‘Arry’s Insights into The Year of the Dog
Between some playful Cockney speak, a tendency to refer to 26-year old players as ‘the boy’ and an affinity for gross exaggeration, Tottenham manager ‘Arry Redknapp occasionally serves us up a real nugget of know-how. During the dissection of his team’s 4-zip win over Liverpool at the weekend, he quipped
“Football’s a funny old game. I’ve always said Saddam Hussein could have bought a football club and if he’d have pumped millions in they’d all have sung ‘There’s only one Saddam'”
Okay, so maybe that one can be filed directly under blatant hyperbole, with ‘Arry clearly recycling some gag that brought him a few laughs last time he was sat next to Sir Alex at a dinner party (quite possibly hosted by Andy Gray). But considering the royal treatment given to some of the Premier leagues owners, both past and present, ‘Arry’s insight isn’t so far off the money.
Despite being compared to Pol Pot in his own country, the adoration of former Man City owner, Thaksin Shinawatra, after he started splashing the cash a few seasons back, was unheralded. Saddam he is not, but the former Thai Prime Minister has since been convicted of embezzlement and handed a 2 year jail term, based on the fact that he managed to more than quadruple his wealth during his time in office. Turns out ‘Frank’ Shinawatra had accumulated more Baht than a flock of sheep. The former PM is still yet to return to Thailand to serve his sentence, instead preferring to live on his millions in exile in Dubai. But the Man City fans are not the only guilty party. Chelsea fans also constantly overlook the fact the Roman Abramovich has a reputation in his native Russia of nothing more than a politically connected gangster as most of his assest were formerly government property sold to him at ‘mates rates’ by friends in high places.
What about Blackburn fans? For all we know the Venky group’s treatment of chickens down there in Delhi may even be substandard (cough, cough).
But it was ‘Arry’s musings regarding the performance of new recruit, former Arsenal player, Emanuel Adebayor, that one felt he really drove the nail in with the precision of an expert chippy.
“He’s done nothing wrong. He played for Arsenal, he played for Man City. The Arsenal fans hate him now, so more reason for the Tottenham fans to love him. If he continues here like that, like he did last week, he’s got no problem. He’ll be fantastic here.”
Sure, Adebayor isn’t the first player to have pulled on a Tottenham jersey after wearing the red of their arch-rival’s Arsenal. William ‘Did you say Taliban FC? What are they paying?’ Gallas made a similar move last season and has now played for no less than 3 London clubs, all whom boast significant rivalries between them. The original Judas, former Tottenham captain Sol Campbell, famously ‘went the other way’ (apparently also in the gents toliets) when he ditched the Spurs captaincy and made a shock move across North London to Arsenal. Never the less, despite his Gooner origins, Adebayor is now enjoying the adulation of the Tottenham fans after scoring 3 goals in his first two matches. The very same fans who used sing songs regarding his Father’s career as an elephant washer and his Mother’s sexual promiscuity, back when Emmanuel wore an Arsenal shirt. But all this seems to have been forgotten because, as ‘Arry so clearly laid out for us in his irrefutable yet casual manner – if he scores goals, the punters will love him.
In today’s football world, where allegiances are dead & the chequebook reigns supreme, it seems that few footballers have a problem joining their former rivals. Provided of course, the price is right. It is not just Adebayor’s arrival at White Hart Lane and his subsequent success, that has provided us with the collective howl signifying the Year of the Dog.
The young German keeper, Manuel Neuer, stirred the Bavarian pot this summer after his move from Schalke 04 to their long-time rivals Bayern Munich. Surprisingly, this move managed to alienate both sets of fans with Bayern’s Ultra fanatics especially displeased with their clubs new signing. They originally stipulated a strict behavioral code for Neuer to adhere to, which stated he could never initiate the team’s chants through a megaphone, kneel with the team and perform the ‘Humba’ song or throw his shirt into the south stand. Which, if nothing else, raises the question, ‘just exactly what goes on at Bayern Munich games?’ The controversy surrounding this move was further increased over the weekend with the teams facing off against each other. Schalke fans decided to show their dislike for their former player by hanging an effigy of him from a bridge over the Autobahn. For the record Bayern won the match 2-0, with the victory and a clean sheet giving Neuer something to smile about as the team bus travelled under his lynched effigy during the trip back down south to Munich.
It is not only the players who are tempted to their rivals if the sack of gold is heavy enough. Former Scotland manager Alex McLeish was this summer, poached by Aston Villa, from their newly relegated cross town rivals Birmingham City. This move polarised the city of Birmingham, as this was one of the most controversial defections since Sean Connery made off with the Red October. Despite McLeish’s talents as a manager clear for all to see, his history of sleeping around with the other side of town leaft a bad taste in the mouths of the Villa supporters. However, it appears the McLeish has a fistful of breath mints, as Villa have got off to a flyer and are yet to lose a game from their first 5 outings.
These are but three examples of professionals who have, this year, put allegiances aside and signed for rival clubs. To say it has gone well so far for all three is an understatement, with Adebayor netting 3 times in 2 games, Bayern at the top of the Bundesliga and McLeish’s Villa thus far undefeated. Of course, it won’t take much for things to turn sour. But if Judas Iscariot can continue to walk on water as opposed to sinking, as ‘Arry said “He’s got no problem. He’ll be fantastic here.”