The Obscurer

Category: Sport

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

So. Manchester City have sacked many managers over the years, and during my time writing The Obscurer I have, in one way or another, chronicled the comings and goings of those fortunate enough to have held that most fabled of managerial posts. But, such is the strange and dysfunctional nature of this existence-hanging-by-a-thread old blog that I never quite got around to commenting on Roberto Mancini; and despite making copious notes on the subject – and having the best of intentions – I never found the time to write a post on his time at the club.

I was a fan of Mancini’s, and I was going to pen a hardy defence of his tenure. Namely that

  • I felt he was a seriously underrated manager who, due to the money he inevitably had to spend, did not get the credit he deserved for taking a side that had finished in 10th the season before he arrived and managed to turn them into Premiership champions within 2½ years. From listening to some you would think that this achievement was the least that could have been expected; but just take a look at the side which finished 10th last year – West Ham – and imagine saying that even given unlimited cash that they should consider anything less than being champions in 2016 as failure, and you can see how ridiculous such an opinion really is.
  • I was also going to defend City’s performance last year, one largely derided as a timid title defence in the face of the challenge from a mediocre Manchester United team; but United’s accumulation of points last season was anything but mediocre – indeed it was record breaking – up until the Premiership title was secured. And while City were far from stellar last year, they garnered enough points to have seen them as realistic challengers in most seasons; indeed, had we won our final home game (which, sans Mancini, we lost to Norwich) we would have gained more points than United did when winning the title two years previously.
  • And while I’d aknowledge that our performances in Europe were less than impressive, it was interesting that analysis of last season normally started by accepting the caveat that we were placed in a very tough group, and then chose to completely ignore that fact when using our Champions’ League campaign as a stick with which to beat Mancini. For me, when I saw the group we were in I knew for a fact that we weren’t as good as Real Madrid; turned out Real weren’t as good as Borussia Dortmund, and so I can’t see failing to qualify from that group as the disgrace some do.
  • And finally, one of my bugbears was the way he was treated by a media who, for whatever reason, took against him from the moment he had the temerity to take Mark Hughes’ job, an accusation I can’t remember being levelled at any other manager ever (was Hughes criticised for pinching Sven’s job, or Pellegrini for nicking Mancini’s? Not that I can recall). Being Italian certainly played into the hands of any lazy journalist who wanted to label us as being negative whenever we weren’t scoring goals for fun. And while all managers can come out with stupid statements – and I won’t pretend that Mancini was an exception to the rule – the media certainly seemed to take a special delight in taking his words and twisting them (something they continue to do even now). While he is not the only victim of such behaviour he was certainly at a disadvantage with his grasp of English which, while perfectly serviceable, lent itself vulnerable when dealing with journalists bent on mischief-making and wilful misrepresentation.

That’s not the full story, of course, although it’s probably enough to be going along with for now. But, whilst I made my notes on the matter, time passed like a thief in the night, and I never wrote that post (although I remain of the opinion). Yes, I was pissed off when Mancini was sacked, as were many City fans; but we football fans are all fickle, useful idiots to the cause, and having lived through many a managerial departure I was ready to welcome the blameless Pellegrini and a brave new era. And as expected, over time, the anger faded. But less expectedly, when the anger had faded it left behind it…well…nothing. Or next to nothing. For reasons I can’t quite fathom, when the blue mist cleared I discovered I barely cared what happened next in the City story. And while I can’t predict how I will feel come the denouement of this season, I really thought that by this stage I would have shaken off my torpor. And yet here I am; still here.

Why? I don’t know, and this post is in part me trying to figure it all out. After all, Pellegrini seems a lovely chap and we’re playing some cracking football, scoring goals left, right and centre, the squad shorn of the rancour and disharmony attributed to the Mancini era. So why can’t I just relax and enjoy it? Have all those many barren years as a City fan turned me into some sort of masochist, unable now to appreciate the good times, allergic to them? The fact that I can now occasionally be seen watching Stockport County toil in the Skrill North (the what, you say?) perhaps supports that position.

The finest football picture ever

But I wonder if I’ve been on this path for a while, ever since I decided one day that I would relinquish my season ticket. For sure there were a number of reasons for the decision, but dissatisfaction with the money-dominated nature of the Premiership was certainly one of them. Of course, that was in the days when City didn’t have money, but my opinion didn’t change once we’d won the lottery. I never thought it wrong to spend pots within the rules – City’s petrodollars didn’t break football, it was broken when we found it – but I certainly thought the rules should be such that we should try to prevent any domination by a club with cash.

