Who is the 2023 George Best? Who would you pay to watch play football?
Where are all the entertainers? Have Man City trained the George Best out of Jack Grealish?
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The death of the entertainer
Back in the day, it was said that when George Best came town, it would add 10,000 to the attendance (which may partially explain why United have so many fans in other parts of the country). Best, the “fifth Beatle” as he was also known, for those of you who do not know, was the Messi of his time, mesmerizing to watch. In fact it was also said that often the crowd would grow silent in expectation of what magic he may be about to conjure.
After just witnessing City methodically and soullessly gobble up the competition like Microsoft Windows, I feel, as many others do (unless you are a City fan of course), unable to derive much joy from watching them play.
The precision positioning, structured moves, City seem to stifle all creativity out of players for the collective good. Weren’t Grealish and Mahrez much more exciting to watch at their former clubs? Despite being rivals, I have to take my hat off to Liverpool, Arsenal and even Chelsea for some of their thrilling title-winning sides. Now it seems, the juggernaut of winning comes at the expense of individuality.
So it got me thinking, when was the last time we’ve seen a player who got us off our seats? I have been lucky enough to see (on TV only) Pele bamboozle defences, Cruyff was a special talent, Maradona was of course obscene (in more ways than one) and Zidane was statuesque. But, over time, the pickings have become slimmer. Whenever Henry go the ball my heart would stop, Cantona was worth the ticket price alone, Giggs blowing past players as probably the last out-an-out winger (as opposed to the inverted ones). Berbatov’s first touch was unreal. Watching Ronaldinho score a hat trick at the Bernabeu was legendary. I even had the opportunity to see Messi live in Barcelona and it was a religious experience. But since then?
Is it me? Am I just old and jaded and no longer excited about the game I’ve loved for decades? Or have all the entertainers gone? Heck, I’d even settle for the brief flashes provided by Rodney Marsh or Frank Worthington or Paolo DeCanio or Jay Jay Okocha. I’m sure you can all name others as well.
So my question to you all is, what player, not on your team, would you pay to go and see today if they came to town?
Adidasmufc (Go watch the video of Best LOBBING the keeper in a packed penalty area… on the volley!)
Saka contract makes sense
I’ve seen a lot of chatter about Saka’s reported £15 million a year, 4 year contract. Rival fans seem to be crowing as if the club has made some howler. Let me clarify for those who don’t understand why Arsenal would pay so much for someone so young:
1) He’s Arsenal through and through, why would you not reward someone who has been loyal to the club, who has basically carried the club in our fallow years? It sends a great message to some of our other youth who may be tempted to go to Chelsea or City – you can get the contracts they pay out at our club too if you fulfil your potential.
2) He is, quite comfortably, one of the best young players on the planet. Every single rival club would bite their arms off to be able to sign Saka, they would have all offered him the same sort of contract, on the same wages. To think otherwise is you just deceiving yourself.
3) The agent will have used this interest to drive up the offer, again that is smart for Saka. As is the 4 year contract, for if he continues on his trajectory, he’ll be worth even more in the future. The club wanted to get him signed, this puts to bed a big albatross around the club’s neck
New contracts being signed should only really matter to that club’s fanbase, and if you look at Arsenal, other than a few rogues, the fanbase is united, our Starboy is ours still. And we’re more than thankful.
John Matrix AFC
Man City are just better at this sh*t
The angst about Man City, and to a lesser extent Newcastle inevitably dominating, and killing the game seems a bit overblown.
The Premier League is a monster, generating unbelievable rivers of gold for all concerned. Every year, all 20 Premier League teams are in the top 30 richest clubs world-wide. Even the incredibly canny and well run Brighton have spent over £250m in the last few years. Man City may have spent around £1 billion over whatever period, but so have ManU (badly), and Chelsea have surely joined them on both counts.
Villa, Everton, West Ham and even plucky little Arsenal have spent what can only be described as a f#ck ton of money on transfers and wages, some great, most wasted.
READ: Premier League five-year net spend table sees Arsenal double Man City outlay
So basically, we have a bunch of extremely rich clubs crying foul and crying poor when better run clubs win things.
All the big clubs had the money to sign Pep, Haaland, some or all of their £50m defenders, De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez, Alvarez, etc, etc – but they didn’t. ManU, in particular, spaffed an even larger amount of money on a steaming pile of whatever you want to call it over exactly the same period.
The backers of these sports washing clubs may be horrendous. The reason they’re winning is not because of this or their limitless sea of cash. It’s because they are well run with a long term vision, just like Chelsea 🙂
Can’t say I was surprised to hear Pep’s comments about the 115 FA charges that they are facing. What he said, however, was absolute horse manure. Man City do not want this dealt with ASAP, they want this to take as long as possible. They need to drag the league through all the exhaustive legal avenues for as long as humanly possible until they are able to identify something ambiguous upon which to hang their defence. We weren’t born yesterday, Pep.
If I were a cynic, I’d almost think this statement was part of the legal strategy to eventually be able to say at some point around 2039 that they really, really, really wanted to get this done ASAP.
