The impression I get from global football coverage is that style of play has become as important, if not more important, than results. The Championship in particular is awash with teams boasting hipster gaffers coaching aspirational football. The various recent managers at Leeds, for example, have been working in this vein with little success. I do, however, think Paul Heckingbottom will prove to be a rather good appointment for them. But enough about Leeds and their hilarious new protein shake emblem!
My Dad and brother describe how most teams that come to St Andrews these days pass it around endlessly with very little end product. I wonder if the fans of these teams go home after a draw or a narrow loss beaming with pride at how much possession they had. Admiration of beautiful football is natural but surely ones support has to be rooted in greater substance? Why has it become so important to play in a certain way? I’d suggest a very specific strain of snobbery has infected the media and in turn football as a whole. A snobbery which has flourished as a result of a stagnant, redundant climate of impartiality. The game has become so diluted by money and so over scrutinised that large teams with proud histories struggle to engender an atmosphere at their home games. Why? Because all a football tourist really wants is a selfie with Old Trafford in the background. When the main motivation for watching a game is the desire for an ‘experience’, it’s no wonder the presentation of said game focusses on aesthetics.
But I support Birmingham City. I don’t give a damn about aesthetics.
During the Sky coverage of the Villa-Blues derby they kept saying “Great game for the neutral this…”
Who cares about the neutral? Why are you talking about them so much? Why do the people who have absolutely no stake in what’s happening on the pitch deserve to be catered and pandered to? Then, when they cut to the crowd and you get a glimpse of genuine full-blooded passion and partisanship the commentators take on a horrible detached patronising tone and talk about the fans as if they were animals in a bloody zoo.
I don’t care about the beautiful game, just the game itself and especially the game played by Blues. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching football played with commitment and élan but if I’m being honest I’d rather watch a compilation of Martin Grainger’s tackles than Lionel Messi’s goals. As true fans of an unfashionable team it’s important we fight the insidious trend of impartiality and going by the deafening sound of Keep Right On at Villa Park on Sunday we’re in good shape to fight hard!
Are you fed up with ‘the neutral’ being pandered to? Perhaps you disagree? There are plenty of good and sound arguments that the growth and reach of modern football is a great thing. Let me and BCFC Followers know on Facebook or Twitter or by leaving a comment below. I’m off to dig out a few of Grainger’s best bits on YouTube!