Sportswashing Direct

24 Jan

The board game Monopoly was my first taste of wealth.  Scrabble was all well and good and Risk had its moments, but the crushing economic reality brought to bear in Monopoly was something else.  Looking my big sister in the eye as she waded through hotel-laden parts of the board and demanding sums of money that I knew in my heart she couldn’t afford and would never recover from, God what a rush.  I’ve longed to be a landlord ever since.

Unfortunately, subsequent tastes of opulence have been frustratingly slim – the only notable exception being the vicarious joy that comes with being a Manchester City fan.  On matchdays, I get to bask in the full splendour of unimaginable riches.

It changes you.  No point pretending it doesn’t.  All of a sudden you’re richer than a cheese and crab dip.  Imagine, then, what it feels like to be a Newcastle fan right now.  Manchester City’s bank balance barely registers as a postcode lottery win when rebased against the Toon’s newfound prosperity.  $500+ billion in cold hard black gold?  This is it, boys.  The supping well.  No-one’s rooming with Nile Ranger anymore.

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For the fans, this all rather falls into your lap.  Can’t do nought but enjoy the ride.  For the current staff, a sense of foreboding is probably the main emotion.  The real interest lies in those first new arrivals and their motivations for coming.  Eddie Howe being at the top of that list.  Howe is about as close to choirboy as football management has to offer.  Which makes his arrival on Tyneside all the more fascinating.

Everyone knows the saying.  If you’re 20 and you’re getting pegged by your neighbour’s wife in a leisure centre car park, then you’ve got no heart.  But if you’re 40 and you’re not getting pegged by your neighbour’s wife in a leisure centre car park, then you’ve got no brain.  Newcastle’s new manager has wised up to this reality.  He’s been honest with himself.  Congratulations Eddie, you lived long enough to become the villain. 

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As Howe is finding out, one of the privileges of wealth is it invites you to be a special kind of dickhead that simply isn’t accessible to the common man.  John Terry wouldn’t routinely leave his Bentley in disabled parking spaces if he was on a zero hours contract.  Jimmy Savile wouldn’t have sexually abused hundreds of children across Britain if his wealth and status didn’t afford him the access.  And while it is grossly unfair to compare Eddie Howe with a monster like John Terry, we can see that in his own way Howe has already started to channel his inner wanker.

Signing Kieran Trippier was standard fare for a nouveau riche club finding their feet. England full-back, slightly overrated, wrong side of thirty.  It was straight out of the Wayne Bridge playbook.  Chris Wood, on the other hand, what a statement that was.  £25 million on a 30 year old centre-forward with a whopping three goals to his name this season, signed purely to weaken a rival relegation candidate.  Talk about cynical.  Imagine having all that money at your disposal yet still looking Amanda Staveley in her wild, wild eyes and telling her that was the plan.  Not Aubameyang.  Not Ousmane Dembele.  The New Zealander averaging a goal every 579 minutes.  Reach for the stars, Ed.

And just to prove that if a grave’s worth shitting in, it’s worth filling up the whole coffin, Howe is at it again.  If the Sunday papers are to be believed, he’s about to bid for James Tarkowski.  He’s also been snooping around Carrow Road for Todd Cantwell.  Presumably a Watford player is next on the list.  After that, it’s a toss up between an in-house presenting role for Tim Lovejoy and bombing Israel.

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This boss-level dastardly behaviour of asset-stripping the other relegation candidates is all the stranger because of who Eddie Howe is.  The Bournemouth club legend, so popular he was re-purchased using fan’s own money after two years in the wilderness.  A faith repaid when he overcame a seventeen-point deficit in his first season as manager to avoid relegation to the Vanarama National League.  As a topper, Howe climbed all four divisions of the football league, staying in the top flight for five seasons straight playing attractive, attacking football.  In that fifth and final season, he was the first premier league manager to take a pay cut during the pandemic.  This is a good man. 

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Whatever the explanation for the current Anakin-to-Darth skit, Howe knows his Newcastle team must hit the groove fast.  The season’s more than half gone and neutrals aren’t exactly willing them to stay up.  Howe has at least learned one valuable lesson quickly; that you can always hire one half of the poor to kill the other half.  Perhaps he got some tips from upstairs on that one.  Better hope Chris Wood adds a fourth goal to his season’s tally then.  After all, sportswashing is a tough gig in the Championship.  Cleansing the Saudi brand really requires the deep waters of prime-time Premier League coverage.  17th or higher is a must.

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Eddie Howe, there, enquiring after Rose’s buyout clause on the flotsam.

2 Responses to “Sportswashing Direct”

  1. Shove it. January 24, 2022 at 12:51 pm #

    Christ that was painfully unpleasant to read. Is this the penman’s equivalent of Montezuma’s revenge?

    • Anonymous January 24, 2022 at 9:05 pm #

      😄 Had to look “Montezuma’s revenge” up.

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