I didn't know what part of the forum to put this one so apologies on that count.
The following is not intended to be a slur on any of the fine people who have made EF what it is. What I think makes EF unique is not only the terrifically high standard of intelligent, helpful, informative and witty posts. EF remains the only truly global, cosmopolitan football forum on the internet that I have come across that is worth logging on to. Anyone who reads the comments left on the football videos on YouTube or on the 'fans forums' of various clubs will know what I mean. Furthermore the enthusiasm for the game is apparent in the vast majority of posters here. For that I thank you all.
What follows is a series of issues that have troubled me over the last few years. This was provoked by something I found when clearing out my room the other day. It was a DVD I had recorded of both legs of the Champions League Quarter Final between Real Madrid and Manchester United in 2003, which Madrid eventually won 6-5 on aggregate. When I saw the line-ups, I remember thinking that this was the last time I was genuinely excited to see a football match. Now I can only stand to watch the highlights.
When did the various ugly forms of the football media turn into little more than the celebrity gutter press, but marketed as something for blokes, lads, punters, or whatever you want to call the idiots that Sky, ESPN, ITV, the BBC, and just about every newspaper seem to attempt to pander to? When did what players Tweet or post on Facebook become news? Are we really no better than the readers of the celebrity gossip magazines that inform us what type of apple Justin Bieber prefers, or what colour lipstick Angelina Jolie plasters over the leeches that surround her mouth?
When did the standard of punditry and live commentary get so appallingly bad that I can no longer watch a game all the way through without suppressing screams? To name a few particularly bad eggs, why the fu** are Alan Shearer, Andy Gray, Jim Beglin and Chris Kamara still in employment? Why are our ears tortured by the idiot ramblings of rambling idiots, peppering their language with phrases such as 'for me' and 'you just feel' when they get asked a question?
When did players stop being professional athletes and start morphing into deluded celebrities? A perfect example of the utter bollocks I am talking about is Mario Balotelli, who reminds me of some cocky WWE wrestler who everybody accepts is quite talented but underneath is a total prick. Today he was reported as having 'called out' Wayne Rooney, boasting that City's attack is the best in the world, and all this after having claimed never to have heard of Jack Wilshere. Balotelli is not the only one who behaves like this, and nor is he representative of the majority. But he is a good example of what I mean.
Maybe it's because I don't get to see as many live games as I used to. Perhaps all this is a result of me getting older, or maybe it has something to do with the internet and the increasing coverage football gets on TV and the endless accessibility all that gives me. I am, after all, the ripe old age of 21. But when I was younger, football on the telly or the sports section of the newspaper was something to get excited about. The World Cup used to be the greatest show on earth. But now when an international tournament comes around I only get a sense of anti-climax. If a player switches clubs I can muster little more than a shrug of my shoulders. If a manager gets sacked I am never surprised any more.
Don't get me wrong, I still love to play football. It is one of those activities for which I will literally drop any task I am in the middle of. But watching it on TV has become an ordeal (even watching Barcelona), listening to the morons who think the world wants to know 'what they reckon' on the radio is gut-wrenching, and I fear reading about football is on the brink of becoming tedious.
Lastly, when did managers become less important than agents in the future of the modern footballer? When did owners gain more influence over a club than the fans? We are told by 'the press' (whoever they are; even journalists seem to be disdainful of 'the press', almost as scared of it as the talking heads on TV who scold 'the media' for stirring up rumours) that it is to do with all the money that is now involved in football. But if money is the problem then what is the source of this money? Sponsors have to advertise to someone, after all. The blame for this aspect of the modern game must lie partly with us, the fans, supporters, spectators and followers.
Football is rammed down our throats, but only ever at the same pace at which fans can swallow it (i.e. without chewing). It constantly wants our attention, but it can only live as long as our eyes follow it. It violates our ears but only if we listen. Each year we are told it is the most exciting season in years, and it seems our attention spans and collective memories are so short that each year we buy into the hype at increasingly expensive prices.
We cannot continue to lament the state of the game while we upgrade our TV packages, pay our internet subscriptions and stand in line to buy this season's new kit, even if we won't buy a ticket. Everybody - fans, players, agents, managers, journalists, sponsors, pundits, owners, and how could I not mention the 'authorities', the FA, UEFA, FIFA etc. - needs to wake up and start cutting the crap. It is time for some honesty.
In closing here are some videos which put my views in a much funnier way. Enjoy.
(Mitchell & Webb)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN1WN0YM ... re=related
(Mitchell & Webb again)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojjdP01y ... re=related
(don't know who is responsible for this work of genius)
The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.