Listen face-ache…

Before this broadside gets into full flow may I note to you, sagacious reader, that yes I am aware that there were times when Carlos Tevez was pretty much adored by fans of West Ham/MU, amongst others. And yes I am also aware that this was because of his near magnificent levels of honest commitment to the cause, to the shirt (or so it seemed) – a phenomenon that endears players to fans more than virtually anything else. He could actually play a bit too. However… yaknow… things change but don’t mess with the fans, right…

Listen face-ache, we’ve just about had enough. It was okay ferawhile you moving from club to club every new moon, or whatever it is meks ya skidaddle – ‘ang on, correction, I know exactly what it is but you only got away with that whilst you were patently the best player/most loved scuttler abart the park(er) at West Ham. Now you’re not. Scuttlin’. In fact ya flat refused to scuttle you overpaid scumbag and you are history mate, as far as we are concerned. Ahem.

Us fans – us City fans anyroad – have been absolutely buzzin’ with the way things have gone for us after all the crap we’ve ‘ad to put up with fer decades and you, you come over ‘ere and… first of all… yer unbelievable, ta be fair. But then, then ya get restless or whatever and start fallin’ out and whatever and the club, the club gets… like forgotten! I’ve never seen anybody playin’ fer ’emselves and nobody else so obvious man. You’ve not passed to nobody for twelve month! Embarrassin’! Sub or not; ya’ve played like my nephew’s lot – chase the ball an’ never f***in’ pass!! Ever! What’s all that lot about? It’s not on. Even us stupid fans know when things aren’t right and this started months and months ago and ya could see it on the pitch months and months ago. One ball for yoos and another for the team? Not on mate.

Dunt madder about the money – the money’s just a joke we all know that – but ‘s a team f***in’ sport innit? Ya don’t do that; ya don’t shit on yer mates. However good you are ya don’t shit on yer mates.

An’ now this is like another level innit. Champions League – ya know ‘ow long we been waiting fer Champions League? Need a massive effort from all of us and… to actually refuse to come on, no matter ‘ow much right, ya hate the manager, is unf***ingbelievable. The jury’s still out on the manager, we know that . But there’s no way back from that – there shouldn’t be anyroad. Frannie Lee and Micky Summerbee and all these people are all like… standin’ about in shock I think. Thinkin’ this is like the end… for anybody to do that.

I can’t imagine how anybody – any player, least of all a City player would do that. An there’s no kinda racism in this, we don’t give a f*** where Tevez comes from. If any ar British players – if say Milner had done this – same thing. Sack him now; get ‘im out the club. ‘E’s a greedy, stupid man and we just want rid of ‘im. It’s just sick that he can think he can do that; be bigger than everything. It’s mebbe a sign of the times but… anyway… gizzafag Jordie…

Na wunda there’s riots; ‘cosa twats like ‘im oo’re only thinkin’ me me me. An’ ‘e’s got f***in’ everything; an’ ‘e wants more. It’s just sick in the head that. We’ve been givin’ ‘im two hundred grand a week an’ ‘e wants… wassie want, really, to run the f***in’ club or wha? Get him artof’ere… we’ll pay – dunt madder about the money…

A Word about Torres…

Let’s in a moment get slightly past the obvious; Torres is a formerly brilliant central striker – at one fairly recent stage arguably the best in the world – but he was not worth £50 million when purchased by our Russian friend. Aside from any legitimate argument about whether that fee may be obscene – let’s pretend there is a ‘real’ market price for his value as a player only – there could be no justification for a fee of such magnitude for a player so apparently physically and psychologically damaged.

That may in fact be a rather melodramatic description of where the player is at but surely it’s fairly representative of the feeling around him, following maybe 2 years of admittedly injury-linked frustration, poor goal returns and occasional (out-of-character) petulance at Liverpool. Torres the magnificent and the fluent had become a tetchy, visibly unhappy individual and a player fortunate to be getting regular football at the top level. It was and is questionable whether the toll repeated injuries and surgery had taken on his movement and consequently his form would and will preclude re-capture of the original precious gift for electrifying impact.

Ask Nemanja Vidic – in a few years time perhaps – to honestly assess where Torres ranked, how brilliantly he shone. Ask the average Liverpool fan to describe the relationship that fizzed between the Koppites and the player in his unassailable pomp and the scale of The Fall would be revealed. He was hugely loved, both for his scampering expression of the team ethic and for his exuberant talent. But that was, in football terms, a long time ago. When the fleet-footedness and the confidence petered away Fernando was rather depressingly different. He was not worth a place in the team.

