Race to the bottom
There are numerous ways to spend an entire Sunday, but former Guardian, Times and Sunday Telegraph writer and occasional Sky Sports’ Sunday Supplement guest Paddy Barclay found a rather novel one this weekend: defending blackface.
It started with Barclay dismissing the thoughts of politician David Lammy, who criticised Star Sports Bookmakers for sharing a picture of a darts fan dressed as fellow MP Diane Abbott, black make-up and all.
Racism and misogyny? How do you explain either of those? Having someone dress up as you is hardly abuse of any description. https://t.co/rRFGq5PpNm
— Patrick Barclay (@paddybarclay) December 17, 2017
The bookmakers’ derisory defence was thus: “We tweeted it and it has had an unprecedented response in terms of retweets and likes. Ultimately you’re not going to please everybody all the time. We have never had anything on our social media that has had such a positive response.” Because social media engagement really does trump everything.
Star Sports later told critics to “please stop taking things so seriously,” and yet theirs was the side that Barclay, a man who really should know better, chose.
Over the course of the day, Barclay defended his stance that a white person wearing black make-up on their face and hands to impersonate a black person was fine, because the person in question was targeting Abbott for recent mistakes she had made with numbers, rather than persecuting her due to her race. ‘Having someone dress up as you is hardly abuse of any description,’ read one tweet. ‘How exactly was he supposed to impersonate her without darkening his skin?’ he asked in another.
Clue: If you have the choice of either ‘blacking up’ or not ‘blacking up’, always choose the latter. You’re far less likely to upset millions of people and generally be considered odious and ignorant.
Barclay went on to mock the syntax of those questioning his beliefs, state that he has ‘discussed this countless times with black friends’, point out that Lenny Henry ‘made his name’ by ‘whiting up’ – because the true victims in life are the middle-class white man – and make utterly bizarre comparisons such as this..
Right, so black women who straighten their hair are making fun of white people? Such claptrap.
— Patrick Barclay (@paddybarclay) December 17, 2017
…before finally admitting that he himself had ‘blacked up’ as Errol Brown at one point for a fancy dress party. He filled in his bingo card of abhorrent views by not once apologising.
Mediawatch can only hope that such blatantly racist views will actually be punished in some way, instead of ignored or frantically swept under the rug. The fact that most of his peers rallied in their numbers to criticise Arsenal’s Twitter account for tweeting a GIF reply to a journalist, but were conspicuous by their silence here, does not fill us with hope.
For those who still don’t understand why blackface is offensive (Hi Paddy), this should help.
Grumpford and Sons
No longer able to criticise Romelu Lukaku over his lack of goals, many in the media have turned to questioning why he is not celebrating scoring them. The Belgian followed up his midweek winner against Bournemouth with a similar goal against West Brom on Sunday, and his decision not to take off his shirt and wave it above his head while screaming his own name after scoring in the 27th minute against the team in 19th has left many confused.
Take the Daily Mirror for example. Their back-page headline of ‘UNMERRY CHRISTMAS’ is followed by a sub-headline of ‘Grumpy Jose insists he has given up celebrating even when United win after a wobble’.
And so to John Cross, who reiterates that Mourinho ‘has given up celebrating’, ‘is in no mood to party’ and ‘looked miserable on the touchline’ when Lukaku scored.
So why was Mourinho so ‘grumpy’ and ‘miserable’? Asked about Lukaku’s lack of a celebration – again, after scoring in the 27th minute of a game against his former club, having spent the last few months being widely (and justly) criticised – the manager replied:
“I didn’t celebrate either. I look at myself celebrating goals 15 years ago – with maturity you control your emotions better. You don’t go crazy when you win. You don’t get depressed when you lose. Some other managers are different and they don’t change. I change. If I score a goal in the last minute you will see me run, for sure. But a goal in minute 20-something… let’s play.”
