Manchester United’s teenage midfielder Paul Pogba is apparently on his way to Juventus.
This blog has never seen Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba play. What kind of midfielder is he? Is he a dexterous weaver, calmly and patiently using the pitch as a loom on which to create patterns of beguiling intricacy? Is he a sinewy carver, ruthlessly slicing his way through the opposition with pace and precision? Is he a sturdy guardsman, cynically denying entry to his penalty area? Which foot does he prefer? What is his range of passing?
Silly Luxury Player. There was a painfully obvious answer to all of these questions, if this blog had only cared to think about it. Paul Pogba is quite clearly a carbon copy of Patrick Vieira. The similarities are quite striking. Vieira is tall, as is Pogba. Vieira is French, as is Pogba. And Vieira is black, as, yup, you guessed, is Pogba. Pogba is clearly a younger version of his now-retired countryman.
This post won’t attempt to cover the most salient socio-political issue looming in the background of Roy Hodgson’s England squad selection, namely the omission of Rio Ferdinand and the inclusion of John Terry, currently the subject of a police investigation for alleged racial abuse of Ferdinand’s younger brother Anton during a match between Chelsea and QPR last year. Hodgson will be able to defend himself with that important tenet of English law that stipulates that one is to be regarded as innocent until proven guilty. Like it or not, we must accept that John Terry, according to the letter of the law, should be eligible for selection until the courts have done their duty. The largest dereliction duty in this regard was in the insistence that the trial be postponed until after this summer’s European Championships.
It is quite possible that Ferdinand might not have been picked regardless. Hodgson will not have failed to notice how Fabio Capello’s selection of another injury prone central defender effectively reduced the England squad by one two years ago when Tottenham Hotspurs Ledley King failed to re-emerge from the tunnel at halftime during his country’s first group game at the South African World Cup. Ferdinand has had a strong finish to the season, but has also spent enough time in the treatment room in the past few years to suggest that he’s been sharing King’s sicknote. Let’s not forget that the forty-five minutes King lasted in Rustenburg were forty-five more than Ferdinand himself managed, having had to withdraw shortly before the tournament through injury.
Poor Gigi Buffon.
If we still lived in that age before the camera’s unforgetting eye hovered over and around every major footballing event, the Italy captain’s decision not to mention to the referee, during Juventus’s match against AC Milan on the 25th of February, that Sulley Muntari’s header had sent the ball at least a ruler’s length over his goal-line might have served to trouble his conscience alone. Had the truth that a goal had in fact been scored not been broadcast with near instantaneousness, thanks to the miracle of the instant replay to an audience of millions around the world, the secret might have remained between the two people closest to the incident, namely Mr Buffon himself and the would-be goalscorer Mr Muntari. All right, Arturo Vidal (see the following paragraph) would surely have known too, but the Luxury Player is sure that the Juventus midfielder is more than capable of keeping his own counsel.
As things stand the unlucky Buffon has found himself at the centre of a maelstrom of controversy, not for his claim that he hadn’t seen the ball cross the line, but rather for stating that he would not have told the referee had he known. The Luxury Player likes to imagine a world in which Muntari’s goal escaped not only the attention of the referee, his excellently positioned assistant, and Mr Buffon’s team mate Arturo Vidal, who appeared to have taken on the role of goal-line official at the moment the goal was scored, but also the gaze of the onpeering video cameras.
A brief guide for commentary teams serving a primarily British audience
Make no attempt to learn the correct pronunciation of player’s name. If a player’s name begins with the combination of M or N plus another consonant, insert a vowel sound between the two letters to render the name more euphonic to European ears and remember that it is to be generally considered that African vowel sounds ape those of RP British English. Thus Zambian goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene should be known as Kennedy M’uhwiini (to rhyme with S’uhweeney). Moreover, the letter U at the end of all African names must remain silent, which is why Ugo Ehiogu and Peter Ndlovu are known as Ugo Ehiogg and Peter Ndluvv respectively. Note that Ndluvv is the one case in which an initial N may be followed directly by a consonant.
You will presume that the national squads with the most players in the United Kingdom, and particularly in England, if you yourself are English, must naturally be amongst the favourites. You will for example assume this year that the Ivory Coast are shoo-ins for the African Cup of Nations trophy because they are led by (the English club) Chelsea’s Didier Drogba, and also count amongst their ranks (the English club) Manchester City’s highly influential midfielder Yaya Touré and his elder brother and club teammate Kolo. You Read more…
‘What’s nice about Mainz is that they always try to play football’, said the co-commentator with the odd intonation, not long after Andreas Ivanschitz had accepted Bayern Munich defender’s Jerome Boateng’s charitable offering of a fabulously deep one-man defensive line to stay onside and put the team from Rhineland-Pfalz in central western Germany ahead on Sunday. The Luxury Player has never shied away from stating the blindingly blatant, and was of the opinion that Mainz owed their lead to a very sensible decision to play football and not, say, basketball, which would have seen them starting with a measly five players, all of whom would have been soon sent off for persistently handling the ball.
The funny thing is that playing football did upset Bayern this past weekend. Mainz, far from scaling anew the heights reached last season, were languishing near the bottom of the table at kick-off, but chose nevertheless not to be cowed by the might of Bayern. Bayern of course had just lost only their second match of the season, against Borussia Dortmund one week earlier, which would have seen them keen to return to winning ways, but were perhaps physically weakened by the exertions of their midweek Champions League victory over Valencia. More damaging to their chances were arguable the absences of Bastian Schweinsteiger in midfield and Arjen Robben in attack coupled with the presence of the aforementioned 19th century novelist Jerome K. Jerome Boateng on the right side of defence, who at times this campaign has seemed determined prove that his football can be as chortle-inducing as his writing. Read more…