It's Oscars time. Somebody wake the Grouch.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The New Football

From The Dictionary of Unfortunate Ideas - The Television Show (Should we be ever so fortunate enough to convince a producer that it would be worth a shot):


(Shots of world class footballers through the ages - Alex Graham, Garrincha, Alfredo Di Stéfano, Stanley Matthews, Pele, Johann Cruyff, Diego Maradona, Roberto Baggio, Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Ronaldinho)

(Title: Football Today)

Martin Martin: Good evening and welcome to Football Today. I'm Martin Martin and on the programme tonight we have the daring young English striker who scored a magnificent goal in Arsenal's 3-nil victory over FC Copenhagen in the Champions Cup Qualifiers, Alex Codswallop. Alex, welcome.

Alex: Thanks Martin. It's great to be here.

Martin: Your goal on Wednesday was a thing of beauty. Could you tell us how it happened?

Alex: Certainly. I must say I was fortunate when the Gaffer, Mr. Arsene Wenger, gave me my first team debut in such an important match. He had me positioned in a deep lying forward role, just behind Thierry Henry.

Martin: Yes, you partnered very well with Henry.

Alex: Thanks! Meanwhile, Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky patrolled the wings, attempting to maintain concentric right angles with the forwards and centre midfielders, Gilberto and Cesc Fabregas. The midfielders' job was to alternate forward runs in sequence with the solar pulses...

Martin: I'm sorry, did you say "solar pulses?"

Alex: Oh, yes.

Martin: Oh... well, erm... please continue.

Alex: Yes, in sequence with the solar pulses, varying this pattern whenever Copenhagen's centre halves strayed outside the primary nexus of their defensive parabola or if stratocumulus cloud cover obscured the gamma radiation emmitting from the sun. This structure, combined with a steady application of the Heinsenburg Uncertainty Principle, led to my goal.

Martin: I'm sorry. When exactly did the goal occur in that sequence?

Alex: I was just coming to that, Martin. After Emmanuel Eboue made that sparkling run up the right half in the 56th minute, astutely reacting to the sudden influx of nitrogen caused by the simultaneous opening of 12 bottles of Chateau Mouton Rothschild in the Executive Luxury Boxes at the Emirates Stadium, and aided and abetted by his magnificent understanding of how Cartesian Dualism influences Northern European defences, I was able to channel my chi energies into the inside right, applying delicate pressure and neo-existentialist epistemology to the Copenhagen holding midfielder.

Martin: You're referring then to the shoulder charge you gave him as the ball came to you?

Alex: (laughs) Yes, well that's one way of looking at it. Anyway, making sure to rotate my striking foot in an even parabola, and careful to resist any confusion from wave particle duality that the incoming ball might have imparted to my reasoning, I was able to turn the ball at a 54 degree angle into the upper-right quadrant of the goalmouth, anticipating that the goalkeeper was expecting me to engage in a straightforward mathematical approach to the probability of the situation and attack the wide portion of the goal. Fortunately, the slight increase in air pressure, caused in part by rapidly moving warm fronts in the Brasilian subsection of the Southern Hemisphere and transformed via chaos theory and the unusually large population of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterflies in Cardiff, Wales this year, prevented the ball from rising too quickly to hit the target.

Martin: (looking a bit dazed) Erm... yes, a splendedly taken goal.

Alex: Thanks!

Martin: Hmmm... Alex, amongst the many things you mentioned in your complex description of the goal, you made a reference to Heisenburg. Wasn't he a theoretical physicist of the early Twentieth Century?

Alex: Yes, of course, but not many people appreciate what a great footballing mind Heisenburg had, when he wasn't out bollocksing up classical physics. It was his initial rejection of quantitative certainty in quantum measurement that led directly to Herbert Chapman's development of the WM formation in 1925.

Martin: It wasn't the change in the offsides law?

Alex: (laughs) No, no... loads of people make that mistake. The offsides change merely precipitated the philosophical instability in the football world to enable managers to turn away from the dialectical materialistic approach and towards the integration of quantum mechanics with an episemological optimism.

Martin: I had no idea.

Alex: Well, most people don't realise how important philosophy and quantum mechanics are in modern football.

Martin: Finally, most observers have pointed out that the turning point in the match was when Arsene Wenger shouted out a tactical change early in the second half. However, not many people have figured out what he actually said. Was he speaking French?

Alex: No, it was Greek. He was quoting Aristotle's famous maxim about the importance of of a positive outcome to pragmatic football.

Martin: What exactly did he say?

Alex: Well, the literal English translation is, "Get the ball forward, you stupid bastards," but there's a great deal of nuance implied in the context.

Martin: I see.

Alex: Not to mention 2,300 years of commentary. I've always been particulary influenced by the way in which Ludwig Wittgenstein analysed the maxim in relationship to Cliff Bastin's free-scoring ability from the wings in an age of centre-based, direct attacking philosophy.

Martin: Quite.

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