It is a tough job but someone has to do it.
Mind the gap!
Life seems a bit strange when the main thing you’ve been neurosing about is suddenly removed. I can’t say I have really missed the stiff-necked rage which Villa’s precarious season inflicted upon me but the absence of that neurosis has definitely left a gap that needs filling.
The worst thing to confront is the realisation that the emotions which my Villa obsession induce are entirely sincere, and that trying to find something which animates the spirit quite as much as the goings-on down at B6 is almost impossible. The sheer scale of the world’s tragedies and the sickening hypocrisies of our political classes and their brain-washing friends in the media, make for a very poor substitute for the trivial pursuit and soap-opera which is football.
So in the absence of much else it very much looks like I will being falling back on the usual summer stand-bys of hedonism, unrequited lust and sentimentality, supplemented by the various bits of football which serve to keep the football media ticking over but which lack the meaningfulness and jeopardy of the authentic Sturm und Drang of the Premiership.
Judging by the state of the various Villa forums scattered around the Interweb these days, it seems that I am not alone in missing my Villa fix, as variously villainous fans compete to produce the vilest vituperation and vilification of their Villa heroes of choice. Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland seem to be coming in for the most slander and defamation from fans who were cheering them not so long ago.
The only thing which can be said for this ritual annual revisionism is that at least while they are having a go at Dunne and Ireland, they are leaving others alone and the players will have to console themselves in the knowledge that many a Villa legend was reviled in his day, as they cry all the way to the bank.
The other obsession is the future of Christian Benteke, who is temporarily enjoying the status of paragon. The whole thing is fuelled by the club’s estimation of the big fellah’s value which is rising faster than the national debt, and is seen by optimists as a sign of the club’s determination to keep him and by realists as a suggested starting price for the bidding.
This offers marvellously fertile ground for the blokish tendency to offer confident assurances as to why he will stay and why he will leave. Whether it is standing around car with its bonnet up, or the subject of football, it is the habit of men folk to take up the pose and facial expression of assured moral authority and offer an opinion based upon no information at all.
From the taverns of Tyseley to Tipton, follicly challenged swag-bellied Villans are pontificating on the matter – its what us blokes do.
Personally, with the subjects for my own pontification exhausted, I was so short of material this week, that I was forced into trying to sound wise and knowing about England.
Even Gary Linekar couldn’t resist a quick trip to the pulpit in response to England’s typical struggle against the Republic of Ireland and was caught offering his wonted wisdom for free from his Twitter account. As an expert he has to pretend he knows about tactics, so he went that way. He never actually offered Hodgson the benefit of his vast experience, he just made one of those all-knowing vague criticisms, which any number of swag-bellied amateurs could have managed for a lot less money.
But hey, Gary is only a bloke too.
According to this bloke, it was just that England aren’t very good and even when they have been in the past, the Irish usually give them a difficult game. But as bad as they are, England still managed to draw against Brazil on Sunday, and even though Brazil look like they are doing a bad imitation of themselves these days, it was still a remarkable result bearing in mind the dominance of the hosts.
The only thing which spoilt it for me was that Rooney got all the headlines, as the papers sought to remind us who England’s biggest brand is these days, which robbed Oxlade-Chamberlain of the accolades he deserved for scoring such a wonderful opening goal, which didn’t require a deflection to evade the goalkeeper.
I would have loved to have seen his father Mark Chamberlain’s face, when that one went in.
But that was it, as far as football was concerned and so I had to revert to my usual summer pastimes of sentiment and hedonism as the week went on and the weather got better. With another week to go before the Confederation Cup kicks off, when Brazil play Japan, it looks like I will need to seek out something to pass the time.
So it looks like I must sit back, continue my education in the delights of single malt whisky with Ralfy Mitchell, on Ralfy.com, and get out my collection of black and white war movies and imagine myself being a decent sort of chap in the 1940s, and do my best to enjoy myself.
Therefore it looks like it is Jack Hawkins and a bottle of Old Pulteney, for me, until there is football on the telly again, next Saturday.
It is a tough job but someone has to do it.
Keep the faith!