I saw it all


Alfred Hitchcock often walked on screen to introduce his features with a hint of what to expect. All I will say in my short cameo is that the following season review contains no less than twenty five Hitchcock titles.

I have recently been looking at the work of Francis Alys, who was described by the new issue of Tate Etc magazine as ‘like an elongated Alfred Hitchcock… who likes to grant himself a walk-on part in his own compositions’.

This was another coincidence in a series – Alys’s work features an ongoing project about lookalikes entitled doppelgangers, with which my own work unwittingly resonates; that a classic Hitchcock film just started on Sky Showcase (To Catch a Thief) and that my first ever piece for efp nearly three years ago, referenced Hitchcock, indeed my section on this site is named after another of his movies.

But, most importantly for the purpose of this article, the biggest act of synchronicity was that, little did we know it at the time, but Hitchcock’s oeuvre predicted the 2009-10 football season almost exactly.

For example, he designed the titles for 1921′s Appearances – actually about David Moyes’s ability to make a ‘silk purse out of a sow’s ear’ (according to a nez-rouge friend of mine) and overcome several obstacles during the course of the season. It is very easy to state that if we had had a fully fit Arteta, Jagielka, Saha, Yakubu, Fellaini, Neville even, and a less tired Bilyaledtinov – who showed glimpses of real quality amidst the mediocrity – for the whole season, we might have pushed those teams only a couple of points above us for the European places. However, the form shown by the boys in blue during the second half of the season proved this to be true.

But, for some reason, this season injuries seemed to affect many of the bigger teams. Arsenal, Man United (who at one stage had no fit defenders or something equally surreal) and Liverpool certainly suffered more than usual. The usual excuses of pitches and boots don’t, for me, fully explain heavily populated physio rooms. Perhaps something more sinister is at play? Or maybe that’s just my Suspicion.

Talking of The Birds, our esteemed editor when I explained the themes behind this offering, recounted the tale of a bird smashing into his window whilst was recently re-watching Tippi Hedren et al – but thinking about the Liver variety – the worst Anfield team I think I have seen in my lifetime limped to a Europa League position, a competition so derided earlier in the season then suddenly embraced like the desperate mothers who clamour over random returning mine children at the end of Temple of Doom (not a Hitchcock film, surprisingly) despite early season promise. It must be said that their Downhill spiral was largely caused by the unrest caused by Hicks and Gilette, standing away from each other facing opposite directions just like the famous statues atop the Liver buildings. But, some of the blame should be placed at the feet / hands / decisions of increasingly frustrated-looking Spanish Jaded one.

At this point I will be accused of bitterness, so would like to repeat said friend and admit despite their poverty of excitement they still finished above us for the 22nd time out of 23 seasons, but suggest an alternative – maybe Alfred J. was focusing more on the birds of the Magpies, and Notts County’s successes or Newcastle’s impressive resurgence as they stormed back to the Premiership. As I have stated before, I have soft spot for the Geordies, I Confess, as I do for Blackpool, due to my time as a student, back when I was young and innocent… The Seasiders may well get vertigo (like Burnley did) and not from the tower but the heights of the EPL… Best of luck to them at Wembley, anyway.

Ian Holloway is often seen as a ‘character’ and extrovert, his zany orange ties tell us that much, but I quite like him too. At least he isn’t Rich and Strange, the way I would describe Manchester City this year, and their lack of ‘class and dignity’ in several episodes – particularly defeat twice to us ‘paupers’ – and the anticlimactic derby defeats, when we dialled M for Murder, also seemd to be the catalysts for a catalogue of trouble-ridden episodes, with particularly ugly scenes marring what should have been happy situations on the last days of the season at various grounds across the country. I do hope these episodes do not signal the arrival of another Fighting Generation, because going the match will not be such a pleasant experience if so.

bellamy punch I saw it all

Fans who were pleasantly accepting of their difficult position were Portsmouth’s, even though they were annoying at the final game of the season, and whatever happens in the cup final, they have overcome the Trouble with Harry to gain respect and, dare I say, made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Appy Arry, often labelled an Arthur Daley character, himself won Manager of the Year despite Roy Hodgson’s admirable work at Fulham, and I just hope Spurs don’t suffer from stage fright as they embark upon Champions League qualifiers.

Of course, Pompey face Chelsea, who played some great football this season and gave out several thrashings despite NOT BEATING EVERTON but it was their performances off the pitch which made the more headlines. The moral of the story as two of England’s key players disgraced themselves was ‘always tell your wife’ but whatever Bellamy might say in a post-match interview, Ashley Cole was adamant that after a bad year, a premier league medal ‘makes up for all that’, whilst the lady vanishes…

I have mentioned before many times that this was the year I gave up my season ticket, partly to spend the money on a special holiday and subsequent engagement, and my own Princess of New York was more than worth the sacrifice. A secondary consequence of my actions meant a few trips to the pub, visits to dodgy (football-showing) websites and a compromise of Sky for the first time in my life resulted in the chance to indulge myself in Spanish football, and I marvelled at the chance to see La Liga games every week. Mainly, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the heir to his coach’s unstable throne, Lionel Messi, whose performances often left me spellbound even after revistas. The titanic struggle between the top two comes to a head this weekend, despite Real’s spending frenzy last summer, when our own top two said bon voyage to Ronaldo and Alonso respectively who have been sorely missed.

And so we come to the summer and the World Cup. We are all excited, I am sure, though I admit only Leighton Baines’s inclusion will entice me to support England. Algeria, Nigeria, USA, and other countries, have far more resonance with me, don’t give me the finger, I promise I will report all to you as a Foreign Correspondent for the next six weeks…