Happy Saturday, readers. Sure, it isn’t the middle of the work week, but we can still pretend that it is. Imagine that you’re miserable right now, suffering through yet another work week. But it could be worse. You could have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on an expensive plaything, only to watch it be bested by another expensive plaything that features Fernando and Jesús Navas. Or even worse, you could be missing out on a chance to feature on the biggest professional stage of your career, just because of a simple cellphone sex tape blackmail misunderstanding. So, chin up. Let’s dive into the dumpster.
Unemployed man says “I’m not one to discriminate but…”
Silvio Berlusconi, full-time scumbag and part-time owner of AC Milan, fired yet another coach yesterday. The latest victim of the whims of Budget Florentino Perez was Sinisa Mihajlovic, who himself was only appointed last summer.
Milan has had yet another disappointing season, and Mihajlovic was the latest in a string of ill-considered managerial appointments. Following his sacking yesterday, Melissa Satta (partner of Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng) suggested that the “atmosphere around the club will become a lot calmer and more tranquil.” It was hardly a baseless attack given the general joylessness surrounding the club this season, but Mihajlovic didn’t take so kindly to the criticism.
Rather than defend himself by refuting the claims directly, Mihajlovic went the tried and true route of bare-faced sexism. The former Milan coach said, “I’m not one to discriminate but…”—and here’s where you know he’s unquestionably about to discriminate—“I think that women shouldn’t talk about football because they aren’t cut out for it.” That’s right, in the year of our lord 2016, a man who who up until yesterday was the coach of one of the biggest clubs in Europe doesn’t think women have a place in soccer.
Luckily for Mihajlovic, soccer doesn’t seem to care much about his backward, offensive views, and it’s probably only a matter of time before he walks into yet another job that he doesn’t deserve. If nothing else, when it comes to stereotyping and insulting large groups of people, at least he’s consistent.
Racism is bad, but only if you’re not really good at sports
Unless you’ve successfully avoided all soccer coverage this season (if you have, please send tips), you will have been aware of the narrative surrounding Leicester City’s improbable success. The Foxes are well on their way to winning the Premier League, and the desire from neutrals and media alike to see Claudio Ranieri’s men lift the trophy is so pronounced that you can barely root against them, lest you be accused of being some kind of deviant. Leicester’s rise is genuinely remarkable, and the closest thing to a fairy tale in modern soccer for many years. The problem for many observers is that most fairy tales don’t involve racist abuse, domestic violence, transphobia, or alleged financial doping.
The overwhelming good feeling surrounding Leicester, though, sees many of these uncomfortable issues ignored. Gary Lineker, perhaps the most high-profile pundit in English soccer, and a lifetime Leicester City fan, was guilty of just that this week.
In an interview with The Guardian, the former England international displayed some stunning apologism for Jamie Vardy’s racist abuse. Lineker, with all the privilege of a man who will never in his life be racially abused, said of such abuse: “It depends on how and where you say it.” In trying to defend Vardy’s indefensible actions, he said that “footballers are generally not racist,” a pair of statements so stupid that they’re almost beyond ridicule.
Lineker has been outspoken in the past on racism, so there is no doubting that he knows better. At the very least, he’s fallen into the same trap as so many fans, letting his passion and love of fairy tales overpower his better judgment. It’s bad enough when regular supporters excuse vile behavior from athletes just because they happen to be good at their jobs, but from someone in Lineker’s position, it’s highly irresponsible. It sends the same message that we’ve seen far too often: it doesn’t matter how shit of a human being you are, all is forgiven if you happen to be good at ball-kicking.
Louis van Gaal continues to amaze and astonish
Louis van Gaal, an idea—like acid wash jeans and unprotected sexual intercourse—that once seemed reasonable in the early 90s, is now utterly unacceptable and borderline reckless.
Despite sucking all the joy out of Manchester United and routinely bantering off his own club’s fans with shithousery, van Gaal has stubbornly remained in a job. The headstrong Dutchman has done his Utmost Best™ to be fired by the coward Ed Woodward, with perhaps his best effort to date coming when he sent on Nick Powell in place of Juan Mata in a crucial Champions League game. In the face of continued defeat in his quest for a generous severance package, Van Gaal perseveres.
In last weekend’s pathetic collapse away at Tottenham, Van Gaal at one point had up to seven players on the pitch out of position, including three-quarters of the back line, and all four of the attackers. In a clear effort to replicate the classic WUM moment of Powell/Mata, Van Gaal replaced Marcus Rashford with Ashley Young, leaving a left winger-cum-fullback playing as a striker, and leaving the only other available striker, Anthony Martial, playing on the left wing. Following the loss, Van Gaal of course pointed the finger at Martial, the only player who had created any opportunity of note. He may be committed to stifling and misusing his players, and his obsession with substituting at least one fullback a game is inexplicable, but Van Gaal deserves some measure of respect and admiration. If you had the chance to make the worst mess imaginable at your job while still getting paid handsomely, wouldn’t you take it?