I was really stressed Thursday morning, if I’m being honest. Sitting on the train heading into university, all sorts of thoughts were flying around my mind. This was, sadly, to be no ordinary lecture – it was to be a creative writing seminar, and it was my writing being critiqued. The horror, the sheer horror of it all! If you read my nonsense on a regular basis you’ll be surprised to hear that I take my writing seriously, but I do. I was very, very nervous, but once the session got underway, something odd happened.
“I’m not really sure what it is, to be honest” was the first comment, followed soon after by someone else piping up with “I didn’t get it I’m afraid, it was just someone rambling”. My greatest fears had been realised – nobody seemed to have enjoyed my piece – yet my immediate reaction to all the negativity wasn’t what I expected it to be. There was no anger, no tears, no frustration…just sadness. I looked at my fellow degree hunters, and I felt overwhelmingly sorry for them. We were never going to be on the same wavelength – no matter what I said, they weren’t getting it – so before the session had even moved on to the next hapless victim I had stopped listening, my eyes glazed over as I half-heard an Irish man prattling on about perspectives in literary fiction. Quite simply, I stopped caring.
I’m telling you all that because it reminds me of an event that takes place every Friday morning up at Carrington, Manchester. Sir Alex Ferguson isn’t judged on his writing skills in his press conferences, but the premise is similar – a group of scribes sit around with their pens and paper and fire questions at the boss, knowing one ill-judged remark is all it takes for the great man’s body language to drastically alter. The difference is that whereas I simply lost interest, the gaffer thrives on the confrontation that can occur when opposing viewpoints are thrown at him. There was a good example of this yesterday, as one foolish journalist made the mistake of repeating Patrick Vieira’s comments about Paul Scholes to the manager. “Desperation?” leered the Scot, and you knew what was coming. “If you talk about desperation – they played a player the other night who refused to go on the pitch!” he continued, his eyes twinkling and a smile playing on his lips. He can’t help it, can he, particularly at this time of year. Easter just around the corner? Clocks going forward? Then it must be time for Fergie to crank up the ol’ mind games, and deep down we all know that we’ll miss them when he’s gone.
455 words in and I’ve not mentioned Fabrice Muamba, which is amiss of me. With no news except “he’s been taken to hospital, they tried resuscitating him on the pitch” I (and I expect many others) feared the worst on Saturday evening, so it was such a relief to hear that the medical team had done their thing and saved the kid’s life. I’m always taking football too seriously, so whenever something like this happens my emotions are always the same: 1) “It’s only a game, chill out” swiftly followed by 2) “You shouldn’t need something like this to happen to make you realise that, you daft twat”.
As it was, to my eternal regret I had forgotten all about Fabrice on Wednesday night when our neighbours “entertained” Chelsea at Wastelands. The pressure was off us a little after our 5-0 win against a woeful Wolves side, and when Cahill scored to make it 0-1, I began to believe – for the very first time this season. The crowd were quiet, Chelsea were defending well, Mancini was looking flustered…and then Essien went and did what he did. And then Tevez and Nasri went and did what they did. And then all the belief I had suddenly found inside of me disappeared and left me once again.
If you’ve read my previous columns, you’ll know that I’m an awful pessimist, which in turn means you’ll know that I’m very fearful about the derby match. I know Tevez is going to do us in, I just know it, and the worst thing about it is that even though I can see it I can’t do anything about it. He’s going to score the winner in the derby which will win them the league and he’s going to be the hero and I’m going to weep and it’s going to be fucking awful, let’s be honest. But that’s all for another day, and as I proved yesterday, worrying about things – no matter how bad they appear to be – just ain’t cool, and as we found last weekend, it’s ONLY football. Nine games to go.