I’m going to do a football blog. The news that broke this morning mandates it. If you’re not interested in football, then look elsewhere! For football is what shall be discussed.
The people in charge at Manchester United finally bowed to the inevitable and relieved David Moyes of his duties. Upon hearing the news, I imagine Mr. Moyes then proceeded directly to the most reputable spa in all of Manchester, where a team of highly paid dermatologists set to work removing the beleaguered perma-frown that resulted from having to organise and motivate a crèche-full of overpaid man-children for ten agonising months.
Following Moyes’s appointment last summer, a great many eyebrows were raised. But even the most sceptical of United fans probably didn’t foresee the cataclysm that this season hath wrought. This has been a season where, week after week, a great many non-football people, upon learning of the preceding weekend’s results, posed the question:
“Aren’t Man United supposed to be good?”
A question to which the answer is yes, they are supposed to be good. This time last year, they had just been crowned Premier League champions, having accumulated a total of eighty-four points. Well, this time around, they have only fifty-seven points. Which means, statistics lovers, that they are only 62.0689655172414% as good at football as they were last year.
They are no longer the best. They aren’t even second or third best. They are the seventh best. Mind you, as Liverpool’s success has demonstrated, seventh is no bad place to be. Seventh gives you momentum. It gives you a sort of elastic potential. If you can’t be fourth, then be seventh.
Ah, yes. The situation with Liverpool on the cusp of triumph is not exactly helping with the grief of the United fans. As for the rest of us, we’ve been left with something of a conundrum; we now have to decide which team we despise the most, now that Manchester United are not worth sparing a thought about.
Making that determination has been something of a struggle. Chelsea or Liverpool win the league? If there’s ever a more revolting ‘would you rather’, I haven’t heard of it. A lot of analogies have been suggested, most involving nails into sensitive areas, and sandwiches containing faecal matter. I prefer to think of it as like ‘Sophie’s Choice’, except that in this instance Sophie isn’t especially fond of either child. I suppose it’s more like ‘Sophie’s Choice’ crossed with ‘The Omen’.*
To me, however, the answer is obvious. I’d really rather Liverpool won it: for the simple reason that Liverpool winning it would preclude Chelsea from winning it. I’d rather watch Gerrard lift the trophy than John Terry. I’d rather watch Pol Pot lift the fucking thing than John Terry.
Whatever your opinion, it’s necessary to want someone to win it. If I’m going to enjoy The Title Race, then indifference is not really an option. Watching a bunch of blokes kick a ball around is insufficient. You have to construct a narrative around the whole thing. That’s what gets box office. If you can’t, then Sky Sports will decide on this narrative on your behalf.
Chelsea are obviously The Bad Guys; a loathsome collection of inexcusable tossers, bankrolled by Vladamir Putin’s BFF, whose on-field leader is an adulterous racist and whose off-field leader is an obnoxious Rumplestilzkin-alike with the magical power of constantly whinging while simultaneously avoiding criticism for constantly whinging. Chelsea spend ridiculous money on players, which is reckless profligacy.
Liverpool, on the other hand, are certainly The Good Guys; the plucky startups who pay all of their players in liquorice allsorts, and whose star quarter-front has persevered in the face of toxic media accusations of racist cannibalism. Liverpool’s transfer policy is vastly different to that of Chelsea; Liverpool refuse to sell players when offered ridiculous money, which is obviously the height of prudence.
I can see Liverpool replacing United as the team-that-everyone-despises quite soon (if they haven’t’ done so already), when we’re all buried beneath the avalanche of smugness which their victory will herald, which now seems almost a formality. But maybe, just maybe, Chelsea will beat Liverpool, and then Manchester City will win all of their games in hand and nick it. I can’t quite decide whether or not that’s desirable, but I’m sure I’ll be wishing it had happened, when scousers with incomprehensible voices begin to audibly masturbate one another in the commentary box.
Until next week
*If anyone wants to make that film, by the way, then I’d be very much interested in seeing it. Be my guest.