Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Monday May 21 2012
Having already asked you to cast your votes for the piffling matter of Player of the Season below, it`s time for the most prestigious and talked about gong of the close season. The coveted Bellend of the Year trophy. In its fourth year on Vital Arsenal, the past hall of famers set an impressive benchmark of bellendery. Inaugural winner Phil Brown has happily disappeared permanently to his sun bed having suffered the ignominy of two sackings since he was crowned. Alas, no such luck with the king cock of 2010 Tony Pulis and 2011`s prize prick Sepp Blatter.
2011-12 has seen an absolute feast of folly. We`ve had Roger Johnson- a centre half who has now experienced successive relegations with different sides- turning up "tired and emotional" at training. Then we have Alex McLeish gifting the players and supporters at Villa Park some of the most eye bleedingly soulless football the country has ever known. But their incompetence is small fry compared with some of the exploits at Liverpool F.C. this season. As if paying £20m for Stewart Downing isn`t criminal enough, we have the fallout from the ugly Suarez fallout. The independent investigation document showed that Liverpool had not exactly been forthcoming with the media over the Uruguayan`s precise mutterings, but the unedifying sight of the players and the manager- a man in his 60s- wearing a tee shirt featuring the profile of his own employee was as sartorially ill advised as it was a PR shambles.
After Suarez was subsequently found guilty, the refusal to shake Evra`s hand and Dalglish`s series of pithy, unnecessarily spiky interviews have dragged the club`s name through the dirt. Fenway have quietly acted, forcing their manager and their rather objectionable striker to apologise, whilst Liverpool`s Director of Communications has received his P45 along with the Director of Football who thought Jordan Henderson was worth folding money.
More amusing acts of absurdity have been in plentiful supply too. St. Totteringham`s Day caused us Gooners to delve into the archives and have a right good root around for some premature posturing from the cocky cocks. Rafa van der Vaart confidently predicted that Arsenal had "no chance" of finishing above his Tottenham side back in October. Journalist Henry Winter put together his own fantasy "North London XI" and decided that van Persie was the only geezer wearing red. But perhaps this piece from The Mirror`s Darren Lewis penned back in February is my favourite. . Can I get an "LOL, Bitch please!" in the place?
Boss eyed wide boy John Terry doesn`t have to do much more than appear in front of a camera with that "what me guv?" look smeared all across his chops to guarantee himself a mention for Bellend of the Season. But true to form, Terry has happily plotted the demise of a young manager for not tickling his belly often enough, almost cost his side a place in the Champions League final due to his own brand of sociopathic selfishness and currently awaits trial for racially abusing a fellow professional. All in a year`s work for one of football`s most detestable and shameless individuals. Still, his delightful assist and grass eating celebration as van Persie skipped away from him at the Bodge in October was heart warming in the extreme. Maybe if Chelsea stopped singing about mowing the meadow and actually did it, their captain wouldn`t feel the need to get down on his knees and tend the grass with his teeth?
However, the ultimate accolade for Bellend of the Season is a shared one. A quartet of colluders that have conspired to rip the heart, soul and remaining vestiges of quality from a previously pleasant, family run club with all the grace and poise of a poultry farmer plucking the feathers from its pheasants. Whilst it`s true that Blackburn Rovers have recently had bona fide bellends such as Mark Hughes, Fat Sam and Robbie Savage in their employ in recent years, the Lancashire club was a steady, respectable Premiership club run with dignity by John Williams. Williams was a man that appreciated Jack Walker`s legacy and Rovers were a club that generally did things the right way and with a measure of pleasantness and stability. Since the Venky`s took over, soothsaying into the ears of Rovers fans with promises of Kaka, Ronaldinho and Champions League football on a £5m budget, the soul has been ripped from the club, resulting in its inevitable relegation and continued asset stripping.
Complicit in this act of corporate ABH has been Steve Kean. His never ending delusion (he was still talking about a top ten finish in March) and refusal to admit that his poor management was taking Rovers down had its part to play in Rovers` demise. There are those that scoff about the Blackburn support and their ongoing protests during matches, but they were left with no recourse. The Venky`s constantly refused meeting requests with supporters groups, didn`t answer correspondence over fans concerns and were rarely even in the country to oversee the club`s fall from grace. About the only thing they did do was watch games on the goggle box in India. Blackburn fans were left with no other avenue to make their voices heard as their football club was abused.
Blackburn ended last season with a defence boasting the likes of Salgado, Nelsen, Samba and Phil Jones. Emerton and Jason Roberts were also key squad members. Salgado was frozen out over a contract clause; the others were replaced by the likes of Bradley Orr, David Goodwillie, Anthony Modeste and Martin Olsson`s brother. Kean and the Venky`s are of course linked by agent Jerome Anderson. Many allege that this cosy relationship ensured Kean stayed a yes man to the Venky`s whilst the poultry giants indulged Kean`s shortcomings as a coach and his delusions. (A video has surfaced this week in which he claims to be the mastermind behind the development of Phil Jones, whilst also promising a top ten finish and a Carling Cup). Conveniently, Kean and the Venky`s gave a contract to Myles Anderson- son of Jerome- last summer, with Kean describing him as "possibly another Chris Smalling" due to his late development.
This because Leyton Orient didn`t deem him good enough for a single game in his spell there, whilst Aberdeen let him go after a single appearance. It seems Anderson`s development is still in bloom as he wasn`t selected for a single matchday squad in 2011-12. Kean has been a mere stooge to the whims of some mendacious owners. In January, 2011 in an interview with the Independent, he spoke in soothing tones about "marquee signings."
"I think it is only a matter of time before there is a major landmark signing," he said. "Because they are paying the wages, the owners will give me a list of players that we could get but no player will come to this club unless they have something to offer.
"If Ronaldinho had decided he wanted to come, I would certainly have had to meet him and find out his thoughts about work, how often he wanted to train and make sure it was every day and with the rest of the squad. If there is going to be a marquee signing, it can`t be someone who`s just coming to graze."
Unless Anthony Modeste is a marquee signing, then this quote represents a double bind. Either the Venky`s were lying to Kean, at which point he really ought to have walked away on principle. Or else he was complicit in this fabrication and, even worse, was willing to be the front man for him. At best, Kean is a puppet for a trio of cowboys (Indian cowboys, who`d have thunk it?), at worst, he`s sporting spurs and a wide brimmed hat himself in making up the four horsemen of Blackburn`s apocalypse. The truly terrifying thing about the Venky`s is that it could happen to any club. Given the absence of any proper "fit and proper person`s test" pretty much anybody can buy a football club. Not all investors are necessarily benevolent, but Blackburn fans got the rough end of the pineapple when they ended up with the ventriloquist Venky`s and their puppet Kean. A 137 year old football club, founding member of the Football League and top flight champion as little as 17 years ago has been brought to its knees in little under 18 months. That`s quite the hatchet job, from comfortable family run football club to farce. Rovers fans are nervously eyeing up the likes of Portsmouth and Plymouth and wondering what`s in store for the future. For that reason, the Venky`s and Steve Kean are well earned proprietors of the Bellend of the Season award. Perhaps they can use that gong to attract Eden Hazard to help with their promotion campaign next year? LD.
Follow me on twitter @LittleDutchVA
Date:Monday May 21 2012
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Team News: Sunderland vs Arsenal - Walcott as Sub (Saturday October 25 2014)
Sunderland v Arsenal Match Preview (Friday October 24 2014)
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The State Of Play (Sunday October 19 2014)
Fine Margins And Punishing Consequences (Sunday October 19 2014)
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