturridge is back and the new signings settle in, Balotelli will go back to scoring 15-20 goals a season.
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