Reality versus romance
IT’S coming on Christmas, they’re cutting down trees, putting up reindeers and singing songs of joy and peace. They’re also getting ready to trot out “Zulu” on ITV on Boxing Day, like they always do. Give it a watch, it’ll look familiar, and not because it’s been on for the last 25 Christmases in a row.
The battle of Rorke’s Drift, in 1879, where 150 British troops defended a mission station against around 4,000 Zulu warriors, was a story of victory against the most overwhelming odds.
That was why they made a film of it, because it was something of a miracle. You can see where I’m going with this I’m sure.
The battle of Stamford Bridge - 2014 version, not 1066 – did not end so happily for the beleaguered forces, even if the numerical advantage on the pitch was only 11 versus 10.
The real numerical difference of course lies elsewhere, in the small change that lies down the back of Roman Abramovich’s sofa, the money he scoops out every June and January to fund his team to a level that we, and many others, can only dream of.
This is the Premier League we’ve created. If not Chelsea, then Manchester City. If not Manchester City, then, shortly, Manchester United. And so it goes. These clubs, and others, spend sums that dwarf the gross national product of the republic of Sandwell, amounts that we could only collect if we sold up the entire borough, put the money on a 100-1 shot at Cheltenham and saw the nag bouncing home in first place. Basically, our only hope of matching up to Chelsea is if a St. Trinian’s script came true.
century Premier League football.stAnd yet we stalk the same territory as them, we are expected to live in the same jungle. The suspension of disbelief that is required for this becomes more preposterous by the year but that is 21
So what do we do about it? There are those who argue that you go out all guns blazing and, if you lose by five or six, never mind eh? Which is all very well, except two years on from being dismantled 9-0 at Stamford Bridge, you could argue that Aston Villa have still to properly recover.
And the reality is that if you do lose by half a dozen, the fact that the World’s End pub is just down the road from the Bridge would feel very apt. When was the last time you heard a team getting praised for losing 6-1 by having a go?
So it is that reality has to take hold. The same reality that saw us bundle ten men behind the ball for two seasons running at Anfield and come away with victories, but which ordinarily sees you limiting the damage to a slender defeat, trying to avoid a train wreck and leaving you to fight another day.
The sad truth is this. If you want romance, go to the pictures. If you want gritty realism, the Premier League is increasingly the place for you.