Being sniffy about the Europa League is ridiculous. All football is inherently pointless and this competition is no more pointless than any other. Well done Rafa and Chelsea...
We're all bored of seeing Wayne Rooney chugging around the pitch for Manchester United. He needs a new story and a new stage. Anywhere would be better...
1979 was a difficult year for a hairy rock 'n' roll dude like me to go to college. There was nothing so out of fashion as the rock we used to call heavy and the silver-caped corpse of progressive rock had stopped twitching all together for a few years.
This meant that your average pub jukebox (early interactive music delivery hardware) was a musical desert. This was especially so at Newcastle Poly where I was about to ply my intellect in pursuit of a degree in English and History.
In the student bar there was literally only one 7" single that any self-respecting acolyte of the Great God Rock could play and that was 'Closer to The Heart' by Rush and its B-side 'Temples Of Syrinx'. If you're not familiar with Rush they were and still are part heavy rock, part prog-rock, part sci-fi ambient weirdness. In 1979 they were in the process of producing a quartet of genius records stretching from 1977's 'A Farewell To Kings' through to 1981's 'Moving Pictures'. They were almost terminally un-hip, unfashionable, magnificently nerdy and at the time they were almost single-handedly propping up our belief that the longer a track was the better it was.
Putting this record on the student union jukebox allowed any Fresher unfamiliar with their new peers to identify a fellow traveller on the rock 'n' roll road. You wouldn't accidentally put Rush on; those searching for Abba, The Police or Ultra-bloody-Vox, would never have heard of them. So you knew they were on the right side of the cultural fence.
As soon as it boomed out, heads suddenly popped up and looked around, like rock 'n' roll meerkats, to see who had put it on.
Playing that record was the passport to many new friendships and some sex bone activity with otherwise undercover rock chicks. I will always be grateful to Rush for that as well as for their brilliant 'La Villa Strangiato' which will make your day better here.
Such cultural short-cuts are important in life and, of course, in football too.
I often find myself identifying words and phrases as a kind of linguistic short-cut to quickly separate the loons; to identify those who are best turned off or ignored from the friendly, sentient creatures. You might find these guidelines useful:
* Anyone who says a player 'incited' the fans' bad behaviour. No footballer's actions should be able to incite you to do anything, let alone anything violent and illegal. That's your fault and yours alone.
* Any fan who calls a manager 'tactically naive' almost certainly knows a lot less about tactics than their manager, even if their manager is Kevin Keegan.
* People who still call the Premier League the Premiership despite the name change in 2007. How much longer do you need to change your default setting?
* Worse still, those ex-pros who still use the expression 'these days, with three points for a win', which has been the law now for over 30 years. Wake up granddad.
* People who criticise acts committed by players on a football pitch with the phrase, 'If I did that in the street, I'd be arrested' and look at you as though they have invented a fool-proof argument that isn't contradicted by you pointing out that blowing a whistle loudly and making hand gestures in the street would also be thought of as unacceptable too and probably the first signs of insanity. And gathering together with 30,000 other people without permission from the police is also illegal. So shut up. Context is everything.
* People who refer to diving as being brought over here by foreigners. How much football have you ever watched?
* Saying 'no disrespect' before showing disrespect does not mitigate that disrespect. But also, stop bloody saying 'no disrespect' before merely criticising a team or player. Criticism is not the same as disrespect. Loons.
* Anyone who sings those 'you know what you are' songs and thinks they're being clever.
* Use of the cliché about 'bragging rights'. No such rights exist.
* Anyone who begins a sentence with the word 'so' regardless of what they are about to say and compounds the crime by ending their sentence with a rising inflective, thus turning a statement into a question. e.g. So the pies were still frozen in the middle and I lost control of my bowels?' Once you listen for it, you'll hear 'so' deployed by interviewees every day of the week. Drives me insane.
* Fans who tell you that a player signing for a contract means 'he's committed to the club'.
* Critics who are sneery about a manager who writes anything down; as though making and looking at notes during a match makes you some sort of pretentious intellectual. Look at him with his reading and knowledge of words.
* Use of the expression 'stay classy' manages to be both pompous and cynical and makes those you're attacking look somehow better.
* People who unselfconsciously use the word 'banter'. Don't they realise that in football 'banter' is a word used to cover a multitude of sins from dumb celebrations to burning someone's clothes to out and out rape? So don't use it.
* Anyone who makes lists on the internet about things in football which annoy him. Loon.