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Simon Barnes Stoops To Be A Plonker


Dorset

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Taken from ‘My Perfect Weekend’ by Simon Barnes (The Times 21/2/09) .…

“Aston Villa have a visit from Chelsea today, a crucial match in the five-way struggle for four places. It’s an intriguing game; the money, intemperance, impatience and vulgarity of Chelsea, with their new interim manager, Guus Hiddink, borrowed from the Russian Lending Library, line up against a club aiming for stability, sanity and good management on the financial and the footballing side, in so far as the two things can be separated.

Villa wear the white hats, and it would be right and proper to see them do their stuff. But football seldom works like that; not on a one-match basis, anyway.â€

There is a delicious irony for Chelsea fans to enjoy in this quote from arguably the most effete of journalists, who in a full page article only days before lectured his readers on money being the root of all evil in sport without once mentioning the name of Roman Abramovich. It seems that direct reference to Roman and money [or any sentence linking one with the other] is taboo while litigation hangs over their Sunday stable mate, but vicarious criticism using CFC as the usual vehicle of choice is still very much on the newspaper’s agenda.

This extract from a three-wish(y-washy) article loosely based on what Barnes would like to see happen on any sporting weekend is typical of the lazy labelling of Chelsea that hacks regularly churn out, although it is something of a surprise to see him succumb to the herd mentality so readily, bearing in mind the fact that he usually does his homework. In general his knowledge of sporting circumstance is pretty good, but football should be left well alone if this example is anything to go by, as there is so much flimflam in a piece that, to the knowledgeable sports fan, positively wreaks of naïve self-righteousness. Just for him, and therefore put in the simplest of terms, here’s why…

Assuming that the white hats are the good guys, why not actually say so and follow up this observation by citing a few of the bad, bad things Chelsea do to justify their hatless haplessness? Apparently we are intemperate, impatient and vulgar, whereas Villa are stable, sane and well managed - or at least they will be because that’s what they are aiming for. An open and shut case, then, except that Villa have spent far more money than Chelsea in recent times, albeit in the mighty dollar currency as opposed to the vulgar rouble. This finance has given them their stability, whereas ours arrived merely to satisfy greed and made us impatient for the type of success that lies somewhere above and beyond two Premiership titles.

Presumably, according to the Barnes School of Sanity, we should have given up gracefully after these two titles and settled for subservience in the shadow of the annual big spenders at Old Trafford. A bit like those good eggs in charge down at the Emirates where patience is a virtue and possessing it has [up until now] guaranteed a Champions League spot for their permanent fixture in the dugout, if not much else of late. Wenger’s stability of position, aligned to undoubted good management, has overseen the sort of improvement in the Arse team over the last four years that now manifests itself in a struggle for Champions League status and leads to a quick run down the tunnel by a manager wishing to ignore the boos of home crowd dissatisfaction. So much for the patient approach.

Admittedly, the Gunners have always sweetened the swallowing of the bitter pill of failure by playing some decent football, which leads me to the curious last paragraph guff from Barnes in which he states that ‘it would be right and proper to see [Villa] do their stuff’. Exactly what this ‘stuff’ is compared to Chelsea ‘stuff’ is not made clear, so we must assume that their brand of football is in some way superior to our own, which it is not, or something that they have become noted for, thereby defying a need for explanation, which is also not the case. Alternatively, dear old Simon wants them to do this ’stuff’ simply because it is ‘right and proper’ and he perceives the opposition to be greedy, impatient, vulgar bar stewards who deserve a thrashing every time they come up against stable, sane, managerial magnificence. Either way and without at least some facts to back up the distinctions, hardly believable of a journalist of repute.

You can bet all the envious green ink in Fleet Street that, if challenged on these comments, Simon Barnes would stand by them and refute the obvious accusation that it’s written for his self satisfaction, or that of his boss, but you do have to wonder exactly how CFC are improve their ways in order to reach the Barnes high moral ground. For instance, Roman spends less than Lerner in the last two years and it is studiously ignored from up there On High, where the intemperance of other clubs’ players is also a figment of imagination in comparison to the blatant excesses of the boys in blue.

