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

Who should get the Olympic stadium – West Ham or Spurs?

You know the debate about the future of the Olympic stadium at Stratford has become farcical when Pele starts piping up with his opinion.

Pele is the most notoriously wrongheaded pundit in football (I know, a bold claim, but one he comfortably justifies). This is the fellow who said that Nicky Butt was the future of football, as he did about Freddy Adu, the wonderkind who flopped hopelessly from that moment on. He also declared Totti the best player in the world, which might be true if you were judging him on his hair and overlook that he always goes missing in big games.

It’s true, Pele was good at scoring goals. He is also a geriatric loudmouth who should, as Maradona so wisely put it, ‘go back to the museum.’

An irritating old man who used to be good at football

Now, possibly guided by a conversation with that impartial and sober judge, Jimmy Greaves, he has been led to think that Tottenham are the rightful inheritors of the Olympic stadium. That’s the proposal, you will remember, to rebuild the stadium for football with no running track. Which is perhaps not quite what the British public thought the Olympic legacy would look like. This is in opposition to West Ham’s proposal to move in, retaining the track.

So what is the right decision?

I’ll admit, it’s a tough one. On the upside, if Tottenham get the stadium it would leave their fans harrumphing about loss of identity and give opposition fans years of fun along the lines of ‘you’re just a shit club from Stratford,’ etc. It would leave West Ham fans feeling like they’ve been robbed, which is their natural state. It would also make Lord Coe a hate figure among athletes.

If West Ham get the stadium they will get a nice new home which is vaguely in the right part of town for them. However, the track would be retained, therefore robbing fans of their ability to intimidate opponents and linesmen. As a Rangers fan, I’ve long enjoyed abusing the lino, so I can feel the Hammers’ fan pain on this sensitive issue. When the super hoops are not having a good day, you can always amuse yourself by shouting at the linesman:

‘Oi, Lino. Dipstick!’

It’s part and parcel of the game, a tradition that has gone back generations, and one I would hate to see lost.

To make a proper judgement we must look at the wider ramifications. If Spurs get a bigger stadium it would give them greater income and secure their top five status. It would, therefore, leave Liverpool stranded in the longer-term as England’s sixth club (unless Sunderland or Villa are having a good year).

For me, the sound of the whinging scouser ringing up 606 saying this player or that player is ‘not fit to wear the shirt’ in that preposterously egotistical fashion the Reds fan has perfected is, in its way, rather endearing. It should be nurtured at every opportunity.

So, in summary, these, I feel, are the salient points to consider:

1. We must do everything we can to keep the scouser whinging
2. Upton Park should remain a haven for fans to abuse players and officials alike
3. West Ham fans should retain their sense of bad luck and injustice.

So, for the good of football, and it does pain me to say this: give the stadium to Spurs.