Thursday, 8 December 2011
Seven would be heaven - but is it 'Welcome to Hell'?
Stoke away has become a symbolic fixture for football folk. 'On a wet Tuesday night', I believe, completes the cliche.
This was the exact mix of venue, time and prevailing meteorological conditions that Andy Gray reckoned would expose Lionel Messi for the effete charlatan he so obviously is.
Or did he? Maybe it's one of those apocryphal things. Or something that's been twisted just to make him look dumb and conform with his image as an old school clogger. A bit like the Gordon Brown/Arctic Monkey's/Gazza's goal things.*
Another cliche is ex players 'coming back to haunt' their old clubs. Possibly even 'proving a point'. Step forward, P. Crouch. Only try not to trip yourself up. Actually, do.
Anyway, Stoke away it is. On a trembling Sunday afternoon.
We have played better teams than this in the last 11 games. We've beaten better teams. But this feels like the biggest test. We're live on TV; Sky will hype us to the heavens before kick off; Arsenal, Man Utd and Liverpool will all have won the day before.
Even more interestingly, Chelsea and Man City play the day after. If we lose, we surely have to root for City - concentrating on an achievable target rather than dreaming the impossible dream. But if we win we... what, support Chelsea? Good lord. These are strange times. Strange and wondrous times. And I don't care what happens, I'm not calling them 'JT' or 'Lamps'.
* Arctic Monkeys: Brown was asked if he preferred James Blunt or The Arctic Monkeys. He said he didn't really know/like either, but he knew Alex Turner's boys were kinda loud, so he said 'at least they'd wake you up in the morning'. The tabloid press ignored all this and decided that he'd declared himself a fan in a craven and embarrassing attempt to court popularity and generally not be seen as, well, weird, frankly.
* Gazza's goal: He was asked if he'd ever been to an England game. He said yes, several. He was asked to name the most memorable. He said one was the qualifying game for World Cup '98 against Italy in Rome, the other was the Euro '96 match against his beloved Scotland. He said it was the best atmosphere he'd ever experienced at a football match. Fair enough. But, it was reported as 'Gazza's goal AGAINST Scotland is Brown's favourite'.