Sabotage Times, We can't Concentrate so Why Should You?Sabotage Times, We can't Concentrate so Why Should You?

Good Midweek/Bad Midweek in The Premier League

by Owen Blackhurst
11 November 2010 16 Comments

The world awaited, the nation expected and Manchester crackled with venom. Then the whistle blew, and all we got was 90 minutes of nothing.

Bad midweek for football: The Manchester Derby

Last night, after the tepid 0-0 draw at Eastlands had finished, I sat inert with my laptop balanced on my thighs. I sat there for so long that my bollocks started to ache and I began to panic that I had given myself testicular cancer. So I got up and walked around a bit. Smoked a couple of fags I didn’t want. Had another coffee. Grinned when I realised Kenny Dalglish had gained 10000 followers on Twitter in four hours. Stroked the dog. Went for a piss to check my aching knackers. Had a game of Texas hold ‘em. Chatted to my wife. Made her a sandwich. Created a playlist. Smoked another fag. Worried about my bollocks a bit more.

Then I watched MOTD. Blew a kiss at Ian Holloway for being proud in defeat. Saw Joey Barton punch Morten Gamst Pedersen. Silently called him a cunt and hoped for a slow death involving torture when his time comes. Looked at Andy Carroll. Hoped that they fuck each other to death with that evil metal dildo from Seven. Thought about Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in a box. Smiled. Saw Fabregas’s tackle. Winced. Worried that my nose is as big as Mick McCarthy’s. Checked in the mirror. Sighed with relief.  Laughed at Kieron Dyer’s silly inward folding face. Imagined Avram Grant in a brothel. Panicked when I got a twinge in my knackers at the same time. Opened a beer with a lighter and cut my finger. Swore. Fell asleep. Woke up at 3am, freezing cold in front of the TV. Went to bed. Angry dreams.

The reason for this crippling inertia was, of course, the game. Not the actual football on show, as bad as it was (if any writer calls it absorbing they should hang up the keyboard and go and work on an oil rig). I’ve seen hundreds of awful football matches, we all have, it comes with the territory. I struggled to separate the mental wheat and chaff to write any sort of article because I was angry, angry at what this game represented, furious that a local derby of such repute, that last season produced some stunning displays of football, was now rendered nothing more than a battle for balance sheet bragging rights. A decimal point derby if you will.

United fans know that the club is in a deep financial quagmire, even the most ardent supporter would be unable to truthfully argue that they are as good a side as three, two or even one year(s) ago. Because of the debt leveraged against the club by the Leprechauns, United, a club with a proud history of devil-may-care attacking football, are a team in decline. So where once, when they were top dogs, Fergie would have started with two up top and really gone after City, he couldn’t afford to. They couldn’t afford to lose because, had they, it would have been another nail in the coffin of their dominance. But fair play to Fergie, they at least looked to attack with regularity and it is testament to his approach that they were better in possession and more technically adroit. That brings me onto City.

Because of the debt leveraged against the club by the Leprechauns, United, a club with a proud history of devil-may-care attacking football, are a team in decline.

I keep hearing that Sheikh Mansour is possessed with incredible business savvy. Poppycock. Let’s imagine you were a billionaire without a driving license. You assemble a garage with the sole intention of it being the best and import cars from all over the world, often at inflated prices, but it’s all part of a master plan.  Then, presumably suffering from brain freeze after a session on the hookah and the old apple baccy, you decide on the final piece in the plan. You hire Mrs. Doubtfire as your driver.

As long as I have a hole in my ass, Man City will struggle to win the league playing with three defensive midfielders. When Yaya Toure is your attacking midfielder you’re in trouble. He’s a good player, Toure, and his ball-carrying with that long stride is great to watch. But he hasn’t got deftness of pass to make it count. That he tries is commendable, he at least looks like he is going off plan, but he is the squarest block of African teak hammered into a bolt shaped Italian hole. Mancini claimed after the game that he was trying to win the game. Bullshit. He was trying not to lose. He was protecting a point. At home. Against a team he could’ve possibly beaten and been cock of the walk. Pride and passion replaced by profit and loss.

