The 10 most annoying football cliches

Some football clichés gladden the heart, their existence as reassuring as seeing tinned custard in your nan’s cupboard. A cultured left foot; handbags in the centre-circle; a roll-call of butchers, bakers and candlestick makers in the FA Cup third round. Elsewhere the news may be full of doom and gloom but at long as these comforting truisms persist all is right with the world.

Others, however, grate. They shred at the nerves, poison our ear canals, and make our teeth physically itch. If we never again hear teams referred to in the plural – your Chelseas, your Manchester Uniteds – that would be a start. Then we can begin with these over-used monstrosities, the TEN most annoying football clichés that stick in our collective craw.

“He hit it too well if anything”

No, Mr Commentator he did not hit it too well. You’re mistaking over-achievement with simply striking the ball cleanly. The reason the player is not presently peeling off his shirt to reveal his new chest tattoo to a stand of jubilant supporters is chiefly due to his missing of the target. His choice of power over placement was ill-judged and furthermore his aim was amiss. So, to borrow from your clunky vernacular, if anything he hit it too poorly.

“2-0 is a dangerous score-line”

0-2 is a dangerous score-line as it signifies that the team we’re cheering on are two goals down with a small mountain to climb. Whereas 2-0 is a situation we’d all happily snap off the proverbial hand for every single week, even those among us who flinch at tiny spiders or cower behind the sofa at Doctor Who. If the vague threat of complacency setting in is genuinely considered perilous by the perpetrator of this annoying slice of psychological guff we suggest they spend a night drinking in Leeds with a Manchester United top on. That’s dangerous.

“It’s time to tell us who your Man of the Match is, Michael?”

Things were so much simpler in the 1980s. Back then Ron Atkinson would award the bottle of champers to Bryan Robson even when Bryan Robson wasn’t playing.

Now the co-commentator’s pick for Man of the Match is trailered like the latest departee on X Factor and given an importance it simply doesn’t merit.

After 90 minutes of typically banal and startlingly obvious analysis your man stays true to form anyway and plumps for the hat-trick hero or most prominent midfielder.

Social media knee-jerkers

A token glance at any Facebook supporter’s group page following a disappointing result is sufficient cause to weep for mankind while the final whistle can often unleash an apocalypse on Twitter. At the heart of all this chaos lies the knee-jerk fan whose outlook is as changeable as the weather… if that weather is a heatwave one moment and a raging hurricane the next. A struggling player must immediately be flogged for a pittance. The manager should be given his P45 then reinstated just so he can be sacked again. The debutant meanwhile is definitely the next Messi and Ronaldo rolled into one.

Fast forward seven days and the opinions are equally as extreme, yet turned completely on their head. The knee-jerkers regularly partake in a competition of stupid and there are no winners.

There’s no easy games in international football anymore

Gibraltar has a population of 30,000 which roughly equates to half of Margate. Since their acceptance as a full UEFA member in 2013 their competitive record stands at played nine, lost nine, with a goal difference of minus 48.

Andorra have one victory to show for sixteen years of competing in qualifying campaigns while San Marino were thumped 13-0 by Germany in 2006 and few raised even an eyebrow.

There are easy games in international football.

The one-phrase fan

You take to your seat, acknowledge the parp of the opening whistle and immediately know it is coming. It’s as inevitable as night following day and as unavoidable as Josh Widdecombe being on a panel show. The season ticket holder who sits directly behind you, the one who has seen better days, pipes up right from the off, employing his one stock phrase for any given circumstance. Sure enough you feel the cold splatter of spittle on the back of your neck and shudder.

It really is quite impressive. Football is a complex, nuanced game of chaos yet any given situation is deemed appropriate to once again spew out his universal refrain.

A throw-in? ‘GET INTO ‘EM’. Lost possession? ‘GET INTO ‘EM’. A spell of sustained pressure? “GET INTO ‘EM”.
You hear it in your nightmares.

The quarterback role

Known for executing another irksome cliché – the ‘Hollywood pass’ – the Quarterback Role is the exclusive reserve of the mid-thirties midfielder whose legs are beginning to go. No longer capable of quick pass-and-move this filled-out veteran relies instead on launching speculative forty yarders that look mightily impressive on the very rare occasion they find a target.

It’s not big and it’s not clever and neither is the analogy.

Twitter tactics bloke

Having read half of Jonathan Wilson’s Inverting The Pyramid this self-appointed doyen of social media eschews excitable opinion in favour of breaking down a performance to its nuts and bolts. Which is perfectly fine except that no matter the opposition or the players available the solution always appears to be a midfield diamond.
You’ll see him away from his timeline in the pub each Monday night, nodding solemnly along to Gary Neville as if to say “Well done for noticing that too”.

“He’s not that kind of player”

A shoplifter grabs some wares, looks the shop owner directly in the eye, before legging it into the street. His companion shrugs and offers a feeble apology. “He’s not that kind of shoplifter”.

It makes no sense of course, but football is awash with supposed logic that has no place in the wider world and this here is a prime example. A centre-back recklessly hurls himself, studs showing, into a challenge and nearly decapitates the opposition player who collapses worryingly still into the turf. Whereupon the co-commentator – who presumably knows the offender from his playing days – springs to his defence. “He’s not that kind of player” he attests. Well he patently is that kind of player because he’s just been that type of player right in front of our very eyes.

Open letters

Dear multimillionaire footballer who won’t ever be aware of this correspondence let alone actually read it. I am writing this to you man-to-man in a desperate attempt for retweets in a dumbed-down format that had its day back in 2010. It’s full of faux-heartfelt outrage at your recent decision to leave my football club so think on. Yours sincerely, A Fan.

Disagree with our choices? Have a cliché of your own you’d love to see consigned to Room 101? What most annoys you about the beautiful game?
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