By Sir Hardly Anyone
There has been a consistent knocking of Mohammed Elneny of late, and an absolute torrent of abuse flowing upon Granit Xhaka. And I wondered what that must be like for the players.
We do of course get our fair share of abuse on Untold and we by and large take it as part of the deal if one is running a football blog. And of course we can always refuse to publish. But what does a player think when he gets it and really can’t do anything about it?
Does he shrug his shoulders and carry on, does he think “I don’t really need this” and seek a transfer…
To find out I went and asked Dr Billy “the Dog” McGraw, senior psychologist at the University College Hospital of Rutland’s North Circular Road and gardening correspondent of The Weed. Dr Billy, who is currently busy negotiating the re-unification of Rutland, took time out at the Toppled Bollard public house to give me his thoughts.
“I think what you have to remember,” he told me, “is that at around the age of six most boys who grow up to be professional footballers acquire a degree poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a journalist, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.
“Players look at journalists and see within them the sort of desire to spread misery that one can also see in the peasants within Tolstoy’s novels – people who having put in a heavy day strangling the English language, inventing fantasy tales and calling them the truth, while dropping the children of scribblers who work for rival journalist into the town’s water supply, turn to their regular public house and find it closed on the order of the public health department, and then decide to let everyone else have it.
“The players themselves never give the journalists (who of course cannot play football and have never managed even an under 5s team) advice except for the basic simplicities like telling them that if there is a gas leak it is always best to light a candle when seeking out the source.”
He paused for a moment gathering his thoughts.
“Most of these journalist fellas started writing football stories when they were about five years old, were told by a maiden aunt that what they had scribbled was jolly good, before she moved across to the parents and quietly asked if it might not be worthwhile to get a spot of extra help with the child’s literacy. Somehow they slip through the net and get employment writing their turgid prose.”
“What do the footballers think of them?” I asked.
“Footballers are all very aware of the strange state of the British journalist, how he really has no idea what’s what, who’s who, and where’s where.
“That is why if someone in the football business says something odd, they never challenge it, and when something weird happens never seek to find out why.
“Footballers know that the main job consists of journalists involves reading each other’s copy on computers, doing a cut and paste job and then writing up last week’s commentary which was about one player, while changing the name of player and club, to make it look as if it is a new article. So we get the same old characteristics of failure that described one player turning up with a different player – the writer has just swapped the name around.
“As for writing their copy, they can be found in the public houses of the capital sitting in front of laptops and swearing at them.”
“So players take no notice of newspapers and blog and tweets and the rest?” I asked.
“A few do of course, but most ignore it all, because they know that if any journalist knew anything about football they would either have played it or managed a team. Or at least washed the laundry. Have you met…” and here he gave me the name of a scribbler for one of the nationals. “Big chap with a small moustache and the sort of eye that can open an can of baked beans at 60 paces. Waves his right arm up and down quite a bit.”
I said that yes I had met him. “Doesn’t go to matches any more. Says he doesn’t need to. Knows what to write before it starts. In fact there is a move to close down the journalist section at Arsenal Stadium and put in 700 more seats for supporters.”
“We don’t get 700 journalists at a match do we?” I asked.
“Have you seen the size of some of these journos?” he replied.
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