You’d think that while this was going on, the commentary team would’ve added some insight, or even had their chagrin prickled enough to speak the truth. But no. In the first half, Gray and Tyler seemed joined together in their mutual desire to see a fight break out to ‘liven things up’ and in the second they let us down. When the clock ticked to 60 minutes they went into defensive mode, saying things like, “well, United can be happy with a point, they’ll still be unbeaten.” Can they? Can Manchester United, the vanguards of British attacking football over the last two decades, really be happy to slip further behind Chelsea? Can they hell. This was Gray playing his part in protecting his myth that the Premier League is the best in the world. And it stank.

Good midweek for football: the status quo is back.

Thankfully, elsewhere there was some good football on show last night and the night before. Goals, drama, late equalisers, stupid refereeing decisions, bad tackles and more. A league that has been all over the shop has begun to settle down and take shape for the rest of the season. Chelsea will win the league. Blackpool won’t go down, hopefully. Liverpool will score goals through Gerrard and Torres and then invite pressure for 70 minutes (I thought Rafa had gone?). Joey Barton will get banned. Everton will fight manfully and finish seventh. Wolves will continue to play well without scoring. Arsene Wenger will continue to suffer from cataracts. Newcastle will finish in the top half. Fulham will struggle. The world will still turn. I may emigrate.

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Zorba 12:08 pm, 11-Nov-2010

Love your work!! Great article! Carefree!

Shane 12:23 pm, 11-Nov-2010

With the blast of the final whistle I sent a text out to all my Manchester supporting pals (largely located between Weymouth and Euston) simplay saying "bored". The amount of replies I got saying "happy" was flabbergasting. If it was seconds before kick-off I could understand people looking at the fixture and thinking a point would be a good result, but after watching that turgid 90 minutes "happy" would be one of the least likely words I would use. Christ, some of Liverpool's early performances have put me in a five-day strop so far this year. I hope that fans aren't being blase to something that could explode in the same manner it did at Anfield. (Actually, on reflection, I hope they are...)

Steve Black 12:34 pm, 11-Nov-2010

'Decimal point derby'. That's what I'm calling it from now on. It was the same last in the corresponding league fixture last year. Mancini sets up his team not to lose at home until Scholes breaks the citizens heart in the 90th minute.

Aj Smith 12:37 pm, 11-Nov-2010

Top read again, fella.

Ken Bove 12:39 pm, 11-Nov-2010

Here here

Umberto Bongo, Congo 1:43 pm, 11-Nov-2010

Those clean sheets did wonders for my Fantasy League team though. Is it just me that is more excited by Fantasy Football these days than the real thing?

Bluer 2:08 pm, 11-Nov-2010

Great, peppery rhetoric.

Simon Lucas 2:09 pm, 11-Nov-2010

Brill once more. But Poppycock?

Owen Blackhurst 2:17 pm, 11-Nov-2010

What's wrong with Poppycock?

Bluer 2:17 pm, 11-Nov-2010

Also, is it just me or does Yaya Toure look like a baby T-rex when he's running? Arms and wrists high and tight, slow and fast simultaneously...?

Dan 2:18 pm, 11-Nov-2010

The bizarre thing with Manchester City is that they signed one of the best attacking central midfielders of last season in James Milner, but are insisting on playing him on the wing. Milner in central midfield with Toure and De Jong, and Johnson, Silva and Tevez in attack would be pretty good to watch, but they'll probably have to sack Mancini before we see it.

dave 4:14 pm, 11-Nov-2010

Fortunately I missed both the game and the 'highlights' Cracking piece.

jill clarke 8:17 pm, 11-Nov-2010

5 star O,even though my football knowledge is negligible the wit of your dialogue makes it interesting

Craig 9:31 am, 12-Nov-2010

Quite an enjoyable piece. Match certainly wasn't much for exciting football. Tense though. Still how many times have we read the phrase "United in decline" over the past dozen years. Eventually you have to give Ferguson the benefit of the doubt.

Danny Last 1:13 pm, 12-Nov-2010

5 (five) FIFA stars for a cracking read. The decimal point derby it is from now on. Splendid.

Jamie 4:14 pm, 12-Nov-2010

That's why Citeh have those three stars on their shirts - in honour of their unbreakable three-man defensive midfield. It's the same reason, as you so brilliantly point out, that they won't win anything.

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