Saturday afternoon, 3pm. Different matches, different pundits, different squads. But one thing stays the same: the famous, overused, and often nonsensical footballing clichés that tumble out of mouths TV screens and radio stations before they can be stopped.
“Football is a game of two halves” (can anyone remember the last time it wasn’t?) and “we’ve just got to take it one game at a time” (probably a good idea actually) are just two from an endless list. More often than not, you’ll hear a pre-match interview with a manager offering the following pearls of wisdom: “Today we’ve got to go out there and show them what we’ve got. Every game is a cup final because there are no easy games in football and I want to see each player give 110%. Whoever scores first will hold the advantage.”
Talk about stating the bleeding obvious. After the match you’re more likely to hear something along the lines of: “At the end of the day, the other team wanted it more. We scored too early and we needed to put the game out of reach but we didn’t, were at sixes and sevens for the rest of the match. One team had to lose and today it was us.” Managerial expression is so idiomatic that it begins to lose all meaning.
Meanwhile, some of the most common clichés come during the game itself, such as “it’s end to end stuff”, “this game needs a goal”, “for a big lad he’s good with his feet”, “bring on some fresh legs” and “he went down far too easily.” And just sometimes these begin to grate.
Wouldn’t we miss them if they suddenly disappeared though? You can shout as much as you want at Motty for providing us with endless obscure statistics, at Jamie Redknapp describing everything as “t’rrific” and Andy Gray’s shriek of “take a bow, son”, but I think we’d all agree that football commentary just would not be the same without these phrases.
“At the end of the day”, they’re “a great advert for the beautiful game”. Football is not just a game of two halves, it’s a game of many clichés.