THE ARMCHAIR COMMENTATOR

For a football fan, satisfaction comes in many forms. There is nothing more satisfying however, than pre-empting a commentator.

Picture the scene: you are sat down with your mates watching the football and a bottle of cold beer is standing on the floor by your right foot. You are sat in a position which can only be defined by the word slouched and this has the fortunate consequence of enabling you to reach for your bottle more easily, as your body’s centre of gravity is considerably lower than it would be if you were sitting up straight.

You reach down, grab the bottle, slouch back into your starting position and take a long swig; all whilst preserving full concentration on the TV.

Suddenly you think of something – the manager of the away side has started with only three men in midfield and those three players are all central midfielders! Surely the midfield is going to be too narrow! The home side is going to have acres of room to exploit down the flanks! The home side have got amazing wingers which surely are going to have room to roam!

You have to tell your mates. You might look like a fool if the away side dominate the middle of the pitch, but if they don’t and the home side win the match because the wingers have cut up their opposition, you will go down in I’m-a-tactical-genius-and-know-more-about-football-than-any-of-you footballing history. You say it – ‘look, they’re too narrow. The manager has set them up with only three guys in the middle. They’re gonna get destroyed down the wings’.

Your see the ears on your mates prick up. They have heard… now, you wait.

Fast forward a minute and a half and a player goes down injured. The break in play gives the two commentators a moment to discuss how the game has begun. They pause. Then, in six supreme seconds, the ex-pro says it – ‘I can’t believe the gaffer has brought them on the road and set them up with only three in midfield. They could well get exposed down both the wings tonight and I would be telling this home side to get the ball to the flanks as much as possible’.

You said that same thing two minutes ago.

You sit there, take a sip of beer and then say those immortal-four words ‘I just said that!’ Your mates nod in acknowledgement. They are impressed and you know it. You feel like a master tactician, you are Jose Mourinho running down the touchline at Old Trafford as the manager of Porto, you are Rafa Benitez after Liverpool have come from 3-0 down to win the Champions League. You were born for this.

You bathe in it.

By Ross A. Fox

 

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