Argentina is a land with one love: football. Truthfully all other things pale in comparison, even such staples as steak and women play second fiddle to the beautiful game. So keen are they on football out here that they have two seasons to our one, a summer tournament tucked in between, headline coverage of the under 20’s national side and Diego Armando wine in supermarkets. You can even find flip-books of Maradona’s two 1986 goals against England on the bestsellers list. Yes indeed, Argentina dearly loves its football. So it came as no surprise on Saturday morning that whereas the vast majority of England was settling down to watch Matthew Le Tissier watch a screen, I could switch on the terrestrial TV here in Buenos Aires and watch Chelsea take on Liverpool live. This, it transpired after 18 minutes, was something of a mistake.
Oddly the coverage started with breaking news that Mourinho had agreed to leave Chelsea, it was distressing news, and I immediately scoured the internet for any truth but only found that Argentine commentary had misinterpreted the British tabloids’ obsession with creating and perpetuating rumour for actual news. In England you can’t see the wood for the trees: every paper is running stories about ill-tempers at Chelsea, people want to read about it to find out more, more rumour is written and everyone develops an opinion. It seems natural therefore for Argentine commentary to assume that there is something newsworthy such as, say, Mourinho agreeing to leave.
But has he? No. Has anyone? Is there any concrete evidence to support the rumours other than an off form striker and an injury ridden defence? Frankly I couldn’t be bothered with these thoughts anymore and was soon happily distracted by the commentators demonstrating their cultural awareness by listing Beatles songs. Penny Lane! Muy bien! Yo soy el Walrus! Bueno! Good Vibrations? No. All You Need Is Love? Excelente! All you need is love, it would seem, unless you’re trying to sell papers, when all you need is jive-talking.
Still, factual inaccuracies aside, Argentine commentary is a delight on the ears, even at breakfast time. The café con leche was barely in the cup before a lung-busting gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool! made me choke on my T-bone steak. Dirk ‘Queet’ and Jermaine Pennant had taken advantage of a defence made of straw to seal the points within twenty minutes, and the commentary team were distressed.
It seems that ever since Hernan ‘Krispy’ Crespo and Juan Verón’s move to Chelsea the club has seen Argentine popularity soar. Even in the pampas you’re more likely to find someone riding along in a knock-off Crespo shirt rather than any other overseas number and although the players have since left, their Premiership legacy is one of continuing Argentine support. Just as Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa mean that Tottenham will always have a place in the Argy heart, so too it seems will Chelsea. Of course, it may also be that in Argentina attacking play is regarded above all else and Chelsea fielded a team with no defence barring a recuperating goalie, but either way, on this occasion, the Argentine flag was blue.
Come the next day’s live game I was seriously beginning to think it was worth travelling the few thousand miles for the Premiership coverage alone when Man U went one up and brought into question the value of football at all. Still, nobody said the league was easy and I don’t think I was alone in resigning myself to a nine point mountain to climb when Van Persie interrupted my rib eye steak.
Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool! They love their celebrations over here, I knew that, but the ensuing karaoke sing-along was unexpected. It seems in Argentina, players of renown have their own tunes that the commentator sings to with his own lyrics, in this case: “Oye como va! Van Persie; oye como va! Van Persie!” It was a catchy number and reflected the glee felt at two potential points saved. I quietly began tucking into my pudding and contemplating a Sunday in Buenos Aires that wasn’t looking so bleak, when what should happen? why Henry should slam in only the second headed goal that I can remember him scoring and make me spit out my sirloin in glee. I don’t know what the Spanish for va va voom is, but it sounded something like goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool!
In the world of football my enemy’s enemy is my friend, for ninety minutes at least, and the stinking Arsenal had redeemed our sins of yesterday. So the top two had lost in two days, but before we reel away in shock, why is this news so surprising? Why should we resign ourselves to believing that Chelsea and Man U stand apart in the Premiership? The truth is it’s a league where travelling away is almost without exception perilous. When clubs such as Liverpool and Arsenal have home support they’re strong enough to take on the best in the world, after all they’ve both reached the Champions League final in the last three years, something which both Man U and Chelsea failed to do, so the weekend’s results were hardly mind-boggling. Once again the hype created by the tabloids has distorted the public’s view of what is usual and unusual in the league. A club in turmoil because it draws three games? Let’s be rational for an instant.
But we are getting sidetracked, the main issue was what did the Argentine commentary make of the late winner? Naturally, the fifteen second goooooooooooooooooooooooool! ran out, perhaps for even longer, but what was to be Henry’s sing-along tune? Don’t waste too long thinking about it, it was All You Need Is Love:
El gol lo hizo Henry! Da dadada daaaaaaa!
(the goal was scored by Henry) (da dadada daaaaaaa!)
El gol lo hizo Henry! Da dadada daaaaaaa!
El gol lo hizo Henry! Henry!
Para el Arsenal
(for the Arsenal)
As you can see it doesn’t scan, rhyme or make sense in any way, but the commentator was so blatantly rubbing Man U’s nose in it that it was beautiful.
Now if Matt Le Tissier gave us a little sing-song for every goal he watched in the Premiership I’d stop moaning about sports coverage in England and enjoy it. As a late addition I’d like to point out that the Argy commentators who are given Carling Cup games aren’t anywhere near as good and offered no such musical entertainment to accompany my rump steak. Rather like Clive Tyldesley, it’s functional and slightly annoying.