I’ve suspected it for some time but this week it became obvious - I’m behind the times, out of touch, no longer keeping pace with the cut and thrust of modern football life.
Take the Charity Shield, for instance. I sat down to watch it and it’s not ‘The Charity Shield’ any more, those marketing titans at the FA or EFL or wherever have renamed it ‘The Community Shield’’ because that makes all the difference. And the annoying thing is that they probably did it five years ago and I didn’t even notice.
Still - it was a good game and, according to the headlines, Raheem Sterling has been falling all summer, so I didn’t expect to see him in the City line-up, but there he was looking as sharp as ever. Klopp meanwhile had gone on record saying that the match was a bit of an inconvenience and should be done away with, but cometh the hour he was on the touchline bouncing up and down like a teenager at a seventies Clash concert.
Not as animated as Pep though, who became the first manager to be booked under the new rules whereby managers can be carded on the touchline for behaving just like they’re a teenager at a seventies Clash concert.
I think the intensity of the occasion took them both by surprise. In their post-match interviews, Klopp seemed to have done away with breathing so he could fit more words into his allotted time span, whereas Pep has either cauterised that part of his brain that retained any knowledge of the English language or has developed a strong Glaswegian accent – either way I couldn’t understand a word he said.
Much was made of the Manchester City kit which was a return to a simple, no sponsor, plain shirt as a commemoration of the anniversary of... something, and which was compared to their new season’s home kit which is:
...a woven Jacquard wave pattern [which] is a visual representation of the looms which were integral to the industrial revolution in Manchester.
Personally I thought they always had stripes, but like I said, I’m out of touch, and there’s more – their away strip is black to represent the famous Hacienda nightclub (presumably because it was dark in there).
The right sleeve has a sky blue trim and the left sleeve, peach, which:
...creates a colourful representation of this legendary cultural icon that was the heartbeat of the city.
I had no idea that this stuff was out there – it’s fabulous, a whole sub-culture of pretentious bullsh*t that can keep you occupied for hours. And City aren’t alone, they’re all doing it.
Everton’s away kit is orangey-pink, officially defined as ‘living coral’’ and chosen by Umbro because ‘they have a familiar history of salmon and coral coloured strips’. This is Everton remember, and when pressed he was apparently referring to a top worn in the 1890-91 season. Familiar indeed.
Newcastle have a new home strip designed to:
...pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the club’s Inter-Cities Fairs Cup win.
Although what it says to me and most people I would think is that ‘no, we haven’t won anything for fifty years’.
And Harry Maguire, stepping out as a Man Utd player for the first time in their new away kit will feature “a fresh savannah-toned aesthetic” and “an intricate patterned design that takes its inspiration from the many mosaics that adorn the streets of Manchester’s creative district.”
My own experience of Manchester’s streets is that they were adorned with huge amounts of puke, and yes, come to think of it, there was a fresh savannah-toned aesthetic to it.
Meanwhile, the new Manchester United - Salford City - breezed into the Football League this week, with all the humility of Kanye West as the keynote inspirational speaker at a failed underachievers conference, nonchalantly notched up their first win whilst looking to achieve their fifth promotion in six seasons.
“We’d like to get promotion” said their captain Liam Hogan. “there’s no point beating around the bush…. we know the club doesn’t want to stand still.”
I feel myself warming to them already.
So there’s a whole generation of supporters, attracted by the clubs glitterati backers, who’ve known nothing but winning since they came on board. Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the pain, the martyrdom, the conviction that you’ll put everything into your club knowing you’ll probably get nothing in return? That feeling of being 3-0 up with ten minutes to go, realising you’ll happily settle for a draw?
Salford don’t know the half of it - I genuinely feel sorry for them.
But not as sorry as I feel for Bury, who are just five miles up the road, and it couldn’t be more different. They lost five players and their manager to Plymouth over the summer, started the season on minus 12 points, and have so little money that the EFL won’t let them play any fixtures. The only way it could get any worse would be if their ground was 50 feet in front of the Whaley Bridge dam.
And the irony is that it’s the Neville’s Club - their mother works there and there’s a stand named after their Dad, and yet their super successful sons sink their money into a non-league club down the road. They need help and money fast - perhaps they should lose the Neville Neville stand - who could blame them, and resell the renaming rights.
Nigel Clough has gone on record to say that other clubs should bail both Bury and Bolton out - and when you see stuff like Liverpool paying (presumably) big money to designers so that their away kit can have “a design that takes inspiration from iconic street signs around Anfield” and a graphic that “pays homage to the shape of Liverpool’s street signs”, you realise there’s so much money sloshing around the top end of football that some sort of structured support fund for clubs like Bolton and Bury really isn’t the worst idea in the world.
Finally - rumours this week suggested that Big Sam will be announced as a contestant on ‘Strictly’ for the new season. And to confirm my ‘out-of touch’ status once and for all, I can honestly say that I’m not entirely sure what this means as I’ve never seen it, but assume he’ll be making a prat of himself in front of millions of people for a lot of money.
Methinks I’ll continue to sit this one out.