It’s back. Thank God, it’s back.
The football’s back.
And then you realise.
You realise how much you’ve missed Michael Owen, Glenn Hoddle, Jamie Redknapp, Alan Parry, Graeme Souness and all those other insightful chaps on the tele.
When I say missed, I’m being sarcastic, of course. They’re all detestable.
For one, I lost count of the amount of times I was reliably informed I was watching the “best league in the world”. It was like I was being brainwashed. Say it enough times and I might just believe it.
Fortunately, Stoke-Liverpool happened and reality set in.
Can you really continue to say the Premier League is “by far” the best league when you have such a vested interest in the product?
That’s not to say it isn’t the best. Though, it really depends what you class as “the best”. The best what? Quality? Entertainment? Intensity? Play-acting?
At least let us make our own minds up without shoving that Thierry Henry advert down our throats at every opportunity.
The condescending and patronising analysis was spearheaded by Souness (who continually told us how Petr Cech would win Arsenal between 10 and 12 points this season. Yeah, good one that.).
I’m too young to remember Souness as a player but, from what I’ve read and seen, he was a very fine (and tough) midfield player. That’s not to say the best players become the best managers, or pundits, as the case may be.
Could you imagine if David Ospina had dropped those clangers on Sunday? He would have been crucified. And rightly so, they were two inexplicable errors that cost Arsenal the match.
Mind you, because it’s Cech and he was decent goalie about eight years ago* we’re assured by Souness that this is a one off. It’s remarkable how certain players can get an easier ride because of a by-gone reputation; whereas players who are new to the league, or lesser-known to the audience, suffer. Vincent Kompany, who has been average at best for 18 months, is another that tends to fall into that particular category.
*Cech’s clangers date back to Euro 2008.
Souness’ dismissiveness and disdain to the unknown (to him, at least) didn’t stop there.
We were treated to a rant on how Stoke are facing the dilemma of signing “maverick” foreign players who may give you the odd 8 or 9 out of 10 performance but may not really be too bothered about running around; against trusting the reliable “6 out of 10s” that will give you 100% week in, week out.
Yeah, really. Apparently that’s analysis. I’d personally call that lazy stereotyping.
Are all foreign players languid prima-donnas? The likes of Alexis Sanchez and Luis Suarez would suggest quite the opposite.
There was also praise (if you can call it that) for the hard work and endeavour for Liverpool’s new midfield pairing; James Milner and Jordan Henderson. Though, Souness was quick to point out the duo lacked the “magic” of a Steven Gerrard.
This is Steven Gerrard, quite possibly Liverpool’s greatest ever player, a freak of nature you could say, and you’re comparing them to him? Give the poor fellas a chance, for goodness sake.
Wouldn’t it have been better to comment on Milner and Henderson as individuals in their own right rather than comparing them to a standard that, clearly, they will never reach?
It might be a new season but don’t expect anything new about the analysis from Souness and friends.