“Shut your noise, you f****** old c***”.
In those seven words was laid bare the poor level of swearing in top flight football.
Yes, OK, it was heat-of-the-moment, think-on-your-feet sort of stuff, but that Alan Pardew’s finest insult towards Manuel Pellegrini was a reference to the eight years that separate the two men and two of the, albeit gratifying to use, cheapest and least imaginative profanities speaks volumes.
We live in a post-The Thick Of It world. The level and ingenuity of obscenity has been ratcheted up by several degrees and if you’re going to make an impact, you need to stand out in the field of obscenity. People expect more. Perhaps, instead of focusing on age, Pardew could have made reference to the wrinkles on Pellegrini’s face and likened him to a scrotum. Or his large ears that could potentially be capable of receiving North Korean TV. Maybe his haircut which looks like it belongs to Derby’s third-best Englebert Humperdinck impersonator. All provide a starting point for some properly florid and inventive insults.
Maybe managers who are less than Wildean in their wit should sit down with a swearing advisor before the start of a season and prepare some basics for each opposing manager that they can then riff around. To evade those pesky lip-readers, some rudimentary swears in Spanish, French, Danish, Dutch Portuguese and Norwegian may be deployed where appropriate. After all, those Viners and YouTubers won’t be expecting a swift ‘hijo de puta’or ‘arrache ta mere’ from the likes of Big Sam.
But football management is a pressurised job and there’s little that lets steam off better than a good, old-fashioned bout of cussing. So go old-fashioned, go Shakespearean, and next time a pair of managers get up in each others grill, I want to hear the phrase “loggerheaded, earth-vexing ratsbane”.