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Bowler's Delivery: Rumble in the jungle

16 December 2014

Cheer up football, it's Christmas

(Paul Lambert and Alan Irvine shake hands...it's not a story)


TIS the season to be jolly, goodwill to all men, that kind of thing. It’s in precious short supply in football though isn’t it?

In part, though it saddens us to say given how we earn our money, the media really isn’t helping much. Football, rather than being treated as a noble sporting spectacle, is now subjected to the same over the top hype that has for years attended boxing matches.

You might expect it from a few pundits who are looking to make their reputation in the 'shock jock' field, taking Howard Stern as their guide though if you’re going to go that way, you’d best be able to take it as well as you dish it out. Not all can.

These people can be safely ignored as a sideshow, like a dog that can stand on its hind legs and walk – it doesn’t do it well, but you’re amazed it can do it at all.

What is more disturbing is when more august institutions such as the BBC start buying into this drivel. Last week, prior to the Southampton game against Manchester United, we were treated to ten minutes of debate as to whether or not Louis van Gaal and Ronald Koeman would shake hands, and if so, what degree of warmth it would register on the pleasantry barometer, simply because they didn’t get on too well at Ajax. We were even treated to an interview with a Dutch journalist on the issue, though he seemed to be bewildered by the inane line of questioning. 

Robbie Savage has been at it from a different perspective too. Concerned that there’s insufficient blood dripping out of the Premier League to feed the phone-ins and that the division has created a new record for sanity by failing to sack any managers yet, he conjured up the ghost of Tony Pulis – is he Christmas Past, Present or Future? – as hovering above a whole host of managers, ready to scare them out of town.

Then less than a week ago, after Liverpool had bowed out of the Champions League, the phone-ins and the online click baiters were at it again. “Who is to blame?” they bellowed, the subtext of "Please let us have enough responses to help us heap enough pressure on Brendan Rodgers to get him sacked so we’ll have something new to write about."

You know, it is perfectly possible that nobody is to blame. That over the course of a group section of just six games, other teams were simply better. It may be that luck did not favour them. 

It might even be that, at some stage, we’ll recall that given football is essentially a competition. And you know what happens in a competition? Most people lose, often through no fault of their own. That’s the real law of the jungle, never mind what Ant and Dec reckon.


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