My Dog Hates Football

Our footballing pet hates. Because we feel like it.

#25: Repetition

The endlessly repeated dialogue between rival fans, where the same clichéd ”bantz” are regurgitated over and over and over and over - akin to two blue bottle flies, either side of a pane of glass, attempting to fly at one another. The dispute inevitably runs out of steam, with nothing resolved or learned. The protagonists fall back into the shadows, where they lay in wait - readying themselves to go again.

The endlessly repeated dialogue between rival fans, where the same clichéd ”bantz” are regurgitated … ahhh, see what I did there? No? Well, let me remind you … (repeat to fade)

Submitted by @bifurcated_mufc

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Editor: It’s almost a metaphor for the site. Farewell. 

#24: Contact

You may want to sit down for this (assuming you aren’t, which you probably are but it’s a commonly used dramatic device - let’s move on). Association Football is not a non-contact sport. Golf is, so is cricket and tennis, volleyball, sprinting, curling and gymnastics. Football, however, is not. 

You may be thinking you already knew this, that this has been a public announcement from the Ministry for Stating the Bleeding Obvious, but there’s a very broad sample of the football-watching/writing-about/moaning-endlessly-about community who seem happy to forget this point whenever it suits.

This pro-active amnesia seems to be particularly popular when the topic of discussion is what (along with the liberal use of Enoch Powell-isms and sticking willies in inappropriate places), has become one of the scourges of the modern game, diving.

‘There was contact’ is the standard refrain from fans of whichever club’s dirty, cheating foreigner (a recent study by the Institute for Jingoistic Press Morons conclusively proved that English footballers don’t dive) throws himself to the ground like a flying squirrel with vertigo. The trouble is that, in itself, this argument carries about as much weight as the expiry date on an Arsenal player’s contract.

Notice how many of these dives are preceded by ‘contact’.

According to FIFA, Law 12 of the game (the one that talks about fouls and related naughtiness) states that a player who intentionally kicks, trips, charges, strikes, holds or pushes an opponent shall be penalized by the award of a direct free-kick.

What you don’t see anywhere there is the word ‘contact’. That’s because football, as was so shockingly revealed at the beginning, is a ‘contact sport’. That means players are allowed to touch each other (not like that, what’s wrong with you?), that’s why you don’t see referees handing out cards like blackjack dealers with Alzheimer’s every time there’s a corner. There’s some merit to the suggestion that a player has to go to ground or the foul won’t be given but it’s hard to take it seriously when the perfectly landed triple back-somersault was prompted by the equivalent of a malnourished halibut hitting a submarine.

Just as being a cat-eating primate doesn’t, by necessity, make someone a member of the Stoke City squad, the mere act of making contact with an opponent does not constitute a foul, even if he does then go to ground like Captain Scarlet after a visit to a clumsy barber.

By Surge Biscuits, follow him on twitter.

#23: Over Analysis

There is one basic reason why a football team wins a match (you may wish to note this down for future reference), it’s because they score more goals than the other team. For those requiring more detail this can be further broken down into three sub-categories; 1 - they were better than the other team, 2 - the sides were actually fairly evenly matched but one was a bit more effective in front of goal (this may overlap with 1), 3 - they got lucky. Putting aside bad refereeing decisions which, according to the latest statistics from football supporters everywhere, is the primary reason for every defeat their team has ever suffered, that’s pretty much it.

For some reason, however, the media (and, by extension those among us who think an account with their social media platform of choice makes them a de facto member of the fourth estate) feel that the afore mentioned scenarios are not enough to explain why Northampton Town got three points on Saturday or why Charlton Athletic are through to the next round of the cup and opt to regale us with lavish descriptions of everything from the number of passes completed (not quite as important as people would have you believe, it still helps to put the ball in the net occasionally and tackling’s not the worst idea in the world) to the length of the grass, the full-time occupation of the linesman and the top selling flavour of pie at half time. 

image

This all began when Sky started forking out US-arms-contract-style sums of money for the privilege of turning Jim Bowen’s ‘Bullseye’ into the highlight of ITV’s Sunday schedule (those under 30 can feel free to ignore that reference). Suddenly they needed something to justify charging subscribers a monthly fee which was approximately the same as those in other countries paid for the entire year so they presented us with troglodyte-featured TV sexist, Andy Gray and his ‘Boot Room’, a disheartening little crevice in which he would shuffle fridge magnets around a wall-hung Subbuteo pitch while human fur, Richard ‘smash it’ Keys nodded his Volvo-like head approvingly.

