Cantona's Collar, Craig's Holler and Carragher's Lack of Tatts
Davies, Hunter, New Statesman (1996)
I was at the optician's last week, having my eyes tested, and I got talking to the Sikh ophthalmologist. I was dreading the bit where they blow into your eyes, that is so unnerving. I asked if he knew all the letters on the screen. Do they memorise them at Opticians' School?
We then got on to football, as you do; or as I do. Travelling constantly round the globe--some days Kentish Town, some days I go as far as Camden Town--I have found that football is the great ice-breaker. You don't have to know the other person's language to discuss the merits of Messi, Ronaldo or Rooney.
He turned out to be a Man United fan. I asked why. "When I was little, my favourite player was Cantona. I liked him because he turned his collar up. That's why I've followed Man United ever since."
Even with all my incredible knowledge and insight and long experience of the game, I admit that there are often piddling, trivial reasons for liking or not liking a player. I like it when Adebayor smiles. He wasn't smiling a lot at Man City in the end, which is probably why he has been loaned out to Spurs, but when he does smile, it opens up his whole face and character. It could be wind, of course, or ill-fitting teeth.
Craig Bellamy in a strop--which he almost always is, effing and blinding, waving his arms in disgust at the ref or his team-mates, snarling and scowling--that amuses me, but it probably wouldn't if I was his manager. His emotions and energy should be concentrated on the game, not the gallery.
I like Jamie Carragher, not just for his obvious gritty qualities but also for his lack of tattoos. Or visible tattoos. I don't know about his bum.
I am in two minds about Mario Balotelli. I suspect that he has got it into his head that he is a character and is well aware of his various expressions and glares. Folding his arms, looking into the distance after scoring--that was carefully rehearsed.
Darren Anderton taking corners made me smile. He would wander over, set the ball down, look up, then flick back his floppy hair, look up, flick back his hair again. …