When, like Barnes, you have your head stuck firmly in these moralistic clouds it is easy to delude yourself. From the moment Roman spent a fortune on the club he loves all those years ago he was destined to be dogged by the tag of vulgarity and, even though his long term aims have always included the tighter purse strings we see today, such inbuilt planning will never be enough to stop the deliberate blanking out of stated ambitions [not greed] by myopic journalists who should know better and credit their readers with the intelligence to see through the misrepresentation. After all, you don’t need to be wearing a white hat to know what is right and proper in these circumstances - just be honest with yourself and your readership.

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Dorset, your intelligence is far better placed than in replying to pretentious c**ts who look like emaciated hobos.

Its funny that he takes such an issue with money and its evils when, by what I have seen, he is more than well off himself. If he is a gooner, that says it all

Good writers, like Samuel, dont need to play with the truth to make a good point

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Simon Barnes is a joke of a sportswriter - a total wimp who writes pretentious bollocks about everything he ever covers. And as a Welshman I find his deep-seated loathing of my country truly offensive. I'd post some examples of what he's written about us Taffs but I really can't be bothered. He will never go to the Millennium stadium because he hates Wales that much (and this is a guy who covers sport for a living).

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At the risk of incurring the wrath of these boards, I'd like to offer a few words in defence of the piece

1. It's called 'My Perfect Weekend'. It is therefore clearly labeled 'opinion' and not 'fact'. It is not bad journalism, it is opinion. People are allowed different opinions - deal with it

It muses that...

2. Chelsea have 'money'. That's true, we do.

3. Chelsea suffer from 'intemperance'. Meaning, according to my dictionary, that our actions / reactions are too extreme and uncontrolled. Well, leaving aside that JM years of deliberately haranguing refs on and off the pitch, the 'I can do anything I want' behaviour of Kenyon etc etc, may I offer Dorset's post herein as a classic piece of over-reaction which ironically underlines the point?

4. Chelsea are 'impatient'. 5 managers in 5 years, whichever way you cut it, upholds this. A lot.

5. Chelsea are 'vulgar'. Peter Kenyon, Peter Kenyon, Peter Kenyon. It's not just having money, it's using it like petulant a 3 year old who wants everything NOW.

6. Villa are 'aiming for stability, sanity and good management on the financial and the footballing side'. Seriously, can anyone disagree with this?

We don't have to read stuff like this if we don't want to, and we don't have to agree with any of it. But we do have to recognise that the way our club has being behaving over the last few years leaves us wide open to this sort of opinion.

Stroll on...

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Ignoring his apologists for a second (however reasonable their defence is), here's a flavour of why I despise the man:

1: Avoid a mauling in Dragons’ lair

I suppose a perfect weekend would involve the England rugby union team playing like a cross between the Harlem Globetrotters and a Sherman tank and the Welsh humbly admitting the superiority of all things English, but perhaps the notion of perfection had better be anchored to some form of reality.

If an English person chooses to look for attainable goals rather than utter perfection, then not going to Wales this weekend would be a good start.

IT’S a great week to be Irish, and the English have always loved pretending to be Irish. After a gorgeously Irish Cheltenham, marred only by the thousands of English who believe that craic is a synonym for drunkenness, we have Ireland to cheer for at the rugby today.

Ireland play Wales in Cardiff and Wales are going for the grand slam. So naturally, the English will continue the week of wannabe Irishness by shouting like mad for those that go in for the wearing of the green. Partly, this is because the English have always loved the Irish when they are not actually shooting them. And partly it’s because it would be so good to see the Welsh fail.

I have been in Cardiff for Welsh triumph, I have been in Cardiff for Welsh disaster. It is fair to say that neither occasion has seen the Welsh at their most likeable.

Don’t bother to point out that this has been a very disappointing tournament, with a poor France side and a worse England one. This tournament won’t be remembered for its high standards.

That's right. Wales only win Grand Slams when the other teams are crap and the rugby is rubbish.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/col...ticle431408.ece

No Liam - he hates Wales FAR more than he dislikes Ireland.

I have acquired a positive loathing for some sporting venues.

The “magnificent†Millennium Stadium is one of them: a soulless bloody place, hard to get to and harder still to leave, with vertiginous views and a PA system cranked up beyond the threshold of pain. I have seen good sport there; I hope I never do so again.

