Oscar Wilde, Twitter and racism in football

In his essay the Decaying of Life, Oscar Wilde coined the now famous phrase “life imitates art far more than art imitates life”.

While Wilde’s work is now well over 100 years old, the words still have resonance today. Especially in the context of football.

While the rest of the world has to comply with rules, norms and all manner of social conventions, football has become stuck in pre 1970s era where foreigners are treated with suspicion and racial slurs are still considered banter.

Football operates on a plane where banana throwing and monkey chants do not carry the stigma they would off the pitch. It would be considered, and rightly so, absurd if some of the things said at football matches were done in everyday life.

And while the Suarez/Evra affair left a bad taste in the mouth, perhaps more worrying is the rise of incident, and alleged incidents both on the pitch, and off the pitch, since the Uruguayan was slapped with an eight match ban.

A few weeks a, footballer Mark McCammon vowed to bring a race discrimination claim against his former club Gillingham, alleging that the teams black players and white players were treated differently.

He told the Sunday Telegraph: “I’m hopeful that truth will prevail.”

Today, Russian football club Anzhi Makhachkala claimed that opposition supporters threw a banana at defender Christopher Samba, urging Lokomotiv Moscow to identify to fan responsible.

Samba said: “I try not to think about racism. I just want to believe that such problems do not exist on a global basis. Maybe I am mistaken but I do want to believe in it.”

However, more in line with the words of Wilde, is how actions on the pitch are affecting behaviour of the wider general public.

It would be crazy to insist that perfectly sane and rational people are turning into bigots because they idolise footballers . However, it may have legitimised inappropriate behaviour.

I myself, watching the recent Everton v Spurs games in a pub, heard a fan standing next to me refer to Fellaini as wog (he even turned and spotted me at the bar and there wasn’t even a hint of guilt in his eyes).

Also worrying is the treatment of footballers on Twitter, with Stan Collymore and the stricken Fabrice Muamba perhaps two of the more shocking examples.

Liam Stacey was arrested this morning after offensive and racial comments about Fabrice Muamba were posted on Twitter.

Stacey told police: “I was at the bar when I heard what had happened to Muamba.

I don’t know why I posted it. I’m not racist and some of my friends are from different cultural backgrounds.

Funnliy enough, his words are strikingly similar to those of Liverpool in their defence of Suarez

A statement from the club said: “He has played with black players and mixed with their families whilst with the Uruguay national side and was captain at Ajax Amsterdam of a team with a proud multi-cultural profile, many of whom became good friends.”


Sack hungry Wolves fans get their just desserts

In October, ahead of their home clash with Swansea, just three months after the start of the Premier League season, Wolves had lost each of their last five games.

When the Swans raced into a 2-0 lead, the home crowd – perhaps expecting a comfortable term in mid-table following the summer acquisition of Roger Johnson for £8m and the permanent capture of Jamie O’Hara – began to turn on their side.

Boos, jeers and cries of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” reverberated around a disconsolate Molineux.

A clearly disappointed Mick McCarthy said after the game; ““Let me clear something up. It doesn’t help,” the manager said “Let’s not give them any credit. Let’s not give any of the dissenting voices, the mindless idiots that do it, any credit whether it’s aimed at me, Karl Henry, Andy Keogh or Stephen Ward.

Fast forward to February, following a run of just one win in 13 games and a five goal home thrashing at the hands of rivals West Brom, McCarthy was out of a job.

Despite the West Brom result it was the Swansea game, which Wolves ironically came back to draw 2-2, which sealed McCarthy’s fate.

When fans no long back their team – or their manager – it takes a brave board not to act

Following McCarthy’s departure, chairman Jez Moxey told Sky Sports News: “Mick McCarthy has done a fantastic job but if we continued in this way we were definitely going to be relegated.

“The trend was only going one way and when we lost 5-1 at home to West Brom we had to act,” he added: “This

has been a decision we’ve taken with a heavy heart but we have to act in the best interests of the club.”

In short, the fans got their way. Despite never being an established Premier League side, despite McCarthy keeping the side up last season, Wolves fans expected much more. The team were never given the support they deserved – especially in their crucial home games.

The board failed miserably in their efforts to replace McCarthy, with rookie manager Terry Connor taking charge, and if Alan Shearer’s ill-fated stint as manager of relegation threatened Newcastle United taught us anything it is that, in a dog-fight, experience counts.

Perhaps understanding that the blame cannot be placed at Connor’s door, today’s 5-0 reverse against Manchester United, the same fans, called for the head of Moxey, despite him giving them what they craved.

