20 Mar 2014

Patriotism, partisanship and football

I was struck once again last night by the curiously old- fashioned mindset of our beloved football pundits and commentators on ‘big European Nights’. Even that cherished phrase conjures up ‘Europe’ as a distant concept about which we need know little and in which we have only arms-length involvement.

From the off, the BBC 5 Live outfit completely assumed that every one of their listeners wanted Manchester United to win.

Well Mr Green and Mr Lorro – I’ve got news : I didn’t.

Manchester United v Olympiacos FC - UEFA Champions League Round of 16

I wanted the Greeks to come bearing big gifts actually. I wanted to see the Ferguson legacy get smacked out of Europe. Wanted to hear more Mancs wailing into their cups on the 606 Moan-In.

Yes – I wanted to hear their smug sense of entitlement dashed, their inability to grasp reality, displayed.

And the more the commentary and pundits breathlessly and anxiously wondered how Man U might preserve and build on their one-nil lead – the more I craved Olympiakos storming up to put in a precious away goal. Please….

This is the 21st century. Many of us have a favourite European team and most of us recognise some leagues like the German one, are better run than the Premier League in some respects.

And of course our Premier League is built on foreign talent – as England’s coming humiliation in Brazil will probably underline again.

Plus, most of us don’t support the Man Us, Chelseas and even Arsenals of this world.

My enemy’s enemy is my friend, rarely more so than on ‘big European Nights’.

Like me, fans are irrational, partisan and of course deeply resentful of these clubs’ success and this enduring misapprehension of commentators that we wish to share in it. We don’t. Won’t. Shan’t.

Commentators and pundits have simply not got this, and every ‘big European Night’ just rubs it in.

Ever behind the curve: if you’re old enough you’ll have grown up with this tribe talking endlessly about the ‘Latin temperament’ when foreigners were exotics in our leagues. The idea that any player from south of the Loire was likely to fly off the handle was the accepted casual racism of the era.

Leave aside the likes of Bremner and Harris chopping players right left and centre – this was how it was.

But times changed. Football commentators and pundits woke up in the end and caught up.

Now they need to realise again we are a part of Europe.

This is the 21st century and we will always want the temperamental Latins or pitiless, efficient Germans to annihilate Chelsea or Man U and that won’t ever change.

Until of course my lot are in a ‘big European Night’.

Forlorn hope I know for an outfit better known for horse-slapping fans and cranially-aggressive manager – but Greeny and Lorro, you get my drift.

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9 reader comments

  1. Hamish says:


    I, and all of Scotland, are 100% behind England in the World Cup.


    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      I’m in with you and with them too.

      1. Bruce67 says:

        I hope that the English lads aren’t apart from their loved ones for too long.

        On this note –


  2. Curtly says:

    Yes, football commentators perhaps do overlook the view that there are a lots of listeners/viewers who despise English teams. Like politicians in the ‘Westminster bubble’ ,they are perhaps in a football bubble ,where they assume that all the viewers/listeners think like the commentators.Ethnocentric and wholly supportive of all home teams. They should take a leaf out of crickets books,TMS is a fine example where they have an ‘opposition’ commentator from time to time. But then again that is cricket .
    If a Nazi ,football team captained by Gengis Khan ,just landed in a Martian tripod were playing Manchester United,half the country would probably want Man Utd to get beat.

  3. Andy says:

    Andy Murray was blasted for saying something similar.

  4. Sons of Truth says:

    Well spoken Alex.
    In Scotland, the majority of people want to see any English side get beaten, the exception being the remnants of Ulster Loyalist returnees camped mainly in the greater Glasgow area.

    I think the whiny voiced patronizing incredulous football commentators are enough to put anyone off supporting English sides. A little humility, and genuine respect, would go a long way to getting more support from those north of the border.

  5. 1971Thistle says:

    On the football, Alan Green is part of the problem, a loud, opinionated pub bore with a microphone and a captive audience

    You should try 6 Nations rugby, England vs anyone….

  6. Robert Taggart says:

    Oneself would always prefer an English club to win these European competitions – even if the club vis-à-vis the players, management and owners are not !
    Once again the lesser of the two European competitions has no English club remaining in it – shame that our clubs do not try harder for that one.
    Hoping Chelski win The Champions League – rather them than ManU.
    Signed, Scouse ‘Birdy’ !

  7. raelsleatherjacket says:

    as a Celtic supporting Scot i support England , i have learned to switch off from the Engerland expects English media! plus this isn the land that gave us Bobby Moore enough said

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