Robbo 10: W**kin Frankel - Click On My Face To Listen!

Friday, 8 May 2015

Blue Heaven, New Hell

So that's good, then. Great Britain has voted for its own funeral. Perpetuate the wealth staying in the hands of the already too wealthy, shuffling to and from our zero hours 'jobs' while the loaded push great wads of cash back and forth across an expensive oak table, grinning like the entitled pricks they are. 

But this is a football blog, and British football gives you a pretty good analogy for what our country has become. There is a self-appointed, self-aggrandising elite humming a happy tune to itself and relentlessly lording it over the rest of us. Meanwhile, the rest of us little folk shuffle around like doddering dogs hoping that some of the crumbs might fall from the table, or that we too might strike it lucky and wake up in the arms of a billionaire who made his money in a quasi-illegitimate way. 

Chelsea's title-winning effort was in of itself a fine achievement. Mourinho is, whatever else you think of him, an excellent predator of titles. He reminds me of those Komodo dragons that use a slow-working poison to kill their prey and then just sit around while the victim slowly descends into inactivity. The first half of the season was surprisingly flamboyant, the second half decidedly not, but there's much to admire in their defensive organisation. It's like the old Royal Tournament where you could watch military men doing complicated things with great precision - impressive, but God you wouldn't want to watch it every day. 

Their victory has not been welcome, but then whose is? They are boring, divey, smug, neurotic but more than all of that, boundlessly wealthy. You might say, 'ah but they use their money wisely'. Fair point. Better than the ragtag mercenaries in the sky blue shirts who turn up one year and down tools the next. Better than the extraordinarily profligate United transfer policy which seems to be reaching Citeh levels of bottomlessness. 

Better too, than the negligent rearing of Newcastle United by a porky cockney with not the slightest interest in the club beyond its capacity to generate money for himself. 

But the point is, wealth is all in football. The acquisition of it, the sustaining of it. Were Abramovich or Mansour to just cash in their chips tomorrow, Chelsea and Citeh would be bumping along the bottom within three years. Unless some twat with an online sports clothing company were to chip in a few quid. No wait, that doesn't make a blind bit of difference. 

There's a difference at these places now, I reckon. Such is the overweaning desire to be wealthy and to be seen to be wealthy, football grounds are now inhabited by an upper class that's there for the circus of it, rather than for the love. I don't doubt they feel committed, but it's not in their bones. It's in their wallets. David Cameron doesn't know who he supports but he has to support someone. West Ham Villa. Arse. 

Supporting your cash-strapped local club and wishing it well, as I do the Boro at Brentford, is a pathetic act of collusion in Hope over Expectation. But it's also an act of community and faith and devotion, and while that has not been entirely undermined by the Premier League's inordinate riches, it has changed match-going into what can only be called flagrant exploitation. 

When Hull feel it's okay to massively overcharge visiting fans, you have to ask what are we here for? 

At the bottom of the table, of course, are the underlings. Plucky, resolute, honest and hard-working, these fine fellows tirelessly plug away, occasionally shafting one of the big boys with a surprise victory: Burnley v Citeh; Leicester v United. 

But these are weird aberrations, like when the Lib Dems win a by-election (I'm not holding my breath by the way). When it comes to the big decisions, the wider picture, we're still looking in through the glass windows, counting the chandeliers and wishing we could all own a palace one day. 

Cheerier folk than me point to Bournemouth's success, achieved through consistency of selection, faith in a manager, canny budgeting and no little flair. It's a feelgood story through and through - unless you support Norwich - and yet all they're doing is spending a few months in the big house and hoping they'll be allowed to stay. 

Chelsea's victory was deserved, yes, but it was boring because, when any one of those obscene bastions of wealth and privilege wins, the inevitability of it is what's strikes home hardest. And here's where it differs from the election, We have a chance to change things, a little bit any road, every five years. That's what we've done. Voted to make it worse. Deliberately. 

And as every fan of a football club that's won bugger-all for bloody ages can tell you, there's a very peculiar masochism in that. I think, sometimes, that we all need serious counselling.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Backing The Boro

First off, I'm not pissed off. Boro were magnificent in their 4-3 defeat at Fulham and although it was a little heartbreaking to not get owt out of the game at all, they've got to be feeling that the play-offs is ours to win.I didn't blame the manager or the keeper - let's face it he's not the first reckless Greek we've seen in recent times.

The play-offs beckon. The prize the right to play David Cameron's favourite team next season - whoever the fuck that might be.You don't simply forget the name of the team you support unless you fucking well made it up. It's symptomatic of the superior, patronising and all too stage-managed nature of this election that some stuck-up knobhead thinks he can make us like him more by saying he's supports a football team. 

Any road, a visit to Chelsea next season will mean playing the Champions. Which means the rest of the League has been pretty poor. Not that Mourinho will give a fig. I don't particularly like the fella or the way he sets up his teams to play - especially in the big games - but frankly the bloke is nigh on a genius when it comes to eking out results. 

The team itself has lots to admire about it. It's just that those qualities  - organisation, discipline, efficiency - are the least uplifting. They're less a football team and more a high quality private security firm. At the Emirates, Arsenal fans resorted to calling Chelsea boring, and to be fair, I've had conjunctivitis that's easier on the eye. But one, George Graham was duller still, a Phil Collins to Jose's Coldplay; and two,  Wenger simply doesn't know how to beat Mourinho - be that football, or banter.

