Spot-fixing is very much back on English football's agenda. Given the opportunity to make a lot of money very quickly and with little effort, Johnny isn't that surprised...
You don't have to be a Manchester United fan to feel nostalgic when you read about the Class of '92. Ordinary boys in the middle of an extraordinary coincidence...
I know I live a slightly odd life. I don't work a nine to five job, I don't drive, I live in the middle of rural nowhere, go days and days without meeting anyone and spend almost every day listening at high volume to kick ass rock n roll - right now it's the Chickenfoot live album - as I make stuff up, mostly while eating steak and eggs. It's a bourgeois existence and I wouldn't pretend otherwise.
But even my life is lived within a community of people of like minds, albeit mostly like minds connected to across electronic media and, like any other community of like minds, it is easy to forget that you're not the mainstream and that you actually live in a niche. Sometimes, until I venture out into the world at rush hour, I forget that my day-to-day reality is not at all commonplace.
This was brought home to me while I was listening to Harry Redknapp on Radio 4's Start The Week programme. Planet F365, as you'll know if you've been a reader for many years, happen to find 'Arry very aggravating. This isn't company policy, this just happens to be how we individually feel. In our world, the word 'Arry is normally only uttered after the words 'oh do shut up...' or 'that is utter bollocks...'
Yet Redknapp is a popular character in football. A lot of people like him and as he sat there in the Radio 4 studio, a working-class exhibit in a middle-class museum, spinning tales of East End life long ago like the well-practised raconteur he obviously is, there was no doubt he's an engaging man. In a world of plastic PR fakery, 'Arry, like so-called artisan bread, appears to be that most desirable of things, 'authentic.'
It was obvious why he's popular in the British media and equally obvious why there is so little passion to actually apply a proper critique to his work. In a world where you're filtered through many layers of PR spin and obfuscation, Redknapp must be a relief; a self-conscious hark back to more simple days.
While we might see him as a long-serving, decent, but unspectacular managerial talent with a distinct paucity of trophies to show for his work, he is more usually presented as a hero of sorts; as a not just a decent manager but as a great manager. Even now, his press mates are still angling for him to replace Roy Hodgson sooner rather than later. The pro-'Arry press is always out in force; the anti-'Arry press, almost non-existent.
This unremitting advocacy is probably a main driver of the anti-Redknapp tendency. We see the preferential treatment he has always received as basically unjust and feel his true worth is exaggerated and thus position ourselves accordingly against that perceived bias. Yet ironically, he is still portrayed as an underdog fighting the PC, the fashionable, the hip and the modern. This is the case with a lot of British managers, most of whom benefit from a far more positive press than their foreign imported colleagues.
Sam Allardyce is the perfect expression of it; self-pitying, obsessed with not being given credit for his self-defined brilliance and yet all the while actually benefitting form a hugely positive on-side press and media. The response to his win at Spurs was as though he had won a big war, not just a small battle and out-trooped the pro-Sam lobby to tell us what a tactical genius he is. Weeks of West Ham's more regular lumpy awfulness was forgotten or ignored.
There is relatively little criticism of British managers until they really cock things up badly, but they don't seem to know how lucky they've got it. Imagine how persecuted Allardyce would feel if he's had to suffer the opprobrium poured onto Andre Villas-Boas in his first few months in charge at Spurs, during which he won most games but was treated as though he was a fool? Let us not forget Ian McGarry's shameful phrase from his Chelsea tenure, that AVB was 'borderline Aspergers.' Would he ever cast such a charge on a British manager?
David Moyes' start at Manchester United has received a savaging on these pages but the press boys - and I do mean boys - are much more sympathetic. Can you imagine how they would have responded if it has been a chap like AVB in charge? The calls for his removal would loud and proud and his wild-eyed pitch side expressions no doubt dissected as those of someone suffering a mental disturbance.
Decent but unexceptional managers like Mark Hughes and Steve Bruce are regularly assigned very positive attributes, others like Tony Pulis received little criticism even despite the turgid football their sides play. Despite their 'British managers aren't given a chance these days' shtick, in actual fact, being a British manager in Britain is an easier ride in terms of the media. No one wants to upset you and ruin connections and ghost-writing jobs for the next couple of decades. You can hammer a Portuguese bloke because chances are you won't run into him that often after he's left the Premier League but 'Arry and his ilk, well they're almost like family so you lay off them.
The idea that British managers don't get a chance, are under-valued or under-appreciated is a common view that the likes of 'Arry will happily voice and many in the audience will doubtless nod in appreciation of the poor plucky Brit being done down by them swarthy furriners. But they're deluded.
If I can realise it's a luxury to spend all Wednesday morning thinking about how brilliant a drummer Chad Smith is, it's about time British managers realised how pampered they are in the Premier League and stopped moaning about their lot.
@red007 each and every one of your points has a case to be ridiculed! You suggest 2 games (one of which was a loss!) as a mark of success whilst considering a record points tally in the league. Have a quick look at Porto's record in Villas-Boas' last season. I'm not sure whether it will stand up to Redknapp's track record though you will have to let me know..- james_a_arsenal