As it may have be gleamed from my previous articles, I am a Liverpool fan. I know, I know, nobody is perfect. But I like to think of myself as being, at least most of the time, a fairly reasoned and sanguine commentator when motivated to write about football.
I am also a user of twitter, although I mostly use it as a way of collating various sources of articles on subjects that interest me. Indeed, it is rare for me to get involved in the heated, faceless tribalism that permeates such social networking websites.
Finally, having studied Philosophy and Literature at Warwick, I do have a propensity to use what I have learned at the knees of some very intelligent people to analyse the things that I enjoy, Including football. Often, this comes at the price of my use of a lexicon that, at certain times, can be considered obscure, or pretentious, or demeaning. I would even admit to, at certain times, covering my proverbial backside with complex terms that mask over any deficiencies in my logic. That is to say, at times, I can be a bit of what is commonly termed a ‘pseud’.
It’s true, I admit it.
I often don’t understand why I like football. Certainly, it is not a common interest of my peers, not something particularly morally justifiable, nor it is something that has generally taught me anything about life. I think it is down to watching Football Italia in the late 90’s oscillate between James Richardson being delightfully wry and the Juventus of Del Piero and Nedved captivate my young self with moments of footballing beauty. That, and seeing Michael Owen, a player from not very far from where I was born, score that goal against Argentina.
But today, I got into my first, and hopefully only, twitter handbag-session. Menschliches, Allzumenschliches as Nietzsche would say. Here it is, in its rather droopy and pathetic entirety:
The source of my consternation was an article entitled ‘Brendan Rodgers is a Pretentious Egomaniac’. Strong words indeed. And slightly close to home, too. Indeed, in a previous article, I have myself attacked the idea of a football ‘philosophy’ as a nothing, an apparition of media-speak.
On the one hand, I offer this article as an apology for the childish level that my reaction to the article slid to.
On the other, I stand by my opinion. As an article, I feel it does operate an (unjustified) attack on an individual. For the most part, the article makes sense, is vaguely funny in its playful teasing (I refuse to use the word banter), and doesn’t say a great deal. But the paragraph that sent me overboard is the following one:
“… Then there’s his ridiculous vernacular. You don’t have to be the archetype of sophisticated intelligence to be a good manager – just look at Harry Redknapp – but Rodgers acts like a thick pseud. He says ‘myself’ when he means ‘me’. It sounds petty to mention, but it still leaves him sounding like a call centre manager, not a football manager. Ahead of yesterday’s game, he condoned diving because the diver, Luis Suarez, who has a reputation for diving, was not awarded debatable penalties. He said he was worried about ‘going forward’ when he meant ‘in the future’. Again, it might not be the biggest flaw in a human, but few people would lay their lives down on the line for David Brent, whatever Slough’s finest may have imagined. He also has an iMac, which is the undeniable totem of the bluffer.”
This is what I meant when I referred to the writer using an ad hominem argument. Firstly, having family that are, and being myself partly Irish, the use of ‘myself’ over ‘me’ consists only as accent, colloquialism. It was petty to mention.
Secondly, though it was wonderfully spun out by the press, Rodgers did not condone diving. He was, of course, delving into the depths of what his mentor, a certain Mr. Mourinho, was a master at – press mind games with the referees. I would go on to say, in light of this saturdays game against Norwich, that it didn’t work.
And then another pop at Rodgers’ colloquialisms. Ad hominem, ad infinitum.
This style of argument is the reason for my second criticism, anger induced and ivory tower as it sounds, of the article’s pervasive ressentiment.
Ressentiment, as handily described in this article, is:
‘… a state of repressed feeling and desire which becomes generative of values. The condition of ressentiment is complex both in its internal structure and in its relations to various dimensions of human existence. While it infects the heart of the individual, it is rooted in our relatedness with others. On the one hand, ressentiment is a dark, personal secret, which most of us would never reveal to others even if we could acknowledge it ourselves. On the other hand, ressentiment has an undeniably public face. It can be creative of social practices, mores, and fashions; of scholarly attitudes, academic policies, educational initiatives; of political ideologies, institutions, and revolutions; of forms of religiosity and ascetic practices.’
It becomes clear in the article that the author, whilst palming a veiled respect for Rodgers’ abilities, resents him or his personality. This, obviously, is fine – free will and free speech and all that. But it is also clear that this becomes the touchstone from which the author is manifesting a value system. That is to say, (in order that I too am not accused of being a ‘thick pseud’ for my phraseology) his resentment for Rodgers, and from reading the article, Liverpool Football Club and its fans in general, becomes the basis of value judgements (a judgment of the rightness or wrongness of something, or of the usefulness of something, based on a comparison) on them, rather than mere opinions – hence ressentiment.
This leads me, finally, to the actual point of this article. Yes, I apologise once again for my childish reaction. I am even sorry that you felt so compelled to write an article that I manifestly disagree with, and did so with so little panache or argumentative flair. But, in the end, I want to thank you. This is because, you have made me belatedly realise that this is symptomatic of the majority of football blogs (though not all, of course). Such resentment is not confined to your article, but to the whole spectrum of non-professional (and some professional) football blogs. Though they often offer in depth perspectives that would be left unread, offer a different view of the world of football and allow new light to be shed on the issues around the game, they also are utterly problematic in being so. To be a truly passionate fan, completely committed to a club, is something I cannot be. I cannot accept ressentiment, I cannot accept ad hominem attacks on individuals – I cannot accept the unconscious manifestations of the tribal aspect of the game. This is the reason I don’t understand why I like football. The racism. The violence. The sick chants. The inflated salaries. The simulacra. The press. These things are all the complex manifestations of ressentiment.
And for this reason, this will be the last sentence that I write for this blog, and probably about football in general, as it itself is not entirely free of such ressentiment.