Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August: A style guide for English football writers

Paper asks for predictions.

Remember how you liked Kenny Dalglish as a player and how Alan Hansen was a good lad in the pub at the Euros last year.

Remember how Rafa masterminded the most incredible European Cup comeback in the history of humanity. Ignore how Rafa Benitez has a questionable transfer record and can get his tactics completely wrong (and find himself three down in the most incredible European Cup night of drama in the memory of all the universe).

Ignore how thin skinned Rafa appears under pressure. Ignore the increasing distance between manager and those players he hasn’t yet forced out of the door.

Choose Liverpool as favourites. Display confidence in prediction by backing them to win easily.

Remember how Alex Ferguson gave an exclusive to Hugh Mcilvaney and some other Jock journo last year. Remember that Michael Owen is actually a really dull interviewee.

Add addendum to prediction making it quite clear that Manchester United will do well to finish in the top five. What with Everton building on last year, ‘Arry Redknapp waiting to prove once and for all that he’s twice the manager Ferguson will ever be and Carlos Tevez ready to continue the prolific form that saw him score almost six goals last season.

Liverpool lose first game

Survival at the top is all about drive and determination. Point out that this will be the kick in the complacent backsides that Rafa’s boys need. And, anyway, old Redknapp’s always going to do something like this on account of being the finest English born manager to ever grace the game.

Manchester United lose second game

Phew. Look out article written when United lost early game last season. Back to drawing board, too old, too much success, too stubborn. Time for a younger man. Compare Fergie’s rage at full time with Rafa’s reaction as Liverpool beat Stoke on the same night.

Surmise that the whole balance of power in the league is being rewritten before our very eyes.

Liverpool lose third game

Oh, bugger. Clearly Rafa Benitez is wrong headed and arrogant, his team don’t like him, his tactics are wrong, his transfer policy horribly skewed. Probably cause he’s Spanish.

Not like dear old Sir Alex. Look at Old Trafford - the great man’s even going to get little Michael scoring again in time for the World Cup.

And did you not always say that this year’s title would be between Manchester United and Chelsea? If Rafa’s still in the job by next May he’ll be taking his team to sixth or seventh. If he's lucky. And did you mention he's Spanish.

Ensure at all times that readers are reminded of the importance of these massive games. That way they might not question why you can confidently predict that the greatest league in world football is all but over before some teams have played three games.

Retain all articles written. They can easily be dusted down next season.