A curs și încă mai curge multă cerneală despre good old ‘Arry. Într-un articol de-a dreptul superb, Brian Phillips captează ambivalența ipocrită a viitorului selecționer al Angliei:

Liverpool, cheese-and-pickle rolls, grandfathers, Steve McManaman. Harry somehow makes you believe that English soccer, a game whose face-first slide into globalized commercialism is a source of mass anxiety, is really a simple old thing, straight out of “Autumn Almanac,” just men and their snacks down through the generations. Moreover — and this is the real magic trick — he somehow does this while himself serving as the most visible representative of the dark side of commercialization. How can kickbacks and tapping-up and runaway club debt be so bad if Harry’s there to tell you about the Christmas pudding his Aunt Rosie baked for Bill Shankly?

The Best League in the World?

De când Sky-ul a inventat fotbalul în 1992, aparatul de propagandă tot lustruiește reputația campionatului englez, “vandut” constant drept cel mai bun din lume. Și se prea poate să fie, dar asta nu înseamnă că e singurul în care se joacă fotbal adevărat, după cum te-ar face Lawro și compania să crezi. John Nicholson, unul dintre jurnaliștii care nu obișnuiesc să lase loc de bună ziua, scrie azi despre asta:

This isn’t an argument against the Premier League as a product, nor to put it down, rather to see it more clearly for what it really is. It is probably the most-hyped league in the world but it is unjustly arrogant about its quality. It can deliver great entertainment but it can be utter dreck and tedious. Great football is played elsewhere – in a lot of places, in a lot of different leagues.

E un articol incomod pentru anglofili, în răspăr cu multe din lucrurile pe care ne place să le credem și să le auzim despre Premier League, campionatul ăsta unde se joacă fotbal bărbătesc, cu 100 de mile pe oră, blood and thunder stuff. Restul – simulările, șeicii, alunecările lui Shawcross – le-am prefera trecute sub preș. Dar ele sunt acolo și cand ne facem că nu le vedem suntem caraghioși.

“There’s no need for you to be really fucking stupid just to support your club!” scria în articolul mai vechi despre hiper-partizanant. Chestia asta se aplică și la campionate. Anglofilia fotbalistică nu impune o fobie față de alte campionate, alte feluri de a înțelege fotbalul.

Nimic nu e nou sub soare

La 5-1, unii își vor fi amintit de ceea ce până ieri fusese cea mai neagră zi din cariera lui Sir Alex Ferguson:

Iată ce spunea scoțianul după acel meci:

Believe me, what I have felt in the last week you wouldn’t think should happen in football. Every time somebody looks at me I feel I have betrayed that man. After such a result, you feel as if you have to sneak round corners, feel as if you are some kind of criminal. But that’s only because you care, care about the people who support you. At Manchester United, you become one of them, you think like a supporter, suffer like a supporter.

The Observer, 1 octombrie 1989.

Ronaldo vs. Messi

Brian Phillips (pe care il stiti de pe Run of Play) despre rivalitatea care ar fi trebuit sa subjuge fotbalul dar n-o face:

They star on opposite sides of Real Madrid versus Barcelona, currently the game’s most compelling rivalry. And they’re temperamental opposites — Ronaldo a flamboyant, collar-popping he-diva who measures time in lingerie models, Messi a low-key, affable team player who seems to live for the game.

Luati de cititi, intregul articol e remarcabil!

Din tata-n fiu

Ți se pune un nod în gât când citești povestea lui Jonathan Wilson despre ce înseamnă să fii suporter:

Why do I bring this up? Well, it comes from trying to explain what being a fan means – to me. I realise this is personal, and I don’t want to suggest there’s a “right” way to be a fan, but supporting Sunderland was never a choice. It just was. I’ve spent a lot of time in Argentina and people, naturally, have asked if I have an Argentinian team. My then-girlfriend and her family are Boca Juniors fans, and so I tried to support them, but the truth was that I didn’t care. I didn’t feel sick with nerves when they took the lead, and I certainly didn’t feel tears pricking at my eyes when I recalled their greatest triumphs.

I don’t really like being so emotional about Sunderland, but I am. And of course it has nothing to do with whichever bunch of players happens to be wearing the candystripes this season. Nothing to do with the manager, the style of play or success. It’s to do with home, and family, and a sense of the club as representative of a strand of belonging stretching back generations. My dad’s last game was the 4-0 defeat to Manchester United on Boxing Day 2007, but in a sense he has been with me at every game I’ve been at since. What I hadn’t realised till last year is that his father, who died before I was born, had been coming with us for years as well.

Asta apropo de o discuție mai veche. Știu, nimeni n-are impresia despre el însuși că e glory-hunter, dar nu știu cum se face că fani Liverpool/Barça/Man Utd vezi la tot pasul, în timp ce n-am cunoscut încă pe nimeni care să țină cu Sunderland (sau orice altă echipă din afară care n-a câștigat nimic în ultimii 10 ani).