In financial terms, Man City are the football equivalent of Lance Armstrong.
Whose nose is clean?
Love Man City as well as a bit of Whataboutery, so would like to point out that the new Wrexham owners made their name in an industry rife with alcohol/drug abuse, body-shaming, eating disorders, sexual abuse and long spells of unemployment. But you know, Paul Mullin’s slogan on his boots, Ben Foster’s Youtube channel and all…
And I assume being a striker Jizz Hornkamp hates clean sheets. Thank you.
Response to Mo
I can only assume you’re an Arsenal fan. Great job finishing a clear 2nd in the league.
Declan Rice: clearly a player in the ascendancy only going to get better and unfortunately, probably wearing Arsenal colours next season
Coventry or Luton promotion: Both teams have performed brilliantly in the toughest division in world football and deserve the right to replace Everton, Leicester or Leeds who have all been playing seriously shit football all season. I will say though, at least Everton and Leeds are trying. Leicester played like an already relegated team the other night and somehow squeezed a point from it.
Anyway, whoever wins on Saturday will do everything possible to stay up next year.
A quick note about my favourite south-coast Premier League team. See if you can guess who it is.
・getting in exciting young managers who are on the way up and occasionally losing them to bigger teams.
・a clear plan and strategy in the transfer market, buying young players with potential.
・selling star players for big money and inexplicably staying where they are or improving.
・every big decision made by the board going well.
Yes, it’s Southampton in 2016 of course.
Brighton are great at everything they do but it takes a lot of luck to keep it going.
Sorry to piss on everyone’s chips.
Adam G, NUFC, Japan
How to improve refereeing
TX Bill made a few good points about how to improve refereeing, but I can’t get behind the word ‘corrupt’. That has many more detailed nuances about motivation and smacks of conspiracy theories which are a lot of fun but are really just simplified mental sticking plasters for more complex explanations. Some of his suggestions are already in place. Referees do get promoted and demoted based on their performances.
Here are mine. I honestly don’t think refereeing can get much better to be honest. There is just a physical and mental limitation for how much they can get right. They are going to make mistakes and given the subjective nature of many calls and the partisan nature of fans interpretation there will never, ever be 100% consensus on every decision. Ever. No matter how hard you try, how you word the rules, how much technology you throw at it or how objective you try and make it. Take the Mings v Gakpo decision. Myself, and PGMOL apparently, thought a yellow card was sufficient, there was no intent for violent conduct. Needless to say, Liverpool fans disagree. Vehememently.
The improvements need to be in communication to calm everyone the f*** down. THAT is one problem. The other is allowing media and mainly managers deflect the attention away from the fact their team played garbage football/their £50m striker has forgotten to score goals/their goalkeeper has spaghetti hands by making the referee the narrative.
1.) Get these players away from the referee. All of them. I am all for resolving conflict by talking and explaining but this cannot happen in the middle of the football pitch. The players are not thinking logically, but emotionally so nothing is gained at all from that approach. If they say ANYTHING that questions a decision or the referee deems inappropriate it’s a yellow. The referee is mic’d up anyway so this can be proven after the match. If they approach him give them one chance to walk away then book them. This goes for the fourth official, linesmen and managers too. If referees weren’t having their concentration broken every few minutes perhaps that would help the standard of refereeing too.
IF the players want an explanation, 1 hour after the match the referee can sit down and have a recorded meeting where they explain to the managers/captains only. Anyone coming out of that meeting spouting falsehoods to the media can have that conversation released to the media to prove them to be lying.
2.) Communication. The PGMOL or FA has to regularly, constantly remind the public about the laws of the game and how they are interpreted. Pundits (PUNDITS – THEY ARE PAID TO KNOW THESE THINGS) often act astounded that they aren’t sure what the laws are anymore. This should not be the case. Put it on adverts, put a short video on before every game (even in the stadiums), teach it in schools, put it on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and MySpace. It should not be in a little book somewhere in obtuse language that paid analysts can’t even be bothered to read.
3.) Ban managers from talking about referees in the media. You can say you disagree with a decision but that is it. Do this for a while then ban them from talking about decisions altogether. They need to be weened off this automatic excuse for losing a match. It not only adds to the hysteria (they have an enormous impact on a fan base) but it’s predictable and boring. Also, it may just lower the media noise around a decision, there’s 89 other minutes of football to report on you know. Of course, fans will still talk about it, rant about it and that’s fine! All good gristle for the banter mill! But let’s not have people from the club leading it
4.) Grassroots. Some parents are awful. Including some on my son’s lovely team. Some coaches are worse. Utterly vile. I have no answer for those refereeing heroes. I’m sorry. I always thank them for the game and occasionally apologise for other parents (who I also gently try and talk down) but there needs to be something more… potentially a coaching licence for managers or something. Dunno.
There’s my ten pence worth. Stop focussing on the refereeing quality and focus on managing the nonsense around it.
Funstar (Tried reffing a kids game once – never again) Andy