While relegation under McCarthy seemed possible, survival under Connor looks impossible.

Maybe the Irishman wasn’t so bad after all.

Five rudest songs of all time

The annals of music history are bursting with songs that have offended the milder ears down the years. Notable tunes which caused controversy and moral panic, include 1980s hit Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Since I Had You by Marvin Gaye and Donna Summers’ classic marathon Love to Love You Baby.

However, mild references to ejaculation and the sounds of a sexual climax, are nothing compared to lengths the artists have gone too on these filthy efforts.

Akinyele – Put in your mouth

As the unsubtle title of this number suggests, this song is an essay on oral sex. No subtlety required here, as the outro reveals.

Filthiest bit

You wanna go down why not

I be like Herbie and han you a cock

R Kelly – 12 Play

RnB fans will be well versed on the sexual tendencies of Chicago freak R Kelly. At one point in 12 Play, a tune from the 1993 album by the same name, he lists a multi-point sexual action plan he is hoping to deliver on an unsuspecting lady – like a really dity political manifesto.

Filthiest bit

Spread your legs apart

Feel me, I’m so hard

Big Pun – I’m not a Player

Big Pun, perhaps one of the dirtiest rappers of all time, earns his place in the forum of filth by dropping the C-bomb in the second verse (the entire verse is jaw-droppingly obscene) of this 1998 O’Jays-sampling smash.

Filthiest bit

Excuse me for being blunt

But I been eating c***s, since pimps is pushing

Pink Caddies with the fish tank pumps

Ying Yang Twins – Wait (Whisper Song)

It’s no wonder the Ying Yang Twins whisper all the lyrics to their 2005 song Wait, it is so obscene, and sexually threatening, that rapping out loud would have made them blush.

Filthiest bit

Ay bitch! wait til you see my dick

Imma beat dat p***y up

My Dick

The now deceased Puerto Rican rap star was so much in love with his appendage he penned an ode to his manhood in 2000. So moving it is almost like Shakespeare.

Filthiest Bit

Now you gon’ get what you deserve

That’s my dick in your mouth

United lay down title gauntlet

Manchester United’s destruction of rivals Manchester City may have set the tone for the coming Premier League season. City, who have been tipped by many to win the title, were forced to surrender in the Community Shield on Sunday despite a two goal lead.

While the result underlined the fact that Utd are the team to beat this season it also highlighted their rosy future ahead with youngsters Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck both impressing.

With City still to intent on playing defensively – in spite of their embarrassment of attacking riches – and Chelsea very much a work in progress with Andres Villas-Boas trying to trim the years away from an ageing squad, the Red Devils look the team to beat once again this season.

Arsenal transfers frustrate fans

In the summer break Arsenal have made three signings; two of them attacking – Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – with the only defensive addition 19-year-old Carl Jenkinson from Charlton.

Obviously, the new faces are not what the Emirates faithful had hoped for. With Arsenal still yet to end their trophy drought serious pressure will be on Arsene Wenger for the first time.

The Gunners are not short of creative midfielders, with Japanese starlet Ryo Miyaichi also gaining a work permit after being on loan at Dutch club Feyenoord last season, so the inability of Wenger to bring in new defensive recruits is even more baffling.

If Arsenal fail to sign two from Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill and Christopher Samba and still do not improve on their ability at set pieces serious questions will be asked by the fans.

Newcastle sell off the family silver

While Arsenal’s transfer policy is confusing Newcastle United’s seems to be kamikaze. Kevin Nolan has been allowed to leave the club for West Ham, while Joey Barton, arguably the Magpies best player last term (apart from Cheick Tiote) and Jose Enrique could be heading for the exit.

Many of the players that have been bought in such as Yohan Cabeye and Sylvain Marveaux are unproven in the Premier League and their early form will be watched eagerly by the St James’ Park faithful.

However, fans will not be enthused by the arrival of Man Utd misfit Gabriel Obertan. Expect another difficult season on Tyneside.

Five films that should never have been made

Poetic Justice

John Singleton must have been sitting at his desk in 1992 wondering how to follow up his Oscar nominated Boyz’ n the Hood. He needn’t have bothered. Janet Jackson, who plays Justice, is a street poet from the ghetto who “discovers herself”. Some soundtracks are better than their movies but rarely by such wide a margin.

PS I Love You

The burgeoning prince of rom coms Gerard Butler plays a young lover who dies “suddenly” of a brain tumour but has the foresight to leave his wife, Hilary Swank, a series of creepy sugary hallmark messages from beyond the grave. As terrible as it sounds.

