The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.

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A Weekend of Little White Lies

Contemplating a weekend of Premier League football without Roy Keane at the helm of Sunderland is…well, it’s not that hard to do, actually. However, contemplating a weekend of Premier League matches that mostly look a thousand times less interesting than imagining the black fog in which Roy Keane is currently broiling—alone in his house, glowering near the curtains, knuckles pressed hard against the phone table—makes me think he made the right choice to get out when he did, not for the losing, but for the boredom. Fortunately La Liga is making up for it.


Fulham – Manchester City (12:45 GMT, 7:45am ET) : I don’t know. I like to have a game to watch early. Fulham haven’t lost in weeks and that confidence might help them to overcome the fact that everyone acts like Manchester City are good even though they aren’t just because they have a lot of money. Let’s get ready to rumble.

Newcastle – Stoke (15:00 GMT, 10am ET) : I’m getting interested in the Joe Kinnear era at Newcastle. It’s not so much that he has the team playing well, it’s the way he’s managed to prolong his tenure at the club seemingly by making himself the media’s most engaging confidant about what’s going on behind the scenes. He keeps genially dishing about Mike Ashley’s intentions in this peculiar way that’s made him seem like an indispensable spokesman for them even as he slants everything to protect his own job. Oh, yeah, also, Stoke never win on the road.

Manchester United – Sunderland (17:30 GMT, 12:30pm ET) : Might as well turn out to watch the beheading. I mean, hell, the rest of the mob is going.

Barcelona – Valencia (21:00 GMT, 4pm ET) : First vs. third. And Valencia have the second-best goal differential in the league, at +14. Unfortunately for them, Barça’s is +31, and that’s roughly what everyone expects them to score every week.


Everton – Aston Villa (16:00 GMT, 11am ET) : Everton will be without Yakubu after losing him to an Achilles tear in their win against Tottenham last week. Something tells me they’re going to approach this game like a flood they need to pile sandbags against. Whereas Villa are too often in the style of a little spring freshet while the birds are twittering and the daffodils are poking out their noses. If they’re going to win, they need to hit flood gear, and fast.

Real Madrid – Sevilla (20:00 GMT, 3pm ET) : Real Madrid are keeping pace with Arsenal in the steeplechase to become the fourth-place team with the most weirdly tormented atmosphere in Europe. I mean, you’d think they were in fifth, like Sevilla! Anyway, the Sevillistas will be out for redemption themselves after being chewed up and spit out by some lovely verses in the guise of FC Barcelona last weekend. It’ll be interesting to see which team’s anxiety more commandingly asserts itself.

Note that Inter-Lazio on Saturday afternoon looks more appealing than three of my four Saturday games, but I’m boycotting Lazio matches so that I won’t be seduced by the cool, no-nonsense fabric of their uniforms into logging onto World Soccer Shop and making a political statement I will later regret. (Further note that I am lacking in character and will probably still watch the match.)

I always like hearing about the games you’re taking in, so if you have a thought about Sevilla’s touches of rayon mesh or Newcastle’s sturdy wool socks, please come by and register it in the comments.

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A Weekend of Little White Lies

by Brian Phillips · December 5, 2008

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