I am trying, and failing hopelessly, to get interested in the new football season. The Premier League leaves me cold, freezing in fact, and I am cursing that the whole shebang, including local football, starts so blinking early. (I was going to say in the height of summer, but that occurred at the beginning of July!) This afternoon, it has to be said, Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV has not had me licking my lips in anticipation of Swansea City against Manchester United.
The crowd seems to be enjoying it because the director has employed the gadget whereby the singing and chanting is distorted so you can’t hear the swear words. Otherwise, we’d have heard quite a few of them by now.
Happily, Thierry Henry is not on hand to provide me with useless snippets of information or to point out something I have already seen with my own eyes. I’ve nothing against Henry personally – he was a great player, after all – but as a pundit, oh dear. I would hazard a guess that his employment with Sky has far more to do with his good looks and seductive French accent because I can’t see another reason. Gary Neville is now the best pundit in the business and Jamie Carragher offers a welcome insight, on the rare occasions I can understand what he is actually saying.
What the commentators never do on Sky is to say, “What a crap game this is!” Criticise all you like Radio Five’s Alan Green, but at least he calls it like he sees it. If it’s a terrible game, he will say so, often over and over again, but the otherwise excellent Martin Tyler just carries on, as if you were watching the greatest game of the season which at the moment I am plainly not.
And my problem is also that I am not interested in most games that appear on Sky. I always watch Liverpool, for my sins, because I have such close familial and geographical ties with Merseyside, which is to say none at all. When they are on, it’s the only time I ever get worked up about a game to the extent that I can barely sit down. Today, my level of interest is through the floor. I am no fan of Manchester United, I have never liked Swansea, as a place, since I was involved many years ago in a ruckus not of my own making in an English-hating pub. Later experience revealed that many pubs in the area hated the English but I didn’t think it would help matters if I explained that I was actually more Dutch than English and it would have made matters far worse if I said I loved watching Wales lose at rugby more than seeing England win at virtually everything. It’s more of a matter of who I want to lose!
The same was with Southampton earlier on when they thumped Norwich 3-0. I could not have cared less.
If I had to lose one sport from my Virgin media portfolio, it would be football. If I could retain one football league, it would be La Liga, if I could only watch one club every week it would be Barcelona, who I love for the way they play, what they stand for and of course because they win all the time.
Doubtless when winter arrives, if it hasn’t already, I’ll regain some level of interest and Stoke v Leicester will have me glued to the box. But then again…