Premier League unplugged [4]

Getting to the top is a big challenge; but, as they say, staying there is even harder. Take the life-affirming matter of watching your home-based team rising to the exalted heights of the Premier League… it doesn’t take long to realise it can often be a very cruel place…

pexels-photo

Until we speak again, Cardiff City FC managed to be by far the better team, created so many more chances, then showed just a couple of moments of naivety. The result is you end up losing a ‘must-win’ game 1-2 to Burnley FC… cue “sick as a parrot” and all the other inane football cliches!

Premier League unplugged [3]

 

For 31 minutes of this contest, Cardiff City FC held their own against the mighty current champions of Manchester City FC. But, then…

Down the pan

Just like every other game this one started with a sense of hope, expectation, and the obligatory handshakes…

City v Man City

Until we speak again, it was soon to be like lambs to the slaughter, as the final whistle beckoned with a Cardiff City 0 Manchester City 5 scoreline. And so, as the shepherd said to his dog… “it’s time to get the flock out of here!”

 

Premier League unplugged [2]

When the famous ‘Gunners’ of Arsenal are in town the local Bluebirds need to ensure they do nothing less than shoot for the moon.

night-cannon-moon

But… you need to have an ability to score goals if you are to stand any chance of collecting valuable points. A current track record of scoring 0, 0 and 0 in the first three matches of the season doesn’t bode well.

Until we speak again, and for the record, Cardiff City FC score 2 goals! However, Arsenal go one better. You may feel the unplugged in the title of this post has been substituted by unhinged as I celebrate winning a 2-3 defeat!

 

Premier League Unplugged [1]

Bluebirds v Magpies… get it? Blue of Cardiff City v Black and White stripes of Newcastle United… anybody? No! Okay so they are not strictly stripes. On closer examination maybe there isn’t much black in there either. As for the blue, it’s more Manchester City than Cardiff City. But at least it is on Sky… TV that is, as not many are expecting the much maligned home team to have their name emblazoned across the blue yonder.

Until we speak again, and just for the record, Cardiff won a 0-0 draw.

So, what did we learn?

 

Sharing my home with a dumb animal has some perks, but listening to insane optimism from an inevitably delusional fan about a failure of a football season is not one of them. So I thought I would put the story straight by offering you selected excerpts of my incisive reportage on the plight of the local colour-conflicted Purple Dragonbirds season in the Premier League. If you like football look away now, and if you don’t… read on. What did we learn, and who really cares?

Tiring day at the office

Manchester City (25/8/13) “A football stadium on match day is really just a bunch of overweight folk sat on their arses telling a bunch of fit blokes how to play the game.” There is nothing like a great start to a season to get the lardy types ramping up expectations, and with a 3-2 win for the home team against the mega-wealth of the opposition you just have to look at the final places at the end of the season to get a sense of perspective (Man City are champions, and Cardiff City finish bottom!).

Everton (1/9/13) With a foul inside the penalty area there are conflicting views of whether there should have been a penalty awarded to Everton. “A true football fan sees what they want to see, not necessarily what really happened.”

Tottenham Hotspur (22/9/13) Many players have now come to believe the hype that they are delicate thoroughbreds who, despite their obscene wealth, still need a week off to rest if they have played two matches a week for successive weeks.” The amount of money in the game is beginning to make Monopoly look like a franchise for paupers.

Newcastle United (5/10/13) “A football crowd often resembles 90 minutes brimful of inane shouting and chanting dressed up as collective banter.” But football has its moments, times when the bizarre attempts to pass itself off for normality, as when the world famous Treorchy Male Voice Choir sing Blaydon Races from the half-time pitchside to the travelling Geordie supporters.

Swansea City (3/11/13) Billed as the first South Wales Premier League derby this match resembled more of The Rest of the World v Spain. “The beautiful game arrives in the form of the ‘lovely ugly town’ to be played out in front of 27,000+ magnificently mindless people who don’t quite get how world-definingly meaningless this event is to all but the supporters of each club.” 

Manchester United (24/11/13) “The new default position is one of: if brushed by a breath of air go immediately to ground as if felled by a sledgehammer.” Since the turn of the century the once revered Newton Health (Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway) FC have succumbed to European trade descriptions for the game, and are now occasionally known as the Trafford Park Diving Club, noted more for the tuck and pike movements of some of their overpaid individuals, a somewhat balletic and artistically horizontal game plan disparagingly referred to as cheating by opposing fans.

