Friday, May 20, 2011

The Country Blues

Last year, I think it was last year anyway, (my whole existence is a bit vague, to be honest), I saw the Canadian band, Elliot Brood at the End of the Road festival. They were the first band I saw, at about 5 o'clockish, having spent the afternoon sitting by the tent, in the sunshine, gently pickling the liver. Blown away is a much overused, not to mention retro, phrase and I don't like it, but I was blown away. They were as good a band as I have ever seen and they had the couple of hundred who witnessed it absolutely bouncing.  Bouncing like crazy. At fucking 5 o'clock in the afternoon! As far as I know, it was their only UK gig so far, the bastards; but, I can forgive them their absenteeism, because they are allowing us to download their new single, for free. I recommend you give it a whirl. It only gives you a flavour, but it is some flavour.

As I type I am listening to the new album by 17 Hippies, and to coin another retro phrase, I am really digging it. It is great stuff. If you remember Edward 11 and the Red Hot Polkas, or if you like Manu Chao, it will be right up your street. Obviously, none of the 3 sound remotely like each other, but it is that crazy mixing up of genres, and lovely vibe, a vibe born of love for what they do, that they share. Very highly recommended.

The Felice Brothers are geniuses, as everyone knows and Simone is already one of the all time greats. Not just a brilliant songwriter and seriously enigmatic performer though, he is also a very good writer. If you don't believe me have a listen to this story, which was commissioned by the BBC as part of it's Bob Dylan massive fucking overkill. Only available until next Wednesday though.

We need to talk about Eck. When Sully went after Eck, I thought he was aiming a bit high, but doing so deliberately (I think he's doing it now, vis a vis West Ham). I don't think he believed that a national team manager would actually join us, but it was good publicity for him and an indication to the fans that he was aiming high. I think Eck surprised him when he bit Sully's fucking hand off. I was dismayed. I don't know if it's my catholic upbringing, but I didn't like the fucker. I knew nothing about him, the proddy bastard, but I didn't like him anyway. Mostly, I believed he played negative football and also thought that he got a bit lucky with Scotland.  (please note there is a jocular remark in the above, and nothing to get upset about)

When he arrived, I decided I liked him after all. I liked the cut of his jib. He presented himself very well and seemed honest and dignified. He didn't regard the fans as idiots (he may have changed his mind since) and unlike the previous manager, didn't label his critics on the terraces (if only) as disgraceful. He also looked like a dapper gent, again, unlike the previous manager, who tended to look like a pantomime dame, after a particularly rough night in some house of scrumpy.

His first result was a good one, a very unlikely win away at fucking Tottenham. YES! A WIN! AWAY! AT TOTTENHAM!  It can be done………….come on all you merchants of doom. you masters of misery, show some fucking belief……….anything is possible and it ain't fucking over yet.

Sorry. Got a bit sidetracked there. In the end, Eck took us down. We forgave him. The team was in freefall when he arrived, and he was dapper, and he gave good interview. Already though, there were worrying signs of his negativity. When he arrived he said he wanted to see the team pass the ball, then after the Totenham game, he said he was happy to see 'em pass the ball but he didn't want to see 'em pass it that much! We had Zarate at the time, a very exciting player who caused panic in every defence he played against; trouble is, not too many defences were required to panic, as Eck barely played him

There were those who said he was an idiot on account of this, others said that this was no time for inexperienced dilettantes . No one knows the answer, but it was a sign of his mind set. The following season was interesting. Eck got us up, but it was possibly the most miserable promotion campaign in history, with many calling for Eck's head half way through the season. The problem was negativity. We played very negative football, but managed to grind out enough results to get automatic promotion, by the tiniest of gnats cocks.

Nevertheless, everybody loved Eck again. We started the  season, and progressed through the new season, playing very negative football. But, in the middle of it, we set a record for avoiding defeat. Eck was now a heroic figure. Everybody revered him. One might have been tempted to point out that, as impressive as the achievement was, we had hardly been slaughtering teams. It was not Real Madrid circa 1963. It was catenaccio  writ large. It would have been foolhardy to point this out though. One cannot argue with success, and, to have had a little whinge would have led to one being strung from the nearest lamppost by ones own innards.

Once the good run was over, the season petered out, annoyingly. We barely won another point. Still Eck is revered. He is revered for that run and he is revered for winning the league cup. He is sort of revered for getting us promotion too, most people seem to have forgotten that he took us down in the first place and ignore the misery he inflicted upon us, even in winning promotion. Now, he looks like taking us down again, and, even if he doesn't, our league form has been utter shit and our style of play has been embarrassing.

I don't think many would agree with my analysis, and I am happy to concede that I might be wrong, but, there is a question that is as persistent a beggar as any homeless dude with a scrawny dog and a bit of string. How does a bloke who has only had half a decent season get away with it? Even the half good season was fucking tedious, if we are being honest. No other fan but a Blues fan could possibly have gained any pleasure from that run. I doubt that there was a run on replica shirts in downtown Shanghai.

I don't count the promotion season as a good season, because in all honesty we really should have been getting promoted with the money we had available to us, compared to others, and I have not forgotten the howls of outrage at some of the piss poor performances we had to endure. I don't count the cup run either, because we played against type in those games and  actually had a bit of a go (is there fucking lesson there?)

So. Half a good season, and, possibly, another relegation. I never advocate sacking managers and I don't advocate sacking Eck, but, whether we survive or not, you would have to wonder if he can keep his job. He can stay or he can go for all I care. Blues don't even flatter to deceive all that often; we will always be also rans, and, to some extent, it doesn't matter which chump in the game of managerial musical chairs ends up in the seat with our name on it. They are all much of a muchness. It may as well be Eck as anyone else, but, to be honest I would prefer someone with a bit less dignity and a bit more imagination.
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