2 hours by train from central London, two minutes from the station. Probably the best located sporting venue in the world, in terms of its proximity to a city centre and public transport links.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/col...icle1806162.ece

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He stops short of labeling us the 'enemies of football' but taken in sum, its obvious this garbage is of the same ilk which led people to openly question if we actually deserved the accolades given to league champions because of the money spent.

I agree with you in one sense, mike: we shouldnt be bothered reading any crap like this anyway. And if it was really his perfect weekend, im sure it would include something about riding horses on a birdwatching trip

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At the risk of incurring the wrath of these boards, I'd like to offer a few words in defence of the piece

1. It's called 'My Perfect Weekend'. It is therefore clearly labeled 'opinion' and not 'fact'. It is not bad journalism, it is opinion. People are allowed different opinions - deal with it

It muses that...

2. Chelsea have 'money'. That's true, we do.

3. Chelsea suffer from 'intemperance'. Meaning, according to my dictionary, that our actions / reactions are too extreme and uncontrolled. Well, leaving aside that JM years of deliberately haranguing refs on and off the pitch, the 'I can do anything I want' behaviour of Kenyon etc etc, may I offer Dorset's post herein as a classic piece of over-reaction which ironically underlines the point?

4. Chelsea are 'impatient'. 5 managers in 5 years, whichever way you cut it, upholds this. A lot.

5. Chelsea are 'vulgar'. Peter Kenyon, Peter Kenyon, Peter Kenyon. It's not just having money, it's using it like petulant a 3 year old who wants everything NOW.

6. Villa are 'aiming for stability, sanity and good management on the financial and the footballing side'. Seriously, can anyone disagree with this?

We don't have to read stuff like this if we don't want to, and we don't have to agree with any of it. But we do have to recognise that the way our club has being behaving over the last few years leaves us wide open to this sort of opinion.

Stroll on...

The first thing I notice about your response, Mike, is that you too steer well clear of any direct reference to Abramovich, preferring to cast Kenyon in the role of intemperate and heaping all the vulgarity on him as well. Soft target that he is in the eyes of many Chelsea fans, you can’t seriously believe that Barnes had Kenyon in his sights when he had this little ‘muse’, as you so lyrically put it. With that particular point in mind, here’s my response to the rest…

1. I’ve lost count of the number of times posters, journalists, apologists, Uncle Tom Cobbley’s and all rush for the sanctuary of ’an opinion’ when logical argument isn’t available, as if this somehow exonerates the writer from an ever growing need to justify what is said, especially if it is in the slightest way demeaning or downright insulting. The phrase ’I’m sorry you feel that way, but it’s only my opinion’ is often no more than a get out clause and ’People are allowed different opinions’ falls into the same category. Barnes just chose a different approach to make clear his view, opinion, call it what you will, and I responded by dealing with [the detail within] it - I find that’s much more satisfying than simply ’getting over it’ and I suggest you try it sometime instead of being defeatist.

2. The point is that Villa have money too and have used more of it in recent times. That’s true, or ‘a fact’ as some would prefer to say - moreover it’s a fact that the musing Mr Barnes chose not to give his opinion on. Wonder why?

3. You seem to be confusing over-reaction [which I don’t admit to] with intemperance and, even if you extend the meaning of this word to cover extreme and uncontrolled actions such as haranguing refs and the obligatory stereotypical behavioural traits of Kenyon, I still have no idea what it has got to do with the Barnes viewpoint, which clearly uses intemperance as a softer option to greed. In short, he’s not accusing us of being a football club that harangues refs (name me one that doesn’t) and I’d be surprised if he is all that bothered about Kenyon either - he just thinks we are greedy and, by implication in the comparison, Villa are not. I know, I know, it’s his opinion, but he doesn’t justify it and that’s why it’s lazy (I did not say bad) journalism.

4. One man’s impatience is another’s putting the situation right and, correct me if I’m wrong, were you not fully in favour of Scolari’s dismissal, if not all of them right back to Claudio? If so, you’re correct, that is a lot [to agree with] and maybe it goes to prove that ManU and the Arse are the only virtuous ones amongst the Premiership elite.

5. It is obvious that we will not agree over the question of vulgarity, although hiding your agreement with Barnes behind three Peter Kenyons has to be a blatant attempt to curry favour on the issue. Be brave, Mike, if you think Roman’s lavishing of money on the club is vulgar why not come out and say so? After all, it’s only your opinion and I’m not asking you to justify it.

