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The Prem, Pep and Van Persie

It’s that time of the season when we say it’s that time of the season.

Surprise of the Season Roy Hodgson getting the England job. That fettled the tabloids – think they are so clever, in tune with the nation and worst of all believing they can get what and whom they want to get, har har.

Fib of the Season That Dear Roy is fluent in five languages.That is now gospel and every hack repeats it, without any proof. Have you heard Roy speak any foreign language? I believe he must have been able at one time to speak dressing-room Norwegian, Swedish, German, Italian and Arabic but that’s about all.

Gazza used to boast he spoke Italian, after his year at Lazio, and I did hear him speak Italian to an Italian waiter in a caff – who burst out laughing.

I boast I can speak kitchen Portuguese, after a year living in Portugal and spending hours listening to Linguaphone tapes. But I do limit my boast – only to those who can’t speak any Portuguese.

Team of the Season I sense it could be Chelsea. So OK they won’t win the Prem, but I think they will beat Bayern Munich for the Euro final. They have this Big Game temperament, can rise to the occasion and are dead jammy, as they were in the FA Cup Final.

Hair of the Season A top honour that’s been awarded annually by The Fan these past 15 seasons but I can’t think off-hand of any new startling creations. Oh, how we miss Becks. So the pot goes to Wayne Rooney. We don’t know whose hair he’s been wearing but it’s done the trick. He has settled down, calmer and more confident, loads of goals, just one yellow – in the last home game.


Sky’s the limit

Worry of the Season Attendance in the Prem looks to be down this year, if only marginally. This is partly because of several clubs with small grounds, ie QPR; clubs where their own fans are well and truly pissed off, ie Blackburn.

Next season, if the two Sheffields get promoted (Wednesday already up) the overall Prem gates will rise again. However, I think it is also due to the fact that the average fan, of whichever club knows the Spanish league is now better than the Prem. This is good news – I mean the acceptance of it. If only Sky, and the Prem League, would get the message and put fans first, not the money.

Mystery of the Year Pep Guardiola giving up at Barça, when he has hardly begun, unlike Fergie, who manages to be as committed, ruthless and tyrannical decade after decade. In the end, it’s in yer heed, son.

Another Mystery Who is the Secret Footballer who writes anonymously in the Guardian Sports section on Saturday? He is remarkably good, so much so that on dull days, they lead the front page with him. I have tried to winkle it out of various Guardian friends but they don’t seem to know. It must be someone fairly smart and literate – though not necessarily with five foreign languages – or who has a very clever wife.

I started thinking it could be David James but his career is well over. Or perhaps Danny Murphy of Fulham. But now my money is on Kevin Davies of Bolton. His surname indicates high literary skills. If anyone knows, would they please whisper?


Mr Darcy

Fave New Name I was rooting for Cardiff City to make it to the Prem, purely for the pleasure of hearing the name Darcy Blake. In this age of foreign stars dominating our ears and headlines, and their monikers being mispronounced and mangled, how refreshing to have someone who sounds like a character out of Jane Austen.

Spoonerism of the Season “His shuds are stowing” (Gary Neville).

Chant of the Season “Robin Van Persie, he scores when he wants . . .” It often came true as well and got him Player of the Year, but didn’t help Arsenal win anything. The chant is new this season, I think, and is interesting because other fans have tried but not really managed to copy it.

“François Zoko, he scores when he wants . . .” so Carlisle United fans sang a few times. Doesn’t have the same ring, or reality.

CUFC, alas, just failed to make the play-offs from League One. Ah well, always next season. See yous then.


Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 14 May 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Halal: Britain’s most feared food