The life of any football fan has its peaks and troughs. Right now I am in a trough. And I know that after the weekend of May 19 this trough will probably deepen until roughly mid-August and have very few peaks – the brief crest of Euro 2012 being the (questionable) exception. Unless Greece win it again.
Somewhere amid the emotional chaos of last weekend I felt something within me slowly wilt at the dawning realisation of no more league football for three whole months. It was a bit like those moments on a dancefloor when you alternate between ecstasy and just wanting to be home in your bed.
I glimpsed the future and saw myself at the end of May announcing my official Scholes-style retirement from reading English-based football reporting. (I will inevitably fall off the wagon and allow myself the sneaky schadenfreude delights of a sordid late night peak at the latest tabloid rumour to rock the England camp as they shoot themselves in the foot – or face – once again. “Neville and Man U Players in Private-Pile-Style Soap-bar Beatings of Andy Carroll”. I’ll admit that’s not a particularly catchy headline but I do like the image).
I saw myself at the end of June, screaming at ball-hog Spaniards to ‘just take a fucking ping!’ or (heaven forbid) witnessing another Greek Tragedy as painfully played out in Portugal 2004, AKA: The Worst Football Tournament Of All Time™.
I saw myself in mid-July, mired in the spurious summer rumour mill and hoping that Aberdeen were not re-signing Darren Mackie.
But at least I have the Euros to look forward to in between, don’t I? Well no, not really. The Euros is ok but it’s certainly not the World Cup. Scotland are AWOL as usual; there are perhaps only three sides that can win it (two of those are in the same initial group); there are no real surprises these days; and it only lasts a month.
The real issue I suppose is that summer football is no longer the exciting and unknown quantity it used to be. There are no shocks or discoveries anymore in this global game. The majority of the players that we’ll be watching in Ukraine and Poland this summer are players that we see week-in-week-out in the Premiership; if not La Liga; if not the Bundesliga; if not Ligue 1… You get the picture.
In fact, we all get the picture. TV channels such as Sky and ESPN and of course other mediums like t’interweb have combined to make the footballing world a lot smaller, and in doing so they have removed the old sheen of mystery and potential surprise from international football – particularly the Euros.
The point that many top players now value their club above their country has also been trotted out often enough and I would have to agree that for many that seems to be the case. Club football is too much of a business for many of those involved not to treat it objectively. There is no room for a summer of damp-eyed national anthems or injury-inducing national pride at this club, son.
So what to do with this summer comedown? Actually go and play more football? Immerse myself in a new game of Football Manager? Fantasise about a Mancini vs Mourinho smug-off? All are feasible options but none of them quite compare to the pleasure I get from the daily theatre of the everyman, the weekend melodrama of millionaires and wannabees, or the expert pub-punditry of the informed and the imbecilic alike. I guess I’ll suck it up and try to enjoy the trough, perhaps do a Carlos Tevez and obliviously work on my golf swing.
R.I.P. 2011/2012 season. You were distinctly average (from the top tier of the Richard Donald Stand anyway) but you’ll still be missed.
by Jamie Currie