Having ridden myself of the season ticket further events loosened the ties that bind; I spoke here of my despair at the antics of Thaksin Shinawatra, of Garry Cook. But it was not so easy to rid myself of City; and knowing that money is no guarantee of success I was born to follow as we moved up the league and assembled a stunning team; expensively, of course, but also a team which, in its haste, had its fair share of misfits and cast-offs. Loyalty demanded I follow them when they were shit, and now I couldn’t shake them as we moved onwards, grabbing the Premiership title in the most dramatic way possible.

But even then my spirit was flagging. I started last season with Google News as my home page on Chrome, boasting its customised “City News” section, and with a raft of football forums in my bookmarks. Even before Mancini was sacked the whole lot had gone, so tired was I of reading the never-ending bullshit and drivel. Maybe that was another sign that I’d still been tiring of football – or at least Premiership football – for a while.

But perhaps the key to my disenchantment can be found in two statements innocently issued, with the best of intentions, from within the club. First up, in his post-season interview last year, chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak proudly announced that no longer would City be prepared to accept second best, or words to that effect. He meant well, no doubt about that, and I can fully understand where he is coming from; but for me, still reeling from Mancini’s sacking, and brought up on believing that you follow your side through thick and thin, regardless of the result, it was anathema. Let’s just say that if most City fans had that attitude we’d have done one many, many years ago, and Khaldoon current position wouldn’t even exist. What was meant as a rallying call left me shaking my head.

The second statement was made just the other week by club captain Vincent Kompany who, when asked about the chances of City completing the legendary quadruple responded

We can’t promise it will happen now, but eventually it will have to happen…We are the players at the moment who have been chosen to do it. If it’s not us then it will be other players. This club definitely has a target to win every competition possible.

Now, I imagine, when United fans think back to “that night in Barcelona” when they won the treble, their legs go all wobbly and they get a little bit emotional. They think of the drama of those late, late goals at the Camp Nou, and of the remarkable combination of skill, hard work and luck that was required for that historic achievement. Such events are what following football is all about (I myself get quite teary thinking of our play-off final against Gillingham, just a week later). Yet now, here we have a nominally even greater achievement, the quadruple, not being talked of in hushed tones and poetic hues of possibility, but in the blank prose of inevitability. And can you cheer the inevitable? Well you can, I guess; but why bother?

Am I at grave risk here of making too much of an off-the-cuff, perhaps out of context quote? Quite possibly. But I feel this encapsulates my malaise. If I’m right then I think that the sacking of Mancini was more than just the sacking of a manager I liked; it was the severing of the last link with a Manchester City of potential, where failure was a possibility, where we were a work in progress, and where if any club could mess up a gigantic cash injection it was surely my blues. When City were shit, they needed me. As we climbed I enjoyed the ride. At the summit I appreciated the view. But one false move and everything snapped back. Now Manchester City can sack a winner, the person who achieved what I thought impossible, and can just go and get a new top manager, give him £100m for new players and watch him win the quadruple. Or if he doesn’t, the manager after him will. Or the one after him. It’s a project now, rather than a football club, and it doesn’t matter who the manager or players are, because eventually, by brute force and money, it will have to happen, apparently. And this is where you’re meant to applaud.

None of which is to criticise those City fans who have taken Pellegrini to their hearts; I know many of them, and as far as I can tell theirs is the normal way to behave, and it’s me who is being weird. Again, this is I guess just the latest instalment in my growing dissolutionment with football. And perhaps it’s also because I’m getting on and there are only so many hours in the day; is it a coincidence that in the past year, as my interest in City has tailed off, I have started subscribing to The New Yorker and, against the clock, been devouring its long-form journalism on a weekly basis?

Because despite all I have said I am still a City fan, I think; it’s just that perhaps I’m a blue in the same way I’m English. Perhaps it’s all of a part with those other swirling quirks of history and birth, tied up in my being; a element of myself which I cannot avoid, and don’t want to avoid, but which I am no longer bothered about. Yes, perhaps that’s it. I’m English, and a City fan, but don’t look for me at Wembley or The Etihad. Try Edgeley Park. Or even better, my house, with my family, a glass of red, and an article on the perils of a Nantucket fisherman.

