Premier League

12 Yards

I want you to stop whatever you’re doing, and take a short walk. 12 strides, please, from anywhere to anywhere. Note the distance. For me, it’s here to sort of over there, but for you it might be something else: here-ish to kinda that spot, or even “where I was 12 strides ago to where I am now, looking back at where I was.” Whatever you choose, it isn’t very far, is it? Whatever your gait, it’s probably around 12 yards. Please remember the distance and we’ll continue. Now, imagine that you’ve spent every waking hour since the age of, oh, I don’t know, 4 years old?

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Why has England been so bad? England is like a well-known child actor who has suffered a disappointing later career, a series of flops leavened by one or two near-misses, which almost make it worse. People who only remember him as the chirpy sitcom star are surprised by his moroseness, his meanness, the fact that he is working as a mattress salesman, and that he looks like an aged child. The England psyche is as fragile and transparent as glass.

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Pele, the greatest footballer ever, has proved a notoriously dreadful analyst since his retirement. But perhaps none of his pronouncements has been so widely mocked as his suggestion, before Brazil and England met in the 2002 World Cup, that the best player at the tournament so far had been the English defensive midfielder Nicky Butt. Even the jingoistic Daily Mail couldn't get behind that one. Nicky Butt was the greatest case of social promotion in modern football.

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Funny Old Wayne

The average Premier League club has very little to do with you, the supporter, and your life. Yes, it is named after your town, but most of the players come from elsewhere, countries you may never have heard of, stay two or three seasons, then leave. The uniform displays the logo of an offshore gambling website. The owners fly in from the Cayman Islands to snap up your club with foreign oil money, mall money, steel money, or money loaned to them by investors which they are then happy to freight onto your club’s debt.

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