Nothing is what it seems in this age of double-talk

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The Independent Online

Every year at this time (soon there will be no respite) we can expect our credulity to be stretched by the most insidious form of double-entry book-keeping - the football manager's quotes.

Every year at this time (soon there will be no respite) we can expect our credulity to be stretched by the most insidious form of double-entry book-keeping - the football manager's quotes.

This is the all-purpose statement put out not only to pacify the natives after a poor performance and keep them coming, but gloss over behaviour unbecoming to professional athletes.

Here are some examples. First, is what the manager says, followed by what he thinks:

"Our squad is stronger than ever this year." - "And a good thing, because we've got more crocks on the staff than you'll find on a second-hand car lot."

"Our midfield matches any in the Premier League." - "It's got this nice green grass and manicured lines. It's the players running on it who are not so hot."

"The players did their best but we couldn't get going." - "Dumb bastards didn't have an idea in their heads. Ran around like headless chickens. If we don't get new faces in I'll be out of work by Christmas."

"I believe in treating players as adults. I don't believe in curfews." - "The only way to get some of these guys in bed before midnight is to put a groupie in it."

"Our right winger reminds me of Tom Finney." - "And Finney is only 78."

"Our bench is much improved." - "We painted it. The players sitting on it are as bad as ever."

"Manchester United are just human." - "And Nijinsky was just a horse and a lion is just a cat."

"Why didn't we go biginto the transfer market? We didn't have to." - "Yeah,my chairman is so tight he keeps a check on the teabags and toilet rolls. Mention a £5m fee and he sends out for aspirins. For £10m he would want David Beckham and Michael Owen."

"If all else fails, we'll think ourselves out of trouble." - "Sure! I've got players who order from a menu by pointing, two who have trouble with road signs. Anyway if you could beat Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea by out thinking them Oxford University would be playing in the Premiership."

"I didn't see the incident when our right back was sent off." - "Happened right in front of me. What an idiot. When I told him to put their centre-forward out of the game I didn't mean permanently. He should be stopped two weeks' wages but I can't afford to upset him."

"There's absolutely no truth in the rumour that we're trying to sign a striker. It's all newspaper talk." - "We've been tapping him for weeks. Wants to come here but his agent is making things difficult."

"I don't begrudge the money top players are now getting. They deserve it." - "Greedy bastards don't know when they are well off. Always looking for another pay day. I've got players on 20 grand a week who wouldn't have got a game 30 years ago."

"Nothing wrong with our goalkeeper." - "Either he goes or I'll go. Six feet two inches standing up, five feet six when he jumps for the ball. His feet stay so close to the floor it's no wonder the boys call him 'lino'."

"I wasn't entirely happywith the referee but they have a difficult job." - "Blind as a bat. A card happy bufoon. Where do they get these people from?"

"I'm not happy with our disciplinary record." - "I'm fed up with the same guys missing matches. It's time for the others to start putting a foot in."

"Two of our players have some problems, but weare sending them to a specialist." - "Yeah, a psychiatrist. Their problems are not from the neck down, they're from the eyes up. They should put them in the jacuzzi upside-down."

You see, it's seldom the God's honest truth we hear and read. But then, in this age of double-talk, I find myself in agreement with the old sportswriter who liked to say, "Very little matters, and nothing matters much."

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