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Morality Play

After Sunday’s derby match, and United’s defeating of City, a couple of tweets caused some mirth in the obvious quarters. Namely this

and this

https://twitter.com/#!/OfficialMR2/status/156041128662155264

The mocking responses were many and varied. “Good luck in the Fourth Round of the Moral Cup”, for example. And “enjoy your Moral Cup success”. And, “here’s to the Moral Cup Winners 2012”. And, well, mainly that same joke, really, over and over and over.

And fair enough, I guess. We lost, and claiming a moral victory is pushing it. But our performance was excellent, and the thing is, I know where Messrs Kompany and Richards are coming from; indeed it’s not a million miles away from what I was feeling after the match. To be precise, I remember saying “it’s not quite a moral victory, but it doesn’t feel far off.” And judging by the reactions of the fans in the stadium, subsequent conversations with other City supporters, and even Alex Ferguson’s downbeat assessment following his side’s 3-2 win, I’m far from alone here. (I also knew that, a couple of days later, being out of the cup, that fine feeling would count for nothing. And here we are.)

So damn those players for expressing themselves a little clumsily, if you like; yes, damn them all. And bring on your ridicule and your opprobrium. But we can take it. In fact we can do better than that. The fact that the players and the fans felt so positive in defeat to our bitterest rival, and so in tune with each other despite our cup exit, is something I take as a hugely encouraging sign.

Because, ultimately, I think it all comes down to whether or not you believe there is more to football than merely winning matches. I certainly do, and I don’t believe you’re a true football fan if you don’t. Real supporters know the thrill of a tightly drawn game, and the boredom of a functional victory; they recognise how a battling defeat can give hope for the future, while a fortuitous win may merely paper over the cracks. Not surprising, then, if for certain United fans – the kind, say, who equate a lack of trophies with a lack of history – this is a concept they they simply fail to grasp, and so find ripe for mockery. Gratifying too that, despite our recent influx of petrodollars, it is something that so many City fans do still understand.

For now, at least.

Tribes

So, a great result for England on Sunday, no? Another fine victory over our greatest historic tribal foe. Makes one proud to be English, doesn’t it.
Sarcasm? Me? Oh no, sorry, you misunderstand. Were you still thinking about the football, and Germany? Oh well, I’ve already moved on; to cricket, and yet another one-day international victory over the hapless Australians*. But I can understand your confusion. An easy mistake to make.

As for the football, what can I add to the obvious, and that England simply aren’t good enough to justify the hopes that some people place in them? On the game itself, I do think it a tragic irony that the one time a Lampard speculative, edge-of-the-area pop actually gets into the goal, the officials manage to miss it. Fortunately, such was the extent of Germany’s victory that any dwelling on that “goal” as an example of us being robbed has been kept to a minimum. On the other hand, it has reignited the old issue of whether technology should be used to prevent such mistakes again. I seem to be in a minority here in harbouring serious doubts over technology’s use. Perhaps, if you could guarantee that such technology was limited only to judging if a ball has crossed the line, then fine; but can you? Later that evening, when Argentina scored a goal that was clearly offside, technology was mentioned again; when Eire failed to qualify for the World Cup finals thanks to an Henry handball, again the benefits of technology were mooted. Where will it end? Before you know it, perhaps every goal will have to be analysed before it is given: to see if there was perhaps an illegal tug on a defender at some time during the long, labourious build up to it being scored; to wait for the committee to decide if, on balance, the award of the free kick that led to the goal was down to the attacker diving; or perhaps we’ll have to scrutinise each free kick, corner and throw in before it is taken just in case it results in a goal, eventually. And so the game as we know it will be buggered, all to prevent the sort of decision on Sunday which is extremely rare, and which was also so blatant that technology itself shouldn’t even be required for it in the first place. No, I’m really not sure it is a road we should be going down.

But a few words on the England team. I usually get pretty hacked off when pundits say stuff like “he would have scored that in the premiership”, or “why do England players look so poor here, when they look so good in the league?” It’s bollocks, mainly. Hansen and his ilk spend each weekend bemoaning terrible misses and poor defending, as players’ form fluctuates during the course of the season; but come the World Cup, all that is strangely forgotten, and they all seem to expect the players to be as good as they appear on the “Best of…” end of season review DVDs. But, as I said, I usually get hacked off by such nonsense…but when was the last time you saw a premiership back four defend as badly as England did against Germany (Burnley excepted)? With the possible exception of Ashley Cole, did they have a clue about their roles or where they were meant to be playing? It is easy to blame the manager – and if he has lost the confidence of the players then that may be fair enough – but what is any manager meant to do when his centre-backs take it upon themselves to wander about the field aimlessly, and with no regard to positioning or formation?

