Joe Lovejoy, of the Times, ran an article today that you can read here. In it, He takes the Avram Grant comments from a recent press conference and runs with them. Boy, does he run with them. If Maurice Green run sub-10 seconds a record number of times, Joe looks to be making a spirited grab for second place, with or without the help of performance-enhancing designer pharmaceuticals.
But that’s not all. It seems that bandwagons have ice-cream van sirens on them these days, because bless the Liverpool Echo if they haven’t found their way to this non-story too. Their writer David Prentice, clearly tasked to knock out a 400-word opinion piece in the run-up to tomorrow’s game, has seized on a 10-word throwaway line from Chelsea’s manager and based all of his homework around it. For those without the faintest inkling of what I’m talking about, take a deep breath and stand back. Here it is.
In reference to a question regarding Liverpool’s most important – and, bar Torres, their only decent – player, Avram Grant leaned back in his chair, scratched the hairy bit of his stomach immediately beneath his cavernous navel, and spoke thusly:
“If you can bring him to me, I’ll be happy”.
What young Joe and David have extrapolated from this, once all the carefully-calibrated scientific data is in, is a daemonic – some might say, a quintessentially Chelsea – attempt to unsettle the Liverpool captain. It’s also, in case any of you missed it, clearly a tapping-up. In my experience, if you’re going to tap someone up, a press conference is probably the place to do it, if only because it’s the one place that you’d never get caught. Think of it along the same lines as stabbing someone in the eyeball at a Salvation Army monthly meeting. It’s so ridiculous, so ludicrously unlikely, that the assembled Derbys and Joans would instantly relegate it to the subconscious, ignoring the evidence of their eyes in favour of another comforting slice of Battenburg and an extra splash of milk for their brew. Impossible. Fantastic. Un-blimming-believable.
Now Joe, bless him, does his level best to round out what was clearly a fairly one-sided brief. He does, after all, make it clear that Avram’s comments were a response to an observation from a journalist that Mourinho had tried, and failed, to sign Gerrard on two occasions, although he skips over the whole death threat and shirt-burning live on television thing. But young Prentice seems determined to mine the whole seam of bile. He starts with a stab at Grant’s monosyllabic interview last week post-Wigan, because there’s nothing more exhilarating than kicking a reasonably quiet chap when he’s down. He takes a moment to spit a little acid at Avram’s ability to spot talent, in response to the comment “Stevie’s a great player and a great person”. And he ends with the accusation that it’s all about “unsettling” poor Steven. As if the local burglars don’t do enough of a job already.
What I’d like to know, Liverpool fans, is if you all genuinely agree with this? Does the persecution complex cut so deep that you buy into this sort of horse****? Does it actually ring a bell with you? DO you not feel your intelligence is being, y’know, insulted? Just a little bit? Or is there a part of the Echo’s – and the Times’ – remit which states that, in the absence of any fiery loud-mouthed Portuguese managers in the build up to what will doubtless be described as Judgment Night Part 3, the press – national and local – will be obliged to provide their own vitriol and opprobrium to get the supporters good and wound up?
I’m sure many men out there imagine the world of the sporting journalist to be a never-ending land of milk and honey, in which freebies and football are tossed around like Dolly Mixtures and good clean manly fun is only ever a matchday away.
From what I can see, it’s 90% recycling this sort of garbage. Mum must be proud.