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.

mardi 8 février 2011


A match report with a difference in homage to French novelist Georges Perec.

This story is of a match won. A galaxy of stars on display for both host and visitor. Initial indications of an away victory. A wing-back had flown from Catalunya with a will to attack. Sagna and Rami anxious.

But Blanc's boys found a foothold. Gourcuff and Madrid's pup linking sharply, visitor Pato continuing to show his abundant gifts. Caught by this spirit too was Lucas. That said, Lloris was not in action, which might account for his poor kicking.

Frankly, though its samba-cancan rhythm was brisk, this show had no punch. A high foot just prior to halfway through did it. A gold shirt back on its hook, navy shirts off it. And soon, logically, a goal! Unhappy in Spain's capital, Karim was back on form last night, scoring thanks to first-class work from a Roman forward.

On a pitch by now awful, Hulk out to no avail. Sons of Gaul dominant until Mr. Stark's final blow. Auxiliary points? David Luiz was solid, as was Roma's Phil.