In the past month alone, their numbers have been decimated. They have been 
culled like badgers, like diseased cattle. Thrown onto a farm bonfire and left to 
burn, baby, burn. They have been defenestrated. Decapitated. Hung (and 
drawn, and quartered) out to dry. 

It’s a wonder some charity purporting to ‘stand-up’ for endangered species has not become involved. 

National Disgrace

It’s a national disgrace our puffin-faced PM, Diddy David Cameron, has not erected himself in the House of 
Commons. Slapped a heavy, gold-bracelet-weighted wrist onto the despatch box. And told us we’re not having 
it. (Or maybe that we might be having it in a few years time: don’t listen to those rebel back-benchers.)

It defies belief a national day of mourning has not been called. We should, right now, be lining the streets, hats clasped to our chests, 
trousers at half-mast. Clocks should be stopped, drums muffled. Muzzle that dog who wants a juicy bone.

For they are... Well, they’re not dead, but they’re as good as. They are not Premier League 
managers any more. They have gone gentle into that good night, or they have raged against 
the dying of the light, but, ultimately, it has come to nought.

                                                            When they wake up this morning in their mansions. Scratch their bollocks and take a shit. 
                                                            Shake open the tabloid on breakfast table while the serving wench prepares a breakfast. And get that pang. I do not matter
                                                            anymore. I am not on the sports pages. My raison d’etre has been beasted.

Sir Alex Ferguson, Rafael Benitez, Roberto Mancini, Tony Pulis, Jose Mourinho (though he got a reprieve), David Moyes (him too), Alan Pardew (Geordies can only hope), Roberto Martinez. We shall never see your like again. Or maybe we will in a day’s time, when you rock up at another club.

It’s All the Fault of the Bloody Foreigners

It’s been described as a managerial merry-go-round, or perhaps - flippantly - the sack race, but really it is a ‘Game of 
Thrones’ at this vaunted level. It is the battle for primacy, for supremacy, for hegemony in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of 
Westeros. And some could argue football - at least at Premier League level - has about as 
much relevance to our miserable, Dickensian-poor, workaday, snotgobbling lives. We’re 
crawling through the muck in Flea Bottom, and the Premier League lords it over us like royalty. 
But that’s just simpering. What matters is these men, these culled badgers, and their fantastic, 
inhuman, inhumane, Tourette’s-triggered treatment at the hands of fate.

Exit, I sniff, Ser Alex Ferguson’s “tribal chieftain” as described by Jon Snow-a-like Russell Brand (of all people). Him from “north of the wall”,
from the land of snow and ice. Enter Gollum (okay, not strictly a character from ‘GOT’, but these fantasy realms can bleed into each other,
can’t they?) Exit Rafael Benitez. They took your cock like the sinister eunuch Varys. They called you “fat Spanish waiter”. They would not
follow you, despite the silver you delivered. And now you are gone. Enter Jose Mourinho, that puffed-up Targaryen dragon of spite and
specialness. Exit, through those revolving doors, the Tyrion-tempered Roberto Mancini – “Bobby Manc” as you were heralded by your
supporters - and enter Pellegrini, the not-so-funny, not-so-wayward Tywin Lannister of Manchester City Football Club.

Even at Stoke City, those perennial ‘crows’ of the watch, managerial changes have been made. Out of the door marked ‘Prithee Exeunt’ goes
Roose Bolton (Tony Pulis). At the time of writing a successor had not been named.

It’s Carlos Kickaball and them lot to blame (so says TV nice-guy Sir Alan Sugar)

Even amongst those scrapping to be amongst the ranks of those sat at the high table, there has been a plethora of switcheroos. The 
promise of gold, and silver, making trigger fingers itchy. Brighton, who appear to have dropped the suffix ‘and Hove Albion’, also look set 
to drop their boss Gus Poyet. As I write, he has been placed on indefinite gardening leave (perhaps at Highgarden) and asked to 
naughty-step-think about his behaviour when he sent that email out to staff asking who the hell had shat all over the opponent’s 
dressing room prior to a crucial play-off joust. Thankfully not at Crystal Palace, however, where the badger incarnate, Ian Holloway, a 
man who once compared himself to a “badger in mating season” when asked to pinpoint the ‘number’ of his ‘happiness’ on the 
Joy-Richter Scale, has remained in the hotseat.

​                                                               “When you play a game of thrones you win or you die.” So observes the soccerball fanatic George R.R. Martin in his 
                                                                loosely veiled satires on the English Premier League (indeed, some critics have suggested the entire series is a kind 
                                                                of ‘Secret Footballer’ whistleblowing peeeeeep, like that of a tiring referee, on the state of the game today). And the 
                                                                Game of Thrones continues relentlessly, remorselessly. Forging narratives, plots, and subplots. Ruthlessly discarding
                                                                much-loved characters. Witness the retirement of Liverpool’s Jamie 'The Hound' Carragher (although, a more apt
                                                                comparison might be Carlos Tevez and t’Hound). Or that of David 'Jamie Lannister' Beckham. In the books, and the 
                                                                HBO TV series, Jaime Lannister only had his hand cut off, but in real life, it was much worse: he was symbolically
                                                                castrated after trundling around for Paris Saint Germain his last ever football match. Or that of wee Michael Owen, a 
                                                                man as dull as Davos Seaworth... 

