"A fraught 2-1 win". That's what this correspondent called for this time last week in the big West Ham game - and what happened? So everything that follows should be read through that prism: a prism of pristine, crystalline truth.
Without getting too moist and nostalgic, what timelessly satisfying outing that was. Hard to think of a combination of factors more likely to add up to an enjoyable match-going experience than a cold, dark autumn day, a niggly, spoiling for a scrap atmosphere, a pantomime villain opposition manager and referee, hard done by cry-arsing opponents and a thrilling winning goal. If you picked a game at complete random from the past and asked your dad or granddad 'what was that one like?' and they gave that synopsis, you'd think "sounds a good afternoon that".
I've really enjoyed Tony Hibbert's contributions in both the West Ham & Wolfsburg games. Filling in at left-back - probably expecting Downing to play against him I think, but as was said elsewhere possibly just as much to do with him being wise to the grockness of Carlton Cole, Andy Carroll & Kevin Nolan and all that entails. Whatever the reason, he stood in watchfully and did everything with control and nous - for someone who I think has only ever started in that position once before (a 1-5 atrocity at City 10 years ago at that), it was an excellent showing. On Thursday he was restored to his right-back slot and again played a full part in a fantastic win - there was even one moment where roles were comically reversed as McGeady won the ball back with a well-timed tackle, and Hibbert then went past his man with a well-disguised little turn. Its a far cry from just over a year ago when Marinez seemed to think Hibbert was past it - preferring Stones out of position at full-back for the Anfield shellacking and even moving McCarthy there over putting Hibbert on in the next game.
The win against Wolfsburg was achieved with our best half of the season so far in my opinion - after a slightly iffy first half-hour, we counter-intuitively improved a lot after the usually outstanding James McCarthy went off (whether he had been not so involved due to carrying a knock or whether it was just co-incidence I'm not sure). Not to take the established figures performances for granted, but the most exciting thing about this win was that in Garbutt, Eto'o, McGeady* and especially Besic, who I thought was MOTM, there were new(ish) players "stepping up"and taking responsibility, not just backing up the spine of last year but adding to it.
|Get the Besics right|
*Even after his shocking miss 'Robert Terrible' kept running and offering a lot to the team - he should have been slipped in in the last minute by Barkley.
The Enemy's Among Us
So I was in the Children's Savings Working Party conference call this morning.......
Pretty unusually this next bit is prompted by something that happened in work, but I'm not actually going to go on about that, just what it nudged me to think about.
Without going into any details, there was a decision made that seemed a bit odd, a bit rushed and not really the most logical way of solving it. The explanation given was put over that it had been come to due to "worries about a Daily Mail headline" - weird to hear it actually being cited like that. In discussion about politics, fiction about politics, as an excuse for politicians doing gormless stuff - yeah, you can say it was 'avoiding the Daily Mail slating them'....but for it to really be the case slightly jarred me.
What is it about the Daily Mail that gets into people? You walk around the office and depressingly, if you see people with a non-work screen up I'd say 8/10 times its the Daily Mail. You have to credit the paper in a grim way - it has managed to convince a huge portion of normal people that it somehow is in league with them. An utterly cynical, small-c-conservative, fanatically monarchical defender of the elite, rich and vested interests is the go-to site for people who, if they really do think like that, don't seem to apply it in any discernible way.
I suppose its not right to infer too much from people clicking on a site because its in their favourites or buying a paper because its cheap - but it is insidious. You hear the clichéd (and nothing becomes a cliché without a good dollop of truth as Stuart Maconie pointed out once) scare-mongering and bitterness seeping into conversations. It bothers me on every level - that the source is such a flawed one to begin with and that it seems to be (shielded by the defence of being a newspaper) so unquestioned.
I know going on about the Mail is the least original thing you can possibly do, but as I said at the start of this bit - how does it wield that power and instill such scaredycatness in people and institutions? And how has it captured a group who should have so little truck with its stance? Spin it round and imagine people who actually are pro-Queen, pro-flag, I-heart-mortgages, down-with-this-sort-of-thingers being fanatically drawn to and obsessed with how The Independent might be 'a bit off' with them and you might see what my ill-expressed puzzlement is getting it.
