5 Reasons To Hate......The Premier League
Is the Premier League the best football league in the world? With the FA Cup break upon us this weekend, today on the blog Andrew Thomas (aka Twisted Blood) gives us 5 reasons to hate the Premier League.
Lions are rubbish. They're lazy, they're uninspiring, and they have stupid haircuts. They do minimal work for maximum reward, they're fêted beyond all rhyme or reason, and they spend far too much of their time lying on the ground.
What on earth made the Premier League think they'd be in any way representative of footballers?
Look at the state of it. At the time of writing, the half of Manchester that lacks a midfield or a defence are top, while the other half, who lack a manager but have a James Milner, are second.
Rafael Benítez started to look clever again, simply because he knew whereabouts on the pitch his defenders needed to stand; then he got carried away and lost to Queen's Park Rangers, who themselves are melting into a morass of IOUs and desperation.
Aston Villa are getting what they deserve for having employed Alan Hutton, and both Reading and Southampton look like they got promoted by accident. Mind, at least those last two look like they're enjoying themselves, which is more than can be said for most of the rest .
There is literally one team that can defend – Stoke – and not only can't they/won't they do anything else, but they shipped three to Southampton the other week. What kind of a world is this, when the most impressive team in England's top flight is Welsh?
The Premier League is designed to be consumed through the television; the size of the TV deals underpins the economic model, and in return the broadcasters call the shots. For match-going fans, this means that they can enjoy ludicrous kick-off times on top of their ludicrously priced tickets and baltis.
For everyone else, though, it should be a godsend. More live football than ever before. Glitzy, on-demand highlights in between the games. Gary Neville, his unrepentant Manchester Unitedness forgiven and forgotten, here to teach you things with his giant iPad. Truly, this is a golden age.
And yet, and yet. Think of the opening of any given Super Sunday. There's a car driving about. Then there's some stirring music. An animated lion roars. A montage slams into your eyes, all fast cuts and exploding words and heavily-trailed excitement. A studio overlooking an empty stadium. A pause for breath. And then, as inescapable as Liam Neeson in a particularly bad mood, as comes a topographical rendering of Jamie Redknapp's genitals in expensive cotton, in high-definition, and in a level of intimacy and detail that would, in a fair and just universe, be reserved for yon lass out of Eternal. You may be watching the game, but little Jamie's watching you.
You might think this was just a sad consequence of Redknappian vanity. Secret documents seen by bettingexpert, however, reveal that the Groinal Optimisation Strategy, as it's known to Sky insiders, is a cynical collaboration between Sky Sports and their advertisers. The theory is that the British football-watching public, a demographic that scores highly on self-conscious blokiness, will feel slightly but noticeably unsettled whenever the implication of Redknapp's todger is on screen. Those moments when it's not – that's the adverts – will feel so euphoric by contrast that the viewer will be unable to prevent himself immediately buying some Carlsberg and a Ford.
The Race for Fourth
"It's a great day. All my life, as a child, when I was growing up, I dreamed of finishing fourth in the Premier League. I dreamed of getting one of these fourth-place medals, of kissing this fourth-place trophy, of wearing the lid of this fourth-place trophy on my head and dancing around like a berk while my colleagues spray me with sponsored champagne and the fans weep and scream with joy and adulation. It's a dream come true. And I'm looking forward, next year, to defending this fourth-place finish with … sorry, I just need to take this. How much? Oh my. Oh wow."
The game is too damn loud. It's like it was designed by a man who, when watching Spinal Tap, thought to himself 'you know, eleven's all well and good, but there's, like, twelve, and thirteen, and maybe even numbers after that, and we need to find them all'. The entire sorry business is a clatter of dropped jaws and flabbered ghasts, powered by the combustion of exaggeration and hyperbole, and punctuated exclusively with exclamation points and interrobangs.
Nothing can be simply allowed to happen in its own time, and at its own pace; nothing can be let pass. Outrages are confected, spun up from nothing, and kept spitting and hissing until the next one arrives. The simplest and most straightforward utterance is picked apart, dissected, fretted over, tweeted, re-tweeted, sub-tweeted, quoted, misquoted, misinterpreted, mistranslated, misused, abused, confused, over and over as hysterically as possible, until some other poor simpleton opens his mouth and we can all begin again. Everything matters! Everything is really, really, really, really, really important! So important that your head begins to pound, pound, pound, and the lights start to prick your eyes.
It's almost like we're all compensating for the deep, suppressed knowledge that our pastime is only marginally less futile than literally doing nothing. And doing nothing would definitely be better for the blood pressure. But no! No silence! No time for doubt! Reflection is for the weak; we press onward, with contrived significance and hysterical bleating.
The only way to get a moment's peace is to either punch yourself really hard in the face, or to start watching county cricket, and neither's going to get you through the winter unscathed.
Follow Andi on Twitter: @Twisted_Blood
And read more of his work on his blog: TwistedBlood.co.uk