Postage Stamp - Top Corner

The Game of Thrones continues. At House Liverpool, with their sigil the Biting Man. The club a case model for how to 
make ‘history’ history. At House Chelsea, where the oligarch owner makes sport resemble an infinite money cheat on a 
computer game: “An Abramovich always pays his debts”. At House Arsenal, perching high upon a pile of gold they are 
saving for a rainy day, where their manager, Arsene Wenger, as financially astute as Littlefinger (Petyr Baelish) never really 
gets the girl.

At Manchester City. The lazer blues resemble King Joffrey in ‘GOT’. They cut a 
sulky, seething, sometimes silly, always selfish figure. They enjoy harpooning ladies of 
the night in their bedchamber. Barney Ronay, in The Guardian, described City’s ‘personality’ under the petro-billionaire ownership of
Sheikh Mansour (a feller who has invested over - finger crooked to the lips a la Doctor Evil - one billion pounds in the club, and
who has only bothered going to watch them battle once) thusly: “To the billionaire, sport, with all its glorious uncertainty, is
something to be tamed and killed, machine-gunned with money, until even the grandest football club begins to resemble some
stretched and burnished trophy wife, muzzled beneath a paste of high-end slap and stitch.”

Seemingly oblivious to the myriad PR disasters which had occurred under their ‘watch’, City suits saw fit to boot out manager Bobby Manc - in fine style too: rumours of his departure first, surfacing like a shit that wouldn’t flush on FA Cup Final day - just before the conclusion to the season, stating 
their desire for a more “holistic” approach from the next manager.

I looked it up in my official ‘Game of Thrones’ dictionary. It summarises “holistic” like this - Holism (from ὅλος holos, a Greek word 
meaning all, whole, entire, total), is the idea that natural systems (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, 
linguistic, etc.) and their properties, should be viewed as wholes, not as collections of parts. This often includes the view that 
systems somehow function as wholes, and that their functioning cannot 
be fully understood solely in terms of their component parts.

So, in other words, vacuous nonsense (just like the brand of nonsense Brendan Rodgers would spout, like
some unholy concoction of a teakettle and a bluskythinking book on CD which you can listen to in the Mondeo
on the way to the next appointment). And yet they expect us to believe it.

Football has become high fantasy. We speak in tongues. So do commentators, players, managers. 

I just hope George R.R. Martin is already working on the script for next season, because I for one can’t wait!

Woohoo! LOL. LOL.

Grant Mortar, aka, Andrew J Kirby is the author of ‘Fergie’s Finest’, which was released this month, and by no means cashes in on Fergie’s retirement… 
Take a look on Amazon now. Here’s the link for the paperback version.

And here’s the link for the ebook (which is only £1.99).


Sir Alex Ferguson was one of the greatest football managers of all time. 

In over 26 years in charge of Manchester United, his passion for winning and tactical flair made them the most successful club in the Premier
League. Under his guidance, United won an eye-watering 38 trophies, including 13 league championships. 

But who were the greatest players of the Ferguson era? 

Over 185 players debuted for United under Ferguson and more than 200 players wore the red jersey for Fergie. 

They included legends of the modern game from David Beckham to Ryan Giggs, from Roy Keane to Bryan Robson, and from Eric Cantona to
Cristiano Ronaldo.

But which were the Greatest Eleven? 

Is Robin Van Persie the greatest striker? Or Ruud Van Nistelrooy?

Was Paul Scholes the best player in the heart of the midfield? Or Bryan Robson? 

In this fascinating study, Andrew Kirby selects the ultimate 'Team Fergie'. 

With interviews from football writers and former players, this book considers the leading contenders for each position in Sir Alex Ferguson’s First Eleven.

It is the one book every Manchester United fan - and indeed every football supporter - will want to read. 

Andrew J Kirby’s sports writing has featured in BBC Sport magazine, and on the Radio Five Live website. He has written for Stretty News and Old Trafford Faithful blog sites. He has held a Manchester United season ticket for the entirety of the Sir Alex Ferguson reign at Old Trafford, and regularly follows the Reds across Europe and beyond.

He also writes award-winning crime fiction as AJ Kirby, and has published five novels including Sharkways and Paint This Town Red, which was shortlisted for the Guardian's Not the Booker Prize 2012.

with Grant Mortar

Home Defence UK
A Symptom of a Greater Malaise
The Premier League’s 
Game of Thrones
An Opinion Piece 

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