Soon the print media started following suit and before you could say ‘Neil Shipperley’ the nations broadsheets were bombarding us with 20,000 word dissertations on why reigning champions and runaway league leaders Manchester United had beaten relegation-in-waiting Coventry City 3-0. Today, every pass, every shot, every referring decision is closely examined, forensically probed as if it were part of the Kennedy assassination. 

This is not to say that all analysis is useless. Gary Neville’s metamorphosis from Man United player everyone loved to hate to TV analyst everyone wishes they didn’t love (okay, like) has been as insightful and engaging as it has surprising (or unsettling for some) but the assumption that every facet of the game that can be scientifically measured automatically has a significant effect on the outcome of the game is to ignore the skill and artistry that makes the it ‘beautiful game’.

Yes, it’s reasonably useful to know how many shots the two teams may have had on/off target or how many fouls were committed but, in all honesty, how much light can the number of sideways passes in the middle third of the pitch during the opening 17 minutes possibly shed on Newcastle 0-0 Tottenham? Admittedly, it fills a lot of column inches but the warped psychopath in ‘Se7en’ wrote a lot and you wouldn’t want to sit next to him a Deepdale. So deep is the desire to portray oneself as a footballing intellectual, some have even created fictional universes to play out their geekish fantasies. What kind of person actually produces an alternative league table based on the premise of shots hitting the post actually counting as goals? That cannot possibly be healthy.

By Surge Biscuits. Follow him on twitter @NoHeroesHere

#22: Transfer gossip

Everything italicised in this following piece are things that you should hate …

Transfer gossip.

The second word in particular. Why? 

Who knows? It could be that the word ‘gossip' was used as much and around the same time as 'transfer rumours’ — of course — but that’s not relevant, and at least the latter is more acceptable, and certainly it’s more tolerable. Its synonym, however, conjures up images of a diluted sport — we’re not talking about the game losing its masculine image (who really cares about that, to be honest, and what the precious/slightly insecure I-only-do-rugby-because-it’s-for-men crew think) — but something that just doesn’t go together.

This isn’t to tell people how to enjoy the game; if you like watching other leagues, or you’re interested in statistics and tactical analyses, or whether you’re partial to more than one team (although, you know …), that’s fine. They’re all part of the game. Transfer talk isn’t. But, deeper than that, the word we sometimes use — gossip, frickin’ gossip — is worse. Sounding like a loon, yet? Good. 

Why doesn’t ‘transfer’ and ‘gossip' go together? Because it just doesn't. Because having an irrational hatred for something means you don't have to provide a reason, because — oh wait, we've got one — it advocates some sort of devolved sport for those who actively scour the football sections of Italian and Spanish newspaper websites and put it through Google Translate so they can tweet it and discuss it at the pub, and, crucially, in the process, get their hopes up. “We're signing a Brazilian wonderkid I haven’t heard of! And this wonderkid is actually the real kind, not those other wonderkids that are said to be wonderkids but are actually not wonderkids!” ‘Rumours’, in its defence, at least sounds straightforward even if you think it’s the very same thing — unlike gossip, which is the equivalent of the dark alleyway or Hamsterdam (not a spelling error) at night. 

Most reports are not true; and most are made up because 1) it’s easy and 2) it’s even easier to deceive people. Gossip perhaps sums up this new sport better than those other words you think means the same things; the BBC have their own daily gossip column which they publish on their website, and get extraordinary hits because people seem to somehow want to think that Pascal Chimbonda is signing for their club. And you’ll know, then, that nothing good can come from this. 

Brought to you by a laptop computer in a place resembling a Mental Health Institute. 

#21: Bravery

If you look up the word ‘brave’ in the dictionary, you’ll find the following definition:

adj. 

