Did we like it?
Ray Winstone’s portrayal of a Premiership football manager certainly had impact – like a tormented Shakespearean king on the verge of a bloody breakdown – but the storylines in Tony Grounds’ drama were a little too simple and stereotypical.
What was good about it?
• Winstone never held back as nest-feathering manager Frank, swearing and bullying as he turned the beautiful game very ugly. “I’m sweating like a rapist, like a lesbian in a f**king fish shop,” was one of the memorable phrases he spat out as he bullied his way around the club.
• While Frankie was one-dimensional, Danny Dyer was multi-faceted as Martin, Frankie’s bullied son who hated the game of football yet loved the gains of football and was convincing as a bung-loving agent.
• The scattering of 136 f-words and seven c-words seemed authentic. As did one footballer’s boast about a groupie: “I’m gonna be pushing that round my carpet tonight, leaving a nice deposit of bollock yoghurt.”
• Working out the DNA of Frankie was fun. We detected 25 per cent Terry Venables, 20 per cent George Graham, 20 per cent Alex Ferguson, 15 per cent Sam Allardyce, 10 per cent Stuart Pearce, 5 per cent Harry Redknapp, 5 per cent José Mourinho
• Morality scraped a narrow win over immorality, but not without sustaining a serious bruising.
What was bad about it?
• Teenage sensation Joel (Ike Hamilton) underwent a far-too-predictable rise and fall, with his naive, excited love of football soon taking second place to a desire for fame, cheap women, expensive tastes and lousy music.
• The fans’ fevered hounding of chairman George ‘We’re a sleeping giant’ Swaine (Roy Marsden) after an FA Cup defeat by Shrewsbury was far too melodramatic and implausible.
• Talking of implausibility: how come a Premiership club was eliminated from the FA Cup before Christmas?
• No shower scenes – apart from a glimpse of Winstone’s widespread bottom
• Some clumsy attempts to put forward the notion that “the very soul of the game is rancid.”
• Danny Dyer’s red hair
• Frankie’s rant – “Come in you two, you look like Hinge and Brackett” – seemed awfully dated.