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The NEW (Old) Roker Ramble: Zlatan The Living Deity

With a new season comes a return for an old feature - the Roker Ramble has became just that - a ramble - again. Taking the reins this week is John Crocker, who has a few things to say about goings on outside of the Sunderland bubble.

I couldn’t help but notice Sam at the City game, in his new capacity, running his eye over future England stars. One assumes he was pretty up to speed with the SAFC English contingent ("tell me again Gareth, who’s that little guy who just scored for Sunderland....?"), so he must have been there to suss out City and that is where you have the problem, for out of the eleven players they put the pitch, guess how many were English.....

...exactly.  Sure there were two on the bench – one of whom got a game – Delph, one of whom looks like he may get the old heave-ho – Hart, which will be good news for City so they can bring another foreign keeper in. But did Sam go to the game on the off-chance he might see Fabian Delph, who’s only there, so rumour has it, to tick one of the FA’s regulatory boxes about employing a token Englishmen? Hasn’t he got something better to do?

I think there should be a noun for token Englishmen at big clubs – they should be called ‘Delphins’ in Fabians’ honour.

So, most of the best players in the Premier League are foreign – in fact most of the players period, are foreign – but what about the Clubs? West Brom are now owned by the Chinese, looks like Hull is heading the same way, Everton is owned by an Iranian, and on it goes. Managers – all the top clubs are managed by foreigners, in fact it’s starting to become a little confusing as to where the ‘English’ is in the ‘English Premier League’. Granted the teams still have English names and the games are still played in England, but how soon before the Chinese owners have a clause written into the contracts of the best players to play half the season in the Chinese Super League? That’s where the money is, and if they attract the best players, the TV rights won’t be long behind, and that’s the start of the slippery slope…

....fear not, I have a plan, and it’s a goody.  The problem is that the clubs are owned by foreigners, managed by foreigners and employ foreign players so what we need is an English only Premier League Club. Owned by the English, managed by an Englishman, employing English coaches and staff and only using a squad of English players. They’ll need a name of course – I thought ‘England’ – controversial, but hell, we’re not in Kansas now Toto.

They’ll play as a normal Premier League team, against the best club sides in the world, and when the meaningless friendlies come along, we can treat them like a mid-week game and spank the little teams, (unless they attack at pace or pack their defence, because we struggle with that) and when the tournaments come along we’ll be playing against the same players we play against week-in, week-out, and we won’t confused as to which team they’re on. The manager, who will now have a full-time job, will know his best team, team-mates will know how to play with each other, what could go wrong?

We’ll need a ground and it’ll have to be English, so that rules out Scotland, Wales and London, as anyone knows who’s ever lived there. London was English briefly of course during WW2 when we put everyone in prison, but since then it’s been lost to the world forever. And, the South West don’t play football, in East Anglia they still point at cars, so it’ll have to be the North, the North East is probably heading for devolution anyway, Liverpool and Manchester were lost long ago, so that leaves one obvious, brilliant choice. Stoke.

Stoke are still an English club – the owners probably live abroad and hold all the money in offshore tax havens, but it doesn’t matter, they’re English. They have a half decent stadium and no-one likes them – it’s perfect. They will need relocating of course, and I reckon they can take over Port Vale, no-one will notice apart from Robbie Williams who’s never going to put his hand in his pocket, so it’s a goer.

No need to thank me. Anyone would do the same.

It’s true, on Saturday, Zlatan the living-deity* went to Bournemouth. Who knows what the common people of this small Dorset town thought of having Zlatan the Imperious, Zlatan the Magnificent in their midst, I guess it’s a bit like the Pope going to Middlesbrough for the dog racing – takes everyone by surprise at first. But I guess he cured the sick, fed the hungry, comforted the poor and spoke from the Gospel according to Zlatan as you would expect. And guess what....he’s coming to us!

Not till April 8th I grant you, but when he does, he will walk on water, across the Wear, float on a carpet of rose petals though the Sheepfolds and be swept on a tide of love and dedication right up to his statue outside the ground, facing the one of Bob Stokoe – finally explaining to all the young fans why the old man has his hands up and is running towards something – it’s Zlatan, Zlatan he’s been waiting for for all these years.

And Zlatan will teach us how to love. How to love ourselves, how to love each other, how to love our neighbours. Unfortunately he’s not scheduled to visit our neighbours this year so we may not get a lot of love back, but hey, so let it be written......

*Having proclaimed himself a ‘legend’ at PSG, Zlatan has been confirmed on the Kanye West scale of self-delusional crazies, which runs from ‘legend’ to ‘living-deity’ to ‘Invincible Behemoth’ and culminating with ‘Head of Gryffindor’. Only two people have ever achieved ‘Head of Gryffindor’ status, one of whom hasn’t been born yet and the other, who wasn’t David Icke.