As a phrase that has been popularised by many Match Of The Day guests over the years, the concept of a “top, top player” is a straightforward one.
Pundits from Danny Murphy to Martin Keown have long used it to signal their approval, but it is current Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers who has promoted the phrase’s use the most. Infamously, he managed to use five “tops” to describe Steven Gerrard in the 2013/14 season during his stint as Liverpool boss.
Of course, the phrase is ludicrously overused: anyone who has a four-game streak whilst also being under the age of 23 can be categorised as on course to becoming a “top, top player”. Naturally, anyone who uses the phrase will suffer from confirmation bias, convincing themselves into thinking that they only use it for those that truly deserve the accolade.
Personally, I have no issue with the concept of players being viewed as better than most of their peers, but terms such as “top, top player” only result in the Zimbabwean inflation of the merits of individual footballers in discussion.
I think we need to look for an alternative solution: I propose we look to one of the greats, former Lord Chancellor Michael Gove MP.
I think that we should force all pundits to grade every player from 1-8, with one representing the quality a college’s JCR reserve team might produce the day after a trip to Arzoo’s, and eight being the pinnacle of footballing achievement.
It is evident that this proposal has no potential for the same bias. Whisper it, but I do believe I have solved the issue of overly repetitive punditry.
Football fans of the world, rejoice.