The Dummy's Guide To Football Small Talk

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On the Armando Ianucci shows, broadcast in 2001, Ianucci, playing a version of himself, couldn’t understand why those around him could converse so easily on topics that he had no idea about. He later discovered that in fact those people had an earpiece with someone feeding them the necessary information.

Such is the regurgitated way in which you hear many people talking about football, you could be forgiven for thinking that this exists in real life, especially in the corporate environment where most men feel the need to at least feign some sort of interest in the beautiful game.

So, if you are a little nervous about discussing football, the safest thing to do, as with any topic you know little about, is to keep things as general and inoffensive as possible, lest you arouse suspicion that you’ve little to no interest and/or knowledge.

Below is a guide on what to say should you find yourself in a tight spot and want to bring the conversation back to areas you’re more comfortable with – these are all such safe and well-trotted out opinions that you shouldn’t need to answer any difficult follow-up questions.

Video technology.

Hey, in theory I’m as up for it as much as the next man, but without piss-poor refereeing decisions what would we have to moan about at the pub?

Not only is this an entirely non-committal response to quite a complex issue, but it also implies that you regularly discuss football. And not just anywhere but at a pub, that great sanctuary from your non-football loving fellows.

Luis Suarez. 

Now, I don’t for a second condone what he did but hey, can you really see Liverpool sacking their one world-class player? No chance, they wouldn’t do anything that would mean getting less money, especially with those yanks in charge.

Moral outrage? Tick. Feigned weariness at the financial imperatives that govern modern-day football? Tick. Casual xenophobia towards an almost universally disliked nation? Tick


Don’t get me started. That Blatter doesn’t know his arse from his elbow – the only arse he knows is the imagined female one in those tight football shorts he tried to promote.

Slagging off a corrupt, money-making machine is very safe ground, and expressing disdain for Blatter’s backwardness will be challenged by next to no-one. Just hope nobody in the room mentions that Blatter has also overseen and pushed through progressive rules such as outlawing the back pass and the tackle from behind. That’s a slightly grey area that for simplicity’s sake is best avoided. And he knows it, the old tosser.

Slagging off a corrupt, money-making machine is very safe ground

The death of the 3pm kick off.

Oh, the whole thing’s a complete joke. I remember when every game was at 3pm – it was a lot simpler back then, nowadays you’ll only find out a day before that your games been moved to some ungodly hour.

Most of the above is untrue but the animosity towards the Premier League and FA is widespread enough that you’ll probably be fine. It also suggests a sort of nostalgia towards a purer form of the game, which tends to resonate with the majority of fans. With the exception of the ludicrous FA Cup Final kick off time, I personally do not really understand those who lament that there are fewer 3pm kick offs with quite such sadness. Granted it is often more convenient going to 3pm games but those same fans who complain about those times if they’re going to the game will be the same people celebrating that there’s a great double header of televised games when they’re unable to attend.

Players’ wages and behaviour. 

Most of them are over-pampered, overpaid lazy arseholes


No –one likes footballers, so you’ll be fine here. To really ram the point home maybe make an unfavourable comparison between AN Other premiership footballer and a 


sportsperson like Katherine Grainger/Ben Ainslie/Laura Trott (delete as appropriate).

Use the above and you should be fine. And if you’re really struggling just ask whomever you’re talking to what team they support and then groan as he or she responds, before adding something knowing like ‘you poor bastard’ while shaking your head.