There are very few truly spirit-lifting sights in the world. For me this elite list of spectacles that count as the very best our planet has to offer would be the Highlands of Scotland, Chichén Itza in Mexico, The Colosseum in Rome, the Taj Mahal, Petra in Jordan, and Tony Pulis complaining about refereeing decisions upon the television. This is a very pure pleasure, and one enhanced by one’s best arm-chair, a glass of the finest whisky your butler can bring you – in my case a quadruple dram of a 1926 Macallan.
Mr. Pulis, comfortably the most hated manager somehow burgling a living in England’s top division, is an extraordinary combination of carefully cultured ersatz toughness, an all- permeating sense of victimhood, a dash of conspiracy theorising, expert blame-shifting and terrible tailoring. So it was a great pleasure indeed to watch this angry little berk spit and froth following our defeat of West Bromwich Strollers at the weekend.
Now, Mr. Pulis accusing players of cheating is really quite sweet, and also points to no small amount of self-justification. The cognitive dissonance required of a coach who famously produces what he would call “tough” teams and what the rest of us call “rugby” teams to accuse opponents of cheating is extraordinarily hilarious. If you watch the interview back, you can just about make out his anger causing the death of several million neurons.
“In the game’s first free-kick Sanchez dives and should be booked. That’s cheating,” a line which just about scans to the melody of “That’s Amore” if you listen to it over and over again much as I have. I did also hope for if not a moon, then at least a great pizza pie, or a great big fist, to hit him in the eye.
“Then the tackle in the box on Jay, it is a stonewall penalty.”
Whether or not his complaints have any merit is beside the point. If one were looking for evidence of Karmic Retribution, this would be Exhibit ‘A’.
Speaking to the BBC afterwards, Pulis added: “We tell our players not to roll about, he still wanted to score but once he has missed, the referee should pull it back. It could be a penalty and they could have a player sent off so we not only score but are against a team down to 10 players.” Which just about scans to the tune of the hymn ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’ with the melody by Hubert Parry.
In a wonderful response Mr. Windsor showed both his class and his justifiable hatred of Mr. Pulis by joining in the humiliation. “Would it [the West Brom Strollers penalty call] have been given I would not have said it is a scandal.” We will not dwell on our own case for a Turk’s Head* when Grzegorz Krychowiak, who is as deficient in elegance and grace as he is in vowels tugged on Whizzbang’s shirt tails in the box.
A win is a win, and a win is even better if Tony Pulis is angry about it.
To Borisov then, or more accurately, Barysaw. Barysaw is a City in Belarus. It has a truly global outlook, bring twinned with Kapan in Armenia, Narva in Estonia, Podolsk in Russia, Pazardzhik in Bulgaria and Maloyaroslavets in Russia. How interesting those cultural exchanges must be! It is a 25 hour drive, or if you could find a crow mad enough to fly it would be 1200 miles. The players are a hardy lot, having been used to trips to freezing cold wastelands every time they play away at Spurs, and they showed little sign of travel fatigue as they despatched BATE Barysaw with consummate ease.
The Brigadier reached his 100th Arsenal goal from a total of only 4,689 attempts, and we were three up in twenty five minutes. Fenton even got a brace, that’s how average the Minskians were. We now face Red Star Belgrade, a far more romantic-sounding footballing team, and we are currently top of the group of the super elite competition The Europa League of Champions.
*A penalty. Perhaps an unfortunate name to modern eyes, this refers to a pastime popular with British forces in the Ottoman vicinity in the Turkish War of Independence. I apologise.