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.
Alex Ferguson, like all strong leaders, is 5% a fascist, which means he’s 95% not a fascist, don’t think I’m criticizing him, 95% is nineteen parts out of twenty and there are plenty of everyday people, history teachers and flight attendants and mechanics and biographers, who are more of a fascist than he is, but there’s still that fascist sliver, all strong leaders have it, and it has to be that fascist part of him that wants Jonny Evans around. I don’t trust Jonny Evans. Face with a lot of social intelligence, eyes with amphibian depths. That kid would kill you for a bad idea.
Still, I’m glad he was playing today, if for no other reason than because, with the third or fourth of the offenses for which he should have been sent off or at least yellow carded but was instead allowed to continue playing or rewarded by seeing a yellow card given to the player he had committed the offense against, he definitively proved that Chelsea’s new breastplates are worthless. I assumed Drogba was faking, because sure, Evans’s studs had raked across his chest, but they’d hit right where Chelsea’s kits have those molded artificial pecs, which to all appearances were kevlar/Batman in origin and thus designed to reduce the odds of a footballer sustaining a high chest injury to essentially zero. (A relief, no doubt, for the hordes of players who have had their careers derailed by this sort of wound.) “Nice try, Jonny,” I thought, “but he’s got armor. Might as well use those studs to puncture the hull of a battleship.”
A few seconds later, while Drogba was lying on the ground quasi-paralysed and the referee was preparing to give him a booking, it became inescapably clear to me that my understanding of the armorial properties of Chelsea’s new kits was flawed. That wasn’t a cutting-edge synthetic material licensed from the British army, it was cloth. Cloth! The kit’s wicked shaping and ferrule contours had misled us into thinking we were getting Iron Man when what we were really getting was a shirt. But when was the last time you heard of a football shirt made out of cloth? What is this, 2004? Next you’re going to tell me the women they date are made out of regular skin. As far as I’m concerned, Drogba should sue Adidas.
Everyone seems to be complaining about something, but I thought it was kind of a fun match. The first half was all jigsaw-wariness and gap-searching, characterized by Rooney’s weird cameos at fullback: steady, patient, skillful build-up play, no good openings for a shot. The second half, obviously, was like every Man Utd-Chelsea second half, goading and feisty, full of yelling at a referee who seems about three seconds away from being called “Mo–o–m!” and asked to ground somebody’s older sister. It’s predictable at this point, but it’s still pretty compelling, especially considering that the peculiar lore of John Terry’s missed penalty in the 2008 Champions League final now means that anything good he does against Man Utd is interpreted as “a huge weight off his shoulders”. (I thought he’d put those demons to rest in the Charity Shield, if you know what I’m saying.) So, no, it wasn’t Barcelona dropping six on Real Madrid at the Bernebeu, but then, Anderson was on the pitch. How much could we really expect?
Oh, and somebody with DVR: Go back and watch the video at the point where Kalou comes on for Drogba at the end. Was it just me, or was there a guy in the stands behind him brushing his teeth?
by Brian Phillips · November 8, 2009