Manchester City failed to beat West Ham, which meant we all were treated to a wonderful Sam Allardyce gurn. The thing that is often downplayed about Allardyce is that not only can he, occasionally, conjure up beautiful football when he chooses a few flair players, but that he is a beautiful person on the inside. When you see such a joy that pure and full, it is hard to deny the existence of the sacred, and when you see the abuse he is given, it is impossible to deny the existence of the profane. But aside from the undeniable beauty that is at the very heart of Allardyce’s soul, there were also annoyances. Luckily for the title of the blog, there were five particularly annoying annoyances. Here they are.
Louis van Gaal and Robin van Persie’ shirt
Somewhat inevitably, the newspapers today lead with Louis van Gaal LAMBASTING and BLASTING Robin van Persie for taking his shirt off, having scored an injury-time equaliser for Manchester United against Chelsea. You get the sense that after the match the conversation, if one happened between the two, went like this...
LVG: “Robin, I understand you were really excited, but it’s a bit daft to take your shirt off when you score.
RVP: “Yeah, I lost the run of things, I was just really excited.”
LVG: “I understand.”
RVP: “I’ll try not to do it again.”
...such was the vehemence with which Van Gaal said the choice by his striker was, ‘not so smart.’ Still, this is how the news works, so maybe - if we are very, very lucky - we’ll get a press conference next Friday when Van Persie is asked about taking his shirt off, and he says, “Yeah, I lost the run of things, I was just really excited.” What thrills.
While sneering on the internet is often very enjoyable, and 90% of what this regular feature consists of, sometimes it does go too far. GamerGate, for example, is simply an exercise in sexism and misogyny. Not quite as important as GamerGate, the reaction to Van Persie’s celebrations was slightly distasteful. Not Van Gaal’s declaration that the celebration itself was stupid, but those on Twitter who mocked Van Persie’s enthusiasm for scoring an equaliser.
To do so ignores the context that Van Persie had scored a vital goal after 18 months of underperformance. It ignores that Chelsea are top of the league. And it also ignores to score a last-minute equaliser (or winner) is a dramatic and thrilling conclusion to any match. Still, it’s all about proving yourself far removed from actually engaging in football, so tweet away.
5 Things We Learned From Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea
Luis Suarez and his autobiography
The Uruguayan doth protest too much, methinks.
Christian Purslow’s return to football
Christian Purslow is a superhuman genius powered by sporting prowess and humility. There is nothing that he can do, and you can see that Liverpool’s success last season was built upon the foundations that he left behind him. Now he is back with Chelsea.
For one, Purslow understands the vital importance of being available to run a club that is vital to its community, and to make sure the press and the club’s fans are kept up to date with crises and new developments. He is able to snap up undervalued talent with the acumen of vintage Arsene Wenger. He knows not to overpay players, which is crucial for teams like Chelsea who work hard to qualify for FFP. But most of all after the well-respected Ron Gourlay and the new professionalism at Chelsea, less affected by the whims of Roman Abramovich, he is regarded as the height of excellence by those who know plenty about the game.
The Mario Balotelli overreaction bingo
Far from the worst player against Real Madrid. Far from the worst player against Hull City. Mario Balotelli is a 24-year-old striker who has played just seven games in the Premier League amongst a struggling side that is trying to assimilate a fair few young and new signings into the team. They are doing that while desperately trying to organise in defence after years of problems, phasing Steven Gerrard out of the side he has been at the heart of, getting over the loss of Luis Suarez - the third best striker in the world - and without the injured Daniel Sturridge. All after the nightmare of The Slip.
Brendan Rodgers and a few journalists and tweeters have gone out of their way to make things as difficult as possible as they can for him. And while the press could have been predicted to act in such a way, Rodgers could not have, especially. He should have been prepared for the nonsense and had a strategy ready to deal with the constant attention. At the moment, because he can’t help but try to impress at press conferences, he won’t just ignore it. The sooner he learns that this is another occasion that fewer words from him on a subject might improve the perception of both him and his chosen subject, the better.
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