TEARS BEFORE BEDTIME

By Jon Hawkins
Jan 23rd, 2008

Here’s a question for the more ‘mature’ readers – say 28 years old and above.  Think back to when you were in the 17-19 years old bracket… could you have been classed as ‘a bit of a lad’? Did you know exactly where you wanted to be tomorrow, never mind in ten years time?

Did you think you knew everything and anyone in a suit or over 25 talked through their rear end when they offered you sensible advice? Were your hormones still causing havoc to your body and mind? Did you feel the world was against you at the slightest hint of criticism?

Don’t feel bad, you weren’t alone. You were a teenager and, frankly, that’s what teenagers are like isn’t it? It’s a pretty much accepted view I think. 

How many of you are STILL like that? Not many. Exceptions crop up of course – Peter Stringfellow is still the oldest teenager in the world, although I can’t see him having anything to get into a teenage strop about. But generally, we’ve all grown up and we realise, looking back, that we didn’t know everything after all – although maybe we do now.

So, if we’re all willing to accept that we were like that as ‘kids’, and to a degree we realise there’s every possibility that our kids will go through that phase, but we are pretty certain that it’s a phase to be grown out of – almost a rite of passage.

Why on earth then, are so many people concerned about our signing of Nicolas Anelka? He got his ‘Le Sulk’ nickname when he was in that late teen, early 20’s period of life – considering the way young footballers are cosseted and hidden from the realities of life nowadays you’d have to be surprised if he HADN’T been a bit sulky. He starred at Arsenal, then Real Madrid came calling and the lure of Spain was higher than that of North London for a kid with stars in his eyes.

Madrid didn’t work out wonderfully, but has he really been ‘Le Sulk’ since then? Certainly no more than any other player. Remember a certain Mr Gerrard almost joining Chelsea because nobody at Liverpool said they loved him? Or at the same club, a Mr Carragher quitting England because he wasn’t as high in the pecking order as he felt he deserved? Jermaine Defoe slapping in a transfer request as soon as West Ham were relegated? Keegan throwing a wobbly because Bobby Robson didn’t tell him he was going to drop him? Gazza trashing his hotel room when told of HIS demotion (although in fairness to Gazza, it may have been less trashing and more in keeping with the Geordie lifestyle). Did we have no ‘sulky’ superstars during Mourinhos’ tenure? Even Mourinho himself?? Will we have none under Grant?

Let’s open our eyes. Sulking, not love, is all around. Look at all the sulky posts on this forum for confirmation. Anelka has grown up, not in the same way that most of us have because his circumstances are different, but he has grown up as a footballer and I get the feeling he is going to provide us with three or four seasons of top class entertainment. His appearance is of someone who is happy with life and is comfortable with himself.

Those of you that still insist on seeing him only as the sulky teenager of yesteryear get off to your rooms and don’t come back until you’ve apologised and cheered up.

Teenagers, I don’t know…

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