1. Possessing or displaying courage; valiant.

2. Making a fine display; impressive or showy: 

3. Excellent; great:

What you will not find is a picture of Terry Butcher with a bloodstained bandage wrapped around his gushing head wound. You will also find no mention whatsoever of placing ten blundering clodhoppers with the positional sense of rhubarb behind the ball and using every fleeting moment of possession to launch it forward in the general direction of a gangly streak of bladder-nectar, vainly hoping it hits him on the head as he flails about like a newborn deer with an inner ear infection. Usually, such comportment is derided as the jaundiced, insipid sludge that it is but when the luxury coach in the goalmouth sports a Nationwide logo on the side, opinion seems to shift.

'England defended like lions' we are invariably informed as they waft out of a tournament with the dejecting whimper of a gaseous secretion from a sleeping tramp. So eager, it seems, are the sweat-buckets of hackneyed jingoism charged with covering these affairs for the nation's press to eulogise the bewildered dolts in whom they’d invested so much misguided faith they remain glibly oblivious to the fact that what they’ve just witnessed was actually more reminiscent of panicked tortoise curling up in his shell and craftily placing a drawing pin nearby in hope that any hungry badger passing by might step on it and limp off home to nurse his foot.

There is nothing brave about this strategy at all; it’s the sporting equivalent of assuming the fetal position and frantically screaming ‘Not the face! Not the face!’. Nevertheless, blathering tabloid Luddites continue unperturbed to laude this blissfully pig-headed refusal to evolve past football’s Cro-Magnon stage as some from of moral crusade, churning out the perniciously deluded narrative of England as honest, principled guardians of the pure, virginal game they invented, defending it with their lives from the dark arts of ‘tactics’ and ‘technique’ invented by shady foreign types who’d rather pass to a team-mate than rupture a lung tunelessly bellowing out the national anthem. The type of spineless pansy-pickers who’d crumble at first sight of ‘Gerry’ rather than sing ‘We’ll Meet Again’ in Moorgate tube station while the Luftwaffe bomb their jellied eel stall.

Admittedly, nobody has perfected the art of fruitless running around and getting hit by a football quite like the English but in the pantheon of courageous acts throughout the course of human history, it rates just below letting a kitten lick chocolate off of your finger.

By @NoHeroesHere

#20: Football shirts

Let’s get one thing straight from the beginning, this is in no way a call for footballers to start running around stripped to the waist, we’ve all seen enough pasty, bare-chested posturing to last a life-time thanks to a certain England captain. The concept of players keeping their nipples to themselves is a perfectly sound one and one we should all support. That being said, something is rotten in the state of Umbro.

The shirt is probably the most iconic symbol a football club has, more so than the badge, even. When you think of Celtic, what’s the first image that comes to mind? Green and white shirts, right? Ajax? The white shirt with the red band, huh? Inter Milan? Okay, the first thing is Yolanthe Cabau, but the blue-and-black stripes is the second, isn’t it?

They used to be beautiful things (the shirts, that is). They weren’t particularly fashionable but they were symbolic and dignified. They stood for something. Today though, rather than being an emblematic representation of a club’s identity, the modern football shirt has become the shiny, corporate-sponsored flagship of the heaving armada of disposable club-shop tat that propels Mr. J Come-Lately and family from casual observers to uber-fans with just one swipe of the Visa card.

Flashes, stripes, chevrons, hoops, squares - in indulgently named colours like ‘mid-autumn postbox’ and ‘ambivalent kumquat’ - there’s nothing that Adidas and co. won’t add to these gaudy, poly-blend monstrosities. Even tartan, a print customarily reserved for Scottish blokes at weddings and old ladies’ shopping trolleys has been known to make an appearance. Club tradition is about as welcome as a bum-sneeze in a lift and the only guiding design principle is making this year’s offering different enough from last year’s to force the world-wide network of credulous rubes to fork out another 3,500 Mongolian togrog to look like their heroes.

Look at Barcelona. The past few years have been the most glorious period in the club’s history. Unfortunately for them, though, the good folk at Nike seem to have raided the laundry basket from the 1992 North Malibu Under-13s Disco-Dance Championships – and people have cameras! These guys are hardly underwear models to begin with so the last thing they need is to be photographed prancing all over Europe in a special edition ‘intergalactic salmon’ European away kit. They may well be one of the greatest sides of all time, but stick their names into Google images and it looks like the pictorial history of the gay hobbit version of Gladiators.


