A look back on the season by a genuinely real ftbllr
In a professional career spanning almost two decades, Simon Smith has played for over sixty-seven clubs. The ultimate utility player, as his pace has diminished Simon has managed to reinvent himself time and again, from poacher to holding midfielder, centre-back to goalkeeper. Now that his website has been closed down, we have exclusive access to his weekly column.
What an amazing end to an amazing season. Those lucky, lucky Manchester City fans. You wait 44 years for that perfect moment and then, just when you think there’s no chance and it’ll never happen, you finally manage the perfect drive home after slipping away on 89 minutes and beating the traffic. I’m only teasing of course, it’s not as though I’ve never been in a similar situation. One of my own most resounding Wembley memories is as a fan. I’ll never forget that beautiful May day; you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. Unfortunately Clarissa had to stay at home and look after Angelica whilst she recovered from the chickenpox. I probably shouldn’t have gone at all but some things are just once in a lifetime opportunities. Unfortunately, much like some of those pessimistic City fans, I assumed it was all over and headed to the exit. I was in the car park when the unimaginable happened. I heard an enormous roar. I could just about make out the sweet sounds of Money’s Too Tight (To Mention). Lineker left a message on my answerphone rubbing it in later; I don’t think he appreciated just how upset I was. Such a schoolboy error, Mick is famed for his double encores. I only hope it’s not 44 years before I get another chance to see Simply Red!
The day after their championship win, the City players had a victory parade through Manchester. Carlos Tevez held up a sign reading ‘RIP Fergie’. For some reason I can’t fathom at all, this has caused some controversy. It’s perfectly obvious what has happened. Carlos, like any decent thinking person, is clearly a Black Eyes Peas fanatic. He’s obviously a big enough fan to own Fergie’s one solo release, The Dutchess. I can only assume he’s lent the CD to his old best mate Patrice Evra. Pat being Pat hasn’t ripped it onto his computer yet. Well, then I can only assume his other BFF, Park Ji-Sung, has nagged him to lend him the album. It’s quite clearly just a reminder from Tevez to Evra that Park is waiting to hear the record, please upload it onto your computer as soon as possible. It’s the only explanation that makes any sense. He’s getting a lot of grief and I know you’re not supposed to do it but who among us hasn’t burned copies of mates’ CDs?
There are still plenty who believe Tevez will leave City this summer. I find this hard to believe though, us footballers are not in it for the money and we genuinely love our clubs. I have adored each and every club I have played for and no doubt Carlos is the same. If I’d had my way I wouldn’t have changed teams once let alone almost seventy times! The other big question mark at City is over the future of Mario Balotelli. Worrying signs for Super Mario earlier this week when his manager was asked if the lad would be at the Etihad next year and responded. ‘He will 101% stay at Man City’ I think it’s a bit unprofessional for a manager to come out and state so clearly that a player will be leaving. We all know 100% is the absolute minimum. If there were any real likelihood of the Italian staying then Roberto would say something like 450%. I imagine Mario is packing his bags as I type.
Speaking of Italians saying farewell, on Saturday a genuine legend said goodbye to his club as Alessandro Del Piero played his final game for Juventus. I doff my hat to one of the greats of the game but one thing did irritate me a little. I was watching the game on telly and when Del Piero was substituted late on he must have taken almost five minutes to leave the field. Now we’ve all tried to trudge off slowly to waste time at some point in our lives but this was just ridiculous. All credit to the Juve fans though, the standing ovation lasted the full five minutes and it’s nice for a manager to get so much credit for a change. Sure, Alessandro got a goal but sometimes that’s not enough and it’s nice to see the fans recognise what a shrewd substitution that was. Sometimes a player is just having a bad day at the office, be it his debut or final ever match.
Another man having an off day on the weekend was Tony Hibbert. The poor fella has never scored a goal in over 250 games for Everton and compounded this statistic by putting the ball into his own net on Sunday. It’s never nice to be in minus figures for the season, and I speak as someone who actually managed this four seasons on the bounce in the early 90s. It must be particularly disappointing for Tony given the fact that his goalkeeper managed to nab a goal earlier in the season and he becomes the only man in the league to have scored fewer goals than Stewart Downing. I for one was delighted to see Downing make the England squad for Euro 2012. Stuart hasn’t managed a single goal or assist in the league this season so it was a real pleasure to see him get the nod. So often attacking players are judged on the flashy stuff like goals and assists but Hodgson has had the good sense to look beyond that and recognise all the solid defensive work he has contributed out on the wing. He can afford to curb his attacking instincts, with Andy Carroll, Dirk Kuyt and Jordan Henderson in the side, there are certainly goals in that Liverpool team.
Whilst on the subject of Liverpool, the other big news this week is that Kenny Dalglish has been given the elbow by John W. Henry, both professionally and now apparently on twitter. I know Kenny will be gutted. Not everyone was sold on his performances but it’s never nice to see a man unfollowed. There’s been a lot of debate about King Kenny’s work and I’m sure we’ll spend the summer debating whether or not that good tweet in February made up for a disappointing season otherwise. His insistence on retweeting Stewart Downing now looks foolish and all too often he would set himself up to make three good points in a tweet but only ever articulate one of them.
I know a lot of people still think of him fondly because of his snappy 140 character soundbites from the 80s but he’s not the force he once was. I’ve heard John Henry may now follow AVB but my tip for him would be to look at Martin Lewis. Not that funny but, take it from me, his money saving tips are quality.
And if you’d like to give me a follow on twitter, I’m @Simon9Smithpro