Capello has also got some stick for his attacking options: why didn’t Joe Cole play a bigger part?; everyone know we should play “Gerrard-in-the-hole!” Enough, already. Was playing Heskey really the reason that Rooney had apparently forgotten how to control a football? I doubt it. There is always some simplistic solution to England’s woes; four years ago it was the failure to select Defoe, before that it used to be the manager’s refusal to play a Waddle, or a Le Tissier. I’m sure that if Capello had listened to the media and played Gerrard where they wanted him they would just have found something else to whine about. Because there’s always something, and there always will be. Because, as I said before, we’re just not good enough.


The British media collectively announced another European victory over Blighty and common sense the other day, this time regarding contentious EU labelling legislation. You’ll remember the old Metric Martyrs story, years ago? The injustice that it was made illegal to buy a pound of bananas? I was pretty shocked at the story myself; shocked that the media expected me to buy bananas by the pound anyway. Does anybody? Don’t they buy them by the bunch, or by number? Isn’t the weight irrelevant to most people, be it in pounds or kilograms? Anyway, the whole story was a pile of crap regardless, since it was and is permissible to buy groceries by the pound, as long as the shopkeeper has a metric scale.

But having told us we should be buying items such as bananas by weight, the media has now changed its mind, at least with regards eggs. New EU regulation, apparently, will mean that items will have to be labelled with their weight. By a massive leap of anti-logic, some people have decided that if a box of eggs has to be labelled by weight, it can’t also be labelled to include the number of items in the packet. “It’s an end to buying eggs by the dozen”, apparently, despite the fact that eggs almost universally come in boxes of six. It takes a special kind of stupid to think that packaging will actually be prevented from mentioning the number of contents on the inside, and no mention whatsoever is made of this in the legislation. But we are talking here about our pathetically tribal, anti-EU British press here, so I guess anything goes. And it is my perhaps debatable allegation of tribalism here which means I can just about squeeze this brief observation into my post on the theme of “tribes”.


Tribalism, of course, is a feature of our party politics, so I’m on safer ground in this third part of my post; but elements of that tribalism still surprise me. I’ve felt close to the Liberal Democrats for many a year now, being something of a student activist and a member for a time. I veered away a bit during the useless Menzies Campbell’s era, and then smug Nick Clegg’s. I stopped understanding what they really stood for – I’m not sure they themselves know – but they still got my vote at the election. Following the formation of the coalition government I was surprised by some Labourite sniping at the Lib Dems, accusing them of betrayal and the like. As an outsider who saw the Labour party as my natural allies, such tribal anti-Lib Dem sentiments took me aback somewhat. It was a reminder of one of the things I so dislike about party politics.

And now? Well, while I still wouldn’t call the Lib Dems traitors, I am getting more distressed at the way their leadership seems to have so gleefully signed up to the Conservative’s agenda; for while I may like to think of myself a something of a pluralist politically, I still, pathetically, simply cannot abide the Tories. Now, I am sure that the Lib Dems will have exerted some sort of positive influence on the recent budget, but not enough for me to be happy. On such crucial issues such as how quickly the budget deficit should be reduced, how it should be reduced, and when to start, the Lib Dems were always more-or-less in step with Labour. Now they have performed a volte-face and say they are backing the Tory’s ideas, based on a post-election worsening of the UK economic position that hasn’t actually happened. When Obama wrote a letter to the G20 leaders saying we should be careful not to instigate cuts too soon, the coalition’s reply was that each government should act depending on its individual circumstances, apparently oblivious to the irony that they keep justifying the actions they are taking in Britain by referring us to what is happening in Greece. But at least the Conservatives can state that they went into the election saying they would start the cuts now, although my fear has always been that they haven’t so much dismissed the idea that cuts now can harm the recovery – a reasonable and arguable position – as failed to understand the economics of the theory in the first place. But the Lib Dems cannot claim such ignorance.

