No pundit intended.
Robbie Savage – footballer, beautician, mouth. In that order. Despite looking like all four members of Bucks Fizz gene-spliced into one body he's gradually infiltrated his way onto our television sets, and it looks like he's here to stay. Some of us think he's a breath of fresh air, some of us think he's about as insightful as that noise modems used to make when you signed into AOL. Either way, he's fast becoming the poster boy for bad punditry. He's not the only one of course, Collymore's been on TalkSport and Channel 5 for a while now, doing to footballing discussion what he used to do to Ulrika Jonsson after a few sly halves on the Champs-Élysées.
But in truth it's not actually their fault and, as much fun as it would be, glue-gunning their mouths closed it wouldn't solve anything. The real problem is that, in the context of the modern football pundit, employing them actually makes sense. I mean, Savage is wrong, and dumb, in just about everything he says but CHRIST, at least he's got an opinion. The androids the BBC have created in the image of Alan Shearer and Lee Dixon provide us with the analytical equivalent of just pointing at the score and banging a pan with a spoon, while Alan Hansen, the Smarm-bot 9000, casually tells us how unsurprising he found it all. Presumably his “you don't win anything with kids” line was the final straw and going out on a limb on Match of the Day became punishable having the frigging Borg Collective set on you.
Fristly, watch this. The man who invented the Predator boot explains why the Jabulani ruined the World Cup.
C'est ridicule! By spending millions of pounds on new football technology you're essentially saying that every great piece of skill performed on a lesser ball was a fluke. George Best must be spinning in his grave, which of course he can do because he wasn't thermally bonded in such a way that he lost all his drag.
I'm not advocating going back to the days of a twelve kilo pig bladder, but surely we should have realised during the mid 90s that we'd taken 'ball-science' as far as it can naturally go. Since then we've been forced to watch shots curl in four different directions before trickling over the line and crosses circumnavigate the car-park before getting anywhere near the six-yard box. Obviously I don't know what the perfect football is, but whatever Phillipe Albert lobbed Peter Schmeichel with, that should be the industry standard. What ever happened to Mitre anyway?
You can get a yellow card for just about anything these days, unless you're Wayne Rooney. The pedants-that-be at FA have even decreed that the grave offence of “having an opinion different to that of the officials” should be punished by having the old lemon slice handed to you. Count how many times a season you see someone booked for perfectly justified backchat, and then how many dives you see escape unpunished, and join me in mass weeping.
But the absolute worst, is this rule for removing your shirt during a goal celebration. If you want to book someone for diving studs-first into a row of 6 year olds while in the throws of post-goal passion - fine. If you want to suspend somebody for displaying a vest that reads “Bernard Mathews Turkey Dinosuars FTW” - fine. But please, don't tell me that Tamir Cohen paying a tribute to his recently deceased father was either inciting the crowd or breaching sponsorship agreements. We're not even allowed to over-turn the things afterwards.
All the while wearing a snood, saying “Like I say” in interviews and driving stupid cars all still go unpunished. Truly, there is no justice.
Here's a joke for you. Wayne Rooney, John Terry and Steven Gerrard walk into a bar and I'm not allowed to talk about what happens. I'm here all week.
Some of us think he's a breath of fresh air, some of us think he's about as insightful as that noise modems used to make when you signed into AOL.
Footballers, now more than ever, live a life free of consequence. Fallen out with your club? Your agent can find you a new one. Injured? Never mind, you're still getting paid. Supermodel girlfriend left you? There's 40 more in your phonebook, and she'll probably be back anyway. Unfortunately, the rest of us have to worry about these things for a living and the only real joy we have in life is finding out that footballers (and, bizarrely, Andrew Marr) make all the same mistakes that we do. Super-Injunctions rob us of that giddy thrill. And that's not right.
You don't need to hide behind gagging orders when you've got a 12ft electrical fence running around the grounds of your country manor, it's not even like you can hear the heckles and taunts from the other end of your six-mile driveway. You can't even argue that it's not in the public interest when your auto-biography, 700 pages of relentless “I did this and you'll never guess who was there”-isms, was bought by every bored housewife and EDL member in the country, so man up.
Someday, and it’ll be someday chuffing soon, football clubs are going to ban their players from using things like Twitter. The social media accounts of every single player will be managed and screened by the club, and some poor tool on work experience will be charged with simply re-writing the same nonsense PR statement for every member of the playing staff, when he’s not getting blasted in the gut with an air-rifle, obviously.
And why? Well, because a small minority of footballers are starting to abuse the privilege of having a direct route to the fans. Far from sending out thanks for making the increasingly arduous trek to away games and taking a picture of someone’s sword in training, it’s becoming the first stop for whinging and the levelling of petty accusations. Ryan Babel, Carlton Cole have both got themselves in the mire and even Danny Gabbidon, managed to tweet his massive, 3am mental breakdown to every media savvy football fan coming home from their night out.
They have to ignore the trolls as well. If someone’s calling you rubbish, ignore them, if your heritage is being called into question, laugh it off, if she’s threatening to take the video to the papers, just… actually yeah, cry yourself to sleep and get on the whiskey...
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