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Roker Ramble: What is it with substitutes and needing to adjust their boll*cks before they come on?!

Yes, there’s Klopp, Champions League, Wenger, FIFA, but I can’t lie - it’s all about men’s bodies this week. It’s the Roker Ramble!

Nivea | Liverpool FC

Champions League semi finals week - Liverpool with Roma at homa and I had both access to a TV and time to watch. Fabulous - it opened up a whole new world for me. First off, the football was great, the crowd got through the whole game without holding a vigil for something, Jordan Henderson played a blinder, it was fast, exciting – Liverpool on form are so good to watch, and then at half time came the inevitable adverts.

It’s probably me, but when did men’s body shaving become a ‘thing’?

There’s all the groovy Liverpool players naked in the shower, and they close in on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain trying to shave his chest. Really? Am I so far behind that this has passed me by completely? I play a lot of sport, consequently, spend a lot of time with naked men in changing rooms, and yet never, never, has this come up as a ‘thing’.

If pushed I might have guessed that some men do it at home, for a variety of reasons, but in a public shower? All that hair going down the plug and washing around your feet – I really don’t think so. Perhaps they’re trying to be clever and encourage a trend for men to start it at home on the sly. Whatever, I just hope Oxlade-Chamberlain was paid a fortune and it in someway compensates for the injury that looks like keeping him out of the possible final and World Cup.

Liverpool v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
When all-over body shaving really has an impact.
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Anyway, back to the football, and I have to say that I like Jurgen Klopp. Out of all the top managers he talks honestly, doesn’t try to play mind games, smiles like he’s actually enjoying himself, obviously doesn’t do body-shaving, and has great teeth - what’s not to like?

He also trains his team to press hard, high up the pitch, run off the ball like their backsides are on fire and kill any creativity in the opposing team - for eighty minutes. Then like the Duracell Bunny advert the batteries run out, and they look like the six-hour finishers in the London Marathon.

And it has been happening ever since he took over. When is he going to have a Plan B for the last ten minutes of a game? American Football teams have an offence and defensive side (both pronounced incorrectly by the way) – is it so ludicrous to suggest that Liverpool have the same? Either way, it’s beautifully set up for the return leg next week – I just need to work out how to get to watch it.

Liverpool v A.S. Roma - UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg One
You have to hold your hands out in front of the ball like this....
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

One more thing on the match which got me thinking - at the start of the game, one of the linesmen had a broken flag and play had to be stopped whilst he got it fixed. Not before he’d held a stick up in the air to signal... something, and which made it obvious that the flag part of the flag was the really important bit.

Firstly, as a linesman officiating in a Champions League semi final, how can you come on the pitch without checking the only thing you need to do your job – which he hadn’t because it fell apart straight away?

Secondly – how can you not know how to fix it? He was given a replacement flag and screw to stop it falling off again, and he didn’t have a clue how to fix it to the stick – they had to stop the game so someone could come on and do it for him.

Portugal v Austria - Group F: UEFA Euro 2016
It’s important to write your name on the handle.....
Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Thirdly, and this is what set me off, every time the camera focused on him he was touching himself – down there. I assume it was nerves, but it’s surprising how often you see this in a live game and the biggest culprits are of course the substitutes.

There you are at the prescribed 70 minute mark (and I don’t know why they all wait till 70 minutes, it’s so unoriginal) and the camera pans to the touchline to see one of the subs simultaneously trying to pull off his tracksuit whilst listening to a man with a clipboard, who isn’t the manager (again, never been sure why that is) and pulling on the shirt which I feel they should be wearing already (unless there aren’t enough to go around).

The camera then turns back to the pitch either to pick up the action or focus on the player who’s coming off, but when it heads back to the touchline there’s the substitute, all kitted out, and more often than not he’s adjusting his manhood.

I appreciate there are times, sometimes, during the dressing ritual when a man’s comfort is at the forefront of his mind, but in front of the sort of audiences that these games attract is probably not one of them.

Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League
I just want to stop you right there....
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

So why hasn’t someone said something?

There’s about thirty other blokes sitting behind him in matching tracksuits, can’t one of them be designated to remind him of the decorum of getting changed in public? I mean, if you did it on a beach in front of kids you wouldn’t see the light of day for years.

And if it’s subconscious behaviour, which I’m sure that it is, then perhaps facilities should be provided so that the guy can get ready in private? They could have a little booth as part of the dugout, it could be called ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ or something similar and the sub can pop in there – with clip-board man if necessary - and exit a minute later having completed all the required steps to prepare for the encounter.

Manchester City v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League
....and again....
Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Think of the sponsorship opportunities - I bet Calvin Klein would fall over himself to sponsor the booth at the Etihad, and any ad agency in the world could fit the word ‘tackle’ into a strapline with enough innuendo to get the clandestine body shavers chortling over their creamy gel.

Anyway, quick rant. Firstly FIFA chairman Gianni Infantino has been accused of trying to influence the World Cup 2026 voting panel to find something wrong with the Moroccan bid, so that the games will go to the USA/Canada/ Mexico, leaving FIFA to pocket an extra $3 billion. Given the blatant corruption of the Blatter years, how is this ongoing behaviour still tolerated? I am truly speechless.

FIFA President Visits China
Honestly? Not up to me of course, but don’t bet your house on it.
Photo by Fred Dufour - Pool/Getty Images

And I was stunned when I heard that Leeds United are to undertake a friendly tour of Myanmar. Andrea Radrizzani, the Leeds United owner (who happens to own TV rights in the country) unbelievably tried to justify the decision by saying:

This is about people, not governments.

Well, THIS is about people as well and if the Football League process of deciding fit and proper ownership has any teeth at all, they’ll drum him out of our country before the start of next season.

Rant over.

There has been so much to talk about this week, but most of it will have to wait.

Just to say, Arsene Wenger – if they don’t name a stand after him at the Emirates then the little booth to protect a substitutes embarrassment should be renamed ‘The Wenger Box’, and there’ll be a little bit of him in every ground in the country. Til the next time.

AC Milan v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg
And just as I’d got a new coat....
Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

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