QPR's Adel Taarabt, Wigan's Victor Moses and Hamburg's Michael Mancienne share a dubious honour - being too good for the Championship but not good enough for the Premier League...
Sport is merely Hierarchy running around in its underwear. And nowhere is that more apparent than the school playing fields. I'm sure you recall. From the day you arrived to the day you left, you had your place.
At wrong end of the power structure sat the physically inept - dignified enough not to even bother trying.
Next up: the average, the expendable. Cannon fodder is about the most flattering term I can muster and it's the cohort to which the great majority belonged.
Then came the gifted; all coordinated limbs and awareness, capable of running and considering a ball simultaneously without bursting into flames or swallowing their own neck. Hateful creatures.
And finally, at the very summit: the biological freaks. Rocking a 5 o'clock shadow at First Communion, tipping 6ft by the age of ten - you know the type because every school had one. Ours was a titanic Irish navvy by the name of Brian Maunder. An 11-year-old behemoth with a precocious abundance of body hair so dense it was practically a pelt. While most of us shielded our miniscule Biebers behind A-team bath towels, Brian paraded round the boys changing room unabashed, a frankly ludicrous dong slapping back and forth off his thighs as they played swingball with his bell-end. Rugby practice with the f**ker was an assault of body and spirit akin to facing Mike Tindall crashballs for an hour before being debriefed in a sweat lodge by Ron Jeremy. Not good.
Then Genghis (a nickname he chose for himself – we didn’t argue) got put forward for county trials and the legend died. Three fractured ribs and a knee so comprehensively borked his patella needed surgically retrieving from the dark side of his leg. He'd hit his glass ceiling at speed and unfortunately for him it sat perfectly equidistant twixt school and county. Broken in more ways than one, he never recovered.
So, raising a belated toast to him and his ilk, may I proffer a gallery of inbetweeners - quintessential footballing Maunders, tragic figures trapped between dimensions, too good for the Championship but just a bit too sh*t for the Premier League. Sláinte!
I’d not be surprised to hear the Bernabeu-bound bullsh*tter had been forced into early retirement after snapping his back trying to blow his own spunk trumpet.
Inbetweeners are invariably players who manifest a prodigious attacking prowess within the comfortable confines of the lower leagues only to come unstuck the second they try lollipopping their way past a decent defender. ‘Found out’ I believe is the colloquial. Moses is a textbook case. King of Kings at Palace, now all at sea off Wigan pier. A player hasn't lost his mojo with such grievous alacrity since circa-2002 Bolton goalthrob Michael Ricketts shanked his career off the Wembley turf and into an open sewer.
Capable of scintillating jinkery at sleeping giant/comatose p*ss-sodden old pensioner Preston North End, Nuge became the first player plying his trade outside the top flight to earn himself an England cap since Steve Bull, whereupon he promptly scored the kind of sub-five inch tap-in Dirk Kuyt has since turned into a catchphrase. With those kind of credentials it was only a matter of time before the sputtering Scouse contraption was summoned upstairs. Thus it was that then-Premiership Pompey finally did us all a favour, giving said braying Huyton sh*thorn the chance to slowly wire his own jaw shut on the Big Stage with 66 increasingly desperate appearances that yielded just 13 goals. Get ye to Burnley.
In 2006, after 6 anonymous years at Newcastle United, the Geordie-born striker had to wend his way to Wales (via Watford, Nottingham and Barnsley) to restore some professional pride. And in true fairy-tale tradition the streets of Cardiff were paved with goals, along with a few gallons of p*ss, some spilt kebab-filling and the odd puddle of Goth vomit. Success was his at last. Briefly. See, fooled by an impressive goals-to-games ratio (1:2), newly-promoted Sunderland took him back to the Promised Land only to realise what the Magpies had figured out months before: the top flight was his Kryptonite. Luckily they'd kept the receipt and Rocky (actual name) is now banging them in for the Bluebirds with disdainful ease once more. As a footnote, for his sake, I pray to God they don't win promotion.
In truth, I’d have preferred a paragraph on David Healy here, but keen to avoid charges of prejudice, I felt obliged to include a token defender. Talked about in hushed tones by people who claimed to know things we didn’t, Wolves fans could be forgiven for expecting something other than what they got when they took the Bambi-legged Chelsea 'starlet' on loan back in 2008. And for the briefest time he was just that: something else. Pacey; his feet weren't afraid of the ball; every inch the modern defender - all seemed well. But Wolves won the Championship with 7 points to spare and now young Michael has to wade so far out of his depth on a weekly basis he may as well strap a snorkel to the side of his weirdly pre-pubescent head and be done with it.
More a hope for the future, this one. A wildcard, as it were. Having only been afforded 9 appearances by Spurs following his arrival from Lens, the QPR egotist qualifies purely on account his unswerving arrogance. As prone to bouts of verbal onanism as Arsenal’s resident delusionaut Nicklas Bendtner, I’d not be surprised to hear the Bernabeu-bound bullsh*tter had been forced into early retirement after snapping his back trying to blow his own spunk trumpet.Now that Joey Barton has joined QPR, it shouldn't be too long before Adel is in hospital.
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