Thank goodness for Podolski

Thank goodness for Podolski

Very quiet this morning. And rainy. Quainy days and Wednesdays always get me down.

The most interesting thing that’s happened from an Arsenal point of view is Lukas Podolski taking a cab ride around London and then posting pictures of himself in front of famous landmarks. I don’t know what it is about his face or his smile, but he reminds me of a camel that knows too much. A camel that would let you know it knows too much, leaving you hanging on and always worried that the camel would spill its guts.

As me and Mrs Blogs are currently re-watching The Sopranos from start to finish (season 5 now), there’s only one way that camel would end up. And it’s not with a wry grin in front of Buckingham Palace, let me tell you. However, Podolski only reminds me of a camel, he isn’t actually one. There are no mighty humps, or small boys sitting on his back jockeying during races. Therefore he doesn’t end up in the Pine Barrens being chased by a shoeless mobster with awesome hair.

Still, the German seems a very affable kind of chap, a bit eccentric and quite fun, and when you consider how achingly bland most footballers are these days it’s nice to have one or two around who have a bit of character. The average footballer would send a recently awakened coma victim back into a stupor, begging to be put under again despite spending months or even years unconscious.

There are exceptions of course. If you can bear it – and I have to admit I can’t – there’s the likes of Joey Barton spouting his absolute bollocks on Twitter. While I have little time for the vapid mundanity of the average player, I have even less for rank stupidity. There are times, when I do see something of his RTd, that I’d think it was a brilliantly constructed character of some kind, if we didn’t already know exactly what a dimwit he was.  People might say ‘Well, at least he has an opinion’, but if your opinion makes you look like a drooling hypocritical moron then perhaps it’s best to keep it to yourself.

The players these days are all trained to deal with the media. What to say and how to say it. They’re probably sent home with training exercises too:

After defeat: Practice face in mirror, look dejected but maintain an air of hopefulness for the next game. This is known as ‘The Djourou countenance’.

After win: Not too smiley, look pleased but determined. Mention aspect of game which has been criticised recently. eg – if team has failed to keep a clean sheet for a number of games, talk about how team showed they can keep clean sheets.

We have more and more access to players, there’s more content, more interviews, Q&As etc, but it’s rare that we glean anything new or insightful from them. Which is why it’s nice to see someone like Podolski do something engaging like he did yesterday. Maybe it was a carefully constructed PR exercise, but maybe too he just felt like going around and seeing all the parts of London someone should see and then posting pictures to Twitter looking like a knowing camel.

I like to think it was the latter, and in some ways it reminds of former Gunner Moritz Volz. Now there was a genuine character. He never really made much of an impact with us, moved to Fulham and is now back in Germany, but take a look at his website – volzy.com – and the introductory music will give you a good idea of the kind of person he is. I remember seeing him do some punditry too, perhaps for ESPN or Setanta, not sure which, and he was great at that too.

He was funny and original (none of your “I hit ze ball first time and zere it was in ze back of ze net”), a rare gem in a game that becomes more and more magnolia by the day. He was a reminder that people can be interesting, footballers can be funny, and it was something of a bright light as people get sucked in to media driven narrative that sells papers and TV subscriptions. This is an era in which Gary Neville is the hero of punditry simply by being a bit intelligent and not talking in cliches. I like Neville on the telly but he’s helped by the sheer shitness of everyone else.

And everything about football these days is taken so achingly seriously. Every. Single. Thing. There are people who will rail against the smallest thing their football club does. It doesn’t matter what it is or how little impact it has on anything. It’s confirmation bias, it’s proof positive that they’re not serious about the things they should be serious about, and flippant about the things that really matter.

Whether it’s because of outlets like Twitter, or people’s desire to have their opinions held in high regard and validated by as many people as possible, the humourlessness is almost all encompassing. People no longer understand the concept of self-deprecation, any attempt to make light of any situation will bring a raft of responses from people who are just so angry all the time. Constant, incessant, never-ending, up their own arse anger from first light until bedtime. They’re wasps stinging themselves in their own cock and getting worked up about it.

They seem to gain no joy from football. Nor from discussing the game or their club or the players or the matches whatsoever. I understand very well that things from an Arsenal point of view haven’t been as good as we’d like them to be, but I think what’s been lost in that mire is that they’re nowhere near as bad as they could be either. Lack of perspective coupled with unceasing bitching, moaning and nit-picking can’t be any good for anyone.

As I’ve always said there’s an absolute need for criticism. That’s true in every walk of life, not just football, but when you lose yourself in a bubble of resentment and shrill annoyance, maybe it’s time to step back and take stock of just what it is you get from being a football fan.

While you do that, I’ll enjoy the cognisant German camel and his odd Twitpics. Till tomorrow.