One Freudian football mystery solved, plenty more to go
So soon in the season and yet already so many mysteries. How did England get ranked fourth in the world ? Obviously a computer mistake, or some hacker has broken in for a laugh. Why are they always rubbish at Wembley? The answer is that the Wembley fans are not football fans, they are celeb spotters on a family outing, hoping, fingers crossed, they will see Becks or similar. They get restless otherwise, which transfers to the players, who get nervous. Real fans, following their fave club every week, will support till they are blue in the face and body - naked top half anyway - shouting "We're gonna win 9-8" with two minutes to go and 0-8 down.
What did Capello mean when he said, "He is big, he needs to play games, games, games" when talking about Andy Carroll? I thought at first it was an interesting physiological theory, that big players need more action to keep fit while smaller players can manage on less. Turned out that by big he meant fat. Cheeky beggar.
No, the big mystery that has so far not been properly explained concerns Andreas Whittam Smith, the new manager of Chelsea, oh God, what a mistake, I mean André Villas-Boas. His name has confused the commentators who either mumble it quickly or use his initials AVB, which is a bit of a mouthful in itself.
I prefer to refer to him as Mr Goodhouses as I recognised at once the derivation of his two surnames. Forty years ago, when we lived in Portugal, I bought a set of Portugese Lingaphone records, about 24 of them, 45s I think, and if I have to explain what a 45 was we'll never get on. The records and accompanying book took up half a room and were useless, or at least I was useless.
The mystery about Mr Goodhouses is why he squats on the touchline at certain stages in a game. The bench is a pretty hopeless place from which to see the game anyway, as your view is so limited, so distorted by the camber of the pitch, yet is he making it worse by getting down on his haunches or his hunkers, as they say in Scotland.
Could he be a foot fetishist ? That would be the reason he wants a good view of all the legs and feet. Or boot fetishist? They tend to be a bit rougher, not as camp as shoe fetishists.
Is it because he is establishing his image as a humble person, self-effacing, with a lot to learn, not a bossy boots, control freak or a manager who thinks he is special, like some managers we could mention? OK, Mourinho. That could be the subliminal message - I am not José.
I remember when I first spotted the existence of Mourinho, in his early days at Porto, I was struck by how he was standing sideways to the bench, leaning his back against the side of it, not looking directly at the pitch. The message then seemed to be, I am above all the normal behaviour on the bench, but I am in control. So Mr Goodhouses is establishing his own bench behaviour, subtly drawing attention to himself by appearing
to do the opposite.
Or is he boasting about his youth? At 33 he can still bounce up and down on his heels. Fergie, at his great age and as an ex-player, probably has arthritis. If he got down like that during a game he would not get up again until Christmas. Steve Bruce, well it would take a crane to lower him to the ground. He is so fat, sorry I mean big.
Might it be some sort of yoga exercise? He does it quietly, seriously, studiously, almost as if he doesn't know he is doing it, something he has taught himself to do in moments of stress and anxiety.
When I was doing a book a few years ago about collecting, Freudian psychologists of my acquaintance - oh we have loads up here in Cockermouth, they all moved north when Hampstead got too expensive - told me it was to do with anal retention, that's why I had so many collections.
Their explanation for Mr Goodhouses squatting is that he is reverting to his childhood on the potty. He is in the act of excreting because he knows they are playing shit, football is shit, life is shit.
So that's it, one mystery solved.