The Premier League Gods have returned. Look on their works, ye Sky subscribers, and despair! Their summer of shame and anti-climax is forgotten; like the half-filled Panini Brazil 14 sticker albums, that miserable display has been abandoned to the past. Soon we’ll have the advertisements where John Terry bashes one into the back of the net by booting the ball across the Thames, ricocheting it off a smiling urchin along the way, and Stevie Gerrard (ey! ey! kalm down!) lashes one between the posts when he takes a free kick from the moon. And obviously keeper Joe Hart will be fretting about his dandruff again. All while earning more money in a week than most families struggle to pay off on a mortgage throughout their lifetimes.
I often think that English footballers who achieve prominence – either by being selected for the national side, gangbanging their best mate’s wife with the rest of the midfield, or starring in a Lucosade commercial (or a combination of those distinctions) are like pop stars in the Soviet era Russia. Back in the USSR there were millions and millions of comrades who were desperate to get hold of pop music, but the Politbureau said net to Western decadent pop like The Beatles and the Stones. And so those home grown lads with their electric balalaikas probably shifted an obscene amount of records, were paid by the skip load in rubles and deified by the adoring fans. It’s the simple economics of supply and demand. But they only achieved success got the gold plated stretch Lada Riva and a dacha on the Black Sea coast because there was no one decent to listen to except the home grown beatski boys. And so, similarly, comparing Wayne Rooney to the likes of Lionel Messi is like equating Anatoly Bumski (guitarist and vocals with hit makers Razmakhivaya Tovarishchi) to John Lennon they’re playing the same game, but not with the same result. Or the same flair. In fact, I bet some of those Red Rock Stars were taking rifles themselves to the fans trying to leg it over the Berlin Wall. Peristroika? Sod that it will kill sales, comrade. I should imagine that there are several Premier League megastars who feel the same way about the Bundesliga.