It’s the international break again, which means two weeks of pretending to give a shit about national teams outside of summer tournaments. But those FIFA bribes aren’t going to pay themselves, so the show must go on. In the meantime, let’s dive into the dumpster.
The media criticism of Memphis Depay is laced with racism
Memphis Depay has been crap this season. Not just subpar or failing to meet the massive expectations on his shoulders, but flat-out painful to watch rubbish. So obviously, now that he’s been dropped at Manchester United and left out of the latest Netherlands squad, the press have begun digging a grave for his career. Sure, fans and media unreasonably running out of patience for talented young players is nothing new, but there’s something a bit off-putting about some of the coverage of Memphis’s struggles.
The Daily Mail published a baffling piece asks whether Memphis is the new Ravel Morrison. This despite the fact that Morrison had a series of legal troubles and clashes with coaching staff, while Memphis’s trouble only extends to being in a poor run of form. Hmm. There is one thing that Ravel Morrison and Memphis have in common, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.
In The Times, there is mention of his “fake gold teeth” and flashy dress sense, alluding to the idea that somehow his choice of clothes is affecting his form. There is a troubling eagerness to attribute Memphis’s poor form so far this season to factors related to his “image,” rather than more obvious contributing factors. After all, he’s adapting to a new club, league, and country. And, importantly, he’s all of 21 years old for Christ’s sake.
Memphis’s best friend in the United squad, Luke Shaw, also moved to Old Trafford for a huge fee and (before exploding into form this year) had a disappointing first season. Shaw moved to Manchester with an entourage of his own, and shares Memphis’s god-awful Euro-millennial dress sense. Somehow, Shaw, despite questions about his conditioning last year, didn’t receive the sort of criticism to which Memphis is now being subjected. I wonder why.
Footballers have no sense of perspective: The Hatem Ben Arfa edition
Notorious waste of talent Hatem Ben Arfa is in the news this week after making some eyebrow-raising comments about the end of his time at Newcastle United. I’m a fan of the liberal use of hyperbole, but Ben Arfa was a bit dramatic even for my tastes:
“I had the feeling of being locked in a dark room without a door, or in an endless tunnel. I saw hell and especially no solution to my problems. At that time, I was wrong, I did not see any light. I was a prisoner. I tried to convince myself that the light was coming back, I was going to find the right path. By signing this summer with Nice, I really felt out of hell. In fact, that’s it, I come back from hell.”
Erm…what? If Ben Arfa’s version of hell is to be paid $90,000 a week for refusing to do the minimum expected of you (i.e., not get embarrassingly out of shape), then sign me up. The lack of freedom of movement that soccer players have in employment doesn’t hold up to proper scrutiny, but it’s hard to feel sympathy for Ben Arfa when so much of what went wrong for him was self-inflicted. To be fair to him though, painting the North East of England as hell isn’t a complete stretch.
Reminder: Arsène Wenger is brilliant
Arsène Wenger recently gave a thoughtful and illuminating interview in L’Equipe Sport and Style touching on a wide range range of subjects. It’s a refreshing reminder of the Frenchman’s rare intelligence and provides wonderful insights into his managerial and personal philosophies. Wenger, in his latter years, has become sort of a caricature of his best self: stubborn rather than idealistic, blinkered rather than visionary. Some argue that he’s gone stale at Arsenal, and that he’s fallen so deeply in love with his own ideals that he has failed to see the need to adapt and evolve in recent years. That all may be true, but none of that changes the fact that Wenger is one of the game’s great thinkers.
Arsenal still isn’t going to win the league, though.
Pour one out for El Moyeso
Poor David Moyes was sacked by Real Sociedad on Monday, just a year after taking over, and mere months after pulling the club safely out of a relegation battle. Things haven’t gone exactly according to plan for ol’ Moyesy since leaving Everton in 2013. He was hopelessly out of his depth at Manchester United, and his brave Spanish crusade ended in failure as well. If nothing else, we’ll always have the memories: that time he couldn’t pronounce Illarramendi (a must watch), that time he couldn’t pronounce Bilbao (a must watch), and that time he got sent off and ate a fan’s cheese puffs in the stands (also, a must watch).
Dry your tears. Moyes is sure to land on his feet. He’s an experienced, capable manager and, by all accounts, he’s a thoroughly decent man. That’s why Premier League clubs were interested in his services last summer. Reportedly. And since he’s not black, getting fired from two consecutive jobs won’t hurt his job prospects.
Please say a prayer for him before you close your eyes tonight.