Football is a game of opinion: fact.
I made this ground-breaking discovery whilst watching a few of my friends watching a football match on the telly. If I remember correctly, one football man did a sliding tackle against another football man in a different coloured jersey. There was a collision and one of them rolled around on the floor for a while. One of my comrades believed it to be a very good sliding tackle and that the referee had done well; the other did not and accused the referee of being blind/stupid/a w***er. I can’t remember which particular word was used, but these terms are, as far as I can tell, synonymous in footballing vocabulary.
My two friends had different opinions on the event in which both could not be simultaneously correct. The fervour of the argument reached fever pitch and led to a falling out between the two of them.
For the record, they’re cool now. Don’t worry.
At this point, the penny dropped. I realised that the simple having of an opinion and remaining immovable in holding it is the key to every football conversation ever. For me, this was a revelation. Simply having an opinion, no matter how stupid it is, is the key to the door of talking about football.
From this point forward, I decided to enter the fray of football discussions. From my subsequent forays into this uncharted territory, I have deduced three key phases in conversations about football. Allow me to provide you, dear reader, with a run-down of the key features of every conversation about football that has ever happened and, in doing so, how I have managed to blag my way into football conversations.
Step one – Have a Football Opinion.
This is an easy step as the opinion can simply be made up. The more contentious the claim, I have found, the better. For example, you could claim that the latest star striker does not have the passion to score. It does not matter if the man in question is scoring as if he were in a brothel – the opinion does not have to be grounded in reality whatsoever. From my experiences, this first step will be met with a kind of appreciative derision. The conversation will move on, but the effort put in to the opinion will be appreciated nonetheless. At this point, you now have your foot in the door of football conversation.
Step two – Defend the Football Opinion.
This is a crucial stage in the opinion-having process. If people question your statement, you can give no quarter. Do not give them an inch. If anything, go further down the rabbit hole. To continue our example, claim that the star striker doesn’t have the discipline to make it at the top level. It doesn’t matter that man in question is at the training ground early, doing stomach crunches for fun. People will be incensed by your opinion and will probably offer an equally poorly thought through opinion in response.
Step three – Comparison Corner – Advanced
The final stage in having a football opinion is not for the amateur opinion-haver. This last step requires at least some degree of knowledge about football. You need to know enough about football to know the name of at least one not-very-good footballer. I have only garnered this information through a process of osmosis as I have lived with football fans for some time. To place a beautiful cherry on the top of your made up football opinion sundae, simply state the you think that the aforementioned not-very-good player is better than the star striker you have been insulting. It helps if they play in the same position, but this is not mandatory. By this point, the other people will be so insulted that you have compared Mr. Star Striker to Average McAverageson that they will have entirely forgotten that your argument is pointless and that you know nothing about football.
These three stages show the evolution of every single football conversation. Every. Single. One. By following these three steps, I have become a fully-fledged football opinion-haver. I have gone out into the world and spread my poorly-reasoned gut feelings to any and all who will listen. People may think me a football guru. They would be wrong of course, but that won’t stop them from arguing about it until blue in the face.
After all, that is what every football opinion-haver has done since time immemorial.