Wednesday, March 09, 2011


The first thing I have to do is thank Bob Piper for furnishing me with a copy of Don Winslows “Savages”. Initially, I thought it was going to be unreadable, seeing as how it starts by introducing us to 3 very cool, very beautiful, very brilliant hepcats, and is written in a strange disjointed style. It didn’t take long though, no  more than a couple of pages, to get drawn in.  It is very sharp, very witty, very pointed and the quirky style works beautifully. It builds up to an insistent, unstoppable rhythm, not dissimilar to some of the work of the genius Ken Bruen or early Pelecanos, before his brow became furrowed. Recommended without reservation,  not to the ma in law though, parts of it are a bit rude.
Driving through these historic valleys on a beautiful, but freezing cold morning yesterday, I heard a report on Obamas decision to reopen trials for Guantanamo. My flabber was gasted, not because of the U turn, but because of the rationale behind it. It seems that Obama was worried that the American public would not be able to stomach normal trials, on American soil, because it would increase the risk of a not guilty verdict. A cynic might suggest that the fear is that it might increase the risk of a fair trial.
The next time anyone discusses a golden age of television, refer them to February 20011. There is so much high quality telly on at the moment I’m struggling to see it all. First, The Killing, on BBC 4 is absolutely riveting and is as good a series as have ever been on the box. And it’s bleeding Danish. 
Next is Broadwalk Empire, which just about lives up to the hype, and even if it didn’t quite live up to the hype, it would still be telly of the highest class. It’s all a little bit caricatured, but it is chock full of really interesting major and minor characters and has a genuinely sharp and funny script. I have had to stop watching it with my 16 year old though, as, at time it is downright fucking saucy.
Then there is Treme. I didn’t have high hopes for this, despite the pedigree of all involved; I thought it would be a bit of a worthy indulgence. There is a bit of that, but it doesn’t overwhelm the thing, and once again,we have interesting, multi layered, flawed characters, sharp and witty dialogue, and nudity. The cherry on the top is an absolutely ace soundtrack 
Not to mention, Raising Hope, The Middle and Modern Family, all of which have genuinely laugh out loud, piss yer pants moments in every episode.
Anyway, enough of all that shit, I have football on my mind. I won’t go on about our cup win, enough has been blogged, tweeted, and liked about that already, but I will point out that our midfield was much readier than usual to take a chance on running forward as the ball was played up to Zigic, than they ever are when Jerome is up front. There could be several reasons for that, but it was good to see nevertheless. Normal service, or lack  of, was resumed on Saturday though, as West Brom, in a most uneighbourly fashion, pissed on our parade. Actually, I don’t want to talk about parades. It might cause me to blush a little.
Curtis Davies made his debut for us, and he made a mistake, and West Brom scored. A lot of Blues fans have become very intolerant of him as a result, which is a bit disappointing, but that isn’t what concerns me. What concerns me is the disparity in tolerance levels between forwards and defenders. If a defender demonstrates a decent enough basic technique throughout a game, but makes one error, he is invariable slaughtered, and the same is true of goalies. One error, and it is the end of the world. Forwards can make bad decisions and show appalling technique all game and are subject to little more than a bit of disgruntled muttering. 
The obvious reason for that is that if a defender makes a mistake and it leads to a goal, there is tangible evidence, cruel evidence of the error, right there on the scoreboard, for all to see. If  a forward makes an error, well, no harm done, just keep plugging away. You don’t know what might have happened if the eejit had been able to control the ball. Or hold on to the ball, or had the awareness to spot a pass, or the ability to pass the ball in the right direction, with a decent weight.
The fact is though, that poor technique and awareness by forwards probably costs more points than poor technique by defenders. It is likely, if not inevitable, that once the poor forward loses control, the attacking team loses impetus, and the defending team regains impetus, putting more pressure on beleaguered defenders and increasingly the likelihood of a costly mistake. 
We cannot know how many more goals would be scored if attackers didn’t make simple cock ups so regularly, but it would probably be significantly more over a season, and I firmly believe that the defence would concede fewer too. All of which is a cack handed plea for Blues fans to show a bit more tolerance to the likes of  ahypothetical defender (let’s call him Curtis), making his debut, and a bit less tolerance to forward, a hypothetical forward (lets call him Cam) who makes basic errors all through the game, week after week, season after season The sort of errors that would not be tolerated if he was playing in defence. A bad defender is never excused on the grounds that he tries hard and is really, really fast.
Shall I mention Arsenal? I must. I don’t like Arsenal. I don’t like the one eyedness of their manager, and I don’t like the cocky arrogance of their players, and I especially don’t like the way that they think that the rest of the world is conspiring against them to commit crimes against beauty. For every challenge that they complain about being made against them, some bright spark can come up with an example of them doing the same, but they don’t believe that others inhabit the same moral plane as them, which makes their misdemeanours more acceptable than others.
I was delighted to see them get beat last night, except they weren’t beat, they were murdered, absolutely mullered. Their response was to turn into a poor mans Stoke. They were dirty and sneaky throughout and displayed an appetite for gamesmanship that’s was shocking to behold in such beautiful, ethical athletes: athletes who would have us believe that the most important thing is playing the game in the correct way. The Corinthian way.
They were getting outplayed and they lost their heads. They became an ill disciplined, incoherent rabble. John Beck would have been proud of them. They should have had a penalty given against them after Messi was clattered in the first half, and their centre half, who seems to live a charmed life, should have been sent off for two bookables. But all they can bleat on about is how unjust van Persie's second booking was. I don’t believe that to be the case, but even so, if he had not behaved like an overgrown child in getting his first booking, it would not have mattered.
Arsenal though, won’t look at the their own part in events, and will simply rail against the injustice of it all (not worrying about the injustices which benefited them, in both legs). It is this petulance that marks them out as failures. Barcelona did not whinge and moan and become emotionally unhinged at the denial of a pen, or at Arsenals persistent fouling, or at their anti football tactics, they simply got on with the job and let their football do the talking. Just like Blues did.
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