Tuesday 16 April 2024

Any Given Season

 In the Match of the Day (2) studio, following defeats for both Liverpool (1-0 at home to Crystal Palace) and Arsenal (2-0 at home to Aston Villa) on a possibly fatal Sunday for the ‘three horse’ title race, ex Manchester City goalie Shay Given declares a “special mention to Manchester City” for being six games away from a fourth league crown in five seasons.

Arsenal’s 31 points from 36 since the turn of the year will become merely a footnote, just like Liverpool’s one defeat in 2018-19 and their 54 points from 57 in 21-22. These expressions of rage against the machine aren’t enough to topple it. You have to hand it to the dominant beast for using their resources super efficiently, and Given is well within his rights to applaud them. Perhaps we don’t show enough appreciation to those that have the means and ways to rule so relentlessly. But tell you what, let’s do something about that right here! Yes, seeing as City’s latest domestic prize is being celebrated before its even been won, let’s give some “special mentions” to their equivalents: stand up for the Jeff Bezos as Amazon Prime look set to close down yet another independent bookstore; three cheers, please, for Vladimir Putin, odds on to continue his reign of terror whenever the next election will be; and big up that Doctor Marten boot about to crush those ants.

By now, you may have detected that this post has taken on a somewhat passive-aggressive tone, and special mention to you if you have, because it has. But of course, like most, I am not a fitting lecturer. Given’s praise for City will have gone down well with many because it is around this time of year that the Blue Moon brigade suddenly start to became popular, standing (alone) in the way of way of clubs with more developed hate-bases trying to wrestle the title from them. This season, for instance (and purely accepting Given’s medal-handing as a guide), people won’t have to suffer the over-celebrations of the Arsenal players and supporters who it has been so much more fun to routinely mock over the last decade or two; and others won’t have to endure all those ex Liverpool players smugly pontificating over another This Means More triumph while their self-entitled fans reach new unbearable levels. Manchester City can’t bring out the intense emotions in people that others can, but they are reliable like a hush-hush, wink-wink local MP getting you off a speeding ticket. 

But as I say, I’m not one to talk. Did I enjoy Newcastle United beating Spurs 4-0 on Saturday? Yes, I did. I would be a better person if I didn’t, but I’m not. Going much further back, ten seasons ago in 2013-14, did I want Liverpool, at the expense of City, to end their unexpected charge towards to the league title by securing the one trophy for Steven Gerrard that had eluded him? No. Was I relieved that he fell over the ball against Chelsea in the third last game of the season to bring City - and Mourinho’s Chelsea - back in? Yes. My thinking back then was that if anyone was going to win the league other than the Oligarch or Abu Dhabi lot, then it was Arsenal’s right, having run them the closest since the post-Highbury thrift era had been ushered in alongside the new money elsewhere. 

I am no more than a part of the problem. My disappointment and confusion over Manchester United fans being happy about City beating Arsenal to the title last season was misplaced. I am no better than them. I can boycott as many tournaments as I like, but when it comes down to it, it’s my own interests that rule.

So special mention to the human condition.

End of season Premier League review club by club Part 2: 11-20

11th: Brighton & Hove Albion (48 points) Finishing one point behind your made up rivals must sting. A bit. It’s Millwall who hate Crysta...