Submitted by @NoHeroesHere

#19: The big man’s touch

Ever since football began, commentators have always told us that the the size of a striker’s femur is inversely proportional to the quality of their first touch. Perpetuating the myth that any player over 6ft should not be capable of controlling a ball in a space less than 5 metres square, the biologically uneducated baboons (Gary Neville excepted), who have the displeasure of diminishing our viewing experience, seem to genuinely believe that tall people are less in control of their extremities than everyone else.

Bizarrely, these fountains of knowledge (Gareth Crooks, arise) have seemingly hypothesised this relationship due to the fact that; there is a larger gap between their brain and feet (even though nerve impulses travel at 120 metres a second- making an extra 30cm irrelevant); their longer bones are more unwieldy (despite being surrounded by longer muscles); they have big feet (and therefore have a bigger surface to control the ball with).

Admittedly, this theory may have held true when football was a more physical sport and a flurry of wannabe rugby players* dominated the front lines of lower league English football but since referees began to realise that the interests of the game were best served rewarding skill over physically, this typically English football phrase is simply an out-dated cliché (as long as we ignore that pony-tail wielding exception, Andy Couldn’t Hit a Barn Door Carroll).

"This chap looks pretty tall. That touch, though. Bah! Pure luck!"

In modern football, the improvement in quality across the board has left the average six-football five forward with just as good a touch as that of the average five foot six forward. Of course, bigger players may historically have been forgiven for a bad touch because they could rough up the opposition but faster players have equally been forgiven for a bad touch because they can get to the ball before anyone else (Javier Hernandez, Theo Walcott, Leroy Lita). The key difference here though is a question of skill, not biology, and something which highlights why when a player mis-controls a ball, it is not because they are a freak of nature; it is simply because they are not that good.

Therefore, in 2012, Alan Parry should not have to remind us that Peter Crouch has defied his own genealogy every time he manages to bring a ball under his control but, alas, he will. It seems that despite the fact players such as Bergkamp (6ft 2”), Berbatov (6ft 2”) and Ibrahimovic (6ft 5”) are some of the finest exponents of close control that you are ever likely to see (unless you have to be lanky [Crouch] or fat [Holt] to qualify as a big man), commentators will continue to purport that all ‘big’ players should, regardless of their skill, have a bad touch. Who knew?

*Yes, it seems Kevin Davies has transcended the decades but I shall not let his time travelling trickery tarnish my elaborately formed theory.

Submitted by (Chris) @CanTheyScore from the Manchester United Podcast, Can They Score?

#18: “He really should have …”

“Should have scored from there” / “should have got a hand to that” / “should have looked up” / “should have made that substitution earlier” / “should have won that game”. You get the gist.  What I find myself infuriated by is the implication that someone, somewhere, ‘should have’ done better. To most, I’m sure the seemingly harmless semantics of the broadcaster ‘on-the-hop’, are purely incidental to their overall enjoyment of a game.  It’s just a particular way of voicing what, in their own opinion, amounts to: had the alternative options available been exercised, a more beneficial outcome may have resulted. But it gets on my nerves.

To me, the inference of the word ‘should’ is that certain elements of the sport are regarded by some as nothing more than the automated actions of a football-kitted vending machine. In dehumanising certain aspects of football, what those deviants using the word ‘should’ are in fact doing is depriving many of us (or possibly just me) of the much valued relatedness we find implicit in our love of the game.

I want the players and managers I support to be susceptible to all facets of the human condition: paralysed by self-doubt, enraged yet empowered by injustice, driven by their own narcissism, corrupted by the temptation to deceive, revelling in exacted revenge, foregoing their professionalism to embrace the inherent propensity in all of us to behave like a child – because it’s those things that make football brilliant.

Nothing extraordinary ever came from anyone doing what they should.

