26 March 2014

I guess we're all Mugsmashers now...

Well, if anyone still clung to hope that we might still climb a bit higher in the Prem, Liverpool's win over Sunderland all but seals the deal. Having played the same number of matches as Chelsea and Liverpool, we're six and five points behind them, respectively, but they might each be playing for second place, as the inside track looks to belong to Man City, who are three points ahead of us, and they have two games in hand. This would give them enough to establish a three-point lead over Chelsea, a four-point lead over Liverpool, and a nine-point lead over us. In short, the writing's on the wall, and it's telling us that 4th place is our target. That, and the FA Cup. What's left, then? Well, if we're not going to win the Prem, someone has to. Might as well be Liverpool, if only by default. Did I ever mention that I'm a spiteful, bitter man? Well, I am. I can't stand the thought of Chelsea or Man City winning it, and I'll be rooting against them with all my heart. If this means I end up rooting for Liverpool, well, so be it.

However, spite by itself is a fickle beast, and I have to admit, I feel the need to put some lipstick on a cocktail dress on it if only to convince myself that there's more to my motivations than that spite. Lucky for me, there plenty of rationalizations and justifications of varying degrees of legitimacy from which to choose, so let's bang them out now, shall we?
  • Oil MoneyPure and simple. Black gold. Texas tea. Um, oil. As we all well-know, Chelsea and City are bankrolled by oil barons so wealthy that it almost defies description. The real wonder of it is how they've resisted splurging even more than they already have on players. Maybe they want to enjoy the semblance of the thrill of the chase? After all, Abramovich is the beggar of the two with a net-worth of some £10 billion. Apparently, his portfolio has taken a bit of a beating. Still, he could probably scrape together a few shekels to spruce up the squad a bit. By comparison, Sheikh Mansour and his family's net worth of some £90 billion simply defies comprehension. Why haven't they each gone out and just bought a bunch of players, if only to let them sit on the bench just in case they're needed? To put it in perspective, Mansour could spend 0.01% of his net worth on players, and this would amount to some £95m. Without thinking longer than you or I might think about buying a pint, he could go and spend nearly £100m on a couple of players (thank this guy for putting it in those terms). Abramovich might have to dig a little deeper to spend a similar amount, say, 0.009% of his worth, but I hardly think he'd be troubled by that.
  • Defections
    Look, we all know that player-movement is fact of modern footballing, but the ease with which Chelsea and Man City have poached players infuriates me. Cole. Nasri. Clichy. These are just the former players. How many would-be Gunners were enticed to move to Stamford Bridge or the Etihad by the fatter transfer-fees and wages, not to mention the near-guarantee of silverware available by playing for, or at least being entertained by, the deepest squads in football? Mata. Hazard. Ba. Jovetic. Lukaku. The list goes on, but the real kicker is those players who were Gunners but left. Cole seems to have started it all, and of course, the manner of his departure is vintage Cole dirt-baggery. Is it any wonder though that so many have found greener pastures? After all, each of them has found glory in shorter order than they had in their times at the Emirates (except Cole, of course, who won his early on in his stay). Heck, there's now talk of Sagna entertaining an offer from Man City. Why? Do they not have enough right-backs as it is with Richards and Zabaleta, or enough center-backs in Kompany, Nastasic, Lescott, and Demichelis? 
  • The C*nt factor
    This one, I'll admit, resurrects spite and refers almost solely to Jose Mourinho. I cannot stand the man. His petty mind-games, his pretentious false humility, his claims of being special. Yes, I get it. He's a diabolical genius, but his record is inflated by his extensive reliance on the first point I was making. The money, in case you forgot. He struts and frets about on the stage, pretending that he's the poor little underdog pony, all the while "managing" squads so stocked with talent that even I could wring a trophy or two out of them: "You there, number 7. Ronald, is it? Score a goal [pause]. See? I told him to do that." And so on. Of course, at Chelsea, I have to add to the list the aforementioned Cole, but also Terry and Ramires. Hate 'em. Admittedly, this element is not quite as pronounced over at Man City, but Nasri somehow seems to deputize well enough for me. Again, rooting against certain individuals is something I derive perverse pleasure from—and I'm proud of that. Hating them, seeing them deprived of pleasure, seeing them experience humiliations galore, even pain, these are delicious feelings for me.
I hope I'm making myself clear. I can't see the season end with either of these clubs on top. I just can't. It's irrational and primal, and I nurture it as Gollum does that ring of his.

So who am I left with? Well, I guess it has to be Liverpool. By default. The two sweetest words in the English language. De. Fault. If you're not chanting that mentally, you're mental. Moving on, I have to swallow hard and get imaginative here. After all, by rooting for Liverpool, I have to permit Luis Suarez, whom I spent the summer braying we shouldn't sign at any price, to win silverware and qualify finally for the Champions League. Well, it looks like I was wrong. I'm used to the feeling; don't fret. I called for him to have another meltdown and get banned from football, and it hasn't happened. Instead, he'll finally get the validation he needs to sweep all of that biting and racism and diving under the rug. As long as he's getting into the Champions League, well, he might as well win the Prem in the process. It could happen to a nicer guy.

More seriously, though, I can throw my support behind Liverpool with the smug knowledge that I can twist it like a knife in the Spuds' sides. See, for those of you newer to the rivalry, Liverpool played a small role in helping us get promoted to the First Division in 1919, relegating Tottenham to the Second Division in the process. Therefore, supporting Liverpool is, in a round-about way, a poke in the eye to all those Spuds, a way of saying "thanks for 1919". Heck, if we can't win, I might as well look for the spite. It's the silver-lining on a cloudy day.