Friday, 26 October 2007

The Bishop Knew

Oh come on guys. Sure, somebody’s got to be to blame. But isn’t this questioning Pardew’s abilities, even his position, going a tad over the top? Three games ago he was getting praise from Ferguson as we marched towards automatic promotion, now he’s bought badly and can’t get the team formation right.

In pre-season I half-wrote a post titled ‘Shock Horror Exclusive, Pardew not yet god’. It outlined doubts about some of his signings (at West Ham and for us) and suggested that some of the gloss was bound to come off at some point. I scrapped it because it seemed unnecessarily negative at a time when optimism was building as the season approached. I feel the same way now about the carping.

What on earth do we expect? Perfection? Curbs wasn’t perfect, nor to the best of my knowledge has anybody been since JC (and he seems to have had his off days). What are we trying to achieve (other than to vent our spleen and/or massage our egos by assuming that anybody’s listening) if we start to question Pardew’s position? The bottom line for me is that everything should be geared around maximising the chances of going away from matches as often as possible feeling happy, which first and foremost means winning – which means booing players during the game (unless they are not trying) and undermining the manager are both strict no-nos.

(I feel a separate post coming on. At half-time on Tuesday a couple of friends who due to family commitments can no longer make many games commented that they were enjoying the game. I said it’s fine as far as it goes but we’re losing. I guess I haven’t reached that higher, detached state and it set me thinking have there been any games that we lost that I enjoyed? So far I can only think of two but will give it more thought.)

There can be no question that Pardew was, by some distance, the best available option when he became available. He still is. If we finish mid-table that would probably still be the case. What is important is that he continues to learn and develop as a manager. He doesn’t seem to have a problem with confidence, which is fine as long as it doesn’t stand in the way of learning from mistakes. I hope he stays for 10 years or more – because that will mean he and the club have been successful in that time. Lennie and Curbs did tend to deny us a pleasure that I had grown up with, namely calling for the manager’s head. But all that went before them was failure and given the choice ….

So, who should we blame? OK, I’ll take the rap. A lifelong atheist, I ventured into Southwark Cathedral on Monday evening (which explains the photo). I may be enlightened, but my family has been turning increasingly fish all around me. My mother got involved with the church and now my sister has been officially stamped as a licensed reader (whatever that means). I don’t know what I said or did wrong on the night, but since then we have been beaten at home, lost Todorov for the season, and seem to be bickering among ourselves. I thought the bishop had a smile on his face when he looked my way. Maybe he knew something I didn’t. I should always remember god might not exist but he does have a sense of humour to go with a mean streak.

And talking of blame and punishments, this morning a package arrived from Lyon. I had forgotten about my penitence for the England v France rugby. Seems Suzanne hadn’t. What she has chosen is devilish in its construction. It seems my task when she is over next weekend is to cook blanquette de veau from an enclosed book of Lyon recipes. Not too bad you may think, even for someone of my limited culinary abilities. The problem is that it has to be as good as cooked by her favourite grandmother – and if not the punishment continues and escalates. So please, can anyone tell me of a restaurant/takeaway close enough to Blackheath that can do a perfect blanquette de veau?

They really are a breed apart these French. I remember a line from one of those comedy improvisation programmes: one of the things you’ll never hear a French person say – ‘and this part of the animal we throw away’. Of all the Lyon sausages I have tried I had decided that the classic rosette was my favourite (although asking for and eating a jesus was always amusing). Perhaps no more as I read the book's description: "the rosette is a sliced sausage, made in the rectum of a pig's entrails, whose anus is said to resemble a small rose".

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