Sunday, 24 February 2008

Football Moan In...

I enjoy listening to the football on Radio Scotland but I quickly have to reach for the off switch when it comes time for James Traynor's "Your Call" a section where supposedly "the fans" get their say on the big football talking points of the week. Of course this is Scottish football so this generally descends into tit for tat old firm sniping from the off, encouraged and abetted by the most desperate and nonsensical remarks from the baiter in chief, Mr Traynor.

Now I understand that someone in the sports media who has page after page or hour after hour to fill up with practically sod all ever happening means that you have to come up with some pretty ropey angles but last night's phone in took the cake.

Traynor, prone to contradicting himself, often within a single sentence, attempted to stoke the fires on a boring day of sport by saying that Celtic were chased off the pitch by Barcelona (and where were their superstars?) and also that Rangers will be secretly gutted they got through to the next round of the UEFA Cup because they will now definitely be too tired to win the league.

Hey presto, within minutes Jim had to two utter balloons who funnily enough shared Jim's notional relationship with common sense and completely agreed with everything he said.

Celtic had a good go at a team with 10s of millions of pounds more than them to invest in their playing staff and who regularly get 90,000 spectators at their games. Barcelona could have beaten anyone 3-2 that night. Did Celtic get a chasing? A bit aye, but there are solid common sense reasons why that happened, not that the Scottish media wants to go over them. As usual the reward of success in the media in Scotland is ridiculous over-praise, the price of failure is uncalled for castigation. And people wonder why we've been unsuccessful for so long.

Onto the Rangers, and they were actually being lampooned for winning through to the last 16 of a major tournament. Traynor, who's prediction that Celtic will easily retain the championship is looking dafter by the week has grabbed onto the idea that Rangers will tire in the title race like a credibility lifeline, sounding more desperate to be right about at least something as the weeks go by. This idea that Rangers are tiring and don't have the squad to win things this year is prevalent throughout the media. I read an article in the Herald last week wherein the writer posited that Captain Barry Ferguson and defenders Carlos Cuellar and David Weir require to be rested or all will end in tears. Is there any evidence that Rangers as a squad or these specific players are indeed tiring? No. They haven't lost a game in months and have conceded just one goal in over 8 hours of football. They have a lot of matches coming up certainly but came through a congested period at the turn of the year totally unscathed.

Traynor's angle, that Rangers boss Walter Smith will be secretly gutted that Rangers made it through against Panathanikos is simply a lot of nonsense. If this were the case, why did the bench clear and everyone associated with Rangers start dancing about as if, well, they'd just won an important game in Europe? Of course, Jim managed to find someone to agree with him within moments of his show starting, a so-called Rangers fan who thought that Walter Smith should be "moved upstairs".

What a shame that this is what it means to be a sport journalist in this country. What a shame that you can't just evenly measure achievement or rationally analyse defeat.

Instead sport's chat in the Scottish media it's this circus of utter lunacy. Entire debates based on moronic predicates that bear no relation to reality, hosted by squawking wee-brains more concerned with their careers than the sport and contributed to by members of the public hand picked by research staff for their desire to hold forth a view so idiotic it becomes worthy of being in the paper or on the air.

What a shame as well that in this age of ID card proposals and mooted DNA databases that we seem happy to trade genuine freedoms for the fake democracy of saying something daft to an idiot on a radio show.

Its another example of how people in this country, completely engulfed in misunderstood Riki Lake style cod notions of self-worth, have erroneously become bewitched by the notion that anything that pops into their heads counts as valid opinion.

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