The Premier League starts… with a whimper.
Thank Christ for Jabbering Joey Barton. It’s hard not to imagine him stepping out of a smashed shop window with a wide-screen telly in his mitts. Everything about the lad reeks of the kind of upbringing that would make an Old Etonian wince.
Of course Joey’s surprise appearance might be considered an attempt by the Geordies to put him in the shop window, but I don’t see anyone clambering over injured Malaysian students to get to the uppity Scouse muppet.
Incidentally, I don’t want to lace this whole blog with references to the lawless hoodied gits that rifled through the shops the other day, except to say that Cameron’s Big Society implied that communities be encouraged to ‘help themselves’ and this might have been misinterpreted.
Any road, it was good that the footy wasn’t postponed everywhere, even if that did allow Joey to do his ‘chippiest kid in the playground’ act.
‘Course Joey’s eloquent tweets seem to give the lie to his reputation of letting his feet do the talking, either with ball, or with the skull of someone who might not be to his liking. He’s got a bit of form with Arsenal following since Abou Diaby’s brainstorm last year when the big midfielder shook Barton around like a drinking straw, got sent off, and Newcastle grabbed an improbable 4-4.
Maybe that’s what was rankling with Alex Song when he used the lad’s calf as a doormat. While there’s a bit of you that, like the Cantona assault on a Palace fan way back when, says "‘kin right, son", there’s also that bit of you that thinks that there’s still a stampy, stropping underbelly to Arsenal that reflects the manager’s schoolgirl petulance.
And Gervinho hit the deck like an encyclopedia off a high shelf. I’m getting right miffed with the apologists that constantly suggest that cos ‘there’s contact’ a pen should be given. Depends on the contact, surely? Defenders will have to spend the whole season making sure that they cut any loose threads of their footy tops cos one waft of a tatty yarn is enough to bring a 6ft striker rocksliding to earth.
Barton was similarly outraged and grabbed Gervinho round the collar. While he was feeling around in his shorts for a cigar and a lighter the Ivorian managed to snake out the sort of slap that couldn’t have wafted the steam of a fresh cup of tea and, after a moment’s reflection, Barton turned into Rivaldo.
Plaintive cries of ‘He punched me, he punched me!’ followed. And Gervinho, forehead ballooning furiously over the tightest headband ever strapped round a human bonce, made a hasty exit. The twit.
Barton’s mark was made but at least contributed to the entertainment which is a damn sight more than the rest of his team-mates managed.
Pardew continued to be stout in his defence of the Shameless extra in the No.7 shirt, insisting that Barton wasn’t deserving of a red card. Then again Pards’s appearances on Match of the Day 2 have been strictly limited since he described a magnificent Michael Essien tackle by saying ‘He’s absolutely raped him,there.’
As Ken Clarke’ll tell you there are different levels of rape – apparently – but I still can’t think what Pardew thought he was saying. It was hard not to sympathise with Wenger’s assertion that the two tusslers should’ve got the same punishment, but maybe it wouldn’t have mattered if the Gooners hadn’t played with the usual clockwork passing patterns and yet finished with all the end-product of the post-Thatcher mining industry.
To be fair to Joey, which is a hard concept to embrace, he had a a top season for the Geordies last year and he is still a very decent midfielder. He’s a good passer, has a decent shot on him and rarely gets caught in possession – of the ball, anyway.
I have this horrible feeling that, given he’s more irritating than one of them tiny spiny fishes that swims up your cock in the River Amazon – and that he can more than string a sentence together – he’s being lined up by sports phone-ins and TV couches everywhere as the latest antagonist of the great British football fan.
In other words, stick him in crap clothes and a Kate Winslet wig and you’ve got Knobbie Savage. Or bring back that naff tash and you’ve got Gary Neville. And football needs its bruisers, its nutjobs, its preeners and primpers, its unhinged, one-eyed pillocks.
Still, it stirred up a weekend of timelessly pedestrian footy. United proved the value of having a goalscorer from the opposition, but didn’t look all that tasty. Rio, like some disobedient poodle, is back on the couch, Vidic is getting creakier too, and De Gea looks flakier than a Gregg’s sausage roll.
Torres looked lively but Chelsea still need an overhaul, the minnows did okay barring poor old QPR. And the worst aspect of the weekend’s games was the injury to Kieron Dyer. I mean I’ve never been a big fan of the lad but no one deserves his level of ill luck. By all accounts he’s been brilliant in training but put him on the pitch and his shins turn to celery.
Finally, the weekend was the crowning achievement of the England cricket team. That’s right, the ruthless oiled machine of the modern game is now England. Three cracking pacemen, a tidy old tweaker, a top six that could not only make a century but, in Cook’s case, bat for a century, and a keeper who counter-attacks like a bearded South African-English Gilchrist.
It’s just right pleasing really even if India’s bowling attack has all the edge of a chicken passanda. It’s only the silly old decent Englishman that wants Sachin to get that 100th hundred you know. Flower n Strauss don’t want the bloke getting so much as a sniff. Pitiless, they are. Isn’t it grand?