It’s not even the football, per se. That’ll be the same old, same old. It’s the tedious accompanying hoop-la that’s causing many to dread the forthcoming Premiership season: the hype; Jose Mourinho’s paranoia; Sam Allardyce’s whingeing; Sir Alex Ferguson’s seething; the absurd over-hyping of Chelsea v Liverpool and Manchester United v Arsenal on Super Sunday, September 17th; the tabloid kiss and tells; the drudgery of the Champions League group stages; the blanket coverage of the first managerial sacking; the speculation and ensuing optimism around St James’s Park when his successor is appointed; Rio Ferdinand’s Pimp My Crib; the rampant egomania; the long-term knee injuries; the monotonous predictability of the message boards and fan forums; the three-second pause between end of question and beginning of answer as the manager on the Football Focus plasma screen fiddles with his ear-piece; Gary Lineker’s puns; Alan Green’s pompous sanctimony; the staggeringly stupid post-match questions; the staggeringly clichÃ©-ridden post-match answers; the token nods to teams from outside the Premiership when FA Cup time comes around; those hurried man-of-the-match presentations on Sky; Frank Stapleton appearing in front of a venetian blind on Sky Sports News anytime anything vaguely Arsenal or Manchester United-related happens; the teeth-grindingly, bang-your-head-off-the-wall who-cares-anyway-it’ll-all-be-forgotten-soon relentless monotony of it all.
And that’s just the start of it.
Though I hate to take issue with Bazza, every now and then, we are graced with a mini-scandal the likes of which we’ve not seen before. And Chelsea calling former chairman Ken “Master” Bates a racist would qualify. From the Times’ Owen Slots.
Chelsea gave the last hours of countdown to the Barclays Premiership season a familiar feel yesterday by railing against the world, in this case by filing a complaint with the Football Association against Ken Bates and Leeds United for bringing the game into disrepute, in particular for Bates™s reference to the Chelsea directors as œa bunch of shysters from Siberia.
Bates, the chairman of Leeds and former owner of Chelsea, did not exhibit much concern yesterday, responding: œWhen I first heard this, we all fell about laughing. It™s the funniest thing since Norman Wisdom. I shall look forward to discussing this racism issue in the High Court. Chelsea must be bloody desperate, but this should be fun. Whoever at Chelsea is responsible has been very badly advised. Nothing new there.
To be called Siberian is unlikely to be viewed as abusive, indecent or insulting, albeit that Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, is from Volga in southern Russia and not Siberian at all, so the word œshyster may become the subject of serious debate. Some dictionaries have it as a derivation of the German term œscheisser, meaning literally œone who defecates, although it is the anti-Semitic innuendo that could be seen as offensive. Both Abramovich and Eugene Tenenbaum, his right-hand man at Chelsea, are of Jewish descent.