Something For The Weekend (135)
There's probably only one thing worse than the impulse to be bad and that is the impulse to be nice.
It is probably true that last Saturday was such a Perfect Day and that what started as a barely audible humming of that tune, on my part, turned into a roisterer's chorus by the time I got news of Villa's brilliant away win at Blackburn, along with a few other succulent results mostly concerning the colours red and blue (if you know what I mean). It truly was a fantastic set of results on an altogether fantastic day all round. The sun was shining the day was bright.......
So expectations were rather high come Monday and I fully expected, with the pressure off, that Villa would start producing the sort of dynamic swashbuckling performance which have been lacking in the second half of the season. But even against ten men they huffed and puffed and failed to blow the Wigan house down - a pedestrian uninspired and uninspiring performance of countless passes sideways, which at least yielded them the single point which edged them over the line to Premiership safety but left me feeling slightly defrauded.
Okay, so it was a relief to let go of that niggling doubt but it was no real consolation to know that if the luck had turned slightly the other way, it might have been O'Neill looking for another job and not Coleman, later in the week. It seemed like relief by the narrowest of margins and the performance if not the result, left me feeling like John Mills in Ice-cold In Alex, if he'd got to suck on the dregs, rather than sup on that frosted glass of Carlsberg, he'd kind of been looking forward to.
It was going to be one of the impulses I failed to resist and I started moaning about it, when I had promised myself that I wouldn't. Not this time round, because things are totally different and if O'Neill isn't quite the magician I hoped for, then that is my fault and not his. There is something really annoying about realising that you are just reproducing a conditioned reflex and that you find you just can't resist it, and it seemed obvious that I was reacting as if the new regime was the same as the old one, where a similar disappointing outcome, after a similar expenditure, would have seen the rug pulled from under the manager's feet and the same old cycle would begin again. The same old retrenchment disguised as innovation and progress.
Things are radically different but old habits die hard.
But I have to admit that I miss the opportunities for having a good moan, the old regime afforded. Definitely, after a rough day at work, there was nothing like the cathartic power of a good thirty minute rant about the Villa management to put you right again. But gripes aside, of which there are plenty concerning the form of certain players, and with an eye on the probability that Birmingham City will be back to haunt us next season, I hope to avoid the impulse to be disloyal to Mart, so soon in our relationship, and shall, against all my conditioning, try and keep my shit together in the positive camp and direct my negativity elsewhere.
No mercy for the Blues if they want it
No mercy for the Blues if they plead
No mercy for the Blues if they need it
No mercy from me (cue the killer Cahill goal)
I feel better already.
But to be honest, apart from the sheer pleasure of it all, there seems no evidence that negativity does any good anyhow. I mean just look at that twat Ronaldo at Man United; as the general hatred of him has increased he has just got better and better. Last season when he diluted the effectiveness of his game with all that f***ing about, he looked more poseur than proper player but ever since he excited the hatred of the nation, by getting our lovely Wayne sent-off, he's just got better and better. Some say he is the best in the world right now, so it very much looks like, if you really want to make a player better, hating his guts is probably the best thing you can do. It certainly works for a whole team, as far as I am concerned, as has been evident with both Man United and Germany over the years. It worked with Beckham too, if I remember right, and he seemed to be inspired by that effigy hanging from that lamppost. Did the 'Dentist Chair' furore inspire England to their Euro '96 form and did we forgive them too early, for them to actually win it? We even started the last World Cup off, loving the players and look where that got us. The Germans were slagged-off by their media and exceeded expectations.
Look at the deep shit Tony Blair got himself (and us) into, just because he wanted to be nice.
It often seems that impulses to be nice are best avoided and I often think that there are times you just don't want to be accused of such a thing. I truly regret my hopeless attempts at being nice rather more than my occasional bouts of indifference. Cynicism always seems far more wise than the saccharine sentiments which inspire niceness. But I have to admit that there is a certain heroism about those who insist on being nice in the face of experience. There's that old saying (almost certainly Jewish) that no good deed goes unpunished and it is most certainly true. Randy Lerner's kind decision to hand out the scarves before the last home game of the season, is truly heroic and a measure of niceness hitherto unknown in Villa Park history and I just hope he does not live to regret it.
Not being nice, of course, I would prefer a blue and white one, with, 'No History And No Future' printed on it. Negative, I know, but that's me.
But there is a downside to all this negativity and this week saw a shocking reminder of what can happen if negativity is allowed to fester and then escalate into violence. Several Roma fans were hospitalised after ugly clashes outside Old Trafford. One Roma fan with a sea-food allergy found himself in intensive-care, after a bizarre encounter involving a prawn sandwich. Others were said to have been traumatized after several menacing incidents with a non-organic lettuce. Ugly or what!
Most likely, the wet lettuce in question, was certainly their team's defence.
Stick it in!
By Steve Wade