Image via dirtytackle.com.
I’ve gathered a fairly disparate and eclectic group of friends over my life, but when it comes to football, they fall into two very distinct (and alarmingly vociferous) categories. Those who love it and obsess about tactics, players and new boot silos with as much enthusiasm as I do, and those who hate it.
An arbitrary and non-scientific survey of the latter revealed that the money and stupidity involved in football are largely to blame for their inflamed ire and to be honest, it’s difficult to defend my beloved game when players continually feel compelled to demonstrate how utterly witless they are.
John Terry & his apprentice in the dark arts of self-destructive idiocy, Ashley Cole. Image: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images Europe.
I’m unable to offer any solution to the vast quantities of money swishing around football and inflating these young men’s egos to blimp sized-proportions, but given that many of my cohorts share a similar intolerance towards authority figures, I wonder if they would be less irritated if players’ attempts at insubordination were a little more creative than calling their employers ‘twats’ on a social media site.
Enter Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid & Spain defender. Ramos is reported to have fallen out with his manager Jose Mourinho recently, after Mourinho intimated that Ramos and his team-mate Mesut Özil are at least partly responsible for the club’s poor start to the season. If he were English, he may well have taken to Twitter to express his disagreement with his boss’s opinion, but making an enemy of Mourinho is a dangerous game, so Ramos’ added a little subtlety to his riposte.
Forty-five minutes into Real Madrid’s 5-1 clattering of Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga last weekend, Özil was subbed off at half time. Ramos apparently said nothing, but when Mourinho’s back was turned he commandeered Özil’s shirt and put it on under his own before returning to the pitch. A private gesture of support between two friends? Maybe, if you’re Sunday league player, whose every move is not photographed and pored over for hidden meaning by a ravenous press. Once Spanish sports paper Marca had seen the photo of Özil’s number peeping through Ramos’ shirt, he might as well have hired a plane to fly over the stadium trailing a banner saying ‘My boss is a TWAT’.
More or less the same point as Ashley Cole was trying to make on Friday, really, but without the headache of an international ban and headlines joyfully pointing out who really is the idiot. I’m under no illusion that it will prompt a change of opinion in my doubtful friends, but at least there’s someone prepared to act as the exception that proves the rule.
I shall make the most of it, at least until Mourinho exacts his own subtle yet devastating revenge.