We got religion
Watch any player coming on as sub or entering the field of play for the first time. They cross themselves to imply they are calling on a greater power for assistance. Now some may really be devout, but some players’ general behaviour suggests they are far from virtuous. Just how genuine is it all? Football worships at the temple of mammon, after all. “Better in my day” equivalent: A hand-shake, or hand-raised, Denis Law-style
Kissing the badge
Only a few players really mean it, and they are the ones that stick around their clubs for years and became part of the folklore. For the rest of them, it is superficial. Kiss the badge one minute, refuse a contract the next. Let’s not kid ourselves, loyalty is as good as the next 100k pay rise. “Better in my day” equivalent: Footballers used to kiss each other
Dressed in black, looking like nightclub bouncers on a day off. Dark glasses, tinted windows on their car. What have they got to hide? “Bovine behaviour”. Kidding the game, killing the game. “Better in my day” equivalent: Suited agents with cigars (not sure that was any better!!)
Hands in front of mouth
What is so important that they have to shield everything they say for fear of TV picking it up via lip-readers? The Terry-Ferdinand saga starting this off, but now everyone, from physios to dressing room attendants is doing it. It’s football, for Pete’s sake, not a scientific discovery or declaration of love and devotion! OK, the red-tops are watching, but is it really necessary? “Better in my day” equivalent: Sign language akin to tic-tac man at a racecourse. The odd v-sign!
Clamped to their head, invariably in sleep mode, the Beats headphones are an essential part of any young player’s kit these days. They suggest “hey, we’re relaxed and hip”. But have you ever heard some of the music they listen to? “Better in my day” equivalent: Sporting life under their arm as they got off the coach, pack of cards in top pocket. Perhaps a set of headphones is better after all?