Mickey Blue Eyes
"Our delight in looking takes continually fresh forms depending on the time, the season and our mood......In it one finds, at the whim of imagination, grounds for a life of legend."
Gaston Bachelard, The Right to Dream, page 75 (The Dallas Institute Publications, 1988).
The new football season begins next week. What joy, can't wait for the action, not a moment too soon. M. Bachelard would be in his element. It hasn't been a leisure desert exactly: there were plenty of other sports during the summer hiatus......good luck to them, each to their own, the more we have the better etc. etc. But the fact is, as a spectacle none of them come close to glorious attractions and even manufactured illusions of The Beautiful Game.
Essentially, rugby is still wrestling-on-wheels, a thugs' game played mostly by no-neck bouncers in echelon formation; cricket is acceptable only when the opponent is Australia, though it still takes five days (that's five days) to complete its rain-making ceremony; tennis is base line grunts whether it is male or female players, Andy Murray or no Andy Murray; athletics is a drugs-ridden charade based almost exclusively in Corruption City, Mistake-on-Thames; boxing is not a sport, it is sick primeval brutality pushed by Las Vegas criminal scum supported by cheap back-entry hoods and drug dealers; golf is a landscaped bore tour rescued only by the wonderful TV commentaries of Peter Alliss (how we could do with his equivalent in football!); cycling is a junkies road circuit; F1 is a clunky mechanical shunt contest between motorised carbon fibre tubes; baseball is souped-up rounders; and grid iron is a comic street-fight in padded plastic biker helmets and nineteenth century shiny knickerbockers.
No, footy - deluded chauvinist nonsense, fishwife neuroses, economic smoke and mirrors, looming disasters, pundit-clichés, accountants/"market consultants" (read: trained lying spivs), profiteering, media leeches, faults and all - is better than the lot of them. These defaults have been in place since professionalism was introduced well over a century ago and it won't change any time soon unless there is a revolution (see here et al). As always, the game is merely a proper reflection of the kind of society we have created, or allowed to be created. And, anyway, where would the eternal claque go for their whingeing jollies or hate-filled diatribes......Coronation Street or the local ale-house? For such people all sports, let alone footy, are a vital social service; their alternative is a padded cell somewhere in a black-and-white binary world. As usual a run of good or bad results will have unmedicated bipolarists, scarcely vox populi summa cum laude, claiming, "I told you so." Some things never change even though players, managers and owners do. Evolution has yet to resolve the strange problem of human stupidity and its Stygian nightmares. Charles Darwin, where are you when needed?
This is why a new season is welcomed with open arms and rampant optimism. For ninety precious minutes each week we relish its flesh-and-blood simplicity and uncertainty of outcome, where the only definite thing is the final result. Everything else is mutable. For a short while we even tolerate, then goad, quack therapies for lack of "success." Marvellous fun, though. It beats the hell out of poor bastards stuck with sedentary computer-slavery or marijuana delusions as a way of life.
Meanwhile, our prime footy consideration this season is how well, or not, Roberto Martinez succeeds David Moyes. Cliché time......thus far he has talked the talk, now we will see if he can walk the walk. In reality it is a gamble for all parties. Undeniably Moyesy left him a good legacy to work with, yet nobody knows how it will work out, though naturally we all want it to end with silver laurels. Gawd knows we have waited long enough. His first task is to manipulate and close the "transfer window," that laughable swirl of media lies, absurd gossip, barrow-boy agents and contract lawyers. At the time of writing incoming players are Arouna Koné, Antolin Alcaraz, Joel Robles, Gerard Deulofeu and (returning from loan) Magaye Gueye. Outgoings are Ján Mucha, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Jake Bidwell and Phil Neville. All of which could change in the space of a few hours of this writing. Phil Jagielka is the new club captain and therefore will discover the necessary loneliness of responsibility. He will of course quite rightly dismiss ale-house werkn klass and self-appointed "entrepreneurial" peon aficionados from his mind. So will Roberto Martinez. So will anybody with a half gramme of common sense.
So the seasons turn yet again. This time the cause celebre is what team formation Roberto - we can call him that now he is One of Us - will play, and whether he will be more attack-minded than Moyesy, therefore presumably more vulnerable; it might get unnerving as he looks for the right team balance. He certainly threw a mischievous rock in the pool when he signed three Wigan Athletic players into a dressing room acknowledged for its close-knit camaraderie. Still, it was time to freshen-up, perhaps brush away a few cobwebs. As we all know, the senior players are at their peak and now enter veteran stage: much will depend on their generosity of spirit toward the newcomers.
Me, I have not the faintest idea how the season will turn out, anymore than you do, except that the Premier League title is beyond us. It could be as good or as bad as different opinions claim. Its direction could turn on a single incident or goal. We might even, finally, win the bleeding League Cup. The only thing I know with certainty is that I will attend as many games as I can and hope like the rest of us that we win and play well, shunting moaners into Mumble Corner in the process. Thing is, so will every fan of every other club. Hence initial widespread optimism.
"If men were angels..." wrote James Madison in Federalist Paper number 51 on the powers of government......but men are not angels, and in any event angels do not exist unless you are a superstitious fool devoted to the Trinity Broadcasting Network. It might be as well to bear that in mind as the season unfolds and cranks resurface in your local or in a match seat near you: do remember you will need a sufficiently strong microscope to find their brains. As with fundamentalist religion, there will always be some last word freak who thinks he/she is always right and everyone else wrong......The Me Messiah Syndrome, for which see the timeless Monty Python's Life of Brian. Or, for that matter, the weird attenuated mentality of Twitter and Facebook and christ knows what else floating around the cyber ether.
There. That set me up nicely for the new season. Come On You Blues. Do it for us werkn klass peon aficionados in the Lower Street End.