Sunday, January 1, 2012


It is common to write "five thoughts" about football matches these days, but I have had six, so here goes and two hoots to protocol. This is 2012 and I'll do what I want:

Firstly then, my second thought (as my first one is unprintable, libellous and might get me either put away or hunted down: it is not really a thought, in fact, more a question. How. Did. That. Happen? (following protocol this time, I have put a full stop after each word of a normally straightforward four-word sentence to emphasise the incredul. Ity.

Thirdly and most emphatically: where does imperious form go so suddenly, so swiftly, so completely? Does it melt or evaporate? Does it slide down the plughole like a well aimed shot of mucus? Why and where, why and where? Or is the form still with us, just the angles are different? Silva's tikka taka suddenly looking like barely warm meringue. Dzeko's foot a leather-clad spade. Yaya, already looking for the dusty train to Mongombo. Six hundred and sixty five passes were attempted, of which many found their man. twenty seven shots towards goal (not "on goal", you understand). The wording here is crucial, as Dzeko's mum muight be tuning in and we don't want to hurt her feelings too much. (Note to Mrs Dzeko. your son had a stinker today). Possession means chances and points mean prizes but shots at the roof mean nothing to most of us. (still, there were a heck of a lot of them)

Number 4: how does this all affect the others in this "red hot title race"? (this is what they call them apparently. Never been near one before, so will have to take Mike Parry's word for it). They will have been down then up. We were down then up and then down again. All that this proves is that there are a lot of ups and downs and some of them belong to us. Those intelligent fellows at the Daily Mail and Talksport will be thrashing themselves and each other with a bull whip taking it in turns to chant "It's United's title. Ouch", "Chelsea are out of it. Ayeeee", "It must be City. Ooof", "No this is the end of City. Owah", "Maybe it looks like Spurs. awoooo". Mentally, we must be strong. The others too. It's all played in the mind, except those tricky bits out there on the green. Psychologically, the manager's quiff-tossing, Italian expletive laden performance on the bench will be a big boon for...all of the others, whilst the poor individuals closest to the manager's wildly waving forearm (sadly, it has to be Johnson, forlornly running the line with that little ginger-haired defender on his back) will continue to get the full Italian-English dictionary thrown at them.

5. If Mancini's touchline histrionics are of little help, they cannot be compared to Stuart Pearce's. Any management guru or body language expert would tell you what he did on the touchline in the name of Manchester City should never be repeated. Still, one or two eyes-to-the-sky-looks of disdain less would be just dandy.

Six: we are all quite enjoying this, aren't we? Today's game reminded me of a classic in 1997, when we managed through the power of negative thought and jelly legs, to lose a one goal lead to Birmingham City in the 94th minute and lose the game altogether in the 97th. We had only taken the lead in the 88th ourselves. Boy were we in a mess in those days. Through these scattered crumbs of comfort, we dust ourselves down and prepare for the next outing. These days, not such a mess, no such worry. No Murtaz Shelia with a look on his face that spells "murder" in Georgian.

Look forward to a reaction on Tuesday. If it doesn't come, look out for Dzeko's Mum before you let rip.

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