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Soup of This Day #179: Believe It Or Not I’m Not Home

May 18, 2012

NYC taxis
Faced with having to take a taxi across town to save the world, the Green Lantern chose to walk – Photo: Joseph Plotz, 2009. Joseph Plotz is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

When I was younger I was fairly across the whole superhero thing. My favourite was the Green Lantern. He had everything – Could do anything and could not be defeated.

Except by the colour yellow.

Which is a pretty big chink in the ol’ superhero armour. Particularly if the armour is made of gold. Gold being a variant of yellow.

Come to think of it, there’s a bit of yellow in a lot of stuff. Cheese is often yellow. Lemons are yellow. I’m guessing that the Green Lantern would wig out if ever a dinner party host unveiled a lemon cheesecake for afters.

‘Listen pal,’ you’d hear him say, ‘you reckon you’ve got problems being lactose intolerant? That cheesecake could take over the world and I’d be powerless to prevent it.’

That cheesecake though is just the tip of a giant yellow iceberg (Don’t drink the melt from that). You get yellow in sunsets. In fact, you get yellow in pretty much all of the light from the Sun. Even the colour green itself, so beloved by the Green Lantern, can be made by mixing blue and wait for it… yellow.

I’m now older and I think that the Green Lantern’s powers are not for me. I’m looking for something a little more pragmatic.

And I need something a little more realistic, more obtainable. It’s unlikely a dying alien will bequeath me a power ring.

Nope. I’m going to need to gain my superpower via conventional means – I’m going to need to have been born with it.

Given that, I’ve spent some time reflecting upon me, working to tease out what my superpower is. And after a great deal of introspection I’ve come up with superhuman talent that is perhaps a touch ironic…

Yep, it turns out that my special superpower is the ability to be very self-reflective. Granted, as a superpower it’s not going to be much use in the short term if say, I’m engaged in a battle with a supervillain like Sinestro. My powers of self-reflection in truth only have an immediate impact on me. In the long run though my mental health will surely outstrip his – That dude is heading for a breakdown and he can’t see it coming.

This superpower isn’t just for combating intergalactic evil – It’s also very useful as a sports fan.

See, it allows me to view my teams a little more objectively. To steal a riff from Seinfeld, I’m not a face painter – I’m the guy who thinks about being a face painter but who ultimately recognizes that it will have minimal impact upon the actual sport being played. Also I have a substantial beard – It’s bad enough that I get food stuck in that, getting paint in there would be ugly. Overall I think I’ll just skip the application of pigment to my facial region and stick to more conventional supporting attire, like replica shirts or hats.

I’m a rational sports fan.

That’s right – I suffer from chronic depression and all of the really crap stuff that goes with that, like anxiety and hypochondria – Yet I’m able to engage with my sporting teams in a reasonable level way.

Oh, I still rant.

Many’s the time my wife has threatened to nick off with the remote if I don’t stop haranguing the TV because the Fremantle Dockers have… well… done pretty much anything.

What I don’t do is carry the feeling over after the game – What the Fremantle Dockers do on the field of play is not going to fix my depression and I know that. Similarly the Red Sox collapse of September was just a little bit horrible but when compared to having the black dog hounding me it was a pretty small drop in the ocean. Liverpool losing the FA Cup Final a few weeks back sucked but had they won would it have covered off our dog dying? Not likely. Sport isn’t a crutch I’m going to turn to.

Which is a good thing of late because my teams have been playing like @#$%. Chief among them has been Liverpool FC.

The Reds have just finished off their worst season in the English Premier League (EPL) since it’s inception in 1992. After 38 games they had slumped into the mid-table obscurity of 8th, a place below their financially crippled neighbours Everton. In the process they won just 6 games at Anfield out of 19 attempts. Their winning percentage in total was just 36.84%, their lowest since 1953/54, just a year after England last had a king.

That though is just statistical candy in the harsh present of the EPL. Far more substantive are the following numbers: Liverpool finished on 52 points, a whopping 37 adrift of the champions, Manchester City. If you lower the bar somewhat to just Champions League (CL) qualification (Top 4) then the Reds were still 17 points adrift. That’s 6 wins from making it into the lucrative CL and 13 wins from winning the only prize that matters to Liverpool’s legions of fans. Damningly, if you flip the bar upside down then the Merseysiders were just 16 points plus goal difference from relegation.

Some face painters will point to the League Cup win, Liverpool’s 1st piece of silverware for 6 years, as a sign that it’s not all gloom at Anfield. Sadly they are not possessed of my superpower and I suspect their face paint is yellow. As the New York Times points out, with perspective enhanced by the gulf of the Atlantic, the League Cup is 2nd-tier. Liverpool have spent an estimated £120 million under the tenure of manager Kenny Dalglish since January of 2011 – That’s 1st-tier spending for a single 2nd-tier trophy – That’s the kind of calculation that just yesterday cost Dalglish his job.

Liverpool’s managing director Ian Ayre summed up the situation succinctly when he was asked if Liverpool winning the FA Cup Final would have saved Dalglish in the eyes of owners, John W. Henry, et al of Fenway Sports Group (FSG):

‘It was a very simple decision based on results and based on whether you believe that that’s going to change. Thirty-seven points off the winners, 17 points off fourth place and 14 losses. That was the measurement on which the owners made their decision. And they made their decision without using advisors.

“The Carling Cup [League Cup] and the FA Cup don’t generate the revenue and the success that is needed to keep investing. If you want to be successful, you have got to keep investing. People don’t want to hear that football is a business. They want to see us put lots and lots of money into the football team and win lots of trophies and games. But you have got to have both. You have got to have continued progress in the league. If you don’t do well in the league and you don’t get into the Champions League, you are writing cheques from your own pocket, aren’t you? That is not a sustainable way going forward.’

And it isn’t.

See for modern football clubs their weakness is not like for the Green Lantern – It’s not the colour yellow. In fact it’s not so much a colour as a concept – See, the big weakness for a modern football club is debt. You don’t have to look back far into EPL history to find examples of the damage that can be wreaked by debt. For that, there is Yorkshire’s Leeds United AFC.

Leeds are 1 of the most supported clubs in the UK. From 1964 until 1974 they were English football royalty – Twice winning the top tier and 5 times finishing as runner-up. In 1992 they won the last Division 1 title before it became the EPL and across the turn of the millennium were 1 of England’s powerhouse teams, memorably reaching the CL semis in 2001, partly off the back of a serious spending spree.

Their EPL form though dropped off and they failed narrowly to qualify for the 2002 CL. From there they imploded – Without the CL’s attendant income they were forced into selling off any player with a heartbeat and they were relegated in 2004. In 2007, with a League-imposed points deduction for financial mismanagement Leeds were relegated again, this time entering the 3rd-tier of English football for the 1st time in their 88 year existence. They’re now back in the 2nd-tier but they are a shadow of the once-great club that set the gold standard in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The influx of big money and the associated debt have been an imposed evil for football clubs. The good news for Liverpool is that I have a way forward that won’t involve a Leeds-type collapse…

See, I know who to call to deal with evil…

‘In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!’

Believe It Or Not I’m Not Home

  1. Every time the New Jersey Devils play hockey, I envision David Puddy on Seinfeld with his “THE DEVILS” face paint on. Hilarious. I have never dabbled in face painting, either as the painter or the paintee.

    • Puddy is a favourite Seinfeld character of mine. His 8-ball jacket, with all signs pointing to yes, is a fashion statement I’ve longed to emulate. Saying that, since I 1st saw that Devils ep I’ve never had the desire to support them.

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