Arsenal (30/11/13) “The visitors have expanded their reputation from one of ‘petit France’ to a more UKIP offending pan-European blend of team, but as with most European institutions the style can tend towards the over-elaborate with an emphasis on process sometimes to the detriment of the end product.” The locals do love a humble returning son, so Aaron Ramsey gets the rare accolade of a standing ovation on his return to his original club, and further applause for scoring against them. Uncharacteristically, their manager, Arsene Wenger, saw that (a football insiders joke).

West Bromwich Albion (14/12/13) “With christmas looming ever closer the ghosts of Premier Past, Premier Present and Premier Future align to offer difficult omens for the local’s hero Malky Mackay, particularly as a Jacob Marley-like image imposes itself over the stadium. Or is it just Vincent Tan preparing to give Malky an internal examination?” 

Southampton (26/12/13) A match mired in off the field on-going disputes between club owner and team manager promises little in the way of christmas spirit. “Ultimately what emerges is nothing more than a megalomaniac-inspired, finance-confused, football knowledge free-zone, pantomime of farcical proportions. The ragged band who make up the local team seem as clear in their style of play as the club and fans do about agreeing on the team’s shirt colour.”

Sunderland (28/12/13) When a team is devoid of confidence they even contrive to throw away a 2-0 lead when they have dominated the opposition. As the cliche goes, ‘the game is not over until the final whistle’. “The Oompa Loompa from Kuala Lumpur might just be the son of satan, but one thing is for sure, football fans have very little sense of perspective when it comes to reflecting on their own team.”

West Ham United (11/1/14) I must admit I fell off my throne laughing when I heard my original local team, West Ham, are moving into the Olympic Stadium soon; a triumph of ambition over ability if I have ever heard of one. Meanwhile, back at the local ranch the new regime replaces the old as Ole takes over from Malky, and it’s the inevitable “kiss the badge time” for several existing players who should have been fighting harder, and new players who find themselves here despite never having any previous ambition to be a Cardiff City player. “Nothing like false claims of loyalty for fooling the mindless horde into accepting you!”

Norwich City (1/2/14) A match between two teams who have completely lost the habit of scoring goals; and in the world of football cliches “it’s goals that win games”, so I am told. “This is a game that promises to ramp up the levels of boredom to new heights, and likely to provide as much excitement as watching a canary choking to death in a coalmine.” It finishes as a 2-1 home win, so that shows you how much I know when it comes to predictions.

Aston Villa (12/2/14) “It’s 7.45pm on a wet Tuesday night in February; welcome to the grim, the battered and the ugly!” Estate Agents would no doubt be hyping up the levels of exaggeration around this being a stormy battle between two teams desperate for three points. The reality is a becalming Basement Flat 0 Underwhelming Villa 0. Seems like Estate Agents might have as much knowledge as this cool cat when it comes to the predictions game.

Hull City (22/2/14) “If you put all of the footballing cliches end-to-end you would still not get anywhere near the land of common sense.” Far from being blessed with the notorious game changing players or moves, this is more the battle of the ‘name-changers’, as respective owners earn nothing but a bucket of bile from their fans for daring to suggest that history be ditched in favour American sports team style names. I am losing count of the number of ways that money trumps any source of common sense in this game.

Fulham (8/3/14) “The Premier League’s two worst teams go head-to-head in a rush for relegation. Football can be a funny game, but whoever came up with that one hasn’t watched cricket!” My prediction was that this would be a roller-coaster of a yawn in which 90 minutes can be a long time when you are sat watching grass grow. “Mesmerising, majestic, out-of-this-world, scintillating… these are all words that belong somewhere else, but surprisingly the home team conjured up a 3-1 win.”

Liverpool (22/3/14) “The Beautiful Game Tour (aka Liverpool FC) rolls into Cardiff City’s home (aka Bleak House). In true Dickensian vernacular the home fans still hold on to Great Expectations, but this is a Tale of Two Cities right out of The Old Curiosity Shop, and the home team will surely find nothing but Hard Times, as they perilously march towards Marshalsea Debtors Prison.” Despite a deserving 1-0 and 2-1 lead the home team succumb to a 6-3 defeat.

Crystal Palace (5/4/14) A battle of two recently promoted teams should present a re-staging of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, but who will win the shoot-out and will the loser have one foot on Boot Hill? When an Eagle tangles with a Bluebird only one result should be expected. Unluckily for the home team that is the way this match also went, with nothing but blue feathers spat out. In the words of the Coen Brothers “If this isn’t a mess it will do until the mess gets here.”

