Despite His White Boots

Football, football, football and, if the mood takes me, more football.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It's Only A Game

Carling Cup carnage last night as Rangers were only one of the Championship sides embarrassed by lower-league opposition. By my reckoning Hull, Ipswich, Crewe, Stoke, Preston and Brighton can also "concentrate on the league" till January. More embarrassingly than us probably, Ipswich lost 2-0 at home to Yeovil and Crewe got dumped 5-1 at Lincoln. On top of that, Brentford (top of League 1) lost 5-0, Forest lost 3-2 at home to Macclesfield and Bristol City were humbled 4-2 at home by Barnet ! But Barnet rule so I'll let them off.

No complaints here about Northampton's win, they had the sign over us in the dark Division 2 days, in fact our league nadir was probably Loftus Road echoing to "you'll never beat the Cobblers" towards the end of a 1-0 reverse. And no I haven't forgotten Vauxhall Motors, that was in the Cup :-). We have plenty of previous for embarrassing ourselves in this competition recently too. I should have had a bet on it really.

We had pretty much our best side available on display, not quite but close enough for no excuses. I wouldn't be surprised if many of the others didn't. This competition has gone, basically. Clubs in European competition don't come in till the third round. Even if you do make it that far and draw United, Chelsea or Arsenal they'll put out their youth team, and beat you anyway just to rub it in. And who could get excited about drawing Blackburn, Birmingham, Fulham and the rest. The FA Cup's going the same way, mark my words. Anyway you could do worse than to oppose Cardiff and Coventry tonight if you fancy a nibble.

And of course the Premiership has lumbered into action, and while I should just ignore it, I might as well have a rant. There's a comment in here about a year ago from the Camel comparing the Premiership to the poker festival circuit. In fact there's no need to tease you, it's here. A year on, it's more true than ever. Skimming a paper today I read that Chelsea's shirt sponsorship deal is worth £9 million a year. Wigan and West Ham, by comparison, pull in £300,000. Incidentally I'm surprised West Ham can't do better than that - maybe they signed the deal while in the league below. And that's just an example. Sure, the free market, get what you can, but it doesn't make for a competitive league. The most capitialist-oriented culture in the world seems perfectly happy to have salary caps and draft systems to keep its sport competitive. Unfortunately it's never going to happen here, the lawyers would soon put a stop to any such plans. It's only because of the peculiar nature of football (and how difficult it is to score a goal) that Wigan can give Chelsea a game at all. And over a whole season, they can't. Well if you've read the post from a year ago, there's no need to repeat most of that.

As for Chelsea, they've been taking a ribbing for advertising tickets in the press for tonight's game against West Brom. What the adverts fail to mention is that the cheapest ticket available costs, wait for it, £48. Maybe they figure that after queueing on the phone for 20 minutes, people will think "fuck it" and cough it up anyway. 48 quid though ! I remember when I could watch Rangers in the top division for a tenth of that. It was only 1989. How can the media act all surprised when people aren't prepared to pay it twice in a week ? Alan Green can chunter on about how woeful everything is, including empty seats and lack of atmosphere from supporters, but he hasn't paid £50 for the pleasure ! The cunt.

Now I'm TV-less I'm getting my football fix from Talk Sport, which isn't too bad. Alvin Martin knows the score, he made the point about how it's not easy for people to cough this money up twice in 4 days, but so many people in football and the media have no conception of how fans think at all. Here is a reported exchange between Alex Ferguson and a Manchester United fan, I stress reported, but it bears the ring of truth in my ears :

The two fans first abused chief executive David Gill and then turned on Fergie, saying: "You've f***** us over too, you could've spoken out about it."

Sir Alex replied: "I've got close friends who've been working with me here for 15 years. They come first in all of this."

Fan: "So don't the fans come first?"

Fergie: "Well I suppose they do come somewhere."

Fan: "You what? That's well out of order."

Sir Alex: "If you don't like it, go and watch Chelsea."

Fan: "The fans have been screwed right over. It costs me over £20 a game as it is."

Sir Alex: "It costs more than that at Chelsea - go and watch them."

"Go and watch Chelsea" indeed. When players do really care about their club, it makes a massive difference. Marc Bircham is forgiven many technical deficiencies because he used to stand on the terraces at Rangers. He even used to watch Rangers live when he was a player at Millwall. And we love him for it, because at least in some ways he's one of us. Compare that with Didier Drogba whose first thought after shinning a goal against Arsenal (much like I do in the park quite frankly) was to go and posture to a fan who gave him some GBH to the earhole earlier in the game. I don't like to have a go at players, but when you've paid £50 and your £24 million forward can't kick the ball in a straight line, I don't blame people who do. Even Chelsea fans ! Am I sure :-)

Oh well. It is only a game. Seasons come and go. Enjoy the wins, take the losses like a man, and accept the game for what it is, I suppose. Yesterday has gone my friends. Onwards and sideways.


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