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...
God save us from another prolonged hissy-fit about who has or hasn't shaken anyone's hand. All too often football seems to resemble an episode of Hollyoaks rather than a sport played between adult males.
Between evaporating handshakes, sarcastic applause, hapless diving and the hysterical feigning of injury, football seems to have forgotten how to behave like a grown-up. Even when two players wind each other up, because they know they're not allowed to fight like men for fear of the opprobrium of the authorities and social media, they huff and puff at each other, trying to walk aggressively into their opponent or lean into them in a threatening manner. Look!They're so cross they've leaned their heads together!
But for all this passive-aggressive stropping there is no actual threat from one player or manager to another because no-one ever does anything. They all know that no-one ever gives anyone a proper thumping. No-one boots someone up in the air. All their threats to each other are pseudo and they know it, so they can behave like petulant children with impunity in this culture of faux aggression.
When I was at school, if two kids started fighting and the gym teachers were on duty, they'd rarely break it up unless one kid was getting beaten senseless by a psycho. Their idea was to let the kids beat it out of each other. They believed that fighting was somehow a natural thing for two teenage boys to do and it was better expressed than repressed. So they'd stand back and let the kids have a few whacks at each other. They also thought it was great entertainment for other kids, which of course, it was. At the time I thought this was a brutal, Lord Of The Flies-style approach to adolescence. As a nascent hippy I just wanted everyone to get along and not be beastly to each other. Not such an ignoble aim but one born out of naivety.
Today when you see players behaving like over-wrought teenagers, I can't help feel that the gym teachers were onto something. If instead of all the threats of aggression and the verbal assaults and other emasculated behaviour, if we condoned just letting them fight it out, it might make football a lot less infantile in the long run. It'd introduce some discipline that a footballer could understand. Mess with me and you get punched.
I'd happily see Rafa Beneitz taken on Sir Alex. In fact, I'd rather like to see Rafa fighting a Chelsea fan in the car park after each game.
On the rare occasion that someone, such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic actually does slap someone upside the head, the hysterical response to it is so great it scares off men with less epic egos than The Z Man from committing similar crimes. And while no-one would want to see mass fight breaking out on the pitch or in the stands, the occasional punch between players, the odd slap of a referee, the occasional scrap between two blokes who just fecking hate each other would allow everyone to vicariously let off steam.
It really might exert a discipline on players. If you just fine a multi-millionaire a few quid for pathetic sarcastic applause, it's no discipline at all, but if a ref punched the applauder in the kidneys and set about him with a stick, it just might.
Alright, I confess, I'm being wilfully provocative about this. Violence is rarely a solution to anything, unless you are being invaded by the Nazis. But what I'm trying to express here is a loathing and sheer weariness of how football conducts itself in this regard and how that conduct is then sold back to us by a slavering media always keen to ferment outrage and insult. It is the least attractive plot line in the soap opera of top-flight football and the dread we surely all feel as another hand goes unshaken is nothing to do with it as an innocuous non-event but everything to do with the foaming nonsense that we know will wash around for an age afterwards.
The gym teachers would eventually break up the fights, making the kids shake hands and then slapping each of them across the head with the words 'just grow up lad'. It was good advice then, it's still good advice now.
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MisterD, the thing about enforcers in hockey is that the potential for retribution from them is enough to keep players on the straight and narrow, and often avoids the need for the gloves to come off. I am a big hockey fan and I'm ambivalent about fighting - I don't want to see people start them for the sake of it, but then again, if two players have a running battle through the game, then why shouldn't they settle their differences that way. The other thing about how this wouldn't work is that hockey players by and large respect the officials enough to stop fighting when the linesmen step in. As was said earlier, I don't think there is that respect for the officials from footballers, so you would end up asking officials to put themselves in harm's way unnecessarily.- quoththeraven