Sometimes I find myself thinking of the things I hate about football. They range from the mundane to the important, but since they are taking up vital brain space, I have felt the need to document them here. The first five, in no particular order:
I’m blaming Nicholas Anelka for this one. The first instance I can recall (in England) of a player sporting a stupidly high squad number was the sulky Frenchman during his spell at Manchester City. He requested the #9 shirt with which he had become synonymous at previous clubs, but the squad number was in use by Paolo Wanchope. Finding the 19 and 29 shirts similarly occupied, he was given the next available number featuring 9 – #39 and he went on to wear the shirt at Fenerbache, Bolton and Chelsea. Look, I accept that numbers are not going to go from 1 to 11 anymore. It’s a squad game, as we are constantly being told. But really, some numbers are ridiculous. Are Anelka and Bellamy really the 39th first team players at their respective clubs? Is Woodgate the 39th at Stoke, Wilson Palacios the 40th? Is Balotelli the 45th first teamer at Manchester City (well, maybe…)? It’s not just high numbers either – let’s not even get started on the proliferation of players in Italy and Russia who have squad numbers in the 60s, 70s and 90s. It’s just wrong – but incorrect numbers annoy me too. I know there’s some leeway when it comes to this, but as far as I’m concerned the #9 should be a striker. Tell that to Chelsea, who in recent seasons have given the number to clumsy Dutch defender Khalid Bouhlarouz and nondescript midfielder Steve Sidwell (yes, he did play for Chelsea). Likewise, the #1 shirt is clearly for goalkeepers, but AEK Athens midfielder Pantelis Kafes proudly wears it. Stop this nonsense.
Transfer deadline day.
Though Sky Sports and the deranged Jim White seemed to love it, I can’t stand deadline day. The TV coverage is painful, full of shivering, non-descript men standing outside stadiums saying things like “Not much action here, Steve, we did see a car pull in about 20 minutes ago and I caught a glimpse of a man who I thought was Wayne Bridge, but who actually turned out to be a member of the club’s administrative staff”. Even worse are the fans – mostly always moronic-looking teenagers who gradually gather around the reporters, trying to shout obscenities, texting their mates and cheering when they learn of the arrival of some unknown Scottish under-19 international for a medical. Every so often I’ll watch an hour or two of the coverage in the evening of deadline day if I’m at home before a cold shiver runs up my spine and I think: what am I doing with my life?
Talksport, 5 live’s 606, any other you would care to name. I bloody hate them. Filled with knuckle dragging idiots outraged that their side have “no plan B” (translation: they refuse to hoof it to the big man) or demanding their manager be sacked after a couple of poor results or proclaiming whoever may have scored in the most recent game as “world class”. No. Stop it. You’re only calling in because none of your friends will listen to you (and before you ask, yes, I am posting this here because none of my friends will listen to me).
Taking your shirt off is a booking. Celebrating with the crowd is a booking. Why? Inciting the crowd? I’d be interested to know how celebrating with one’s fans is inciting any kind of riot, but further to that, it implies that the fans are somehow entitled to riot should these things happen, that it’s somehow not their fault, that they have no control over their actions. Fans must take responsibility, and we must stop seeing players booked for such nonsense when we still see players getting away with horrendous tackles.
Music that’s played after goals.
No. Stop it. No “Just Can’t Get Enough” no matter how weirdly popular that song is among the football fraternity right now. Certainly no “Chelsea Dagger”. No more music after goals are scored. The fans should be able to create an atmosphere by themselves, if you have to boom out some awful easy-to-sing-along-to to give the illusion of some atmosphere then that’s just embarrassing. I’d rather see players celebrating in eerie silence.
Those are the first five things, in no particular order, that I hate about football. There will be more, added as and when they occur to me. But tell me, what things do you hate about football? Diving? Feigning injury? Greedy players? Agents? Ray Wilkins’ commentary? Let’s see if we can increase this list…