Now, I can see why Liberal Democrat MPs may be backing the Tory policies; they are in government, in the cabinet, and governed by collective responsibility. They may be supporting things they personally have misgivings about but feel they have to go along with, to toe the party line, in the same way the Labour leadership candidates are now fighting over each other to disown some of their former policies that they went along with at the time.

More surprising to me is the attitude of so many Lib Dem bloggers and commenters on sites such as Liberal Conspiracy, where they seem to have so seamlessly adopted some typical Tory rhetoric in an effort to defend the Lib Dems and their coalition policies, the sort of rhetoric they would surely have shunned just a few months previously. But I guess the question is did they actually shun such rhetoric previously? That is to say, perhaps I simply haven’t been paying attention, and that many Lib Dem bloggers have been saying these sorts of things for ages. In which case, perhaps I’ve been part of the wrong tribe, and voted for the wrong party, all along.


One of the coalition’s recent acts was to move to speed up a change in the age at which one can draw the state pension, an action that has been openly welcomed by some Lib Dem commentators. Perhaps that shows the gap between myself and some other Lib Dems; demographic changes may mean that a later retirement age could be considered necessary for the public finances, but how it can be actively welcomed is a mystery to me. In a few short years my expected retirement age of 65 has moved to a likely 70, and I doubt that will be the end of the matter. It’s demoralising, to say the least, to see the date at which you could retire move away from you faster than the years themselves are passing by.

Changing the state retirement age has been described by some as a wake up call for people to get their personal pensions in order. Well I thought I’d done that in signing up to my occupational pension scheme, but as public sector pensions are the next item in the firing line, I don’t know how that will fare. I assume that, at the very least, my contributions will have to rise again, just a couple of years after the last review meant an increase in my contributions. But I don’t mind that, as long as such changes are based on the financing and affordability of the pension scheme itself, and not just an attempt to make public sector workers pay more to redress the unfair way many private sector employers have chosen to abandon decent pension schemes for their workers.

(As an aside – and as a final, transparent attempt to crowbar this last section of the post into my tenuous overarching theme of “tribes” – it’s funny that when I left the private sector I assumed I was just changing jobs; I had no idea at the time that, as far as some are concerned, not least many denizens of blogs and newspaper comment sections, I was also changing tribes. Despite doing a very similar job, and working at least as hard and with the same abilities as I had before, little did I realise that to some private sector workers I was now a lazy, inefficient, incompetent and overpaid public sector worker, all pampered and bloated. Now, fortunately I am lazy, inefficient, incompetent and overpaid, slightly pampered and certainly bloated; but my many hard-working colleagues must be furious at such an unjust guilt-by-association, especially since I had never been the target of such daft generalisations when in the private sector because such contempt does not appear to be reciprocal. Nowhere I think seems to show this tribalism better than the matter of pensions, where too often the financial affordability of public sector pensions plays second fiddle to the argument that it’s not fair that some people have better pensions than others. Perhaps I had been naive in my private sector days, but my move to the public sector revealed to me that tribalism can appear in the most unlikely of places, and when you least expect it.)

But how else should I personally react to this supposed financial wake up call? Voluntarily increase my pension contributions still further? For a while I had been considering taking out some AVCs to supplement my pension, and I guess that is what some would still advise, but now I’m beginning to think: for what? To add to a pension that, with each revised retirement age, I am increasingly unlikely to ever see a payout from? I used to see things through the eyes of my parent’s generation, fed on Saga adverts of suntanned old folk enjoying their long, slow, golden retirement. Now it seem far more reasonable to assume that retirement will never happen and we will have to adjust to that reality and live for the day. Rather than work harder to pay more into a pension I will never see, perhaps I should just take it easy and take life as it comes: with an expectation that I will have to work till I drop, I’m not going to slog my guts out now for no reward later.

If the change in the state pension age was intended to make us all plan more for the future, then I think it will have failed to have had the desired effect on me. When combined with the events of last year – my father, after all, passed away aged just 68 – my response is more a “fuck it…this is my life now, and I think I’ll live for the moment, thanks very much.”

*Oops.

