Monday, 10 December 2007

Compare and Contrast… and stop Andy Gray

I begin the week confused. Liverpool and Arsenal lose. Peter Crouch playing the ‘Arjen Robben’ role. Someone actually voiced our concerns about John Terry being untouchable. Then to add more oddities to my weekend I went to see Southland Tales yesterday – a two and half hour journey through pointlessness that is bizarrely enjoyable.

We’re all about random comparisons at Okeydokefootball so here’s mine for today. Richard Kelly – the director of Southland Tales – is the Rafa Benitez of the movie world. A man with a thousand and one ideas; a man convinced his theories on structure are superior to others and a man who can point to previous achievements if anyone questions his motives. For Donnie Darko (his previous movie) read two Spanish titles and the UEFA Cup.

Is watching a Benitez line up fall to a humdrum Reading side ‘bizarrely enjoyable’ too? Well kinda. Sipping a Guinness watching the oddness of the last twenty minutes on Saturday, I had to chuckle at how sure Benitez was that he was in the right by taking off Steven Gerrard. He looked absolutely positive that they could get nothing from the game so he stuck to his guns; the fat controller certain the train was coming on time when everyone else had left the platform.

Kelly meanwhile decided that no matter how much people complained about the incoherence of his movie when it was first shown in Cannes 18 months ago, that he would stick to dialogue about the ‘fourth dimension’ and neo-Marxists. It doesn’t make sense, it confuses everyone involved yet he is certain this is the only way forward. Sound familiar?

One key difference in the two men is getting a good performance out of an average talent. Southland Tales features a sterling turn from Sean William Scott; he of Dude Where’s My Car infamy. Reading versus Liverpool featured a typically horrendous showing from Momo Sissoko. The Mali international looks to have given up the ghost and barely appeared as if he was trying on Saturday, though when he did, predictably, he gave the ball to the nearest Reading player.

Watching Southland Tales, much like being a Liverpool supporter, is an exercise in futility. You give over a good portion of time for a mish-mash of very occasional brilliance and pure nonsense; all with very little reward at the end.

If Alex Ferguson were a director I’d say it would be James Cameron, a stern man who has had plenty of popular success over the years and who is begrudgingly respected by his peers. Arsene Wenger is more Woody Allen. A series of flops (Match Point/Champions League final) might stop another man but he keeps going determined there’s still an audience for his brand of entertainment (The Jade Scorpion/this season until yesterday). Avram Grant is Brett Ratner without a doubt, a friend to the rich and powerful drafted in whenever real talent has been forced out. He can do a hack job that will please many but the purists still know he’s not got the talent to do any great work of his own.

I suppose I could go through the entire league but that would only infuriate after a while and my already stretched comparisons would get worse as I went down the table. Though… Gary Megson as master of misery Ken Loach? Okay, I’ll stop.

So, back to the football and this weekend has set up next Sunday’s clashes of the big four nicely. Should Liverpool win (they won’t though) and Chelsea get at least a draw (no idea what will happen there) next week then everything will be tighter than a Scotsman on holiday. Spurs’ win on Sunday will, you’d suspect, start their rise up the table in earnest while Bolton look like they might start to get the results that will keep them boring everyone in the Premier League for at least one more season.

Blackburn’s malaise continued resulting in Morten Gamst Pedersen being fired from my Fantasy League team, something which I’m sure crushed the spirit of the horribly out of form boy band member. The weekend ended however on a disgraceful note that came in the Sky studio rather than on the field.

Andy Gray must be stopped. Not only did he defend John Terry for his role in getting Liam Miller sent off but his attitude to diving was absolutely shocking. He has been accused of having a bias towards Man United before – and he is as in love with Ronaldo as his friend Alex Ferguson – but defending the Portuguese player’s dive against Derby was simply appalling.

He championed Ronaldo’s right to go over like a sack of Nike-endorsed spuds when a Derby player put out a leg in front of him. Never mind that Ronaldo actually kicked the defender instead of the other way round before contorting his body like the seasoned diver he is to be certain of winning the penalty. The boy can do no wrong in Gray’s eyes. It’s the same story whenever he discusses Gerrard, Terry or Rooney too.

Any other day I might accept this as being a ‘striker’s view’ were it not for Gray’s reading of Newcastle’s penalty against Birmingham all of three minutes later. He claimed that when Liam Ridgewell scythed down Oba Martins that it was just a trailing leg left in that Martins’ took advantage of and it shouldn't have been given. Am I missing something? How does this differ from Ronaldo? Martins is in the wrong while Ronaldo is being clever apparently.

The answer is typical of Gray and the ‘old boys’ network that rules Sky and their bumbling, smug coverage. Gray is mates with Alex Ferguson; Gray is mates with Alex McLeish. He is quite simply a mouth for hire, an unprincipled yes man and each week Sky viewers are being conned by his supposedly expert views. Gray says whatever suits Sky’s star-hungry, non-controversial coverage as well as his friends’ interests.

He’s a member of our ‘hate’ section and you can listen to the reasons why about twenty minutes in here. Though I suspect many of you won’t need much convincing. But let’s not end on that; let’s end on this from Sully Muntari.

Later – JJ

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mark said...

donnie darko - an over-rated boring film, only popular with a cult audience, much like valencia with rafa...

JJ said...

Well I liked it anyway, as did many others boss. As for Valencia, people raved about the side at that time but there’s nothing like a bit of after-the-fact bandwagon jumping.

I’m not saying they were great but if someone can show me an article in the British or Irish press where their style was derided before Benitez came to the Pool then I’ll buy them a pint.

Mark said...

did you never sacrifice the truth to make a joke?

JJ said...

I think we both know the answer to that is a great big yes.

Mal said...

Valencia were superb under Rafa and the champions league defeat of Liverpool was an exhibition of how the game should be played.
Andy Gray is amazingly biased and a prick of the highest order.
Donnie Darko is a masterpiece.
I state my opinion as fact.

JJ said...

Well said. Andy Gray looks to be in the running for several ODF hate themed awards in this year's christmas special. The tit.

Parrotbait said...

I agree. I hate Andy Gray.....and Tommy Smyth.

I'm very happy to see John Terry finally starting to get some bad press, the ESPN podcast(normally the most boring PC podcast) complained about him as did Barry Glendenning on the Guardian podcast. He's very entertaining by the by, I'm sure ye listen to it. Good podcast last week, v short and sound was rubbish but good all the same!

Mark said...

I've started listening to ESPN's podcast in the past few weeks, they're not bad, but most shows are 1hr to 1:10.

The Guardian are always good, esp. Barry.

I think the writing is on the wall for Terry, rumours today say he will lose England Captaincy, and I'm sure more refs will be watching out for him.

Thanks for the positive feedback on the show, we had discussions about making it shorter permanently, but our current belief is that people can fast forward the bits they don't like....

Anonymous said...

Hey, I wouldn't worry about Morten Gamst Pedersen! I'm having a shocking season.

Have you seen the new game coming out next year though? Looks like the first prize could be over £1,000,000 real cash! It's based on the results of European football teams.

Mark said...

anon - just checked it out there, looks like weird stock market gambling, could be interesting tho

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