Yesterday’s date was the 1st of march. Sadly, it was neither the first nor the last march of football’s imbecilic pundits brigade. You’d think the injury to Aaron Ramsey would be the sort of incident to unite football fans: a young player with a burgeoning career all-too-literally cut down by over-zealous tackling. However, there are a fleet of individuals determined to stand out from the crowd.
Take Stan Collymore, the lady-hitting dogger and tip-top football pundit. He’s always stood apart from the crowd, largely by the crowd’s choice. In the aftermath of Saturday’s game, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was understandably upset by Ryan Shawcross’s tackle. Understandable to most, but not to Collymore, a man who is pathologically contrary. He began:
“Wenger was completely out of order with his post-match comments about Shawcross. Despite the belief that Wenger is the professor, he has a real bitter and nasty streak.”
I like Collymore’s assertion that being a professor and having a nasty streak are somehow mutually exclusive. Perhaps he had a really bad experience at university.
Stan The Man (Who Has Sex In A Van) wasn’t finished. Where others saw a deeply upset but articulate man voicing his concern over the treatment Ramsey had received, Collymore saw a French conspiracy:
“It is blatantly obvious the Frenchman wants to buck the trend and traditions of English football. If Wenger wants to make football almost a non-contact that is up to him but it won’t happen in England.”
Collymore is right. That pesky Wenger is always trying to buck the trend and traditions of English football. Like in the mid-90s, when he almost single-handedly transformed our game from one consumed by drinking culture and ugly football in to the world’s leading league.
It’s odd that Collymore is so bitter. It’s almost as if he was one of those players whose lifestyle was so incompatible with the demands of top-level sport that Wenger’s revolution caused him to be left on the scrap-heap, shouting-down punters on talk radio in a desperate attempt to remain relevant.
When I was a young lad, I collected the sticker album to my right. Every time I popped in to the newsagent I’d pick up a packet of stickers, and tear them open, excitedly hoping I might catch sight of the Ian Wright shiny that I so craved.
It was never to be. I spent countless pennies chasing that simplest of dreams, and was disappointed. And at every turn, every time I opened one of the small packets, whose face was staring back at me, a malicious grin strapped across his inanimate face? Paul Parker.
I had more Paul Parkers than the rest of my stickers put together. I couldn’t shift them. I actually wrote to Merlin to ask if there was some sort of Paul Parker-laundering scheme going on. Imagine my horror, then, when I saw Parker’s aged but still recognisable features in the byline of an article on eurosport.yahoo.com.
If that shock alone was bad enough, the opening sentence floored me:
“Arsene Wenger was wrong to criticise Ryan Shawcross for the challenge which broke Aaron Ramsey’s leg and should apologise to him.”
Apologise for what? For criticizing what was an irresponsible and dangerous challenge? Nowhere has Arsene made any kind of remark on Shawcross’s character, other than to say that it’s no defence. Being a nice bloke doesn’t mean you didn’t do it.
Parker rambled on:
“When something like this happens, [Wenger] should count to 2,025 before he opens his mouth.”
At first glance, 2,025 seems like an arbitrary choice. Perhaps Parker can’t conceive of a higher number? In fact, no: it is the exact number of Paul Parker stickers that I had spare. The plot thickens.
In the end, I destroyed my countless Paul Parker swaps in a ritualistic ceremony involving some Fairy Liquid and a bucket. Sadly, the real Paul Parker would never fit in a bucket.
Finally, bringing up the rear, Lou Macari. The following really needs no introduction:
“What got my goat about events at Stoke on Saturday was not the tackle, but Arsene Wenger’s ridiculous reaction to it.”
Not the hideous challenge. Not the bone-crunching effect on young Aaron Ramsey. Not the fact that one of Britain’s brightest young talents has endured an injury he may never recover from. No, Macari’s not bothered about those. But Wenger’s reaction? Disgraceful. Wenger’s reaction has got Lou Macari’s goat and is holding it at gunpoint – and furthermore, he’s demanding the soul of English football as ransom.
“I’ve got to say I felt sorry for Shawcross.”
“…as well as Ramsey”? Go on Lou, at least show a bit of balance. No? Ok, then, carry on.
“Not just because of all the hoo-ha over the challenge, but the fact it overshadowed one of the greatest moments in his life after being called up by England for the first time.
I suppose the furore over the Ramsey injury is a bit of a spanner in the works, but the call-up is still a feather in his cap and he should go there and enjoy the experience as much as possible.”
It is a bit of a spanner in the works, isn’t it, that Welsh fella’s leg falling off. Bit of a bummer for poor Ryan. Sort of remiss of Ramsey to let his leg break on Shawcross’s big day. Selfish, even.
Macari crosses the boundary from stupidity in to just plain scary. He doesn’t even show empathy for the player who has been hurt.
The problem with Idiots is that to compensate for the lack of weight behind their opinion, they often talk very loudly. Collymore & Co have struck up their marching band, and are on parade. Johnny Foreigner comes over to this country, takes our contracts, then complains when his leg comes off.
Fortunately, there are a few sensible folk out there who are making constructive and intelligent contributions to the “furore” that Macari deplores. Martin Samuel and Patrick Barclay, among others. Hopefully their voices will be distinguished above the rabble that so often dictate football conversation.
Till tomorrow.Share story Ramsey: It’s easy to see why it happens. It’s not so easy to forgive. Walcott outshone by Wright-Phillips – start panicking?
Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.