That's not a bad thing, according to our Johnny. But it looks incongruous in 2014. We're warming to his approach but this is a time of obfuscation, not honesty...
Football is just some rich men arsing around for our entertainment so the proper response to Alan Pardew's non-headbutt is laughter. Football is not a morality play...
The way I see it, life isn't a rehearsal; this is a one-take deal, man. You turn up, bring the best you've got, press record, and keep your big foot on the gas until it all goes black. You try and learn from your mistakes as you make them; god knows, if heartaches were nickels, I'd be the richest man alive.
But one thing I have learned is that waiting around for the good times to begin is a waste of precious time, you've got to make things happen and in doing that you'll feck things up royally but it's the only way to create and keep some momentum in life. You can't practise this life sh*t. It won't always be good or successful and often it'll be humiliating and downright depressing but that's the gig we've got to play. There is no alternative. Follow whichever road you want to follow, do what you want to do or have to do, but always in that context, put the pedal to the metal, crank it up and let it rock - even if, in my case, this largely involves sitting in a big padded chair writing for 12 hours a day - because let's face it, we're all headed to the same destination, only the paths we take to get there are different.
If anything has shown us this, it is surely watching England international friendlies. If anything can make you doubt the point of staying alive for another day of glory and heartache it's England friendlies. Rehearsals; that's what friendlies are. A mock battle, a fake conflict. An imitation of life; like having sex with a thick asbestos condom over your entire body.
I loathe international friendlies. I really bloody do and it's time they were outlawed for the whole of world football. No other sport really plays friendlies or at least not friendlies which have any prominence or to which any significance is assigned.
Why can't we just send an international squad to a tournament without any of these hollow rehearsals? Pick your squad the month before, do some training and then see how you do. What's wrong with that? Nothing. As long as all sides do likewise, what's the bloody difference? It's just football, we're not preparing tactics to win a war.
The excuses for non-competitive games is always about giving time for a team or a squad to gel or to give new players a chance to shine or whatever - all the clichés are dragged out every time. It's all f*ckin' bullshit, man. They know it, we know it. Managers learn nothing from them and struggle pretending that they do.
New players who don't do well for an hour get demoted as not good enough, others who do well are either promoted to saviour of English football and acquire a status which they can't live up to when the real action starts or their 'true' class is questioned because 'it's only a friendly'.
Surely the unpredictability factor of putting a team together for a tournament is what keeps it exciting. I want managers, players and fans not to have a clue if a new player is going to be any good or not as they take to the field for the first game in a tournament. Why are we trying to decrease that unpredictability by trying them out in friendlies?
Friendly games symbolize how football takes itself far too seriously and how it over-thinks everything under some spurious and unprovable assumption that it will aid the final outcome at a tournament.
There are too few friendlies to establish a settled team which might be able to perform consistently as a unit and injuries and loss of form always wreck pre-tournament squads anyway, forcing a manager to change his plans. They're played in the knowledge that the result doesn't matter and with an eye on the league campaign, thus neutering performances, and winning over-inflates expectation and confidence while losing depresses the feck out of evreyone. Finally, one game of football at home to Chile isn't the same as playing someone like Ukraine in Brazil next summer and the lines that you can draw between those two things are so few as to make the whole thing irrelevant.
As for being able to see if new players are international class - what the hell does that even mean? There's a case to say that international class is lower than Champions League class anyway. But most play fewer internationals spread over their whole career than in two seasons of league football. The notion of International Class is spurious, especially so when applied to players who play terribly for England on a regular basis but are kept in the team because they're said to be international class. It doesn't exist. Only playing a good game in an international exists. So forget that. It's just another false ruler to measure something that doesn't need measuring and is impossible to measure anyway because it doesn't exist, especially not in bloody friendlies.
Established players are excused being sh*te in non-competitive games. There is simply nothing within the confines of the law that, say, Wayne Rooney or Steven Gerrard could do on any football pitch between now and June that would see them deselected. They could dig a big f*cking hole and sit in it dressed as a tramp, drinking white cider and swearing and still get a game. One good game at international level, even if it's in a friendly, guarantees you many more regardless of your form. Watch how long it'll take to shift Andros Townsend now, even though in all likelihood, he's already played his best England games and by the time Brazil arrives the whole world will know what he does every time he gets the ball.
Whatever the result against Germany is, you already know the menu of available reactions to it and they will all be irrelevant just as England beating Germany 5-1 in 2001 was irrelevant to what happened in the 2002 World Cup, and at least that was a competitive game. But even if friendlies could prove anything, I don't want them to. I want it all to be a mystery until the tournament starts.
International managers should just have to rely on seeing players in the league and then organising their choices pre-tournament. There's a month to do that - surely that's enough time. I guarantee no England player in Brazil will draw on his experience playing against Chile at Wembley as he takes to the pitch in the World Cup. He'll barely remember what he's been told the week previously.
All friendlies do is make us jaded towards international football. They stain the product, they devalue the experience. It's fake football that is a pointless imitation of the real thing. There are no rehearsals for life and there should be none for football.