Stoke City(19/4/14) “My human ’emotional roller-coaster’ insists in hanging on to the hopey-changey thing following a fluke away win the previous week, but I unhelpfully suggest this bears no relation to a swallows and summer vibe.” Confiscating the belts and laces might be needed in preparation for suicide watch. At least the one with more money than sense might well be getting an extra four matches for the already purchased season ticket for next year (24 clubs in the division below, as opposed to 20 in the Premier League).

Chelsea(11/5/14) “The Premier League season comes to its closing game, and just as architectural designs disappear to the horizon at their vanishing point, so it is time for my delusional desperado to disappear up their own passageway of dreams.” Unfortunately my very own little dot on the horizon is talking the defeated pugilists talk of instant comebacks. Some people (and most football fans) are just born masochists!

So, that was it… a season in the Premier League in which Cardiff City FC came, they saw, and they were conquered. Early season promise under the guidance of the God-like Malky Mackay only gave way to a flatlining league position for the majority of the second half of the season, under the overall guidance of a clueless megalomaniac with plenty of what counts… money, and nothing of what should count… knowledge of the game and passion for the local team. All this new talk about the excitement of another Championship campaign leaves me ecstatic with delight. So, until we speak again I shall be a thoroughly overwhelmed Juno.

Vanishing Point

The Premier League season comes to its closing day, and just as architectural designs disappear to the horizon at the vanishing point so my resident ‘delusional desperado’ is about to disappear up their own passageway of dreams. They join the local tribe of dedicated panhandlers for the final time in their current Premier League existence, patiently wading through oceans of guano in the hope of the occasional pearl-laden oyster. But it is only the dark clouds rolling in that offer a genuine backdrop to the final contest. But even this final fight is more of a vanishing point, as two pugilists step into the ring for an event without a purpose, other than fulfilling a pre-determined contract. The home team are already relegated, and the away team end a season with their own disappointment of not being able to win anything.

  V.  

The locals persistently question the colour of the corners, but on this occasion the reality is that in the red corner we have ‘The Baby Faced Assassin‘ and in the blue corner we have ‘The Special One‘, as Ole visibly ageing and Jose progressively greying square up for hopefully anything but handbags at 10 paces…

   V.     

The potential pre-match hype stirred up by a street-fighting Mourinho, if his team had a heavyweight title depending on the contest, is all but missing. Snarls are replaced by the anodyne smiles of combatants with minds more firmly fixed on a summer of business in preparation for fights to be won in the future. If there is any real match day animosity it is all in the home camp as the fans make it very clear to the owner ‘they will always be blue’:

City v Chelsea [1]

The bell sounds for the first round, it is 3.00pm on a Sunday afternoon, and the home pugilists look deep down to their boots for some inspiration for the fight ahead:

City v Chelsea [2]Is this to be the mis-match of the century, as the heavyweights from the capital of England dominate the ring of the lightweights of the capital of Wales. The visitors certainly begin fleet of foot as they dance around the ring constantly probing for the opening to land a decisive punch. However, underestimate the lighter opponents at your peril, as on 15 minutes the Chelsea defence is opened up with a Craig Bellamy shot that produces a classic sucker punch as it deflects off a Chelsea defender to leave their last line of defence wrong-footed. A further 30 minutes of trading punches produces no further potential knockout blows. At the end of this round a shock is set up as the home fans witness a lead on points… Cardiff City 1 Chelsea 0.

The bell sounds for round two, but can the sleek arts of the pugilists recover against the early lead for the street-fighters?

City v Chelsea [4]The gulf in class is beginning to show as the delicate footwork of previous champions mesmerises their brave hosts. The home team cushion a few blows, and offer limited glimpses of the search for their own killer punch. On 72 minutes and 75 minutes the decisive combination of hook and upper-cut are applied, and the home fans are left on the floor. With the absence of Gary Medel, their iconic pitbull, they struggle to find the street-fighter spirit that would give them a chance of getting back into this match. The vanishing point duly arrives, as it is time to throw the towel in and slip off back to Championship football.

Final score of the final game of the season… Cardiff City 1 Chelsea 2.

My very own ‘little dot on the horizon’ arrives back with surprisingly measured temperament, but surely punch-drunk, as they evoke the spirit of many a defeated pugilist claiming that a comeback is on the cards, and it all starts here. Some people are just born masochists. Until we speak again I will be a Juno trying to discover what sense underpins the spending of billions of pounds on a few youngsters kicking a ball around a patch of grass.

[Some images have been gratefully borrowed from google images to illustrate the story, and are used with thanks to those who originally placed them].