Thirteen Ghosts

Some rappers; Tupac, Method Man, Mos Def, make plausible actors. But whoever cast Rah Digga in this movie needs shooting. Digga, real name Rashia Fisher, plays the stereotype of a sterotype of a feisty African American woman, who snaps her fingers at all manner of ghouls. Oh know she didn’t!

Synecdoche, New York

Never has a film promised so much and delivered so little. The premise, a theatre director who decides to make a play about his life, is a good one. But it doesn’t take long for the pretentious movie to disappear up its on arse. It only began to make sense after it finished and I was able to look on Google. Probably got five stars in Empire.

Friday after Next

Friday = good. Next Friday = pants. Friday after next = diabolical. One joke was never going to last for three movies. Most people probably don’t even know Friday is a trilogy.

Didn’t they do well: Unlikely rises to stardom

Looking back at the careers of many of the most loved celebrities, it is a wonder how some – considering their uninspiring beginnings – made it to the top.

Ant and Dec

Now the UK’s favourite presenting pair, it is easy to forget that the Geordie duo began their careers in naff BBC kid’s programmes Why Don’t You? and Byker Grove. They even had time to make a number of cringeworthy hip-hop inspired records before finally landing their breakthrough gig as the hosts of Saturday morning programme SMTV Live. A far cry indeed from the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent.

Guy Pearce

The English-born star of The King’s Speech, LA Confidential and Memento took the scenic route to stardom. Moving to Australia when he was still a toddler the young Mr Pearce was Mike Young in Neighbours and a bit-part player in Home and Away before Hollywood came calling.

Ian Wright

He might be a second-rate pundit and presenter today but it easy to forget that the former Arsenal and Crystal Palace star was once one of England’s most exciting footballers. The former record goalscorer for the Gunners, who also has 33 caps to his name, was a 22-year-old amateur before exploding into the big time after being spotted for the Eagles while playing for Dulwich Hamlet.

Happy Gilmore

Adam Sandler’s 1996 character Happy Gilmore was a wannabe hockey player and all-round loser before taking up golf in a bid to save his grandmother’s home. Spotted by one-handed coach Chubbs Peterson, Gilmore’s long drive took pro golf by storm helping the hot-head to victory in the Tour Championship against Shooter McGavin.

Colonel Sanders

The King of fried chicken was a steamboat pilot, farmer and insurance salesman before first serving his trademark to the dishes. He didn’t even develop his secret recipe until he was 49 – leaving him just 41 years to enjoy his finger licking creations until his death in 1980 aged 90.

Time up for Wenger at Arsenal?

A season is a long-time in football so six years must feel like an eternity for Arsenal fans.

The last time the Gunners won a piece of silverware – the 2005 FA Cup final – modern legends Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira and Dennis Begkamp were still in the side.

The match, which Arsenal played in a uncharacteristically defensive fashion, proved a watershed for the club.

Vieira departed the club after sealing the trophy, with new talisman Cesc Fabregas the fulcrum of the side. It was also the last season that the club displayed any pragmatism.

In the seasons following the triumph the new model for the direction for the club has been bold and idealistic. Arsene Wenger has relied almost entirely on the youth system to create attacking, beautiful football.

However, while the increasingly stylish play has won admirers it has not won trophies and, for the first time in his run in charge, Wenger might finally lose the fans.

The atmosphere at the Emirates last season, especially in the 1-0 reverse against Newcastle, was one of discontent and frustration. In the last few days, former players, including Tony Adams and Lee Dixon have been critical of Arsenal’s weaknesses.

So is it time for Arsenal to do the unthinkable? Or can Wenger turn the tide?

Keep Wenger

While Arsenal have not won a trophy for a while, they have become a regular Champions League side under the guidance of Wenger. They have never finished outside the top four under the Frenchman and have become one of the world’s most financially sound football clubs.
The team is a young, attacking side and are only a few decent players away from becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Sack Wenger

Wenger’s success was primarily build on the foundation of a solid defence and strength from set pieces inherited by the previous management of the club. His weakness lies in his inability to replace the famous back five and has struggled since.
There have also been an influx of poor defenders including Nelson Vivas, Igors Stepanovs and Philippe Senderos, while the jury is still out on Seb Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny.
While Sol Campbell and Thomas Vermaelen are notable exceptions Arsenal have been short of defensive quality since the retirement of Martin Keown and Tony Adams.

Read Adams’ and Dixon’s view on Wenger