Short man Gattuso blows his fuse!!!

Last night’s display by Gennaro Gattuso was possibly the best example of a short man going on the rampage since Joe Pesci went at that poor unfortunate with the telephone in Goodfellas.

Infuriated by the beanpole striker, short man Gattuso goes after Crouch

Not only did he hand out this finger-wagging attack on Peter Crouch, probably just on account of Crouch’s preposterous size, but he sought out Joe Jordan, a jock known as hard even amongst his own rugged people, and dealt him a headbutt.

(A note on this headutt: while I fully admire the handing out of a headbutt by Gattuso on Joe Jordan, I cannot admire the execution. It was one of those half-hearted push-headed efforts which suggests that even this volcanic footballer was holding himself in somewhat. It reminds me of Zidane in the World Cup Final. I still can’t understand why he didn’t deal him the blow to the bridge of the nose rather than the breast bone. My philosophy – you should never waste a good headbutt.)

This┬átakes me back to my own football-playing heyday when my pragmatic manager sent me out, week after week, to man-mark the tallest player on the field. There I would be, all furious because of the brevity of my physique, and take great pride in pulling this week’s giant to the ground with a succession of, shall we say, ‘committed’ challenges.

Occasionally, when it looked my nascent short man syndrome was not quite to the fore, he would suggest amiably that ‘the bigger they are the harder they fall’. That, it’s safe to say, was all that was needed to fire up the old Napoleon Complex and leave some poor gentle giant wondering why short men had such aggressive streaks.

Well, as Gattuso or Pesci would testify, there really is no explaining it. There is no saying why when I see a tall man I boil up in some sort of apoplectic rage. Is it genetic? Is it environment? Is it a complex mix of both? Hard to tell. It’s just the way it is.

And football is all the better for it. In a recent interview with the Guardian, Xavi suggested that Barcelona’s style of play was the most beautiful and, almost, that the result was secondary. Well, after we had watched the tedium of Spain’s succession of 1-0s winning the World Cup, I think the football fraternity is ready for a taste of an older style, that style of football where no one can be quite sure they are going to leave the field of play with all four limbs still attached.

Because, on the night that Arsenal play Barcelona, in what the aesthetes are calling a meeting of philosophers and artists, we should remember this: football began as a game being played with a pig’s bladder between working men who wanted to thrash a ball about and hurt each other after a hard day working in the fields. In an age when the two-footed, studs-up challege is anathema to many, we should rejoice in the behaviour of players such as Gattuso who are in it for the physical battle and as a legal way to unleash their psychotic tendencies.

From one short man to another: Gattuso, I salute you.

Notes: Gattuso is about 5ft 9ins. This is not short when it comes to the general population but in the world of sport people who are usually six feet or above, he certainly is. And what I always say when people are unsure if a man is truly short or not – you will be able to tell. With Gattuso, I think we can rest assured, in his heart of hearts, he is a short man and proud.

Joe Pesci keeping his short man syndrome nicely under control

Lord Browne is a limelight-loving short man – and we’re all going to pay

What with all the anger surrounding the proposals to massively increase the cost of university education to students, it’s worth taking a look at who is behind them.

The man deemed by the coalition government to be best placed to ‘review’ the future of higher education is Lord Browne, John to his friends. This is the fella who was in charge of BP for many years until he got retired by the board.

Fortunately, for those of us who do not follow these matters closely, Tom Bower’s recent book, Squeeze, gives a decent summation of what Lord Browne is all about. He is described as the most rampantly aggressive pursuer of profits, even in the cutthroat world of oil. He’s the sort of neoconservative that makes George W Bush look like the epitome of restraint. And he’s a short man with one of those Napoleon complexes that makes you wonder if the term needs to be renamed. So, just the sort of balanced individual to take an impartial look at higher education.

For those who don’t want to wade through the 500 plus pages of Squeeze, a brief glance at the index of the book to gives a feel for the kind of chap Lord Browne is.

Here is a sample from the Browne, John section:

  • Alaskan oil leaks and
  • cost cutting at BP
  • highlights achievements and buries failures
  • limelight, love of

And my personal favourite:

  • security of western oil supplies, pays scant attention to

You get the general idea. He is one of those short men for whom the spotlight is the place to be and who will do anything possible to stay there.

He achieved great celebrity while at BP for his aggressive approach to mergers but also for the most audacious attempt at greenwash in the history of corporate social responsibility.

As Squeeze lovingly tells the story, Browne conceived the ‘Beyond Petroleum’ rebrand for two reasons: to burnish his ego; and, a close second, to wind up his climate change-denying rivals over at Exxon.

So when you hear the arguments put forward by the government that the new reality for universities is inevitable in the economic climate, and all about fairness, remember this:

Lord Browne is that terrible combination of the limelight-loving short man, with rather a lot of time on his hands, some hardcore neoconservative ideals, and more to the point, new to government and desperately eager to please.

Let’s just hope Lord Browne’s star in government wanes somewhat because if he starts ‘reviewing’ the NHS or the education system all of us who are not multimillionaires will need to make a dash for the continent.