Submitted by @bifurcated_mufc

#17: Goal music

Thanks to the special relationship between the US and Britain, many elements of American culture have made their way across the pond. Some of them have been great (pizza, Breaking Bad, Soundgarden), some not (pointless wars, wearing hats sideways, Beyonce) but when they start creeping into our football, it’s time to draw a line in the sand (well, paint one on the turf). The half-time pie is being gradually replaced by a hotdog, fans spend their Saturday afternoons watching a TV programme that has the word ‘soccer’ in it’s title and, perhaps worst of all, we seem to have adopted the spleen-meltingly galling habit of playing music when somebody scores.

There has always been music at football. Stadium Tannoys have long belted out ‘Now, That’s What I Call Toilet 29’ before the game. More recently, wrestling style entrance music has been added to the tinny pre-match stream of Spandau Ballet B-sides in an attempt to create a sense of occasion, to give the Bovril-slurping punters the impression that Southend vs. Hartlepool is an unmissable clash of titanic forces that will decide the future of humanity rather than the lifeless 0-0 insomnia cure it will almost certainly turn out to be.

Surely, though, if there is one moment when fans don’t need an official soundtrack to whip them into a simulated frenzy it’s the one when the home team actually scores a goal. This is, after all, what people came to see. It’s the point in the game when even Arsenal fans risk life and vocal cord to break their traditional vow of silence, so surely there’s no need for a musical accompaniment. Especially one so prodigiously crap you’d expect it to be managed by Dave Basset.

Wolves, for example, have taken to marking the increasingly rare occasions on which they actually do score goals with the seemingly ubiquitous Tom Hark. It’s a perfectly good way to point out ‘We All Hate Leeds Scum’ but it’s not in much danger of turning up on Desert Island Discs  - and this is a club who has Robert Plant as their Vice President. Robert Plant! From Led Zeppelin!!! If the ‘traveller of both time and space’ can’t abate these waves of tacky inanity, what possible hope is there for anyone else?

If you ask someone from the club PR office (or whatever other denizen of sterility is charged with coming up with these ‘initiatives’), they’ll undoubtedly tell you that goal music enhances the atmosphere inside the ground. This is, quite frankly, a steaming pile of horse leavings! Fans up-and-down the country have been creating an atmosphere for decades by inserting player names and swear words into catchy, well-known melodies. Now, however, they just ‘duh duh duh’ along with whatever mindless, droning techno-drivel gets pumped out over the PA-system like lobotomized lemmings in the last scene of Close Encounters.  

There is absolutely no way on earth this man approves of goal music. None. At All.

Submitted by @NoHeroesHere

#16: Throwing clichés at a foreign manager

Foreign managers (and players), and this is based on what we’ve seen in the Premier League, are generally very willing to learn English when they arrive from another country and some speak it very well; indeed, the rate at which some have been able to develop what they know (and it may be very little) and speak it fluently is impressive given the popular theory that languages are thought to be easier to learn at a younger age. Anyway, we’ll stop pretending we’re experts on linguistics. (As an aside, the criticism of Fabio Capello for his apparent poor English during his tenure as England manager was harsh because not only was it sufficient, but seemed a snide way of saying ‘I don’t like him, and I don’t want him managing our nation’.)

However, what some have failed to acknowledge is that not everyone is and will be familiar with common clichés no matter how good their English is; as overused a word or phrase might be in one place, they’re probably not elsewhere, because, for one thing, they probably speak another language over there, you plank. And although it may not be intended, surely the job of the reporter is to ask questions based on the interviewee; they can ask a goalkeeper about his clean-sheet and a striker about his brace and surely the same can be done here. This doesn’t happen a lot, no, but enough to upset the dog, anyway. 

A sample:

TV Reporter: So, Roberto. That was a thrilling tie, a real game of two halves but you came out with a win in the end. 

Manager: Yes, I believe football has two halves and I believe we played very, very well. 

TV Reporter: You literally gave it 110%. What did you say to the players at half-time? 

Manager: I told them to go out for the second half and play better than they did in the first half. And win the bloody game, which they did. 

TV Reporter: And what about Chadwick? He’s been in brilliant form of late and absolutely worked his socks off today.

Manager: Socks? He did what to his socks? 

TV Reporter: Thanks for your time, Roberto. There are no easy games at this level and you certainly showed that today.

Manager: Oh, jog on, you numpty!

Yes, we’ve not only exaggerated it but failed to be humorous at the same time. Your point?