Date: 15th October 2008 at 2:15pm
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With the second installment of super duper, excitement filled international football being gratefully shovelled into our mouths like a white coat clad nurse feeding a lobotomy patient, I thought I’d expand on last week’s theme of things to watch out for during the international break. Within the framework of the first article, I ran out of time and missed a few things and, well, let’s face it, in these lean, mean times, it’s not only the banks that are in recession. (Isn’t it wonderful how massive welfare cheques for the rich cause no moral outrage? Next time I go overdrawn at my bank, I’ll gently remind them that they don’t really have the moral currency to lambast me). The humble internet blogger has an itchy typing finger and scarce material to mine, so let us on with the matter. Filler ho.

Spanish Gutter Press– Firstly, last week we were treated to the entirely predictable ‘Cesc: I want to go to Barca/ Madrid/ Whoever the editor of this publication supports’ stories filtering from the drains from of the Spanish hacks and snaking briefly into our conscience, much like a bad fart can cause your nose to twitch uncomfortably before the noxious vapour disappears. The stories are so transparent that few Arsenal fans even bother commenting anymore. Most of us know Cesc will go back to Spain one day, most of us accept that he puts in absolutely 100% for us every time he pulls on the sacred jersey. Really, there isn’t much more fear for the press to prey on. Now this week with the double whammy of England refusing to play in the Bernebeu due to fear of racial abuse and Atletico Madrid being suspended from their home ground for two matches in UEFA competition. The Spanish press have been swift in their rebuttal, Marca’s Jimmy Giménez Arnau alleges that, ‘Today, radical racism exists in private clubs in London where only those with white skin can enter.’ Really? Care to expand? Nothing like a good old fashioned fabrication to provoke a bit of moral outrage. Still, you have to feel sorry for Liverpool fans who had made arrangements to travel to the Vicente Calderon Stadium for the tie in Madrid next week. It’s a real pain when you’re punished for another team’s bad behaviour in Europe isn’t it?

French interview with William Gallas that is entirely misinterpreted– A regular occurrence during international breaks, Gallas says something entirely reasonable in the French press, some work experience Sun hack gets hold of it, loosely interprets the language and voila, you have, ‘Gallas: Walcott is an idiot and I hate him and I hope he dies soon. In fact, everyone’s an idiot except for me and all must bowl trembling before Willy.’ In reality, he will have said something like, ‘I need to improve and so do the team.’ But that won’t bother certain parties from venting their massive anti Gallas complex and exercising their spleens a little. Though there is a part of me that wishes Gallas just didn’t bother talking to anyone in the press.

England player booed by his own supporters– If ever there was a litmus test for how little I care about the national team it is my complete lack of righteous indignation over this current trend. I have argued for some years that my apathy for the national team is entirely natural and not to do with some perceived moral plateau about players wages or characters. I don’t care, I never cared and I won’t pretend I do to satisfy some kind of arranged marriage. Lampard has felt the brunt of the boo boys for the hainus crime of being over rated (probably by the very people who warm their larynxes in frustration), England were booed off after daring to win a qualifier with Andorra in Barcelona 3-0 and now our old mate Cashley has felt the ire of the England fans after making a mistake and gifting the opposition a meaningless goal. There are those who contend that it is Ashley the man and not Ashley the footballer really irked the supporters nerves. So why did they wait for a bad pass to boo him? Why have they not booed him all along? Are Rooney and Terry really characters of fine repute? So why do they escape the verbal shoeing? Rio Ferdinand may be making some populist noises about the circus that followed England in the 2006 World Cup, laughably perpetuating the impression that he was some horrified onlooker when he was the one who starred in a television series in which he performed pranks on celebrities during the tournament. The truth is there are a lot of England fans out there who just get off on hate, as evidenced by hysterical criticisms of a 5-1 victory. If any of these things applied to Arsenal or if I cared a jot for England I would be outraged. But I am not, while I can see the hypocrisies in this behaviour, it doesn’t apall me as it would if it were Arsenal. In fact, because Lampard and Cole have been the subject, I’ll be honest, I even laughed a little bit. Though I expect Walcott to be the next victim of the boo boys for going a monumental two matches without an international hat trick. Though isn’t it funny how the F.A. refuse to condemn the vile chants against Wenger and pass the buck to Hampshire Police re: the Spurs chants against Sol Campbell, but when an England player is booed, the F.A. can’t wheel out enough bloodsuckers to spit mealy mouthed platitudes at the microphones condemning the behaviour?

Almunia for England story resurfaces– Manuel says he doesn’t want to do it. Capello says he doesn’t want to do it. The F.A. say they aren’t keen on it. The tabloids produce reems of paper ruminating the possibility that it possibly, maybe, definitely IS going to happen folks. Still, it will be easier for them to blame foreigners for England’s failures if we stick one of them in goal!

Wenger Complains– Arsene will once again correctly bemoan the international calendar and how unbelievably rubbish international football is and how he’d rather stick a fork in his japs eye than even acknowledge its existence. A vinegar doused fork at that. Within a week the press will link him with the France job and Blatter will announce plans to split Moldova into 17 different countries and add thirty friendlies to the calendar, one of which will be played on the day of the English F.A. Cup Final.