Big apologies from Teesside for a lack of communication in the past week and a half. This has a little to do with the God-awful form of Middlesbrough, a bout of flu which has left me only slightly less weak than my beloved Boro, and the ever-creeping fear that there may be – I say may be – something more to life than sport.
Gareth Bale’s predatory free-kicks? Well, yes, I suppose it’s okay but it’s these damn silly lightweight footballs they use that move around 50p plastic jobbies from Seaton Carew beach shop. That Ronaldo header where he hung in the air like a… like a kestrel (?)… ah come on, he wasn’t defying the laws of physics. He’s just a good header of a football and that’s an art that Barcelona have almost dismissed from the game.
Of course I should be writing my 53rd blog about the end of Arsene Wenger – and it’s difficult to work out which end he talks out of these days. Arsenal could still come second? And Oscar Pistorius could still be found innocent. And the parmo is the healthiest food known to man.
It appears Wenger is unsackable. In fact the only thing Wenger’s won in the last eight years is the club’s bollocks and he holds on to them with a truly Alsatian grip. Van Persie, I read today, was sold to keep Arsenal in the black. And in the blackest of moods. Put simply they’re not very good. Much of that is down to the manager’s purchases: Mertesacker defends like a newborn foal; Podolski is as reliable as a hedgehog’s condom; and Wenger gives Walcott his centre-forward head on the same night as Arsenal’s back four start favouring more than the odd long ball.
Wenger can snap away like a strange grey spoddy prefect from a well-to-do grammar school but frankly he needs to start answering questions.
There are other managers stomping around the upper echelons of the Premier League who I wouldn’t mind covering in jam and leaving out near the bins on an August night – I’ll do it for Comic Relief! (Not Sport Relief – I suggested that I’d do a sponsored watch of Boro v Bolton 2004 for that bleeding charity – that was the sport bit covered. The relief bit had summat to do with Victoria Pendleton and I never heard back from them.)
Those managers are, in no particular order (much as their teams are) Roberto Mancini and Rafael Benitez.
Mancini had the audacity to claim last week that he was the best manager in England. He’s the best manager from England Who Looks Like He Has Been Photographed For A Headshot Outside A Continental Barbers.in 1987. In the close season this genius bought Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell. What do you get the club who has everything? I dunno, but neither of them two for a start.
This season he’s been slating his players for being crap. But I don’t think it helps when your very decent strikers have to play second fiddle to Loopy Mario, a man who could make Mother Theresa reach for the c-word.
Mancini is, however, a man with the same rational rigour as Stephen Hawking when compared with the Spanish toad in charge at Chelsea. I’m still in shock that he’s there. He said he’d never go; Chelsea fans despise him; he always knew it was short term. The reason he is there is twofold: greed, and arrogance. Any honest person in that job would pour a bucket of faeces over himself before even going in to work, for you might as well get your retaliation in first.
Unless Mourinho can be charmed back, there is no way forward for Chelsea at the moment.
But even then, these clubs will be pretty much the top five (plus Spurs). The good ‘uns, run by the realists, the Moyeses, the Clarkes, the Martinezes, they’ll all be scrabbling around for the crumbs of comfort that have fallen off the top table. Thank heavens for Swansea, I suppose.
So though the game itself remains addictive – and you only have to walk past a park kickabout to know that to be true – the people in it these days are so often the opposite: a bit repellent, delusional, and ridiculously wealthy to boot.
On top of it all, the man whose career is one of undeniable sustained brilliance – the best manager British football has ever know – is not the most graceful human being of all time. But at least he wins stuff.
And while I sit with me head over a bowl of steaming water laced with eucalyptus (that’s the stuff koalas eat and a lot of them have got chlamydia, so God knows how that’s going to help) and I listen to the jaded sneer of Alan Green, or the improbable insight of Andy Townsend, I realise that I have just about had it up to the back teeth with it. Football.
Then again, we might beat Chelsea tonight. And get promoted via the play-offs. So I’ll just wait a while before turning my back on the lot of them. Now where’s that bastard benylin?