Monday, September 14, 2009

Adebayor, God, and karma; philosophy and football after a hammering.

Well that was a bit of a kick in the teeth, wasn't it?

I felt sure, so sure (to quote Take That) that the universe would be aligned in our favour for the game on Saturday. That we would hold the moral high ground with our system of breeding young talent against city's collection of hideously over-paid egomaniacs.

But, and as we all found out after Abramovich came to London, having huge piles of money does, quite often, get you pretty far in life.

Recently, I've thought about God and football players. I suppose it started when I saw Michael Burke do a documentary on religion and sport, in which he asked a series of players, including our (then) own Gilberto and Edu whether they really thought God cared about which team wins in a football match. The bemused look on their faces was quite a picture.

I thought about this with relation to the game on Saturday because Adebayor does one of the more ostentatious pre-game prayers I've seen in the Premier League. He stands, as he crosses the white-line, with his hands in the air, head back and looking to the sky as if God's divine power is flowing into him and no-one else, whilst the rest of the players sheepishly file past him onto the field.

So given he did score against us on Saturday, he escaped being sent off for one of the most vicious fouls I've seen in a long time, and he even threw in a goal-line clearance just for shits and giggles, a troubling thought struck me: what if god is on adebayor's side?

Of course, an alternative view could be that life is a serious of inter-connected but essentially arbitrary and random actions which are only given meaning through post-facto historical analysis.

But I just can't understand how Ade has got away with it all. Flirting so openly with other clubs and then attacking Arsenal fans - who paid his salary, something he never seemed to remember - and then really sticking it to us on the weekend just seems unfair. Surely we have the moral high-ground? A bit of justified booing at a multi-millionaire player who didn't get an even more lucrative move, and who then sauntered through the next season like he was already on the beach supping cocktails doesn't mean we're in the wrong, does it?

Do nice guys finish last? Does money talk louder than anything else?

I guess we'll see, because karmic re-alignment might be on the way. I'm not sure Eastern philosophers could have envisioned such an almighty institution as the FA when they were formulating their various beliefs, but our hopes now rest with them to re-align the universe.

Because Adebayor can't win; or at least he can't win in this way.

If he'd scored, fine, I'll take it. There are thousands of footballers who score against their old clubs, and who don't provoke riots in doing so because, by acting with a degree of circumspection, it's quite easy to avoid this. Seeing someone like Craig Bellamy having to show Adebayor how to act like a professional, or even merely a moderately respectful human being, should have shown Ade how far beyond the pale he'd gone on Saturday.

Even if he'd given a little bit back to our players, who were flying in on him a bit, through a bit of pushing and shoving, ok, I can understand that.

But to provoke a riot and to almost blind another player, and to almost snap poor Cesc in two, cannot go unpunished. Because if players like Ade are allowed to do whatever the hell they want on the field then surely any notion of justice must be removed from football.

Anyway, enough pseudo-philosophical ruminating.

We deserved to lose on the weeekend, and at the moment City look a better team than us. They have a better flow to the team, and have a goal threat coming from several parts of the pitch. Whether they can hold it together for the whole season is another question, but they will certainly be pushing for a top-four position come April and May.

We looked awful at the back. Almunia was horrendously at fault for the first goal, and he's cost us points this season already. But even if Fabianski wasn't injured, would Almunia's place be under threat? I don't think so, and our goalkeepers look like a weak part of the squad at the moment. Under-investment in this key position could cost us, especially when we could have signed Given in January.

Aside from Almunia, what appalled me was seeing us give Bellamy and Ade free shots/headers in the box. Whilst the centre-backs have to take a degree of criticism for not marking up, Clichy and Diaby were so utterly horrendous on our left-hand side that confusion reigned in the defence. If Clichy puts in many more performances like that, Gibbs may get into the first XI quicker than he might have predicted.

The only real positives to draw from the match were the return of Tomas Rosicky, who should now start in front of Diaby/Denilson, and a fine finish from RvP to get off the mark for the season.

Our splendid start to the season has been ended, in any case, and we need to get it back on track immediately, given that Chelsea have won 5 in 5, and we're 6 points behind city.

Roll on Liege.