Indeed Wenger's comments about Chelsea are the verbal equivalent of an underhit backpass. He keeps making Jose come across like Groucho Marx.

Wenger: It's easy to defend.
Mourinho: You lost 3-1 to Monaco. You call that easy?

Arsenal fans: Chelsea are boring.
Mourinho: Not winning the league for ten years - that's boring.

You can almost see John Terry in a Harpo wig, honking the hooter at every retort.

Indeed Mourinho was right to point to his captain as outstanding. Terry continues to be the best centre-half in the country, and his fellow pros appear to agree with me. It's annoying when someone who is patently a git is undeniably good at something, though isn't it? It's like when people always insisted that Bernard Manning was a brilliant comedian, technically. He was also a great ball of vitriol and bile. Which trumps funny, I reckon.

So while the molten bronze gets poured into the mould for Mourinho's Special One memorial statue, the other managers huff and puff about might-have-beens in a somewhat self-delusional mode. Van Gaal reckoned Man Utd would have won the title had they made a better start... well, duh King Louis, and Paula Radcliffe would have won the London Marathon if she'd only done the first bit on a scooter. It's irrelevant.

Brendan Rodgers praised his side for their goalless draw at West Brom. 'Outstanding' he called them. Which is like calling an impotent man 'fertile'. Liverpool have a lot of head-scratching to do. I hope Rodgers sorts it out as he seems like a decent enough bloke.

At the bottom Tim Sherwood laughs off the notion of relegation. T'ain't a laughing matter. I'd rather I had Nigel Pearson telling me 'there was still a lot of work to do'. The prospect of Newcastle being caught on the line hasn't vanished yet. John Carver looks like a bloke trying to build a house with a sack of balsa wood and some cheese-string. Poor fella. Half the fans are staying at home while the others are bringing sofas into the Gallowgate so they've got something to hide behind.

Having said that it looks very much like Burnley and QPR are down, not least because every time they get a spot-kick, the taker shows all the confidence of a nd Sunderland/Hull will be slipping from the summit. If it's the Mackems then at least there'll still be two North-East teams in the top division.

Won't there?





Monday, 20 April 2015

A Keeper's Lot Is Not A Happy One

Ah goalkeepers. Like licking the socket on the kettle, stroking wasps and walking in on your parents at midnight, most of us learn from a very early age that it's not for us. Fly goalies is just a way of making sure you're not stuck there all bloody afternoon while your mates are doing their best David Mills and Alan Foggon impressions.

But there's always someone who finds it rewarding. In my experience, this person is (a) a mouthy great lummox who can jump off the science block without flinching and carries an air rifle with him at all times; or (b) an oppressed loner with an interest in military history, playing the saxophone and keeping reptiles as pets. Neither of them are run of the mill. 

A good keeper will snort when you show the bruises beneath your shinpads. He (or she I better say now we're all taking lasses' football seriously) will not have a clue how to dress himself. He will think he knows all about football when he knows more about nuclear fission (witness Schmeichel's punditry or Bryan Gunn's management). He will have Saturday's dirt under his fingernails come Wednesday night. And apart from the last bit, he wouldn't be me. 

For which all of us outfield fancy dans are eternally grateful. And for those of us that choose not to get kneed in the head by every Cockney rhymer's favourite player Stephen Hunt, or indulge in over ambitious step-overs when confronted by a pacy forward, let me say here and now we have nothing but sympathy. Coupled with a complete lack of comprehension. 

In the case of Mr Federici, I'm all heart. After a very decent performance the ball slid out between his legs like a fourteenth child. It barely touched the sides. To say I felt sick for the lad is an understatement, like suggesting the thoughts of Katie Hopkins are somewhat distasteful. (It's a long time since capital punishment was - rightly - eliminated from this country but there's always the exception that proves the rule and crucifixion's too good for her. She is a shadow on the lung of our body politic).

Federici left the field in tears having left enough of them out there to have watered Wembley for a lifetime. (Although not quite as much as Chelsea use before playing a slick passing team at Stamford Bridge). I don't blame him. If it was me I'd have been a huddled wreck cowering in my own net for the rest of the season. 

I hope he's got to sleep by now, but somehow I doubt it. 

Those of us watching the frenzy at the top of the Championship can tell you all about sleepless nights mind you. 45 minutes into Saturday's fixtures Boro were top after our gritty win at Carrow Road. Another half later and we're 3rd again. It's torture, I tell you. Then again I could be a goalkeeper. Or a Newcastle fan. 

It seems Ashley's pigeons are coming home to roost. Anyone who thinks Fat Mike gives a shit about anyone but himself has never bought a pair of jiggly bottoms from Sports Direct. Newcastle are those joggy bottoms: misshapen, uncared for and lacking any style whatsoever. John Carver steers the good ship Gallowgate like he's got his braces caught in the steering wheel. It's a terrible terrible joke and even I can't laugh any more. 

There's a bit at the end of Animal Farm where the pigs are eating with the humans and you can't tell them apart. That's Mike Ashley, that is. We've known for decades that English football clubs are rich men's playthings but at least Abramovich looks after his toys - for now. Ashley shoves his in a box, hides it in the attic and occasionally brings it down to give it a bit of a kicking. 

It's a bit like seeing the woman you love shacking up with a fella who doesn't even remember why he moved in in the first place. Ashley's the Katie Hopkins of Football ownership and he needs to be forcibly moved on. It'll take one mighty forklift but the sooner he's south of Watford Gap (that gap being 1 point currently - see Championship table) the better for all of us.