With all the kerfuffle this week about Diego Costa it got me to thinking about a football world where everyone was very nice to each other, didn’t argue, didn’t tackle, didn’t foul, didn’t appeal, didn’t disagree with the ref and didn’t do anything that falls under the “very, very naughty” category.
Wouldn’t it be dull?
Whether people like it or not, football is theatre. It is entertainment. It is even pantomime. As Dream Team used to show us, it is probably the longest running soap opera in the world, much to the pain of Coronation Street fans. What does a good pantomime or soap need to be successful? It needs villains, the bad guys. Cops and robbers would be no fun if there were no robbers. Cowboys and Indians would be rubbish if there were no cowboys. Personally, for every model professional on the pitch you need a complete nutcase. It would be very boring otherwise.
I’m sorry, but on the pitch it is not about being a role model. It is about winning games of football. To be balanced, I want to make it very clear that I believe off the pitch players should be expected to act as role models, and if they do something unlawful, or just plain stupid, they need to understand they are damaging their chances of future employment. But on the pitch, win the game and be done with it.
Let’s be totally honest here, and I don’t know how many people (who are not paid to build these things up as much as they have done) actually think Diego Costa is such a nasty piece of work that he should be banned from the Premier League indefinitely. If this guy was English we would have up in the England team within a heartbeat. Who cares if he stamps around sometimes, winds people up all the time and generally plays football as if he hates the world? He is world class and would make us a better team. Then the English media would kick in, for sure, taking every opportunity to bring him down in their efforts to sell newspapers or get subscribers. I cannot say I am a massive fan of watching Wayne Rooney run 50-yards to scream obscenities at a referee, but if Rooney is doing what he is paid to do then what is the problem?
I did a little bit of research into nice or fair football teams before I started writing this. Not a lot came up, just Melbourne FC. Not exactly known for winning much, I am sure you will agree. Great teams have nasty so and so’s – that is a fact. We need the Joey Barton’s, Balotelli’s, Suarez’s et al to give us all something to talk about.
Allow me to give you some examples from my lifetime!
- Manchester United under Fergie: Keane, Bruce, Cantona, Scholes, Ince (probably more but these sprung to mind)
- Arsenal before 2005: Viera, Petit, Keown, Adams, Winterburn, Dixon
- Spain: Sergio Ramos, Busquets
- Real Madrid: Ever wondered why Pepe got a game? Ronaldo is no angel…
- Wimbledon in the 80’s: The whole side
My favourite ever player with the devil in him, the Red Devil if you will, was Eric Cantona. You could never take your eyes off him as you did not know if the thing that was coming next was a moment of footballing brilliance or madness.
You cannot tell me that football would be better off without these guys.