Personally, I think he has tried to do as professional a job as he could to build up the club in a sporting environment in which he had no previous expertise, but, if you believe what he has tried to do [and, thank heavens, is still trying to do] deserves the name of Chelsea being forever sullied by the vulgar epithet, it might be as well to explain yourself.

6. Of course not, but if you fail to see the parallel being drawn here [with Chelsea] you must be blinkered and electioneering on behalf of the Stating the Bleeding Obvious Party. Stroll on, indeed!

Finally, on the question of reading this stuff, only those blessed with amazing foresight are aware of an article’s content before giving it even the most cursory of glances and anyway I for one do not feel inclined to accept these continual outpourings without occasionally giving something back in return.

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Me old mucker,

You're right to point out that I should have mentioned RA in my response. It's his money and I'm still looking forward to the day when he goes and we are left with a proper business. Read into that what you will.

However, he at least has the good grace to keep a low profile and not hunger for attention the way that PK does. My loathing of the latter is that, brand man as I am, I believe he has done more to drag our profile down in public perception since dear old uncle Ken. He of all people should know that for big brands to nurture a place in hearts and minds, they have to do so without the puppet-master continually showing his face every two seconds.

Football is still in the entertainment business (I think?). Its 'success' is that it allows everyone an opinion. Football has proved that its absolutely nothing to do with logic whatsoever. Otherwise we'd have 4th officials, goal-mouth technology, back-dated rulings etc etc. And yes, your opinion is as valid as mine and his... just don't get uptight about illogical arguments (personally, I've given up on them).

As for managers, I'm still cross about Luca being sacked! Ranieri was pants, JM was fantastic until he had Sheva and Ballack foisted on him, Steve Clarke was superb after that but not recognised as being the manager, and Scolari was one strange appointment. My own views over the summer were that we should get a younger manager as a long-term appointment. I voted for Sparky but what do I know? I am amazed, however, that with so many dubious personnel decisions, no-one on the board has been seen to be accountable for them.

Finally, I think we are a long, long way from being talked about as purveyors of 'stability, sanity and good management'. That will only come when we are run as a business, not a play-thing, by a board that behaves neither as petulant children, nor Neros or Caligulas, nor as absent fathers when it comes to holding their hands up for making stupid decisions.

I thank you

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A good counterpunch, Mike, and no more than I expected from you, but I guess we will always fail to see eye to eye on Abramovich and his vision for the club. Uptight over illogical argument is an astute observation of the root cause of my rising to the whiter than whitebait so often dangled by misguided moralists like Simon Barnes, but that is no bad thing as far as I’m concerned. Quite frankly, if the alternative is meek acceptance it is no alternative at all.

On the subject of Kenyon, it’s clear that you are in a better position than most to gauge him on any loathing scale, but, sad, logical analyst that I am, a few examples of the specific errors he has made brand-wise would not go amiss. The ‘I blame Kenyon’ [for everything] thread is still fresh in mind and I’m still not certain that the catalogue of cock ups he has supposedly been responsible for has ever been fully, let alone forensically, covered. That floor has to be yours mate because, whilst the public view of him is that there is far too much of a public view of him, taken in isolation, it doesn’t exactly warrant him being The Accountable One…or does it?

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  • 2 weeks later...

More reasons to hate Simon Barnes:

Will United’s cup continue to overflow?

There comes a moment in quite a lot of football seasons when anyone not totally in thrall to the game’s culture of hatred starts to wish good things for Manchester United. This weekend seems to be the tipping point. After this, it might be more amusing to see United win than to see them get their comeuppance.

After their head-nodding victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the Carling Cup final last weekend, they go to Fulham in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup today. They have won their first trophy, they’ll have to blow up to lose the league, and that leaves two more to go in their pursuit of an unprecedented season of four trophies.

The Cup is the lesser of their worries, and for that reason a potential banana skin. But as they move towards the season’s endgame, I am finding myself increasingly wondering not when the empire will decline and fall, but what heights it can reach before it does so.

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Umm, I think he has it backwards. Up until now, it was amusing to see them win in the league for neutrals, because it meant they were slowly strangling Rafa's chances. Now, its clear they are going to win the league, and I am praying for them to be dumped out of something, because seeing them win five would be horrendous. What kind of supposed neutral is hoping for them to win everything just to see how far they can go?

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