I love The Times. Absolutely love it. It’s by far the best English newspaper, and overall English newspapers are a high standard. There are exceptions, and of course numerous scandals in recent years, but that doesn’t detract from the quality of journalism and feature writing in The Times.
However, they do employ the odd person who should consider himself lucky to have a job at all. One such is Tony Cascarino, erstwhile Irishman and now ‘expert’. Cascarino dishes out what he calls The Tony Awards, in which he usually states something fairly obvious that can’t be argued with too much. This week: Rio Ferdinand is a bit slower than he used to be and thus not so effective at top level; Spurs have lots of pace, so they need to use it to attack rather than hang on to a lead; Norwich make lots of mistakes so they aren’t very good. (Honestly, is there a person of average intelligence in the country who watches any football who could not have worked these out for himself? Can you even read them without rolling your eyes? I can’t. There is hope for me to get my dream job at The Times yet.)
Then two Arsenal ones: Carl Jenkinson is Arsenal’s most-improved player. Okay, fair enough, though the competition in that department is basically the Ox and Gibbs.
Then he turns to Giroud: “Olivier Giroud is starting to look like Marouane Chamakh part II. Both forwards came to Arsenal when they were fully developed as players and both have been proven to be not quite good enough to produce the goods at this level.”
Whoa! Hold on there. How many games has Giroud had? This strikes me as a) very premature, and b) the judgement of someone who has not seen Arsenal and Giroud play very much.
I know there is a section of Arsenal fans who agree with Cascarino – indeed they probably take his view as evidence that they’re right – but it’s too soon to be writing the fella off just yet. Give him 20 games at least before we give up entirely. Thierry Henry was no great shakes on arrival. George Graham was criticised for spending big on Ian Wright. I’m not saying Giroud will be as good as either, but it’s too soon to say he’s a write off.
In the same day’s paper Simon Barnes, Chief Sports Writer, takes on the subject of John Terry. There’s something a bit odd about Simon Barnes. For one thing he also writes about nature, which is fine, but unusual in a Chief Sports Writer. Also he has peculiar dress sense. This may or may not be unusual in a Chief Sports Writer.
Anyway, as any right-minded person would he is having a go at John Terry, saying he should have apologised, and that Terry believes (as he undoubtedly does) that he is the poor misunderstood victim in all of his troubles, including his little problem with racism.
So far so good. But then Barnes spends the remaining three quarters of the piece on the subject of how many supporters Terry has, who always back him no matter what. He mentions Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson, then it goes a bit vague. I was bemused reading this. Surely aside from slightly dim England managers the only people who back John Terry are Chelsea fans? Surely no one else in the whole country backs him one little bit? Certainly no other football fan backs him, do they? And why would anyone outside football back him? This seems completely inconceivable to me. Who are all these people that Barnes believes love and/or respect Terry, who think he is ‘a man to revere and emulate’?
I repeat: surely this is only Chelsea fans. I simply cannot believe there is anyone else who would give John Terry the tiniest hint of the benefit of the doubt.
If there is, bring him to me that I may be amazed.