There are many conceits in English football, but the most important one is that you have to be hard. It’s important because unlike many of our footballing traditions, this one has some foundation in reality. England is cold a lot. If you’re going run around on a frozen field for 90 minutes on a Sunday morning chasing a man who may or may not have spent the previous night in the local police station, you can’t cry when he kicks you. That’s human survival.
As a fan of some years standing, I can confirm that football is not an easy life companion. I love it, of course, but it’s like that mate who turns up late to the Christmas Day do, drinks all the brandy and then starts throwing shapes on the dancefloor thinking they’re Travolta.
Just as you’re trying to quietly usher them out without further embarrassment, you realise they’ve tucked the table cloth into their collar and in bolting to the bar for last orders, have showered your Gran in Iceland vol au vents.
After months of testing, tweaking and concessions to the ‘No! Make it more Bane!‘ lobby, Nike have started promoting their Squad Snood.
In the real world it’s just another fashion transgression from the people who bought you day-glo boots, ham shirts and the Gucci manbag. For some members of the football community though, its reappearance heralds the start of another pitched battle for football’s soul.
Given the response to his club’s tweeted status last weekend, you might have expected Cristiano Ronaldo’s entourage would be keeping a closer eye than usual on statements about their charge emerging into the public domain. Cristiano is used to golden breezes caressing his bronze and chiselled cheek so the harsh blowback from the press and social media over Juventus ‘great professional’ comments will have chapped his face quite badly.
Marc Albrighton has just scored Leicester City’s second goal of the night and, assuming they don’t go all Arsenal on us, will proceed directly to the quarter finals of the Champions League. Their performance has been everything part 2 of the Ranieri era was not; purposeful, competitive, pressing, intense. They’re irresistible.
How ironic then, that they should be the club representing football’s summiting of Peak Entertainment and beginning the long miserable march downward into unknown (if inevitably uncomfortable) territory.
By resigning from his position as technical director of British cycling, Shane Sutton has instantly become the poster boy for those who believe that women aren’t capable of coping with the rigorous, often unpleasant realities of competing in elite sport.
Phone-ins and social media networks are alight with righteous indignation propelled voices claiming that if women can’t stand the intensity of the motivational tactics (which may or may not include verbal sparring and insults) required, perhaps they should reacquaint themselves with the more suitable challenges of the kitchenette.
You could say that drawing attention to this sort of thing is giving the trolls what they want.
That Toby Young will be reclining on his chaise longue this morning, clad in smoking jacket and dragging on the big old Cuban parked between his educated lips while he cackles at the outrage his Daily Mail article provoked.