What to say of you liked it
A drama that exposes the dissolute and salacious world of football, and proves that they earn too much money (and that we should all love cricket and rugby. Ra! Ra! Ra!)
What to say of you disliked it
A cowardly, abysmal drama that sought to paint all footballers as potential drug taking rapists to assuage the insecurities of middle class professionals envious that young men from poor families have bigger houses than they do.
What was good about it?
• Wu-Tang Clan’s brilliant Protect Ya Neck was played during a nightclub scene.
• The drama hit its only nail on the head when it exposed football’s selective morality, after one expendable veteran accused of sexual assault was kicked out of the club as an example but the captain and the promising youngster were kept on.
What was bad about it?
• The characters were ludicrous and grotesque – the two worst were the football agent, who was oily, corrupt and avaricious with the same cartoon gangster attitude as the Spitting Image Terry Venables; and the club captain who was described as “our (Patrick) Vieira and (Roy) Keane”, when the very reason those two midfielders have been so good is that they don’t indulge in the excesses the captain did (at least since Keane gave up his only vice of drinking, which was a hangover from Ron Atkinson’s Manchester United). Plenty of lesser footballers have fallen in with the wrong crowd, and just as quickly out of form and their clubs.
• Hip hop was branded the music of the Devil like the chilling chanting that accompanied the deaths in The Omen, as it was always playing in the background during the most debauched scenes as if governing the rhythm of the players’ decadence.
• The way the drama sought to present a fictional story but interweave into it factual events through news broadcasts and tabloid front pages to add authenticity to the very subjective perspective, and ultimately coerce the audience into perceiving the drama as the “reality” behind the unproven allegations (which they couldn’t do overtly as they would have been sued).
• A newsreader lamented the fall of the “Beautiful Game”, as though it were a great a catastrophe as the fall of Byzantium, when the phrase “Beautiful Game” was coined only about five years ago by Pele, and it owed as much to his limited command of English as his skill to encapsulate the appeal of football in a simple slogan.
• While an investigation into the sometimes reprehensible conduct of footballers is in the public interest, the research that undoubtedly went into the programme would have been better served in an objective documentary than this vindictive propaganda.
• The actors had legs far too thin to be footballers.