Premier League football! The sport in which twenty-two undereducated men knock a glorified pig’s bladder around a lawn, to be ridiculed by ‘intellectuals’, criticised by their own fans, hated by people that dislike their game and its popularity, and poked fun at by smart-arse bloggers who have as many viewers as Scott Sinclair has career appearances! It’s back, now bigger than ever, apparently!
And you know what? Having spent two hours watching the Arsenal A-team run rings around the Manchester City B-team, I remembered why this game can be incredibly frustrating: the match was one-sided, the commentary devoid of insight, and the fans of both sides were greatly overexaggerating the importance of the fixture – Arsenal fans, don’t tell me the Community Shield is little more than a friendly, then belch out capital letter-intensive Facebook statuses about how frakking good Giroud’s goal was.
This new season has also brought with it the usual moaning from non-football fans: ‘The World Cup just finished,’ they cry, ‘why are they playing again so soon?’, completely oblivious to the fact that, unlike their particular interests in stamp collecting or the history of potted plants in Western Europe, football does have, for better or worse, an international appeal, and is an industry that generates upwards of £60 million for a single club in a single season. Your subjective opinion on the validity of football as a port is irrelevant, as objectively, it’s big business – you don’t see people complaining that the New York Stock Exchanged is opened each day, despite ‘It was open yesterday, too!’.
And, as ever, football fans are painfully optimistic about the upcoming season: no, Louis Van Gall probably won’t single-handedly win three trophies for Manchester United this season using nothing more than arrogance and a 3-5-2 formation; no, Tottenham probably won’t get anywhere near the top four as long as guys like Lennon and Dawson are on our books; no, Liverpool won’t push for the title again; and no, Blackpool won’t be able to field a matchday squad of eighteen players every week. Get over it.
But I’m looking forward to the season, partly because I’m a sadist and, in a league where there is one winner, the dreams of the three or so other title contenders must be crushed, which amuses me. But also because it’s something to do that lots of people do – I love watching Naruto, but the chances of this coming up in a conversation with a stranger are relatively slim, whereas the impending performances of Alexis Sanchez are quite likely to be discussed, especially considering I’m a male teenager about to go to university, and live with, other male teenagers.
So bring on the relentless gambling ads (which advertise one of the seven deadly sins), mythical status given to expensive football boots (which offer the same level of hope to god-awful teenage strikers as anabolic steroids did a few years back), and impending addiction to the FIFA video game series (which trivialises the sport of football into little more than a glorified version of the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game, only with mashing the circle button instead of summoning monsters). Yidarmy!