Nobody came out of 'Ballboygate' with their dignity intact but there is a French revolution at Newcastle and hapless Aston Villa show that sometimes a win is not a winGeorge Ankers
No more heroes anymore
Usually in football, there is a clear sense of good and evil. You cheer for one side and hope that the other will lose. For generations, footballers were virtuous paragons, the avatar of the common man, fighting a battle against the drudgery of everyone's lives and winning.
Then the 1990s came and players were dunked into the money toilet and flushed hard. They became distorted nouveau-riche toads, out of touch with the common man. But still you cheer because, even though one group of financiodoped filth-wrigglers had to win, one group of them would lose. And that defeat is a victory for the common man.
No more. As Eden Hazard flashed back to a traumatic childhood incident in which a ballboy killed his favourite goldfish and consequently went postal on Swansea City foetus Charlie Morgan, it looked like he was literalising the divide between football's scum and the rest of us. He was doing no such thing.
Morgan, it was clear, had set out to rile Hazard and his Chelsea chums by deliberately timewasting. He meant to take the Swans to the Capital One Cup final by any means necessary – which turned out to include feigning injury as well. He wasn't even a foetus, it emerged, but a cider-guzzling man-boy old enough to be an Aston Villa veteran. Most reprehensibly of all, his Twitter bio described him as a "LAD".
|EXCLUSIVE: Handshake transcript
"Okay, mate, you can let go of my hand now."
In some corners of Twitter, Hazard was vilified as if he had stabbed a puppy, or racially abused a fellow professional, or enjoyed 'Clash of the Titans'. He is a villain in this piece, sure, but he has also proved that we are all villains. There are no more heroes. Football has taken them all away.
Plus, he got the ball.
If you don't like the Africa Cup of Nations, WWLTW doesn't like you.
If WWLTW had a penny for every time that the phrase 'French revolution' had been uttered or typed this week, it would have enough to stack together to form a life-size replica of Marion Cotillard.
The sudden deluge of players leaving French shores for Tyneside was, however, quite a shock. For one thing, it would have made much more sense for them to take the ferry from Calais to Dover rather than going all the way around to Newcastle.
"Ah am sorry if mah Eengleesh is a bit, er ... bof ... 'ow you say ... mingin'," manager Alain Pardieux told WWLTW at one of his many new-player-unveiling press conferences.
"'Owever, ah am confident zat these players will 'elp le Nouveauchateau compete for glory in le Championnat." He paused for a club lackey to whisper in his ear before exclaiming: "What ees this? In your country, le Championnat is ze second divison? Well, ah suppose zat would make more sense..."
|What we will learn this weekend...
|Time is running out for English football to decide whether 2013 is to be a brilliant or terrible year for goal celebrations. Dimitar Berbatov's maddening 'Keep Calm' T-shirt ended 2012 on a poor note and this week saw Arsenal start badly with Theo Walcott's grating contract-signature spectacular. Hopefully we will see sights like Nikica Jelavic emulating Congo goalkeeper Muteba Kidiaba's Gangnam-Style-style 'bum shuffle', as premiered at the Afcon. Worst case scenario: Luis Suarez demonstrates ironic solidarity by mime-kicking a young team-mate. Pick a side, Premier League!|
For, make no mistake, if Chelsea are not greeted on their February 2 visit to St James' Park by 50,000 people baying: "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries", then football is dead.
When a win is not a win
You know that your team are on a bad run when you lose even when you win.
Aston Villa are not as take-a-cheesegrater-to-your-eyeballs-so-that-the-pain-will-stop awful as Alex McLeish's team of last season but you suspect that even that rabble would have ground Bradford City into defeat.
Having started well and taken the lead, Paul Lambert's alarmingly youthful 'men' reacted to James Hanson's equaliser as if they had never seen anybody score against them before. That in itself is not a surprise – they have conceded so many of late that their brains likely erased all memory of the hideous business as a defence mechanism against the overwhelming trauma.
All credit, though, to Bradford, who proved that, with a bit of honest effort, you too can reach the Capital One Cup semi-final and beat children. Or was that Eden Hazard?
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