Nick Miller doesn't want to feel sorry for Sam Allardyce, but if Davids Gold and Sullivan continue their game of brinksmanship he might have to. It's a tricky situation for all...
Ed Woodward gets plenty of criticism (and some of it richly deserved), but Nick Miller describes a numbers man pushed into the Old Trafford limelight. It's not easy...
Some things in life, we are told, are in the eye of the beholder. Beauty for example, or pornography, but perhaps most of all comedy. Things that make us laugh are incredibly subjective, and usually involuntary - you can't really choose what you find funny, which is why it's so delightful.
However, some things are just objectively funny. Someone walking into a glass door believing it to be open, for example, or a referee being hit in the groin with a football. Objectively, without question, to pretty much anyone with a pulse, funny.
Add to that list a story that appeared in the Sunday tabloids this past weekend, suggesting that Louis van Gaal would like to take Dirk Kuyt with him to Manchester United. Even the most humourless United fan (and boy has the last year brought a few of those out of the woodwork) must be able to appreciate the innate hilarity in this potential event.
This is, after all, Dirk Kuyt. The Dirk Kuyt who played for Liverpool. The Dirk Kuyt who bounded up and down the right flank of Anfield with the enthusiasm of a not-particularly-bright rabbit. The Dirk Kuyt who handed the title of 'Player Who Looks Most Like A Dog Farting Himself Awake (Mailbox passim)' to Jordan Henderson when he left Liverpool. The Dirk Kuyt.
The idea of him becoming a Manchester United player is hilarious. Epochally hilarious. In the ranks of the hilarious transfer, it leaves all others in its wake.
The humour doesn't come from Kuyt being a particularly bad footballer, because he isn't. He's the archetypal 'good man to have around', a reliable worker who will not just play wherever you ask him to, but will do so with relish and enthusiasm. Take the Netherlands' second-round game against Mexico; Kuyt played at left wing-back, right wing-back, right-back, right midfield and up front for a spell, all with the same energy, and he didn't even shirk when moved out of the shaded part of the pitch and into the 40-degree sun on the far side of the Castelão in Fortaleza. It of course should be noted that the fans on that side of the stadium fled for the shade in the second half, so lord knows what it was like to play there.
Also, for what it's worth, Kuyt now has 100 international appearances to his name, putting him seventh in the list of Dutch cap (sorry) owners. That's above Marc Overmars, Ruud Krol, Clarence Seedorf and Patrick Kluivert, and double the number that Johan Cruyff has in an ostentatious display case at home. The old notion that people such as Van Gaal probably know more about football than us applies here.
No, the humour derives from the reaction from United fans should he arrive at Old Trafford. This player who was a punchline for United fans, proof that Liverpool would never amount to anything if he was seriously the best they could do. He was derided as not being good enough for Liverpool back when they were a bit rubbish, never mind for United when they are trying to reclaim their spot at the top of English football.
Obviously with some exceptions, United actively laughed at Liverpool for having a player like Kuyt, and that was when he was in his prime. Now he's 33, and will be 34 later this month - not only would United be getting a man they previously regarded as a joke, but a joke that is a few years away from the knackers yard, too. Even thinking about the potential reaction is enough to make a grown man giggle.
It would also be interesting to see if, and how, this move is rationalised in the context of Van Gaal's reputation. As the Netherlands cut swathes through the World Cup, often because of smart moves on the part of their manager, the sense that Van Gaal very much knows what he's doing increases, so therefore every move he makes is trusted in the same way that almost everything David Moyes did was not. But will this be a move too far? Will the possible arrival of Kuyt chip away at the faith currently in their new boss? Is Dirk Kuyt's name poison to such an extent that they will stop believing? Probably not, because even Fergie did some inexplicable things, but the doubts may increase.
Of course, this could just be tabloid tittle-tattle and come to nothing. As the Dutch progress, it's almost inevitable that their players will be linked with moves to join Van Gaal, so there will of course be some slices of Olympic-standard nonsense in the papers.
But not this one. Please not this one. It's just too funny to not happen.
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Nick, you really need to change those polka-dot knickers of yours, on account of soiling them with all the muck containined in this article luvvie !- wotyomamased