By Alex Netherton and Andi Thomas
It’s been another woeful weekend in the Premier League. Chelsea might have won comprehensively (well, they look like they will at the time this is being written, and I’m sure we all agree that it’s unlikely that we’ll bring ourselves to double check before filing). Manchester United failed to overcome the limitations placed upon them by Ferguson, which in turn have been placed upon him by his own stubbornness and the Glazers. Manchester City showed the determination you have the right to expect when you spend one billion pounds garnered solely off the backs of the exploited masses in the Middle East. (Retweet that, David Conn!) Arsenal have exited one crisis in preparation of entering another one next week. The rest of the league continued to happen. But you know what? It’s Christmas! Christmas! Christ!
So, in remembrance of he who made lame beggars walk and blind men see, let’s imagine a few Christmas presents that all of us, victims of the Premier League, should be asking for.
1. The end to the murderous craze for kicking the ball at footballers’ heads when they are on the ground
Granted, it might have been a craze that began and ended on Sunday when Ashley Williams blasted the ball at Robin Van Persie, and yes, it wasn’t lethal in the actual meaning of the word, but this is a serious issue. It must be serious, because Alex Ferguson, instead of talking about the limp, wan performance by a number of his players, especially red-faced Wayne Rooney, decided to talk about what seemed to everyone else to be a mere footnote of the game, but clearly must have been a life-threatening, vile escapade of evil by the Swansea player. Ban this sick filth before someone dies!
2. The end to claims that there are no easy games in the Premier League
Yes there are, against Reading for example. When even the pedestrian nonsense served up by fringe-and-scarf-abuser Roberto Mancini is enough to get three points with a last minute winner, you have to say that Reading are nothing but a bunch of feckless chumps. The sooner they get relegated, and proper teams like Hull come back to the Premier League, the sooner we can get some competition back in the league.
3. A Manchester United specific wish – Ronaldo comes back to Old Trafford
With Manchester United stuttering, and Real Madrid plain dead, Ronaldo could be an effective purchase and willing to go. Luckily, as Ferguson has never tired of saying, United still have the Ronaldo money set aside for when needed, and the Glazers have never refused to help him whenever he’s approached them when going after a player.
4. The return of Roberto Di Matteo
Chelsea fans have demanded it throughout the last month, and their frustration is understandable. A dreadful 8-0 win against Aston Villa has done little to quell their worries. (N.B. This is isn’t? a cheap joke. This column confidently predicts that this victory against a dreadful Aston Villa, up-on-sticks broke, is a fluke, and that Chelsea are well capable of descending into ludicrous infighting and bizarre executive decisions. Rafael Benitez is a dreadful manager now despite this result, and is out on his ear in the summer.)
5. Homophobic abuse monger Suso to be permitted to wear 7.5 on the back of his shirt
Because if anything is going to teach Brendan Rodgers a lesson, it’s being faced with his work.
6. The return of football as something to be enjoyed, and not a self-regarding exercise in showing off with ludicrous references to mythology, Bielsafication, red zones, low blocks, and excessive attention to tactics. Football used to be fun. Remember fun football? When you’d talk perceptively about the game as a whole – ridiculous goals, reactions, tactical decisions, refereeing decisions, and nonsense that stupid fans would spout. When you’d get excited about teams trying to score goals and when managers would see flair as something to indulge and encourage instead of something to be suspicious of. When pundits wouldn’t be overly contrarian about the greatest self-made talent of his generation purely to prove how much cleverer they were than you. When vertical meant upright. When midfielders would boot people up the arse and the receiver would get up without a care in the world, and boot him back a couple of minutes later, instead of believing something actually bad had happened. When racism wasn’t excused as a cultural misunderstanding. When racism wasn’t excused depending on which club you supported. When inconsistent wingers weren’t able to demand huge new contracts after putting in one decent game. When Twitter didn’t exist. When internet comments were rightly regarded as the location of the lunatic, rather than something that has to be chased by the online version of newspapers in dispiriting dance less dignified than a dog eating its own shit. When colour writers for broadsheets were still writing in understandable English and weren’t showing contempt for the average man. When people wanted to enjoy themselves rather than show off. When wit was appreciated by newspaper readers. When life wasn’t so utterly, utterly bereft of joy and when football wasn’t the cause and symbol of an unhappiness felt at the general state of the world.
Alex and Andi both feature in the Surreal Football Magazine, available in all formats including hard copy. You can order a copy at www.surrealfootballmagazine.co.uk. It rivals, and ultimately beats, Shakespeare in terms of quality.