The endless whataboutery over the length of suspensions, the "blasts" and the "snubs", the "-gates" and the "fury". It all starts when the fixture list is announced...
Shane Warne once remarked of Monty Panesar that he hadn't played thirty-three tests, he'd merely played his first test thirty-three times. Something similar is true of Nani...
Let's be frank. There are times when the business of whimsical profile-writing is a slog. Here I labour, chained to my desk in F365 Towers, just one word-monkey amongst thousands. No more than two cups of tea per day, half a dry biscuit for lunch, and the constant pressure to make things relevant, to optimise our art for the search engines, to give the public what they think want, the fools. If we fail, well, we end up on the wrong side of Mr Angry Overseer, Mr Angry Overseer's sharp tongue, and Mr Angry Overseer's special broomstick.
However, luckily for us, there have been no big games since last we spoke, and so we are free to steer the good ship Profile365 to calmer and more secluded waters. Let us turn our attention to the goal that goes in off the underside of the bar.
Last weekend provided us with two fine examples of the genre, from the fourth, and second-best leagues in the word (is that how Mr Murdoch likes it, Mr Miller, sir? Please don't hit me again). In Italy, noted son of Tameside Simone Perrotta rounded off a 3-1 win for Roma by expertly diverting a Francesco Totti cross in off the bar. Meanwhile, over in Spain, one of the goals of the weekend came in Valencia, as Roberto Soldado sent an improvised flying flick-volley onto the underside, and then into the Levante net.
The goal off the underside of the bar is the finest of all the goals: this is undeniable. Well, you can deny it, but you'll be wrong. No, you will. While other kinds of goal have the capacity to please, and please immensely - the dink on the run, say, or the ball trapped in the stanchion, or the Julian Dicks penalty - none are quite as fulfilling, and certainly none as frankly enjoyable. Why? Well, glad you asked. Four reasons ...
The first is power. There are exceptions - Zinedine Zidane's penalty in the 2006 World Cup is perhaps the most notable - but as a general rule, if a ball hits the bar, it's got some force behind it. Otherwise it wouldn't be up there in the first place. And for all that adults like to pretend that placement and delicacy and finesse are superior characteristics in a finish, there remains something intensely joymaking about seeing a ball with a foot well and truly put through it. Plus those watching get to wheel out the Alan Partridge quotes on Twitter again, and quoting Partridge as often as possible is a very important part of modern online life. Traction football! Liquid engine! All that good stuff.
The second is precision. A ball that goes in off the bar (or the post) is on the very cusp of not going in at all. It's the counterpoint to that weird cliché: "if anything, he's hit it too well"; if anything, he's hit exactly as well as he possibly could, and no better. Which means worse, obviously, because this is football and words don't have to mean what they mean.
The third, related, is risk. A ball that's coming off the bar isn't necessarily going into the net, and that means the most immediate sign of a GOAL! can be missing. Add to that the spin generated by a violently moving object running into an obstinately fixed one, and you end up with ... well, you end up with poor Frank Lampard still having never scored a goal at the World Cup, much to the irritation of everybody English and the amusement of the entire rest of the planet. Doubtless it was of great consolation to Frank that the defeat against Germany wasn't actually due to his disallowed goal, but to a (probably wrongly) allowed crossbar effort from Geoff Hurst all those years ago, which in the short-term won England the World Cup, but in the long run condemned them to a tragic cycle of technical inadequacy, poisonous hype, and ritual humiliation. Sliding doors ain't got nothing on a mischievous crossbar.
And the fourth is perhaps the most obvious, and definitely the most important. Watch Tony Yeboah score this goal.Watch the ball careering about afterwards. Try not to smile. These are goals that their purest form sound like WHAPtwangboingboingboing. They're great. They're fun. And fun, after all, is why we're all here. Well, you lot, anyway. I'm chained to a desk in a room without windows. Send help. And biscuits.