- the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change.
I shouldn’t have, but I did. I knew I was succumbing to a base atavistic urge by doing it but I didn’t care. I wanted immediate gratification. I wanted to be horrified and repelled and fascinated in equal measure. When it happened it didn’t look too bad initially. The challenge was firm, taking ball and man like a motor-cyclist running neck-high into a clothes-line. Luke Shaw had won the ball a few yards inside the PSV Eindhoven half and was thundering into the penalty area. Hector Moreno slid in powerfully and recklessly, his trailing leg smashing into Shaw’s right leg. I thought it was a penalty, maybe, but Michael Owen, commentating on BT Sports stunned me. Immediately, within a few seconds, he had identified the seriousness of the injury, summing up the diagnosis and prognoses (double leg fracture, 6-9 months out) accurately and eloquently in the time it took me to find the remote control for the telly. It was the best piece of off-the-cuff analysis I’d heard in a long time. Yes, from Michael Owen!
I was struck by Owens analysis as I waited for the replay. They had shown one already, a quick view of the tackle from the goal keeper’s perspective, but I didn’t pay much attention. The ref still hadn’t given anything and I was wondering what the hell Owen was talking about. Then it became apparent that another replay of the challenge wasn’t forthcoming. It was bad, really bad; too graphic to be shown to a family audience. Shaw was writhing and crying in obvious distress, players turned away with a look of horror on their faces. I felt for him, but I also had to see it. I wanted to see the damage being inflicted. I pressed rewind and had my fill of voyeuristic violence. Poor Shaw, viewing his strong legs galloping towards goal before one of them was reduced to flopping about like a scarecrow’s sleeve in the wind was a sobering reminder that the human body is a fragile thing, and that football can be a tough tough game. The stereotype of the overpaid prima-donna footballer suddenly seemed inapt.
The following weekend Chelsea and Arsenal played out an amazingly entertaining match. It had all the elements of a Hollywood blockbuster; injustice, revenge, hammy-acting, anti-hero and super-villain. Diego Costa was unbelievable. He was nasty, devious, dirty and provocative, swinging his arms and elbows, raking opponents with his studs and waving imaginary cards at the ref when he feels he has been sinned against. He managed to get Gabriel Paulista sent off by baiting him hook, line and sinker, contributing handsomely to his team’s ultimate victory. Cue moral outrage and mass media hysteria. Personally, I thought Costa was hilariously entertaining and would pay to watch him prey on the psychological weakness of his opponents on a weekly basis. Costa should be condemned for his antics, and perhaps even deserves his punishment, but like Hannibal Lecter, or Pablo Escobar in Narcos, everybody loves a good bad guy don’t they?
Costa bruises the ego and tries to damage the psychological wellbeing of his opponents while playing a few irritatingly painful dirty tricks on them in the process. Hector Moreno smashed the leg of 20 years old Luke Shaw in two places. Costa gets a three game ban imposed post-match. Moreno didn’t get as much a yellow card for his, at best, reckless tackle. I’m not saying the actions of one are worse than the other; but UEFA obviously has. Talk about dissonance?
Costa isn’t the biggest miscreant in world football at all; he isn’t even the worst enfant terrible at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho has been consistently outrageous since before the season even began. Rafa-gate, Carneiro-gate, regular-beatings-by-lesser-teams-gate; The Special One went on one of his longest nonsensical rants only last weekend, preposterously claiming that referees were “afraid” to give penalties to Chelsea, after a game in which his opposition were plainly denied two stonewall spot-kicks! The absurdity of Jose’s claims would have Samuel Beckett scratching his head in wonder at the meaning of it all. It was fantastic viewing though. Even though I was exasperated, incredulous and fired innumerable expletives in high definition at my TV screen, it remains magnetic. I tuned in again to see what he had to say on MotD and it never got boring. Say and think what you like about Mourinho, and I do, but as Dunphy would say; “he’s box-office baby”. He’s such an irritating, juvenile, petulant, bullying narcissist, wouldn’t the league be duller without him.
Ahh, the Premier League, long touted as The Best League In The World by those who are financially invested in the Premier League. The league has taken a lot of flak over the past couple of years. A lot of the print media in particular seem to have become weary of the apparent ubiquity and relentlessness of the Premiership. The quality of the football is poor they say. Look to the continent for superior tactics and technique they say. Top European clubs are embarrassing their English counterparts on a regular basis they say. For the sports-reporting intelligentsia British football is a crude reflection of the game compared with the cosmopolitan Germans, the sophistication of La Liga, or the tactical nous of the Italians. Why can’t the top clubs in England, with all their money, play football like they do in these other countries they say? These leagues might offer something different in terms of how they play football, but the wider-world doesn’t tune into these so-called technically superior leagues do they? They watch the Premier League because in terms of entertainment it is the best goddam league in the world. Fact (Rafa 2009).
There have been enough anomalous results already in the 2015-16 season to suggest that the Premier League has become more exciting and unpredictable than ever. If the top teams have dropped in standard or if the smaller clubs have moved up in quality thanks to all the money they can now throw at players is irrelevant. Players that used to sign for Barcelona and Inter Milan such as Shaqiri, now sign for Stoke because they can pay him more, and as crass and materialistic as that sounds, it’s great for us viewers. It’s hard to see any team running away with the title this year and it is more open than it has been for quite some time, so why is there such an air of negativity surrounding the Premier League this year? Why is there this acute sense of cognitive dissonance?
United scored an unbelievably good goal that came at the end of a two and a half minute 44-pass move, and they’re still criticised for not attacking enough. Wenger wins that last two FA Cups, and qualifies for the Champions League religiously and is still deemed a failure. Liverpool want to return to being a top club without developing their stadium, without paying their players the top salaries they can get elsewhere and end up selling those best players for 50 million plus. City seems to be on a mission to build the first billion pound team through the squandering of Abu Dhabi petro-pounds. The champions sit two places above the relegation zone after eight games. So despite the bitching and moaning of managers, the cheating and diving of players like Costa, the horrific injuries inflicted by Moreno (and Tevez a week or so later), and the very existence of Jose Mourinho; in spite of all this I think I’m enjoying the Premiership more than ever. In the words of Maximus Decimus Meridius after he stunned the amphitheatre into silence with his artfully swift de-capitation of his enemies; “Are you not entertained?”