No way, Jose
‘Grumpy’ Jose is not confined only to one newspaper, though. The Daily Mail‘s ‘The Verdict’ pull-out features a six-picture composite of the Manchester United manager looking a bit unhappy on the sidelines, with a sub-headline of: ‘Did someone show old misery guts the league table?’
Inside is a headline of ‘So where is the joy, Jose?’, while Chris Wheeler also leads on Lukaku’s non-celebration and the fact that Mourinho ‘was hardly doing cartwheels himself when they scored’.
That’s the last time either manager or player decides not to celebrate scoring a 27th-minute goal against the team in 19th, to close the gap to the league leaders – their bitter rivals – to just 11 points.
The Daily Mirror‘s John Cross was of course at The Hawthorns to watch Lukaku reprise his role as ‘£75million flat-track bully’.
‘WHY CAN’T ROM DO THIS WEEK AFTER WEAK?’ reads the headline. ‘Lukaku often goes missing when it matters, but was back to his rampant, goal-scoring best against the Baggies… he should be careful or he’ll get a reputation as a FLAT-TRACK BULLY’.
Lukaku’s goal is described thus:
‘Lukaku’s precision header flew into the top corner, but the Belgium striker’s reaction was very strange. His celebration was rather muted after scoring against Bournemouth in midweek and it was the same again this time. Maybe he was still sulking after criticism of his no-show against City, or because he had a loan spell at West Brom and followed the silly tradition of not celebrating against former clubs.’
Even in his player ratings from the game, Cross persists. ‘Superb header. What a shame he doesn’t do it in big games,’ he writes of Lukaku.
Charlie Wyett of The Sun joins in with the fun, saying that Lukaku ‘is only able to score against weaker sides,’ and ‘this is simply not good enough’ from the Belgian.
‘Simply not good enough’? Lukaku would be the first to admit this season has not been even close to his finest, but only Mohamed Salah has scored more goals in all competitions.
Alan Shearer scored 24 goals in 86 games against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United – a rate of one goal every 3.5 games. Lukaku has scored 19 goals in 69 games against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – a rate of one goal every 3.6 games.
He can most certainly improve, but he’s doing alright.
From the Daily Mirror‘s player ratings on Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool:
‘Robertson – Played his part in a thumping display and didn’t put a foot wrong’
‘Wijnaldum – Proved to be a rock in midfield, thwarting Bournemouth’s efforts’
‘Defoe – Missed an absolute sitter to pull the Cherries back into the game’
Each player receives a six out of ten.
By hook or by Crooks
In his team of the week for BBC Sport, Garth Crooks continues his dramatic transformation into Alan Partridge. In selecting James Collins, he tells us:
‘Collins was immense. My view was supported by the West Ham fans who joined my train home from Manchester to London Euston via Stoke. I saw Collins perform well in the first half in the Final Score studio but needed someone I could trust to fill me in with the details thereafter. These West Ham fans knew their stuff and gave me so much more than a running commentary of the second half.’
Was it an off-peak return? Did you manage to get an aisle seat?
But most important is Crooks’ new obsession, which is to pontificate over the state of the ‘modern-day footballer’. On James Tarkowski fouling Glenn Murray and Jose Izquierdo diving (as part of his selection of Mat Ryan, natch), he asks:
‘What is happening to the modern-day footballer? Does self-esteem only extend as far as their wallets? I sincerely hope not; otherwise performances by the likes of De Gea, Ederson and Ryan will account for nought.’
On Jose Holebas leaving the field of play after being hit in the face (as part of his selection of Aaron Mooy), he states:
‘For a player to go down holding his face and leave his team to concede another goal was tantamount to desertion. No blood, broken nose or jaw, just a slap in the face. I have never seen anything quite like it and hope I never see it again. I can only imagine what the late Graham Taylor would have said.’
As ever, cheers Garth.
Recommended reading of the day
Jonathan Wilson on Manchester City 4-1 Tottenham.
Nicholas McGeehan on Manchester City’s owners.
Tom Victor on Wilfried Zaha.