I would like to begin with a big, fat disclaimer: I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a football fan. The entirety of my football knowledge is as follows:
1- Jose Mourinho is a little bit fit if you're over 30.
2- Thierry Henri is a little bit fit if you're under 30.
3- The others are all sissy boys or philanderers, or both.
4- The offside rule has something to do with a defence man being between the goal and the potential goal scorer, otherwise you don't get the point, or whatever it is you score in football.
Don't pretend like you're not a little bit impressed by the last one. I know you are. Especially if you're a girl, and especially if someone tried to explain it to you with salt shakers and peas on a table in Wetherspoon's when you were 17 (18, obviously, if you're reading Mr Wetherspoon, and drinking SO responsibly and getting up to absolutely sod all in your toilets), which seems to be the way every girl 'learns'- or at least nods and smiles at bats her youthful lashes while the bloke she wants to impress asserts his unquestionable manhood by relaying the gospel of the offside.
Fan or not, educated or wearing the dunce cap of footy, this week the art of incessantly bothering a pig's bladder with your ornately spoked tootsy is becoming hard to avoid. When football becomes this stoically woven into the fabric of our day to day lives, it is time, football dunces, to duly educate ourselves, because nobody wants to look stupid (but, if you can't help it, I've heard stupidity and WAG-dom make an excellent pairing, in which case you'll need to know about it anyway). So I've taken it upon myself, as one of your kind, to give you the football breakdown in Key Stage 2 football terms. So brains on, concentrating faces, and no picking your nose in the back row.
Fabio Capello - that's another football man I know, permission to be impressed duly granted -is no longer England manager. Not only has this grabbed headlines, consumed anyone with dangly nether regions to the point of clinical obsession, and loudly dominated feisty debate on every form of public transport... it also descends upon us amidst a flurry of ethical debate. Brace yourselves, I'm about to be a bit more uncharacteristically informed about ball kicking. Capello has stormed off like a Dolmio child who didn't get his Mama's Bolognese because everyone was being a bit mean to John Terry.
As Terry and Capello bound off into the bromantic sunset, Harry Redknapp (another football name I know - watch out Sue Barker) rises from the underbelly of fiscal tomfoolery, to grab the morally questionable bull by the horns. Bromancing the players isn't Redknapp's bag, so instead he's gone in for some alleged tax fiddling, which yes, he's recently been acquitted of, but it's left his reputation more than a little tarnished as a result.
It makes you wonder whether anyone interested in babysitting a field full of philandering - and sometimes slightly fit - football ponies has to be slightly bonkers as a prerequisite to the job?
Guus Hidink, who I am reliably informed by the internet is also in the running for the job. According to a similarly sturdy source, another madman vying for control of a paddock full of golden balls is current Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill, who apparently will only hire people who are obedient quasi-cyborgs of football, to minimise the risk of him flying into a foul-mouthed temper tantrum. Charming. Just the kid of people we want to be sending off around the globe representing our country.
Football dunces of Britain (yes, ladies, I'm looking mainly at you)... given the unappetising managerial smorgasbord currently on offer, here is what I suggest: as a motley crew of unbiased novices, we campaign for the England football team to be shoved into the wild without ANY manager.
Pros include: the comic potential of the little lost puppies wandering about a stadium not knowing what to do without a mercurial ringmaster barking borderline sadistic abuse from the sidelines. It would be like watching Tony Blair try to fight a corner with his own limp sword of propaganda, while his white steed Campbell is held up in some other media boxing ring. Pathetic, yes. Hysterical, most definitely. The eradication of bonkers/morally questionable management can also only be a pro: it seriously lowers the risk of potential national humiliation. Similar to, say, binding and gagging Boris Johnson before any public outing.
Cons include: nothing.
Fully educated as you now are (no need to thank me), go forth! Surprise your fellow man with your quick witted quips on the state of the football industry's moral stance! Drop a man called Guus into the conversation! But don't forget: mission 'Strip the footy Jedis of their Darth' must be carried out with stealth, efficiency, and possibly with the aid of peas and salt shakers on a Wetherspoon's table. Works a treat.