How did the usualy immaculate Manuel Pellegrini end up wearing a hoodie? Alex and Andi have their ideas - starting with a gin y tonica at noon on Saturday...
A whole weekend has passed, and United haven't done anything disappointing, anything hilarious, or anything shambolic. Well done David...take the applause.
You have to wonder, sometimes, about the priorities of this nation's press. Following Newcastle United's game against Manchester City, it can't have been easy to decide where to go with the headlines. Focus on Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa's ludicrous and cowardly hack at Samir Nasri, who was caught right in the quenelle? Or perhaps the decision to disallow Chieck Tiote's second-ever moment of caught-that-one-nice? Maybe the best angle would be to focus on the performances of the two teams: Newcastle were unlucky, in a kind of encouraging way, while City were resilient and perhaps just a touch fortunate, in a kind of title-winning way. Perhaps.
But no. Instead - with the honorable exception of the Daily Express, who went with REF GOT IT WONGA AS KILLER STORM PREDICTED BY DI REVEALS NEW MADDIE LOCATION - some variation of the following dominated the back page of every single national newspaper that isn't devoted to the interests of horse-botherers:
ALAN PARDEW SAID SOME BAD WORDS.
This column is not minded to condemn swearing: sometimes it is big, other times it is clever, and generally, if done well, it's deeply satisfying. That said, nor is this column generally minded to defend Alan Pardew: he's a ridiculous man, and of the various people with whom he might rightly or wrongly been irritated, it's hard to see quite why Pellegrini took the brunt. Maybe Pardew is one of these curious folks that blames everything on whatever happens to be moving in their eyeline at the moment it all gets too much, like a clumsy cyclist that ends up tearfully blaming an inconvenient postbox for his his haircut, for his divorce, and for the fact that his children don't love him in anymore.
Still, really? A man, at a football match, swore at another man, also at a football match. Yes, it was disrespectful. Yes, it probably isn't the way that one grown adult human should address another grown adult human. Yes, doubtless any children watching have had their minds irrevocably scarred by the filth on show, and are now doomed to a life of petty crime, thoughtless violence, and miserable loneliness, turning, as they would, to their grandfather and calling him a f*cking old c*nt, before telling their grandmother to shut her noise. And yes, Pardew's a berk. But given that this was a game with plenty to admire, plenty to giggle at, and at least one genuine nasty moment worthy of strident condemnation, the focus on Pardew's flapping gob sort of suggests that football is becoming just another vehicle for a culture that can only conceive of one story, to be iterated and repeated endlessly until we've all forgotten how to read, think, and breathe. Tune in next week, for the continuing saga of FAMOUS PEOPLE DOES SILLY THING.
Though we liked the finger-wagging, Alan. Old-school unhappiness. Keep that up.
It's all irrelevant, of course. Chelsea will be winning the title because Jose Mourinho has decided that he wants to. Since he announced to the world that he wanted his side to let in fewer goals and be significantly less fun, his side have conceded precisely once, and have gone from entertaining mess to, well, a Mourinho-flavoured Chelsea.
This probably isn't magic. This is probably just a combination of talent, nous, and having loads of really good expensive footballers to lean on. But what's important is that it feels just a little bit magical, that it appears as though Mourinho can bend the universe to his will. After all, a side can train as hard as they want, and have all the tactical insight and guidance available, but when they come up against a wizard who can stop goals simply by wishing it so, well, what's the point?
Finally, we end on something of a sad note. For this is the transfer window, and the stench of death hangs heavy in the air. It's not easy being a professional footballer at the best of times - the actual playing of the game, that is; the driving silly cars and tweeting about banter elements look fairly straightforward - but this is perhaps the worst time of year for it. The weather's crap, the games are plentiful, and the threat of replacement looms like a big, intimidating, loomy thing.
So spare a thought for that hapless centre-half, who doesn't seem to know or care what 'offside' means. And take a moment to acknowledge that pointless waste-of-space in the middle, who been useless ever since you bought him. Every cock-up could be their last. They may never grace the Premier League again. Their ears may never again have the privilege to be graced by your particular brand of feedback. So each January, as you call another footballer a 'f*cking c*nt', remember, that could be the last 'f*cking c*nt' you ever share.
Andi Thomas and Alexander Netherton
So basically it's ok to sling age-related obscenities around? As a libertarian I'm not too bothered (my disapproval is mine, not a matter for anyone else). Presumably racial, sexist and homophobic assaults are ok too? Or are we into the usual confused and crappy "I want to be cool, but hey I'm not prejudiced" territory. Bit pathetic really, if you're honest.- none