Depending on who you are and which team you support, the level of irritation these topics induce will vary – so it’s probably best to ignore the order:
5. Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal future
As with any prominent discussion, those holding extreme opinions one way or another about this are all probably wrong. The truth, you suspect, is that Wenger’s fine tenure at Arsenal has just run its natural course and the club is in desperate need of a fresh approach.
Sadly though, that’s a stance willfully ignored by the media: Wenger is tactically inept, he’s in ‘meltdown’, he’s a blind man stumbling around in the dark. On and on and on.
It’s becoming apparent that quite a few people in and around football have waited a long time for the chance to put the knife into Wenger, and each day is now bringing another example gleefully taking the opportunity to do just that.
4. Comparing Gareth Bale to Cristiano Ronaldo
A British player’s ability being exaggerated out of all context? Never.
Instead of adding yet more column inches to this topic, just consider this: In 23 games this season, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 24 goals and provided 4 assists, in 22 games, Bale has produced 13 goals and 1 assist.
One day, there may well be a comparison to make, but that’s not today.
3. Cheating foreign players
To be fair, this would belong on any similar list written within the last 15 years. Do foreign players cheat? Yes, they do, but no more or less than their homegrown teammates or opponents.
When you think of ‘cheating’, the immediate association is ‘simulation’, and while there are some players who are more guilty of that crime than others, that offence doesn’t singularly encompass the dark arts within the game.
Watch a Premier League game at the weekend, any game, and make a mental note each time an English player time-wastes, stops an opponent taking a free-kick quickly, refuses to give the ball back promptly, tries to deceive the referee, or appeals over-zealously for a decision he knows he isn’t due.
It’s not just Pablo, Luis and Miguel, everyone’s at it.
2. Ticket prices
I hate how much football costs, you hate how much football costs, everyone – universally – knows it to be over-priced. But that doesn’t change one simple fact: there is no obligation on the game to make itself affordable to everyone
We love the shiny stadiums, we worship the superstar players that have been attracted to our league, but we resent having to pay for that privilege. I understand, but I don’t agree with that resentment – as long as the tickets are still being bought, the stadiums are still full, and replica shirts are still flying off the shelves, the clubs can justifiably claim to be operating within their demand curves.
In the modern game, our team’s commitment is to their own business models and not to their supporters. That’s just a cold, hard reality.
1. Frank Lampard’s contract
‘Ageing player doesn’t have contract renewed by club’ just isn’t that big a story. Frank Lampard has made an immeasurable contribution to Chelsea’s modern era, undeniably, but the club have no obligation to keep employing him beyond his prime.
Every goal he scores and every pass he makes is greeted with the same forced incredulity at Chelsea’s demonstration of ‘disrespect’, and the same intentional ignorance of the reasons behind the decision to allow him to leave. A 34 year-old on a six-figure/week salary is an expendable commodity, it’s basic, basic stuff.
Oh, the melodrama, the hyperbole, and the misty-eyed columns about ‘poor Super Frankie’. Time passes, players get old, the game goes on.