Good Week/Bad Week In The Premier League: The Olympic Spirit Dies

After a week of building the Premier League, the hacks and pillock pundits were out in force to hammer people taking their first baby steps...

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From Arsenal to Liverpool via and Chelsea and Wigan, the media got it badly wrong this weekend...

This is a public service announcement…. With the arse.

Using the opening lines of The Clash’s Know Your Rights as a lead into a Monday morning football column could be described as tenuous. In the top 10 of Joe Strummer’s brilliant lyrical cannon, it deals with a lack of free speech, the abuses of power allowed of the police and aristocrats and the fact that everyone should be allowed to eat without intrusion.

Strummer, who died 10 years ago this December, was an angry man in his early days. Struggling against his detractors who used his relatively privileged upbringing as a stick with which to beat him, that he rose above that to stick to his guns and emerge as the voice of several generations shows you the measure of the man. I’m not for one second asking you to see me as a journalistic Joe Strummer. However my left-leg is pumping as I write this, sweat is pouring down my face and I’ve just snarled at the ticket inspector. Yep, I’m angry.

I’m angry at the press, commentators and pundits. I’m angry that they’ve spent two weeks filling their columns and broadcast minutes with oral spunk about how ace it is for football to be back. I’m angry that yet again they played the classic three-card trick of positivity, excitement and negativity. I’m angry that we listen. I’m angry that we pay.

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve all done it. But its reached critical mass. It’s time to stop the train

For every man who takes what the press and pundits say with a pinch of salt that they’d happily force down their cocks, there are the impressionables who listen to these paid opinion formers, who exist only to fill space and time, and plant the constant seed of negativity in their heads. Don’t get me wrong. We’ve all done it. But its reached critical mass. It’s time to stop the train.

The finger pointing and recriminations were already in full flow by the time I watched MOTD. I’d seen that Rodgers out was trending in Liverpool, I’d read that QPR fans were baying for Mark Hughes’ blood (they might have a point to be fair) I’d heard that the phone in wallahs had spouted their predictable nonsense to idiots like Robbie Savage.

Like anyone still possessing the full compliment of Luncheon Meat sandwiches and panda pop, I usually record MOTD and fast-forward through the bits where three idiots joust with guffaws and cliché. Yet as it was the first of the season, I gave it a shot. I’m going to leave dopey, twatty and dialed-it-in-again-y out of it. They know what they’ve done. After seeing what most Liverpool fans had seen, i.e. the game should’ve been finished after 20 minutes, and sat through the Fulham and Swansea mullerings, it came time for the Arsenal game.

It was when Olivier Giroud missed a chance in the final minutes that I went from half-cut to foaming

Any Arsenal fan will tell you it was a bit flat, it is after all to be expected. Captain gone, another on the way, press spnding far too much time on Wenger’s back and a squad that is a little bit short. It happens. But it was when Olivier Giroud missed a chance in the final minutes that I went from half-cut to foaming. From placid to enraged. “And Arsenal fans will be thinking Robin van Persie would’ve buried that,” said the commentator. WHAT? Are you mental? The same Robin van Persie who spent years blazing chances with his right foot over the bar and wide from similar positions? Idiots. Overpaid, senseless idiots.

This was just the icing on a very big spunk cake that dribbled down the throats of readers from Morpeth to Maidstone yesterday morning. You’ll have seen the headlines, you’ll have read it. Do not allow these people to form your opinions. They have to fill that space, and nothing sells like negativity and sensationalism.

On the flip-side of this two-headed coin of death was yesterday’s match between Wigan and Chelsea at the Dave Whelan Ego Dome. I arrived to the sofa with a plate of chicken wings and a few cold ones 12 minutes in and therefore missed both goals. After that, I saw a pretty even first half which, if Franco di Santo didn’t have a steel plate stopping messages travelling from brain to boot, should’ve been even at the break.

It was all about tickling Chelsea’s belly, giving Frank Lampard a reach around and back-slapping each other on another journalistic job done bad

From the moment one of Gary or Jamie said “Chelsea have been sensational,” I should’ve ripped the socket put of the wall. Chelsea, in attack, looked decent. Hazard’s awareness, touch and bravery show that if anyone is worth £32 million then it’s him. That price, I believe, is more than the entire Wigan team put together who, from where I was sitting, spent large parts of the game passing Chelsea into submission. I thought Victor Moses was as penetrative as Hazard and spent most of the time imagining what Martinez could do with one of the best squads in the land. Nobody else, it seems, cared. It was all about tickling Chelsea’s belly, giving Frank Lampard a reach around and back-slapping each other on another journalistic job done bad.

It’s too easy to say that I shouldn’t watch it. I love football, love watching 22 players go at it and pull off passing moves that your minds eye couldn’t even dream of. While The Olympics was on, the players who have worked as hard as any athlete to get where they are lest we forget, got shellacked by many of the journalists who wouldn’t have jobs without their existence. We got sent several of these articles but made a decision not to publish them. The noise was slightly tempered in the run up to this week, then they got back on the horse and said how ace they were only to spend Saturday night sharpening knives and putting black marks over the careers of new players and managers who they had built up. This is not a new thing, but it is a new season and I’d naively hoped that London 2012 would still be fresh and they would applaud the weekend’s positives louder than they would shout about the negatives. I must have dropped my picnic basket.

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