The return of the Premier League was every bit as underwhelming as I feared it might be. Probably even more so. Having decided not to watch either of the first games, I promptly started to watch Aston Villa v Sheffield United. Aside from the pre match ‘period of reflection’ in respect of the circa 70,000 who have died since COVID-19 arrived in Britain, and the strangely affecting ‘knee’ adopted by all the players and officials, the magic of the Premier League completely eluded me. After a few minutes, my concentration wandered. The piped in crowd sounded like a piped crowd and what we had was a ‘behind closed doors’ pre season friendly.
As my interest in the football wavered, I concentrated more on things that began to irritate me. Jamie Redknapp maintaining his reputation as the worst pundit of them all, with the possible exceptions of Michael Owen and Steve McManaman, by merely repeating what others had been saying, but with less coherence. But it was the players’ haircuts that got me. It was blindingly obvious that most, if not all, of the players had been to a professional barber, or more likely he had visited them. It’s not just footballers of course who have got round the government rules. Every time I walk anywhere I see men who have put vanity ahead of public safety to get beautifully styled and coiffured hair. I would be amazed if any of the players’ partners had been at work with the clippers. Given the shambolic state of my Barnet, I was more than a bit angry and just a bit jealous.
I know it’s a very minor thing, but it’s my minor thing. I see the incredible achievements of the likes of Marcus Rashford (or Daniel Rashford, if you are the health secretary) and Raheem Sterling and then I see a bunch of pampered multimillionaires happy to break the rules simply because they can. I suppose it’s not quite as bad as Kyle Walker and his mate getting hold of a couple of ‘sex workers’ in for an evening of hanky-panky during which they may or may not have exchanged bodily fluids (my guess is that they did) but footballers are different, aren’t they? They can do what they like. Drive to a mate’s house and prang some other cars on the way? Have a kick about in the park with the manager? Get a haircut? Why not? Premier League footballers have got loadsa money. If you’ve got it, flaunt it and to hell with those of us who increasingly resemble Worzel Gummidge.
I watched only a small part of the Manchester City v Arsenal mismatch and for the life of me could not understand the use of crowd noise given that the Etihad is more often than not the library of dreams. Sky’s number one commentator Martin Tyler had plainly been held back for this one on the grounds that Sky believes he could make a chess match sound exciting. That he can’t because it isn’t came as no surprise, but I am sure he let rip when Agüero-o-o-o-o-o-o-o made his appearance.
The Premier League is taking a well-deserved break tonight, to give Sky the opportunity to get a bit more shouty and enthusiastic about its main product. It’ll be back again soon enough. I can’t say I’m totally thrilled but I might feel better once I have seen my barber in 18 days time.