CaughtOffside’s weekly diarist SuesieG pulls something out of nothing from the week’s biggest Premiership club news.
I once had a friend who told me – on my 26th birthday – that women over the age of 25 are like Christmas cakes – left on the shelf and past their sell-by dates. He laughed hysterically, I didnâ€™t, and weâ€™re no longer friends. Now that Iâ€™m past 30, however, I can see the humour in this, but in the world of football, much like the world of supermodels, being past 30 is like the kiss of death, and its latest victim is Sol Campbell.
In an interview with the Times this week, Solâ€™s not only been smarting from a voice mail message left by Steve McLaren informing him of his omission from the England squad; but heâ€™s been openly critical about the lack of â€œthirty-somethingsâ€, such as David Beckham, whose names are also missing from Englandâ€™s team sheet.
â€œThere are loads of guys around the world playing who are older than me. You see other countries have players who are still playing at 34 and 35 for the national teamâ€, sniffed Sol.
True, true! But just as I was about to applaud Solâ€™s statements (about older players, not David Beckham), he blew his whole argument by saying heâ€™s confused about the other David – as in James – also being omitted from the national squad.
â€œJamoâ€™s playing the best football of his career and people should admit that instead of hiding from it or pushing it under the carpet. If people were just honest about it, then maybe we would get a better team.â€
Ok, Iâ€™ll be honest. England are pants! Steve McLaren was not my first choice as England manager. John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Jamie Carragher would be my first choices over the often-injured Sol Campbell. After years of â€œstellarâ€ â€œperformances for Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham, Man City and England, David James came honestly by the nickname â€œCalamityâ€ â€“ so, heâ€™s not the answer to Englandâ€™s problems either. And finally, I honestly believe that you canâ€™t compete with youth, so donâ€™t bother. The exception to this rule is, of course, Zinedine Zindane, but then, heâ€™s in an entirely different class than that of Sol Campbell.
And speaking of class, I have a few complaints about Round 6 of Barcelona vs. Chelsea.
The first is that my local pub did me no favours by showing both the Barca-Chelsea and Liverpool-Bordeaux at the same time. Unfortunately, I have ADD, so not only is it incredibly difficult to concentrate on 2 games going on at once, but throw in a couple of Halloween celebratory drinks for good measure, and itâ€™s virtually damn near impossible!
The second is that what should have been an extraordinary night of football at the Nou Camp disintegrated, in my opinion, into what can only be compared to wrestling match between Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks.
Now, without dredging up the whole sorry affair again, or getting into the details of who said what, or who did what, lest I be accused of hating Chelsea, these two clubs and many of their players, are the current standard bearers for their respective leagues. In my opinion, the football (and nothing else) should be main focus of the matter. Unfortunately, however, whenever these two teams get together â€“ and Tuesday night was no exception â€“ it becomes one great big dog and pony show. Iâ€™m all for passion and entertainment in a football match, but I also appreciate the ideas of sportsmanship and decorum as well.
Fortunately, somewhere in between the silliness, theatrics and antics, there were some flashes of brilliance and some decent football. Personally, Iâ€™m a huge fan of beautiful football, and when teams like Chelsea, Barcelona, Arsenal, Manchester United., Real Madrid, Liverpool, etc. are â€œonâ€, itâ€™s like observing a great work of art. I certainly want to see more of that from now on, what about you?
Earlier this week, Noel White, the Liverpool Director who openly criticized Rafa Benitez, resigned after 21 years with the club. In truth, White only echoed concerns that many Liverpool fans and certain football pundits themselves had said; but as Liverpool Chairman, David Moores, put it, â€œthere was no place for taking the clubâ€™s business outside the walls of Anfield.â€
Perhaps FIFA should look to Liverpool as an example when dealing with their clever President, Sepp Blatter. In an effort to piss off the entire nation of Italy and out do his womenâ€™s-football-tighter-shorts remarks, Blatter apologized earlier this week to Australia over the dubious penalty awarded to Italy, which eventually led to the Socceroosâ€™ exit from the World Cup and the Azzuri going on to claim top prize. Blatter has apparently since retracted his statements (as per usual), but in truth, he is only acknowledging what many football fans and pundits already know â€“ No! Not that the words â€œdivingâ€ and â€œGrossoâ€ are synonymous – but that the World Cup was more than slightly marred by poor refereeing and cheating.