1. The Premier League era
Yes, it’s an obvious one that annoys us all, but it’s probably the single most irritating habit of all commentators, and it reared its head again after the recent 4-4 result between Arsenal and Newcastle when one BBC pundit pointed out that this was the first such comeback in “the Premier League era”. So what? So bloody what? Some of us, millions of us in fact, remember football before 1992. There were records then too – over 100 years of records and history as it goes. It was even on TV. In colour! What is this obsession with the arbitrary era beginning in 1992? After all, all that happened was that the top division decided to keep their own TV money and ‘rebrand’ Division One as the Premiership. There was even the same number of teams. We don’t refer to Manchester United as the best team of the Rumbelows Cup era, do we? It’s bad enough when Sky do it to protect the Premier League ‘franchise’ but you expect more from the BBC.
2. Quarterback role
What? A quarter what? Is that a burger? This is one that has crept into football journalism and punditry over the last decade and it makes my blood boil. It seems that we’re not content with describing midfielders as ‘attacking’ or ‘deep lying’ or even ‘holding’. Hell, if you’re feeling particularly flamboyant, you can even describe them as playing ‘in the hole’. But ‘quarterback’?!?! Football is not, and never has been, an American sport. I first heard this during Sven Goran Eriksson’s ill fated experiment with David Beckham as a deep lying midfielder (another ‘DB7′ vanity project) launching balls up to England’s forwards. Since then, it has crept into use for any midfielder who has no pace and sprays long passes about. Not to mention it’s a fairly grandiose title for a player who simply horses it into the mixer. Does this make Paul Warhurst a quarterback? And what next? Will we introduce other sporting positions into the football lexicon? Will we soon be describing Iniesta as a world-class point guard? Will we laud Ryan Giggs as the best silly mid-off in the Premier League era? (see what I did there?)
3. Makelele role
This is a bit of a mangling of numbers 1 and 2. Some cerebral football journos seem to think that there was no such position as holding midfielder before Claude Makelele, hence they’ve named it after him. Sure, he was great at it but he wasn’t the best ever and by no means the first, unlike Cruyff’s turn. It’s a bit like referring to centre forward as the Kevin Campbell role. Depending on your age and personal bias, you could equally call Makelele’s position: the Keane role, the Hamman role, the Robson role, the Dunga role, the Souness role, or even the Nobby Stiles role. The possibilities are endless. How about the Terry Yorath role?
4. First name terms
Brian Clough must turn in his grave at the familiarity with which today’s pundits refer to players. It’s frighteningly common to hear Jamie ‘My Trousers Are Made Of Chrome’ Redknapp referring to how well Frank played today, or how good Stevie was. Who? Frank? Frank McAvennie? Frank Sinclair? Oh, Frank Lampard! He’s not our cousin, ‘Jamie’. We just know him as ‘Lampard’ (or possibly something less flattering). It’s not just Redknapp, they’re all at it. I heard Steve Claridge refer to him as Frank the other day – as if Claridge is a good friend of Lampard’s! It’s a peculiarly English affliction though, reserved for the Anglo-Saxons in the Premier League – Wayne, Jamie, Ashley and so on,. I don’t hear anyone referring to Dimitar, Kolo, or Yossi. Given his difficulty with pronouncing Benayoun, David Pleat probably should call him Yossi. But then he’d probably end up calling him Jossy or Yassir.
5. World class
The term ‘world class’ is bandied around in football more often than the term ‘bandied around’. It’s used to describe everything and everyone (see also: ‘legend’). A pass or a tackle can now be ‘world class’, even if delivered just once by a carthorse right-back. Surely the term ‘world class’ must have some boundaries on context and longevity? Surely if Zidane scoring his third goal in a World Cup final is ‘world class’, the same can’t be said of a half decent cross whipped in behind Bournemouth’s defence by Danny Cadamarteri? It used to be that only the very best or the most special were deemed ‘world class’. It used to be that ‘world class’ was reserved for those players that had consistently delivered at the very pinnacle of the game. This week, I heard of a “world class performance” by Chris Eagles.