The 2014/15 Premiership season is well underway, with few, if any, major talking points. Stingy Wenger spent some money on new players, my Man Utd is steadily finding its feet, and the pre-season favorites, Chelsea and Man City, are topping the table.
Ever since the big move to ‘Murica, I have found it hard to keep close tabs on my Premiership boys or any other league really. So everytime, right before World Cup season, I’m obliged to furiously scramble for four years worth of facts, figures and juicy back stories for my repetoire. Yes, na Kongosa and Lie.
After months of being outside the loop, it’s never enough to just watch and play armchair referee. I like to gather enough information to reliably predict things like Muntari losing his mind on the field and a 2-2-4 starting formation for the Black Stars results in terrible things.
Somehow, this year I’ve stayed in the loop. Two of my friends were extraordinarily generous with their time in bringing me up to speed and their knowledge and wisdom of all things football, I think, gave me the much needed momentum to move on from WC fan-girling to Premiership-shipping. If not for thier close association with the Gooners over there (ew), I would crown them the bestest people ever. But this is life and life is not perfect so we I take what I can get. In this case, it’s two Gooner fanatics. Ms. EJ and Sensei. #LuvLuv #YouGuysAreTheBest #2018Encore?
Sensei, in particular, has taken his role very seriously and continues to school me at any chance he gets ( I have not quite figured out if its Wegner that sent him or if he just doesn’t want to be bothered four years down the line with my thinly veiled friendship overtures). Anyway, Sensei, you’ll be proud. I have been paying attention and would like to share my ‘knowledge’ and shine a spotlight on four
badboy ‘standout’ characters to watch over the course of the season.
The Master of the Dark Arts – Jose Mourinho
A Machiavellian manager, not lacking in self-belief nor success, Mourinho would be happy to be perceived as merely a self-absorbed mischief maker, as this would disguise the meticulous planning his fierce ambition requires.
After winning the 2004 Champions League with FC Porto and taking over the Chelsea job, he waltzed into the Premiership and declared himself ‘The Special One‘. And since then he’s done nothing but underscore just how ‘special’ he is.
His success at Chelsea enhanced his coaching reputation, and his entertaining press conferences (see here and here), taunting sideline runs and poison-laced quips did not go unnoticed either. A year after leaving Chelsea in 2007, Mourinho looked well-positioned to take over at Barcelona, but his brand of “special” was not viewed favourably by Barca and they snubbed him for a then unheralded Pep Guardiola. Mourinho took his bruised ego to Italy, and exacted a small measure of revenge by beating the much revered Barcelona in the 2010 Champions League final, with Inter Milan. That’s payback enough, some might think, but Jose decided he wanted more and left Inter for Real Madrid — Barcelona’s sworn nemesis.
Despite all his craft and planning, Mourinho was unable to exert any dominance over Barca through Real, and he was forced to go dark. The ‘El Classico’ matches between Barcelona and Real, already heated affairs, consistently degenerated into ugly affairs during Mourinho’s reign. Things got so bad that Mourinho himself gauged the eye of one of Barca’s assistant coaches. See for yourself.
The Spanish press accused him of bringing the Spanish game into disrepute. And after three years in Madrid, a slightly more humble Mourinho returned to Chelsea, where he has since established himself as the Premiership’s commander in chief of the mind games. Stingy Wenger is the latest victim of his diabolical efforts.
A Man Misunderstood — Mario Balotelli
Initially described as a precocious young talent, I think it’s safe to say that Balotelli continues to confound the football world. Most would agree that the questions about his talent and physical ability have been answered, few, however, would say the same of his mindset and approach to his chosen profession.
The perception that he lacks consistency, desire and ambition continue to linger. And this is not helped by his off-field exploits:
Throwing darts at youth team players.
After crashing his car, and being questioned by police, Mario is found to be driving around with 5,000 GBP in cash sitting on his front seat — when asked why, Mario cooly replied, “Because I am rich“.
Accidentally setting his bathroom on fire with fireworks.
And then there are the regular punch-ups he gets into with his teammates, Yaya Toure, Micah Richards, Jerome Boateng, Kolarov and lest we forget his fisticuffs with his then manager, Roberto Mancini.
Obviously, something is not quite right with Mario. Whether it’s a case of being a wealthy man-child with no adult supervision, or something more serious is yet to be seen. His recent move to Liverpool will be an interesting one, as he is someone that marches to the beat of his own drum.
At the moment all seems quiet in ‘Super Mario Land’, but I expect to see some fireworks come winter.
The Philosopher – Joey Barton
Joey Barton is another player with anger issues. Hearing Barton speak today, you might be surprised by that. He’s taken to Twitter (@Joey7Barton), where he can be found offering views on everything including the conflict in Gaza and the murderous Pistorius. Some might even think he’s a reasonable man. But Joey has an umm interesting past. In the not-so-distant past he’s:
Served prison time for common assault.
Attacked a 15-year-old supporter of a rival team.
Stubbed out a cigar in a teammate’s eye.
And who can forget his one-man assault on Man City. Haha.
He can be a violent man. Currently he’s warming the bench at QPR, but at some point this season, Joey will make it onto the field again. A-Ho-Ya! I’m watching with unbated breath.
The One-trick Pony – Ashley Young
This one hits home, but I just had to. Haha. Over the last couple of seasons, Ashley Young has developed a reputation as a diver. At first, his performances were greeted with favorable calls from referees, rewarding him with free kicks and penalties galore, but after a while, fewer and fewer people have been swayed by his theatrics. Even Man Utd fans are over his performances. I mean, why? That’s all I have to say on the subject of brother Ashley.
To see some of his best work, look no further:
What is it going to be next? Give this guy a Tony, already.