Extraordinary then, that at this time of near-poignancy for the Spanish superstar, Abramovitch stepped in. I myself hope that he put an arm round Torres, told him he believed in him and would guarantee him a chance to gather and then express his deadly genius once more. (I suspect that the money was less an issue for Abramovitch than it would be for most minor nations but let’s assume the best and applaud the Russian for his faith – generosity even. Doubly so if we imagine the purchase as a reflection that he really does want to excite the Chelsea support on the way to the next level of glory). Torres may have seen the move more prosaically, as a step closer to silverware, rather than an opportunity to nestle under the warm wing of the owners’ casual jacket. Whatever, the blonde former bombshell moved south.

To further difficulties. A spiky or likely surly dressing-room, a club perennially now in flux. Ego’s the size of the Ivory Coast/France maybe. A new, sharp and pressing need to show that the Price Tag was irrelevant and the gift alive. Impossible? Could any manager build a side around this particular striker – let alone, after a series of underwhelming early performances, justifiably pick him?

A new season brought certain signs that key instincts may be returning… but not, sadly, the essential goals. And then there is today, and an absurdly wonderful, open game at Manchester United. Some of the movements – the commitments – are back. In a game brimming with opportunities and space, Torres scores a fabulous goal with an expressive flick of the right foot; it’s a trademark, top of the range finish; it’s beyond encouraging. But tomorrow’s papers I fear will be more likely to concentrate on the stomach-churning miss achieved shortly afterwards; the Sunday League miss, the one executed surely by an interloping donkey from park football, who, having rounded the keeper with contempt, stabs it laughably wide. To world-wide disbelief.

Cruelly, this one is right up there with the very best open goal misses. Massively saleable and destined to be forever referenced by fan and pundit alike. How did he miss? Because suddenly, he wanted the moment to be over. Over for better or worse. As a consequence, if Fernando is the sensitive boy many believe, he is going to have to disconnect his capacity to feel for some time. I wish him luck and the mental and physical wellbeing to recover.

Manchester, Manchester, Manchester…

Football supporters up and down the land may have received yesterday’s Mancunian jolt with a mixture of emotions. Some may have been energised in the manner of Joan Miro – artist and occasional boxer – who could not function without an occasional creative kapoww! like that delivered by the two Manchester clubs against southern softie opposition. Others may have groaned in the realisation that the season may be over already in terms of its spatial distribution of trophies. Chelsea fans may beg to differ, but they will already be aware that they too may be being drawn into a subduction zone where the bulk of the UK footballing continent is now being obliterated by United’s dynamic heat and City’s sudden explosive plume. Clearly, the performances of the weekend were near freakishly brilliant, but does it not feel, already that an inevitable lava flow has lipped out over the brow and rumbles towards us mortals?

Perhaps it does. Perhaps it’s a worry. Certainly if Chelsea continue to splutter in the face of these sulphurous gasses and Liverpool fail to make the unrealistically big step up, the Premiership becomes worryingly thin on viable – should that be buyable? – competitors.

Arsenal, let’s be clear, were absolutely massacred by United in a fashion that should and will be unacceptable to Wenger, to the fans. Even allowing for the ludicrous confluence of stunning, confident finishes that did for them, the Pat Rices of this world must have been outraged as well as shell-shocked. There was something bizarrely appropriate about Walcott – a young man who for me played himself out of contention for the last World Cup through near-embarrassing schoolboy inconsistencies – understandably rollicking his colleagues for their elementary failure to pressure the ball. You can’t always defend against brilliance but you must defend.

Wenger’s principal failure has been to accommodate defensive players who are comfortable on the ball, who do the footballing equivalent of rotating the strike, but who get bowled middle stump (in other words, fail to defend) when the quickies put the squeeze on. Most of us applaud the quality and the nature of the football his teams have played; some of us might even argue that they have succeeded, beautifully, in recent seasons. It’s just that they were not durable enough in the hurly-burly to win; enough.

The goalkeeping issue and the defending issue should have been sorted. I wonder therefore, if Wenger is perverse enough to have debarred himself – out of a kind of continental superiority to us depressingly low-brow but gutsy Brits? – from buying real but inadequately skilful defenders. Surely only a complete ban on spending should have prevented the purchase of the necessary stoppers and blockers to make the crucial difference; even if this meant paying over the odds – something Wenger seems understandably loathe to do. In a side brim-full of technique and imagination might it not have been a relatively easy role to fill, the honest but limited defender? However, in a world where there appear to be alarmingly few decent keepers, the number one shirt may be a special case, a difficult one, but I personally cannot imagine there is no viable and ideally local candidate to stuff between the sticks.

But back to Manchester. City may be finally close to having an outstanding team as well as great individuals. With at least 2 strikers currently inspired by something, it strikes me that if they can learn to either love, listen to or bear Mancini enough, this really could be their time. Silva and Nasri can twinkle and Toure and Barry block. (Simples). United meanwhile seem to have yet more pace and energy and belief; plus they know exactly who they are playing for; probably the most brilliantly durable football man ever to have thrown a tea-cup.