30 December 2016

Gary Alexander Neville Bonaparte

Gary Neville's premature post-mortem of the Karius situation underlines something sordid in his character, and an indifference to the standard of reporting, that has brought me out of the wilderness. There's an insinuation that Neville was doing his job, in driving conversation. There's an insinuation that Liverpool and Karius shouldn't have reacted, which was the real reason for there even being a "situation". There's also the tasteless suggestion that his, and his peers' "shut your face", was more about advising on the timing of a response, vs a good old fashioned telling-off. The timing of Gary's summation itself, coinciding with Karius being dropped from the first team. Complete, and utter revisionism.

Football in of itself is not, and shouldn't really be that serious; at least for the consumer. For the players, it is their livelihood, their world, and their legacy. But even for the consumer, the hyperbole, as an extension of what has now become in vogue, is serious enough to warrant more than apathy. While people have their existential crises about fake news and Trump, the false-dichotomies and full lies of this world are par for the course, supposedly. The problem is, it's all the same facking world.

This is not the job, Gary.

Forgetting what it should or needs to be, at the very least, it doesn't have to be. That Karius is not even close to Buffon, and needs to improve as a player in order to represent Liverpool long-term, is an entirely valid point for discussion. That he should be dropped in the truest sense of meritocracy, is also an entirely reasonable view to hold. Remembering that Buffon and Van Der Sar, or even more fashionably Lloris have struggled for form and made mistakes along the paths of their respective careers, there's a nuanced criticism that should be part of the foundation of being a journalist (you know, the canons of journalism). Much less, for criticism coming from a former non-Cafu, non-Salgado, human, footballer. This is not to suggest that his talent as a player means that he cannot hold certain views. You would however hope that with his unique context, he would understand that human beings are not PlayStation characters. That Karius is unfit for this level of football after 12 appearances, is disturbingly reductive, and callous. Callous, in the limited view that it provides to consumers; "World Class" or shit. That Gary then chose to respond to one line in a player's interview, quipping about steak, revealed the reality. That his brother and peers unionized akin to a post-American-police-shooting, revealed the feeble egos of bullies. I read Karius' interview. Yes, he was suggestive about Gary's short stint as an actual manager. But that was neither the overarching tone, nor the subject he was addressing in his response. He said quite simply, that Gary is a harsh critic, and that he hopes that with time and his own improvement, that Gary will be as effusive (unsolicited) in his praise. Jurgen Klopp jumped to his player's defense. Sterner, more pointed words, but still not quite the indignant tone of Sir Alex about Veron. That this riposte is considered inflammatory by Gary is ridiculous. You are not the only one with the freedom to criticize, especially as a rebuttal. It is nonsensical hypocrisy to suggest that he/they have pitted themselves against 'the media'. It's against you, or more accurately, to defend themselves against you. It is the behavior of a tremendous loser or at the very least a bully, to expect to be able to do 'the job' with complete impunity.

You're too tall for this "complex" Gary...

To use Karius being dropped as an opportunity to summarize, is to editorialize, as if vindicated, in the final unveiling of this small-minded man. It's 12 total appearances, by a 23 year old who recently returned from injury. To trivialize it all, as shaping conversations, is to devalue the importance of truth, and to undermine the media's own utility. To treat it all with apathy is to pass the baton in a race towards Idiocracy. The media can help inform, and push a better way of thinking. It can also inculcate and drive unintelligent divisiveness. It can legitimize the illegitimate.

It's interesting that there were no such damning analyses of Gary's career as a manager. No obituaries. No experienced coaches chiming in with I-told-you-so's. Instead we get one-liners and jokes between mates' about his 'failure'. Is that career not finished too? Is that not a conversation worth having for the consumer? What's maddening is that what could have been used as an opportunity for growth on both sides (young aspiring coach/player), is being used as an opportunity to yell "SQUAD" and "WORLDSTARRRR". Klopp wants this to be about Liverpool and Manchester. Gary talks about his castigation of Fellaini in the truest "I work with a black guy so I'm no racist" parallel. Meanwhile Jamie and Phil tell people to shut up. Is it really that hard to take one step back? Klopp dropping Karius means that he sees the truth, and has to also protect the kid. Klopp's rebuttal should have signaled to Gary that perhaps he went too far. To think that Gary started as the people's answer to 'get it in the box' commentary. But here we are again, deplorable messages and grabbing sniffling pussies.

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