In his regular column Wayne Farry looks at poor punditry, win ratios, and corruption that’s almost impressive in scale.
We start off this week’s Farry Report with news we all know already – that the World Cup in Qatar will be held in the winter of 2022. As football fans we all love the World Cup but there are so many things wrong with this one (Russia before it ain’t great either, just ask Mr. Nemstov – ooh, never mind) and FIFA in general that, unlike Brazil 2014, it’s getting next to impossible to look beyond the corruption and say, “Ah, that’s just FIFA”. In fact, if you look at the past couple of World Cups and the next couple – South Africa, Brazil, Russia, Qatar – you’d be forgiven for thinking that FIFA felt building costs and wages were a little too high in Germany in 2006 and have decided to embark on an exploitation world tour, all under the guise of spreading the global game’s glowing glow to far flung places. We all know FIFA is about as corrupt an organisation there is, in fact some have said that HSBC snooped on FIFA sessions to learn a thing or two in recent years, so holding a World Cup in corrupt Russia and morally corrupt Qatar should be no surprise. Bribes are one thing, I can live with them. As long as it doesn’t effect the football. What I and many others can’t live with though is the knowledge that the matches we’ll be watching in winter 2022 will have the blood of perished migrant workers all over them. In this manner what FIFA is doing is almost impressive. Not content with being blatantly corrupt, they’re now progressing full on towards being an all out evil regime, untethered by the fear of public opinion. To suggest that FIFA’s motivation now is anything other than fiscal would be an insult to intelligent thinking everywhere. They’re essentially money laundering through the profitable business of world football, a smart idea admittedly. I have stated this before but my belief is that this World Cup will only be stopped – or at least the treatment of its workers improved – if managers and players speak out against it. It would make me so proud as a football fan if they were to do so, but I won’t be holding my breath. Though many of us see through his bullshit, Blatter appears to have convinced many people that he is as powerful as he thinks he is. A terrifying prospect, though not quite as terrifying as being a migrant worker in Qatar right now.
From one travesty to another that’s not quite on the same scale. This week we were served up some rather tasty Champions League action, specifically the defeat of Arsenal by the boys from the principality – Monaco. It was a wonderful match. Arsenal seemed incredibly comfortable in the first fifteen minutes before totally collapsing under the weight of Prince Albert’s golden boys. It was an embarrassment for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. Monaco aren’t that good a team in France, never mind Europe, but they took advantage of a bunch of unsure and complacent “superstars” in their own backyard which was truly great to see. What wasn’t great to see was the level of punditry on television on not just this night but across all the European nights. English football loves its pundits, and some are good at what they do, but the true depth of their knowledge becomes painfully apparent on European nights. It’s easy to talk about Juventus and Dortmund, or other similarly elite clubs, we all know about them! But when a Monaco or a Basel, even a Porto face an English team it becomes shockingly clear how uneducated English pundits are on European football. An example of this was Phil Neville remarking on BBC Radio that Torino had a “good young manager” when discussing their victory over Athletic Bilbao at San Mames. The Italian club’s manager is in fact a 67 year old man named Giampiero Ventura – a veteran of 17 clubs during his managerial career thus far. What Neville did was indicative of the problem. English pundits feel they can bluff their way through European punditry, almost as if they don’t realise the internet exists. It’s shameful, considering it’s their jobs and the amounts they’re paid. Above all else, it shows a lack of respect for clubs outside of England and Europe’s elite. Is it really too much to ask that these suited and booted twats actually watch a game from outside of England occasionally, or read a bit of information on foreign clubs. If they did so they might realise that it’s not just not a chore, it’s actually a joy. The footballing equivalent of travelling to broaden your horizons. It also shows exactly why fans call for more journalists to be employed as pundits, much in the way that BT does with the European Football Show. The levels of knowledge and humour on this show makes Sky’s coverage look like a couple of tipsy armchair fans down the pub on a Saturday night. In this day and age and with the money being spent on television packages by ordinary people, they deserve much, much better.
Finally this week we talk about one of the Farry Report’s favourite topics – Tim Sherwood. Timmy (can I call him Timmy?) rolled up at Aston Villa a few weeks back with a nap sack full of dreams and a carrier bag full of inaccurate statistics. Villa had been so excruciatingly appalling under previous manager Paul Lambert that Sherwood’s appointment was welcomed with excitement. Of course, any manager with a career win percentage of 59% should be the number one name on all potential managerial lists and Villa were certainly happy bagging the “most sought after young manager in English football” but after two games, it looks like it might take him a while to reach the dizzy heights he did while at Spurs. Maybe Timmy wants to evolve, not revolve but while continuity can be a good thing that’s not necessarily the case when you’re taking over the lowest scorers in the history of intergalactic football. The fact that Villa haven’t seen any kind of managerial bounce effect could suggest that Sherwood is in fact a total fraud, more concerned with platitudes and clichés than any kind of tactics or managerial nous. This might end up being wrong, he might do very well. But with the way things are going it looks like Villa’s chances of having a 59% win ratio next season are going to be very very high. It just won’t be in this league.