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Even in the era of super-clubs

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:46 am    Post subject: Even in the era of super-clubs Reply with quote

First impressions tend to linger. For example, I’ve always liked Paul Merson as a pundit despite the fact he might not be the most knowledgable or the most coherent and may sometimes appear not to have realised he’s on television at all, to have just found himself talking for a really long time with smartly dressed people about Arsène Wenger while, for reasons that escape him, sitting in a brightly lit room behind a cardboard desk.

The moment I first realised I was going along with pretty much whatever Merse said was the aftermath of Michael Owen’s goal against Argentina at France 98. Never mind the finish or the way the pre-injury Owen is able to move his feet at a strange, scurrying triple-speed, operating within his own distinct bubble of time and space.
The best bit of that goal is the way the TV feed cuts to the touchline just as Owen runs off to celebrate, capturing Merson out on the pitch jumping up and down, turning to the rest of the England bench with a huge gaping grin on his face yelling: “What a farkin’ goal!”
The other subs are all out there looking generically pleased. Further along Glenn Hoddle is already doing the classic temple-tapping think-about-it gesture. Only Merse looks completely lost in the moment, utterly consumed by the spectacle of a goal that arguably gave him greater joy than it did Owen himself.
As a pundit Merson’s range of response is essentially the same, variations on this scale, with the same ability to identify and communicate a basic joy in his sport. He was right too. For all the Kenny Wiggins Jersey white noise about dashed hopes and geopolitical rivalries, all that really remains now of that painstakingly constructed moment is the thrill, the indivisible truth of what a farkin’ goal.
The reason for going on about this at such length here is my own slightly unusual experience over the last six days spent watching six of the top 12 richest football clubs in the world, and by extension ever, play in the flesh.
In a frustrating twist it turns out I don’t have anything profound, or indeed particularly interesting to share about this experience, as regular readers will no doubt already be aware. But one thing has stood out from City and Chelsea, PSG and Real to the gripping end notes of Spurs and Juventus on Wednesday night.
Everybody knows there is a loss of scale around these institutions now. Our super-clubs have become features of the corporate landscape, no longer human-shaped, hard to grasp in outline. At this level of football even the word “player” can seem like a hangover from some more frivolous age. Probably it should be replaced now with something more apt, like human sport unit or elite level ball-tactic cog.
And yet whatever we throw at it, no matter how we blind it with greed or dilute its competitive edges, football retains its power, remains an utterly addictive, engaging, consoling source of human interest. Again this comes back to that basic pleasure principle.
The game does work best, indeed only really works at all, Authentic Melker Karlsson Jersey when we get a sense of play and of joy. Not that this is news in itself. We know this about the best footballers, just as again the really striking thing about Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday night was the sense of pleasure.,106219
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