Or not. But how can you take any sort of journal seriously when they run in all-but successive days:
Mylene Klass v Ed Miliband. Mansion Tax Bad. Labour hates the wealthy.
White Van Man Disgrace. Labour are snobs who hate the "average(!) person"
Class War! Labour v Private Schools. Labour hates the wealthy.
The overlap between the first two is incredible, and I don't recall seeing this actually linked by anyone. In attacking Emily Thornberry ("this snobbery is the mark of a true champagne socialist") they actually flagged up "she's a snob - what's she got a three-story house in Islington?" - without reference to the fact that literally the day before they'd taken the exact opposite stance and been happy to implicitly agree with Klass (ludicrously) saying you can only get "like a garage" for £2m and only "little grannies" live in them. You cannot credibly switch so easily from one argument to the next.
The last one, a plan to "put private schools under legal duty to co-operate with state schools" (to do something 'charitable' in order to continue to be classed as 'charities') was lambasted as "offensive biogotry", "tasteless" and in complete swing-back "class war" (again!). With an added dollop of mis-attributed 'hypocrisy'.
In both instances, the Mansion Tax and the Private Schools proposal, the Mail, amongst others, are utterly incorrect to throw out the hypocrisy angle. The reasoning is that Ed Miliband/Emily Thornberry has a big house, yet they want to tax big houses. Tristram Hunt went to a private school, yet they want to "tax" private schools and force them to help state schools.
Neither is hypocritical. If they were saying "all Mansions to be taxed - except those of Labour MPs, no charge on those" and "all Private Schools have to make a contribution to the wider community - except the ones Labour Mps attended or their children may attend - they're exempt", of course that would be flagrant, scandalous hypocrisy. The fact that they're pushing for (very minor and tentative if we're honest) action on both despite their links to what they're pushing at makes the position stronger if anything and is, without getting carried away, to their credit in my view.
We're off to the centre of all this class war and craziness on Sunday for what is for better or worse, always 'a proper game'. Our record at Tottenham for any young fan probably seems pretty normal - since 2006 P8 W3 D2 L3 - but I dont have that luxury and instinctively think of it as one of the fixtures Most Likely To Prompt A High Pitched Voice Whine during the game and Market Leader In Pre-Empting A Fuck Off Everton Grump after it.
|92/93 L 1-2 (Beardsley)|
|99/00 L 2-3 (Unsworth 2)|
|01/02 D 1-1 (Weir)|
"ah, they're awful arent they these immigranters?!"
'I dunno - have you ever worked with any?'
"yeah they were sound actually "
'ever been assisted by any in any sort of situation where you needed their help or service?'
"yeah they were sound"
'ever met any when you were out?'
"yeah they were sound"
'ever known anyone who goes out with one?'
"yeah, they're sound"
'any family directly or indirectly come from abroad?'
"oh yeah, great stories, love them, all sound"
'ever played football or socialised with any?'
"yeah, they're sound"
'on football, ever enjoyed any play by or the universally acknowledged huge improvement in the game here by overseas players and managers coming here to work?'
"obviously, yeah, they're sound"
'ever mused on the fact, as the Czech politician Tomas Prouza did today, that in the Battle of Britain - the one event most said to identify our country's proud stand alone against evil - its known that the RAF included Polish, New Zealand, Canadian, Czech, Australian, Belgian, South African, Sri Lankan, Jamaican, French and American pilots?'
"yeah, yeah,we get whet you're saying. Nice one to them"
'so, they're not really that bad are they, overall?'
"OH GOD YES! I'd over-ride all we've just covered to be honest , send em back and take my chances. If it meant some hypothetical person - who is never, ever any of the above - might not be able to temporarily theoretically claim some shadowy, meagre benefits, I'd prefer that. Overall, its just not worth the trade off...."
|06/07 won 2-0 (OG, Johnson)|
|09/10 lost 1-2 (Yakubu)|
|10/11 D 1-1 (Baines)|
|"Oh, I've done the most awful rubbish at times just to have somewhere to go in the mornings"|