Tonight I’m taking my daughter to see Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost in my local park and I hope she won’t be too bored. I guess if she really needs something to do, I can always fire up Pokemon Go and let her catch some fantasy monsters on my phone.
I haven’t read the play, much less spent time studying the work, but from what I understand one of the major themes is this sort of split between reality and fantasy. The main plot point of the play is that the King of Navarre and his men pledge celibacy to each other and then, pretty much as soon as a pretty woman appears, that vow evaporates like Jack Wilshere’s knee cartilage.
The idea of a bunch of grown men pledging celibacy makes me wonder what kind of hijinks they got up to before making that vow. No one just decides to suddenly swear off sex if they have already been celibate; just like no one swears off drink until after they have a massive bender. The fact that they pledge abstinence makes me wonder what the prequel to Love’s Labour’s Lost would be like. Probably something like Hangover III, in tights and with ruffled collars to keep the fleas from crawling up their necks.
Before the Shakespeare tonight I have Arsenal playing in Norway on my lunch break. The match is going to be streamed on the dot com so if you’re not already, go and make yourself a member in order to watch it for free. The game is yet another friendly in preparation for a season fast approaching. We are just nine days away from the first match of the 2016-17 season. That means this Sunday is the first match of the actual season, when Man U play Leicester in the Charity Shield.
Somehow, Jose Mourinho has weaseled his way into a Charity Shield match despite doing everything in his power to not deserve it. Remember, it was last season’s Charity Shield match which was the burning ember that ignited Chelsea’s implosion and Mourinho’s firing.
Arsenal beat Chelsea in that match fair and square. Then in a show of petulance, disguised as sportsmanship, Jose waited around for all the players to collect their medals and shook all of their hands. He did this knowing full well that the cameras would be watching. And when Wenger came down those same stairs and saw Mourinho glad-handing his players, the Arsenal man was left with a devil’s choice: shake the hand of a man who ridicules and mocks him publicly with almost every breath, or turn away from Mourinho, deny him the satisfaction of a false show of friendliness, and be branded a sore winner.
Wenger made the same choice I would have made. Shaking his head, Wenger dodged the handshake of Despicable Mou. My philosophy is that you can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding.
I honestly don’t know what Man U were thinking hiring Mourinho. They may get a trophy out of him. It’s possible. I’m not going to say it’s likely, though the man is great at preparing his teams for one-off matches. But possibilities aside, they are absolutely getting a man who will eventually explode and bring shame onto the entire club. In that case, is the possibility of the trophy worth hiring Mourinho?
The craziness has started already. There was an amusing news story in today’s BBC Sport titled “Jose Mourinho: Man Utd boss ‘should be jailed’ for ‘bullying’ Bastian Schweinsteiger”. The thrust of the argument is that Mourinho should be jailed for forcing Schweinsteiger to train alone or with the U-23 team. Clearly Mourinho doesn’t want Schweini at his club and is trying to force the eight-time-Bundesliga, World Cup, and Champions League winner to quit Man U.
Slovenian FIFPRO member Dejan Stefanovic told the BBC, “It’s clear bullying. In Slovenia, we would have indicted Mourinho and asked for the highest penalty – three years in prison.” I doubt it will happen but if Mourinho does eventually go to jail, for whatever, I promise to bake him a cake.
The reason Man U are able to sideline Schweini is because they are going to pay over £100m to buy Paul Pogba as his replacement. It’s a transfer fee which is absolutely absurd. Not only absurd from the perspective of football, where Man U let this very same player go for £1.5m just a few years ago meaning that they are set to make a net £108.5m loss to buy him back. But also absurd from a human perspective where none of us can even imagine what it must be like to see £100m much less to just throw around £100m like it’s nothing. Just numbers in a bank account, I guess.
When asked for his opinion, Wenger gave a similar answer to what I just said above though with a far more diplomatic tone, adding that “If you can afford to pay it you can justify it” and “we live in a world where every activity that is worldwide makes a lot of money. Football has become a worldwide competition and that is why clubs can afford to do it.”
This milquetoast response has riled Despicable Mou and he has struck back at Arsene Wenger, calling wenger “unethical” for answering the question. Or maybe unethical for having an opinion. Or maybe unethical for not also spending £100m on a midfielder. Or maybe he’s just unethical for existing as a foil to Mourinho. I don’t know.
I don’t know because I can’t figure out if there is an ethics to football. It feels like football is relativistic to the extreme. Surely Arsenal fans, whose club broke the English transfer record a few years ago, aren’t complaining about transfer fees? Surely, the fans of one of the biggest clubs in world football, a club which uses its power and draw to prise players away from smaller clubs*, which is at the table with the richest clubs in England, a club that pays its fourth choice winger £140k a week, surely that club isn’t talking about money in football?
And surely Jose Mourinho, the man who publicly screamed at his team’s Physio, calling her the daughter of a whore, and who had to pay a settlement for wrongful dismissal. Surely that man isn’t lecturing anyone about ethics.
As far as I can tell there are few overarching ethics in football. Most of the sport is nothing but a bunch of Ferdinand’s: promising chastity while chasing the first pretty skirt that comes along. Maybe that’s its only ethic, to thine own fans be true.
*Well, we used to anyway.