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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“I hugely resent the management’s suggestions that I have been unduly influenced by others,” said Tevez. “I am disappointed that the management should now see fit to try to portray the situation in another light.”

Moreover, I utterly reject and repudiate the Portrait of a gentleman with extremely gold buttonsinference, drawn by Mr Brandywhaite in his column of Thursday last, that my resolve to quit England and return to my native country constitutes an act of treason, or that I am, to quote his admirable phrase, “a d——d yellow-bellied turncoat, unfit to be roasted on our good Mancunian spits.” The gentility of Mr Brandywhaite’s diction does credit to the nobility of his feelings, I am sure, and yet I repeat that I cannot countenance his base and slanderous accusation.

You, sir, perhaps, are English, and thus may be led by an extension of your own loyalty to discover the deficiency of mine, supposing that they have the same object. This, I say, does you credit, for there are times when the purity of a man’s intentions may be measured by the enthusiasm with which he seeks to apply them to others, and I know of no sphere more than in football where this is apparently the case. However, wisdom, as St Perpetua said to the Saxons, lies in knowing where one stops, and with this in mind, I believe that you cannot fail to accept that your very creditable supposition is also a gravely mistaken one.

Need I remind you, sir, that I am not, and never can be, English? Argentina is my England; and it is to her that I owe all those marks of duty and affection which it is a gentleman’s prerogative to show toward the land of his birth. If you, sir, are to be honored for loving your own country, then I believe I am right to ask by what law am I to be dishonored for upholding the same high charge. If one man shoots a horse in the neck, and is praised for it, then the next man who follows suit has a legitimate complaint if, instead of being likewise praised, he is derided throughout the town as a horse-crippler and spendthrift of musket-balls. And if such a rule applies to the mean and ungentlemanly act of horse-neck-shooting, as any child can tell you that it does, then how, sir, is it to be found inapplicable to the cardinal and sacred act of venerating one’s own nation?

No. I am right to love Argentina, and however I may leave her from time to time, I am as right to return to her, when I hear her haunting call, as you should be if, taking the air at Naples or Rome, you suddenly felt a longing in your soul to see Cornwall at Whitsuntide again. To make an end to your home-sickness, you would wear out every post-horse in six countries, nor shoot even one in the neck until your eyes beheld the beloved sight of their home. You would look upon the knave who declared that your true loyalty was to some Italian inn as though he were irretrievably, and I should think maliciously, insane.

And I repeat it: Manchester City, the club, is no more to me than the inn where a traveler stops on the road. He stays as long as it suits him, no longer; and it is right that I do the same. Indeed, my English friend, can you be so sure that this organization, which is the mere carriage-yard and hostelry of football clubs, ought to mean so much to you? There, I endure the incessant carping of an Italian overseer paid by a Dhabian sheikh. It is not the obligation of a gentleman, sir, to be pipped at, perpetually, in shrill tones, until he is driven to slap the air about his ear in a futile search for the mosquito he believes he hears humming in it. And yet that is what you, or at all events Mr Brandywhaite, would ask of me, in the name of an England whose capital is at Milan, and whose treasury is at Abu al Abyad.

No, again; by God and the spines of my carriage-horses, I will have done with this nonsense. If my words have not persuaded you of the justice of my cause, then I beg you to do me the honor of allowing me to argue by other means. My lodgings are at number 7, Pillsbury Coverlet—the house with the green shutters, beside the baker’s shop. You will find me at home in the evenings.



by Brian Phillips · December 13, 2010

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