Funny old game is now beyond a joke

If there was a league table of all-time great footballing catchphases, I’m sure dear old Jimmy Greaves would have secured at least a Champions League spot – if not challenging for the title.

If I got a pound for every time “it’s a funny old game” has been uttered since Ian St John’s side-kick first said it, I would probably be able to pay Mario Balotelli’s latest fine for him.

The beautiful game has always been a bit strange and Greavsie had good reason to make play of the funny side of football.

But with every new bizarre extreme which the sport reaches, I am more convinced that things are getting well beyond a joke.

Try this for size.

Last weekend’s departure of AVB meant that since the last ball of last season was kicked, 46 managers in England’s four divisions have left their jobs.

Yes, your maths is right and that is half of the total of 92.

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What other area of life would that happen in? Imagine if 50pc of the bosses in your line of work left within eight months?

Chelsea have had no fewer than eight managers in nine years – and they have hardly been through the most barren period in their history.

Gary Megson was sacked from Sheffield Wednesday with the team in third place in the league and having won against their local rivals in the Steel City derby.

Lee Clark was given the boot from Huddersfield after an amazing unbeaten run.

Balotteli was docked a week’s wages – about �120,000 which is what the average fan takes five years to earn – for having an unauthorised night out. And I’ll be clear it is what he “earns” which is the issue and not him being punished.

The consistent thread in this madness is money, money, money.

The reason for Wigan fans having to travel to Carrow Road for a 4pm kick off in mid-March is down to the TV company’s demands – which comes down to cash.

Those City fans who had probably planned a weekend trip to Newcastle for a planned 3pm match next week have to had re-think after it was rearranged – and will now get back very late at night on Sunday, just a few hours before getting up and starting work.

Common sense seems to have been booted into row Z in so many ways when it comes to football and increasingly it is us the fans who are suffering.

All the hundreds of millions of pounds which have come into the game have made many players superstars – but supporters still have to pay more.

What is happening at Portsmouth and Rangers will be repeated up and down the land in months to come.

Of course finding a new England manager is a key job for the FA – but tackling the spread of footballing madness must also be a high priority for the bosses at Wembley.


I always say the best ideas are the nicked ones.

And so my mini survey I launched via Facebook, Twitter and anyone I bumped into this week was unashamedly pinched from BBC Radio Five Live.

The station had asked a range of fans of various clubs to name their two favourite ever players. (Believe it or not live on air someone actually made a passionate argument that Kanu would be one of his Arsenal all-time top two!)

I was intrigued about who fellow City followers would pick and I am grateful to all those who voted.

It has been a really interesting insight into who are our favourite favourites.

Amazingly there were 30 suggestions and most of them were serious (and then there were Juan Velasco and Elvis Hammond…!)

We all naturally tend to go for those who we remember most fondly from watching in the flesh during good times.

So from the cross section of supporters who responded, there were players mentioned from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, noughties (and whatever this decade is called!)

It is hard to pick just two and comparing different decades and players from different positions is near impossible.

My two choices are Malky and Iwan. Both were fantastic players and great servants of the club.

To me if you want two stars who would give their absolute all to the cause, you won’t get any better.

They were also both chosen by several of you.

However, the honours go to other legends.

Stand up Mr Darren Huckerby as the clear winner with Flecky second and Darren Eadie third.

Not surprisingly Holty was the top of the pops of the current squad.

What the exercise did remind me is that just how many great players we have had over the years. MacDougall. Boyer, Woods, Watson, Drinkell, Keelan, Stringer.....the names roll off the tongue.

• Hero of the week: In a week where I am writing about madness in football and over-paid prima donnas, it was a real pleasure at the weekend to spend time with Craig Richardson who lost half his leg while serving in Afghanistan but is still running the London Marathon. He is a true inspiration and we can all learn from his amazingly positive attitude. That’s what I call a hero.

• Villain of the week: I thought about giving the boo boy tag to the person in my house who bought me a BLUE toothbrush this week. Whatever next? An ITFC cup and saucer set? But I can’t demonise a family member. So this week’s villain is Roman Abramovich. Yes it is his club and he has spent hundreds of millions of pounds on the Chelsea project. However, no owner should make it so difficult for a manager to manage.

• Highlight of the week: Yes, I should be beyond it after nearly 24 years as a journalist. But I was a football fan before I was a reporter and so it was still great to see City legend Darren Eadie at Wells on Saturday and chat with him about the European heydays and also the current City squad.

• Funniest moment of the week: First there was the Anfield Cat and now we have the Loftus Road squirrel. An animal on the pitch always raises a laugh and it was a pleasant change to chuckle about something at QPR other than how poor the team is.

• Prediction of the week: I’ve said all season that Manchester United will win the Premier League title and I really think they will look back at the end of the season at the late, late win that broke our hearts last week as a crucial moment. And my bold – and yes perhaps mad – prediction is that the Canaries will inflict a fatal blow on their rivals Manchester City at Carrow Road. We have to get a win against one of the big boys this term and why not them?