‘Premiership football is like watching paint dry’

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So says Chris Waddle and, at the moment, it’s hard to argue with him. That said, the indications of this malaise are twofold: dwindling crowds and the matches themselves. Frankly I think the latter is too dull to bother arguing about – though the Observer would likely disagree, having deemed it worthy of three full pages of coverage recently – so I shan’t.While expensive tickets, blanket television coverage and ridiculous kick off times might excite some, I, like Kate Moss, like an ample sprinkling of something extra to get me out of bed in the morning. In my case, its hypocrisy – and there’s a lot of it around in football at the moment.Many people believe that football has simply become dull. The Premiership is feted as, if not the best, then certainly the most exciting league in the world. However, it seems that the source of this discontent is not that the games themselves are less interesting – though this is arguably the case – but that the results have become too predictable. People aren’t really complaining about Chelsea and José Mourinho’s negative tactics, they’re complaining about Chelsea and José Mourinho being so much better than everyone else.I shan’t bore you with the raft of quotes which have emerged on the subject from gaming greats such as Alan Curbishley, Martin Jol and Steve Bruce (who, incidentally argued that Nicky Butt’s recent red card should have been rescinded on the grounds that fouls are ‘entertaining’), but in my mind they have done nothing more than show that the game is suffering more from a severe case of sour grapes than anything else. Arsene Wenger, who is forever hailing his team’s goal scoring prowess, is calling for rule changes to reward high scoring wins – however, it seem as though Mr Wenger has not done his maths. Even with such changes, Chelsea would still have run away with the league, beating Arsenal by 8 points rather 10. The only position change on the grounds of the proposed new point system would have been Tottenham switching places with Manchester City, neither of whom were relegated, or qualified for Europe. Ground breaking stuff.Even if this had more of an effect on the league table, it would only highlight Wenger’s true gripe. As he mentioned in the same interview: ‘if the same team or person always wins in sport, it quickly becomes boring.’ Translation: ‘Arsenal have stopped winning, I’m bored’ or, more specifically, ‘Arsenal have stopped winning, I’d rather not see ze incident’.It’s slightly worrying that John Terry seems to have a better grasp of the situation than most: ‘I do not think the top players in the world would have voted three Chelsea players in the FIFPro World XI if we were boring’. Remedial footballer that he is, he equated being good equates to being exciting – beautifully missing the point of Chelsea’s detractors that the two do not always come hand in hand.The complaint ostensibly is that if you’re the best and are going to keep winning, you could at least win in style. Then again, when Chelsea won a run of 4-0 wins last season it was apparently dull. They played 4-5-1 thoughout and no one complained – in fact, everyone else adopted the same formation. The only change was that where Chelsea had Duff, Robben, Cole and Lampard to liven up the midfield, while the majority had to make do with free transfers and loan deals. The only difference this season is that the Chelsea midfield is somewhat off their game. Hardly the club’s fault – and I doubt many people would see another cash splurge by Abramovich as a solution either.West Ham boss Alan Pardew went so far as to describe Jose Mourinho as the ‘Steve Davis of football’ – as harsh as comparisons get in the boring stakes. But the thing the two do have in common is that, like Mourinho, Steve Davis always won. The table itself reveals that Chelsea have scored 14 goals this season – four more than anyone else. The fact that they have only conceded one is less a criticism of Chelsea than it is of the rest of the league.However, there is another danger for Jose Mourinho to consider. Whether it is the neutral position or the natural arrogance of one who has won everything and done it with style – or maybe I’ve read more into it than I should – but Johann Cruyff seemed to have put his finger on the buzzer when he pointed out that ‘[Jose Mourinho]’s a very good practical coach. But in his position he should think about performances too’.The fact that ‘Paddy Power’ bookmakers have already paid out on a Chelsea title this season might be a comfort to Chelsea fans, but the man who really brought this success, Roman Abramovich, is probably beginning to think that football isn’t nearly as entertaining as it seemed two and half years ago. And if Chelsea’s golden goose stops laying eggs, it’s not just Chelsea fans who should be worried. Watch your back Mr Mourinho.ARCHIVE: 0th week MT 2005

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