January 2010

But I Thought We Were Friends…

I started a new day job this week and was pleasantly surprised by the reaction I received – people seemed genuinely pleased to see me.

The fact that my predecessor left under something of a cloud, leaving a pile of uncompleted work might have something to do with it and the constant “oh thank goodness you are here!” makes one feel wanted. It got me to thinking about people whose debuts and signings for their clubs have not been so warm or effusive. Gary Megson for instance, the former Bolton Wanderers Manager was booed long and loudly when he was announced to the crowd before their match against Braga in the UEFA Cup in 2008. In a local newspaper poll he attracted a whopping 1.2 percent when fans were asked who they wanted as the new manager.

Sometimes it is quite justified – as Ashley Cole found out when his lax backpass led to a Kazakhstan goal against England in 2008. England were strolling at the time and went on to win 5-1 but Cole had had this coming for a long time and for many England fans, it was too good an opportunity to miss.

They weren’t booing the mistake, just him – not even as a player but as a man. In the previous few months, not only had he cheated multiple times on his lovely, pop star wife, not only had he rejected a $88,500 a week contract with Arsenal, the club that brought him through the youth system as ‘derisory’, but his swaggering, “poor me”ism is projects the worst of the egocentric displays of overpaid, overhyped footballers in Britain today. You may also wish to type in his name along with mobile phone into a reputable search engine but I couldn’t possibly comment on what you may discover.

At least he kept his head however; Arsenal’s Emmanuel Eboue found the abuse so dispiriting after coming on as a substitute against Wigan Athletic and giving a goal away that he was substituted in tears.

Listen to the crowds’ reaction – they aren’t sad at all.

It even happens to the best of them – I’m sure you remember the heartfelt welcome home Mr. Beckham received at the Home Depot Center, honestly, we give you a genuine World Class footballer and just because he calls your league a joke and intimates that him and Skeletor are only here for a jolly and the lolly then you get all upset – especially this guy.

–          Props to Becks however, he doesn’t run off like a pussy – he was going to front the guy up. You can take the guy out of the East End of London…

There has always been a sanctimonious double-standard when it comes to booing your own players – the media are delighted when you give the opposition stick but when you object to paying $70 a ticket to see a less competent performance than Miley Cyrus would put on if she was playing Defensive Tackle for the Saints next Sunday then it’s somehow undeserved and you aren’t doing your job as a supporter. Well, the fact is that the world has changed – players’ wages have gone through the ceiling many many times and ours haven’t, although the ticket prices are trying their best to keep pace. If you pay $10 and your team sucks then it’s mildly annoying; if you travel 200 miles to a home game and you win 5 out of 25 in a year and have to pay for the privilege then their ineptitude takes on a rather harsher dimension and if your only recourse as a fan is to yell abuse at a 20-year-old, Bentley driving, DJ-pretending, fannying out of tackles, only turning it on for big games, Billy Big Bollocks for 90 minutes (yes, I’m looking at you Adam Johnston) then it’s a fair trade. In fact, next time it upsets you or your media pals, let’s swap.

You can stand at the end of my desk and boo my press release writing for 90 mins and I’ll take the Bentley home for the weekend. Fair do’s?

Guy Bailey is a staff writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at guyrbailey@gmail.com.

Guy Bailey