It’s A Wonderfuel Life

I can’t say I’m happy about the changes over at Eastlands. I actually went to the City-Sunderland game – my first live match for some years – but all through Saturday evening I kept mulling over what I feel has been a disastrous and self-defeating decision. It’s truly shocking. Just when did they change the supplier for the Meat and Potato pies? I’d been looking forward to their unique qualities all Saturday and I couldn’t believe it when they fobbed me off with some bog-standard Holland’s effort for the absurd sum of £2.50. I blame the Cook. But that’s that anyway, I’m done with them; that was the last pie I ever buy at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Ha-ha, do you see what I did there? Meanwhile I just find it depressing that City’s current owners – who hitherto had seemed to be doing just about everything right at the club – decided to take a leaf out of the Big Book of Football Stereotypes and act in the impatient and short-termist way that foreign billionaire owners are expected to. It doesn’t take much to squander the vast reserves of goodwill I had for them, as I was grateful that they took over from Thaksin Shinawatra then behaved impeccably and honourably from thereon in; but that’s what they’ve done, and it will be a long hard slog for them to earn my respect again (although, being a fickle fan, winning some trophies will go some way towards doing that, no doubt).

But I’ll give them their due; they’re feeling their way into this football club ownership lark and I know where they’re coming from, as I’m feeling my way back into blogging since my recent hiatus. That’s perhaps why, on reflection, I wish I hadn’t bothered with that last post on the bankers’ bonuses, a clumsy collection of loose semi-thought bundled together in a post, the existence of which is partly thanks to the fact that I had a free afternoon. So as I’m approaching my usual Christmas sabbatical I’ll try to tidy this place up a bit and not make such a mistake again. Some hope. But in that vein I’ve ditched those weekly twitter digests that were just cluttering the place up in the absence of any other posts. If you want to read my twitterings then you can always follow them here, and they are also duplicated on my tumblelog over here; there really is no need to triplicate them, so now, if I can’t think of anything worthy of a full post then this site will simply go quiet, but I will always be back.

While in the mood to tidy up I think I’ll finish off this story from last year, because I hate leaving loose ends lying around, I really do. You’ll recall, perhaps, that British Gas had doubled our direct debit payment, despite our being in credit? Well they had. And last Winter came and went, we shovelled money to the gas board hand over fist, and in the Spring we found that those payments had just about covered our seasonal usage, and so we were still over a hundred pounds in credit. Time, perhaps, to rethink the level of our monthly payment? Well British Telecom and E-On thought so; our telecoms provider gave us two free months as we were in credit with them, while our electricity supplier refunded our credit and lowered our monthly payment. But from British Gas we heard nothing.

Summer arrived, then Autumn, during which, of course, our gas usage plummeted while our payments remained sky high, and by the time of our October statement we were now some £315 in credit. Time, now, surely, to readjust our payment amount? I’d have thought so, but perusing our gas bill I found a notice warning against this, as British Gas said that they strongly suggest we all wait until the Spring before any payment amount is altered. If only they’d stuck to this policy the previous year, when they’d hiked our monthly direct debit in Summer and Autumn; then, perhaps, our account wouldn’t have gone in credit to the value of China’s trade surplus? Well anyway, I couldn’t be bothered waiting until Spring, and I couldn’t be bothered negotiating with British Gas, so we skipped over to E-On for a dual-fuel account, a process that took around six weeks, buy which time our account had become £415 in credit. Only then, once we had left, did British Gas finally repay us.

So a happy story in the end in which everyone is a winner. E-On has a new customer; British Gas earned a paltry sum of interest on our money; and I have a tidy lump-sum to spend as I wish. I know I could moan about British Gas earning interest that should have been mine, but unless yields on pissing money against the wall have risen sharply in the past year I wouldn’t have done anything of note with that spare cash. As it is, their crazy direct debit policy has turned out to be an unlikely savings plan. So ultimately, and ironically, I end this tale with a sincere and honest “Thank you, British Gas”; because this year, after a fashion, Christmas is on you.

Bin And Gone

Well you’re due a short post after my recent extended blatherings, so here it is. And I guess I can’t really complain, viewing pay-TV for free via the internet, piggy-backing parasitically on someone else’s football feed. But still and all, it’s a bit annoying while watching a match to find a bit of editorialising suddenly popping up, obliterating a half of the screen.

It could be worse, though. A previous interruption, that I was too slow to catch, declared, “Bin Laden is a Gooner”. Also, I never actually missed a goal because of such anti-Arsenal interventions, although then again I was eating my tea while listening to GMR at those specific times.

It’s still better than paying for Sky, mind.