If there’s one thing I love, it’s a football cliché. I’m not going to bore you with a long list of them, because that’d be awfully dull, but I have a word count to fill somehow so you’ll have to grin and bear some of them. So, thinking off the top of my head – a midfielder such as Michael Essien has (did have, anyway) a “great engine”. A manager has a transfer “warchest”. ‘Arry Redknapp is a “wheeler dealer” and so on and so forth. Football is a game bulging with fantastic clichés trotted out regularly by pundits, and it is all the better for it, I think. If I had to pick a favourite cliché though, it’d have to be this one – the fantastic “managerial merry-go-round”.
Oh yes. What a phrase. It’s my favourite cliché because of the images it conjures up. If you’ve never done so already, please do take a moment to sit back and imagine a load of Premier League managers on an actual merry-go-round (or “carousel”, whichever term you prefer). I can see Arsene Wenger, his face like thunder, desperately trying to get off. Little Martin O’Neill is having the time of his life, bless him. David Moyes has refused to get on. Sam Allardyce broke his horse the second he got on it. ‘Arry is on the phone as it’s whizzing around, signing “Crouchie” before giving an interview with David Craig. Roberto Mancini isn’t there, sadly – he’s sent David Platt along instead. Mike Phelan is there representing Sir Alex as well, looking resplendent in those shorts. It’s a lovely image, isn’t it? It all goes a bit sour once the ride stops and Steve Clarke headbutts AVB, but for a few moments it is magical. Joyous, even.
I mention all that because the other night I was listening to the radio, and over on Radio 5 Live they were getting very excited about the “managerial merry-go-round” that could very well take place at the end of this season. When you think about it, they have a point. Let’s look at this one step at a time. Another failure in the Champions League means that Mancini has to be vulnerable now, I think. Yes, he could win another title, and maybe more, but will that be enough to satisfy the owners? Perhaps he doesn’t win the title this season, in which case it’s looking likely that we will. Would that cause Sir Alex to go out “on top”? 20 league titles, a statue erected (steady now), a stand named after him – there would be worse times to vacate the hot seat, I think. Then we move onto Chelsea, and…well, fuck knows, let’s be honest. Benitez going? Avram Grant coming back?! It’s total madness down there at the moment, but you have to think that they’re looking for a manager come June as well.
So we have all these possibilities, and the water is further muddied by reports that a) Mourinho probably won’t be at Madrid next season, b) Pep is taking English lessons and has apparently met with Sir Alex in New York and c) You have to think that sooner or later David Moyes is going to want to step up to a bigger club – no offence, any Toffees reading this, but there’s only so much a manager can do there with limited money. So what the bloody hell is going to happen? I don’t know – maybe Mancini stays and Fergie goes on forever, but you get the feeling that the shadows of Mourinho and Guardiola are looming over the Premier League at the moment and putting it in the shade a little. It’d be very interesting to see Pep over here, I think.
Onto tonight’s game where we’re playing Clunge or someone (final opportunity to use that one this season, annoyingly). After winning the group “early doors” – another cliché – tonight’s game is largely pointless, and with the weather as cold as it is, expect the crowd to be a little more sparse than usual. That won’t be a problem until half-time and full-time come around and suddenly we’re subjected to a load of children counting down the seconds until the 45th/90th minute. That’s always greatly irritated me. Even though I know it’s important to get “da kids” turning up and supporting the team – they’re the new generation after all – I could do without the “countdown”, thank you very much.
Maybe I’m just a grumpy old man, though thankfully that’s about to change – Paul Lambert and Alan Pardew have invited me to the funfair, and Nigel Adkins has bought me some candyfloss! See ya!