jeudi 24 février 2011

Souness a Visionary of Violence

They don't make 'em like that anymore.

The incident that evoked it may be old news, but I'm still distracted by Graeme Souness' comment to the effect that if Joe Jordan and Reno Gattuso were locked in a room together, one of the pair - Gattuso - would leave on a stretcher. I think Souness is onto something. That said, I'd suggest that he's underestimated the potential popularity of such a spectacle. Why stop at a single bout? I propose a series of fights, featuring various niche divisions, to be held in summers without a World Cup or European Championship to entertain us. Divisions might include Dreadlocked Dutch Middleweights, Welterweight Full-backs Called Paul and Lightweight New Maradonas. Since the eureka moment belonged to Souness, he should officiate, resplendent in a black and white striped shirt (rather like fellow Scot John Anderson on Gladiators).

The event would be invitational, so who should receive the call? Well, Jordan and Gattuso are in, and presumably Steven Gerrard would fancy a crack at the 'pussycat' Gattuso. These three are - to greater and lesser degrees - Genuine Football Hardmen (a catch weight division and the most prestigious) and there are numerous players past and present to whom that tag is so persistently attached that they, of course, would merit an invitation: Patrick Vieira, Roy Keane, Diego Simeone, Big Dunc Ferguson, Andoni Goekoetxea... and all those guys from the seventies with nicknames that sound like the titles of slasher movies.

In the spirit of WWF/WWE, the gory stuff would be interspersed with some light relief in the shape of, say, a G. on P. Neville carve-up. Or perhaps a clash of the preening Frenchmen: David Ginola and Laurent Robert circling, each imploring the other, "Pas le visage!" Better still, picture Karen Brady pummelling Richard Keys with a very postmodern rolling pin.

The world of sport is changing. Cricket, rugby and even snooker are experimenting with sexy new formats. If football refuses to adapt, it could well go the way of skittles and Penny Farthing time trials. We can no longer afford to ignore the oracle that is Graeme Souness.

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