There are few more annoying people on this planet than Ryan Seacrest. The American Idol host sports auto-tuned hair, a spray-on voice, and a cliched chin. Even his assorted platitudes sound botoxed and stiff. Seacrest is at his most irritating when he talks about history.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” booms the reality TV Bard. “Last night we had the most watched show in Idol history“. It’s the last word which grates. It could be changed for countless other terms and it wouldn’t even register on my radar.
History is a powerful word. By using history Seacrest implies that American Idol has a long and storied background. It doesn’t, and that’s the problem. I can see what they our trying to do, history is something that everyone wants, it adds gravitas and legitimacy. The Premier League uses this trick too – history is good as long as you have it.
In English football, history is increasingly becoming a hoop that trophy winners have to jump through. Without history you’re a second class citizen, a usurper, a johnny-come-lately. Without history your trophy doesn’t gleam as much as it could.
Interestingly, all the clubs that are taunted for their percieved lack of history, do have a past. Both Chelsea and Man City, whilst not giant trophy gobbling monster-clubs – are by no means minnows – and have won big trophies in the past.
I’ve been stung into questioning the history of both these clubs in the past. Man City, under Mark Hughes, pursued Joleon Lescott with all the relentless amorality of date rapists. Unable to take no for an answer they ran us off the road and took one of our best players against our will. This season they initially looked like they would steamroller everyone. Then they looked a mess. And finally, at the death they won it.
Man City are champions, but – astoundingly – they last won the league in 1968. This clearly means that they don’t deserve it. Although does that mean that Man Utd – who before their Premier League trophy binge had last won the title in 1967 – didn’t deserve to win in 1993? Surely the only criteria for being champions, the only hurdles that need to be jumped, are accruing more points over 38 games than anyone else?
What’s that you say? Clubs that “buy” the league don’t count?… That’s an interesting assertion too. If a club doesn’t deserve to lift the title because they spent ridiculous amounts on players then is the opposite true? Do we moan and gnash teeth when a team gets relegated after spending no money? No, we instead tell them they were asking for it. Money makes the football world go round. It always has.
There’s a club that fired their manager in the back of a taxi, brought in a hard nosed replacement and spent spent spent until they won the title. That club was known as the Merseyside Millionaires, as the Bank of England. We were that club.
There’s a club that bullied its way into promotion to the top division at the expense of a local rival. They also upped and moved in search of a more lucrative demographic of fans. That club is Arsenal.
That’s not to say that both clubs don’t have glorious sepia tinged seasons and great black and white hopes in their histories too. This is how history always seems to be, it’s always a force for good. It was always better back then. The glass of history isn’t just half full, it’s sloshing over with tales of brilliance. That’s why the Premier League and American Idol want history.
Is the present as important as the past?As Man City assemble a footballing Death Star, we Evertonians sit in a small hut in the swampy Dagobah system reminiscing about past glories like pitiful Jedi. Our past is very important. Reading books by esteemed Evertonians like Dr France and James Corbett has made me even more addicted to our history. We have the greatest striker and the greatest goalkeeper in British football history. We have stars in every position, and reading about their exploits helps ease the pain about our current plight. But there’s something not right, almost bitter, about implying that because a team hasn’t won a title for a decades, that they shouldn’t be winning it now.
The 60’s is seen by some as a golden era for English football. In some ways it was – the sheer variety of title winners would be mind blowing in the Premier League:
• 1960/61 Tottenham Hotspur
• 1961/62 Ipswich Town
• 1962/63 Everton
• 1963/64 Liverpool
• 1964/65 Man Utd
• 1965/66 Liverpool
• 1966/67 Man Utd
• 1967/68 Man City
• 1968/69 Leeds Utd
• 1969/70 Everton
And it wasn’t just the title winners that were ever-changing, the entire league table was a swirling primordial soup – unpredictable and exciting. Moaning about Man City winning seems odd, finally we have a fresh face!
City’s resurgence is good for everyone because it means there are 6 big spenders competing for 4 Champions League positions. These teams are equipped for the high altitude climbs of the top four, they can’t survive outside it for long. Even with Abramovich as their owner, Chelsea will be desperately hurting if they don’t qualify for next season’s Champions League. Once these teams fall out of the top four they struggle, flapping around like a fish out of water. Owners get desperate and make rash decisions, sackings ensue as does chaos. Teams like Everton are leaner and cheaper, but can survive without European football.
The big myth is that everything in football can be predicted. Billionaires can take over teams, transfer sprees can go awry, and with the imminent introduction of Financial Fair Play spending will be restricted. I don’t buy into the idea that the top four game of musical chairs will come to a sudden halt when FFP comes along; that everything will freeze and the top four will stay that way forever. Six into four doesn’t go – and FFP combined with itchy spending fingers will hurt the big teams.
History is our link to Everton’s glorious past but it doesn’t mean that all out history is good, and it certainly doesn’t mean only certain clubs with the requisite past glories deserve to win titles. Nothing is like the old days, even the old days. History can be overrated.