Why you should watch football with the volume off.
A few years ago I lived in Germany (Berlin, because I’m well edgy). It was the European championships, and there were pop-up sports bars on every street corner (so edgy, right?).
It was actually really nice (he whispered, emitting a breeze of flat white coffee breath).
Kebab shops and off licences would wheel out their televisions and set up shop. Unlicensed viewing galleries as far as the eye could see. The British health and safety officers would’ve been doing their nuts.
I’m not just telling you all this in an attempt to show off. In fact, something really interesting happened when I spoke to my friends back in England about the matches.
They’d have a totally different interpretation of the game to me.
These were friends who I chose to converse with on football for the sole reason that we generally shared the same attitude on the game.
As a football snob, I really hate talking to anyone on football that doesn’t enjoy tactical tiki taka. So builders, taxi drivers and blokes in the pub can fuck off.*
Özil is a genius and Guardiola is under-rated. And yes Wenger has got to go, but not for the reasons you think he should.
*I’m not a racist some of my best friends are black cab drivers.
But I digress.
So why did it feel like we’d been watching different games? Well, the answer was pretty simple. Like any good Brit living abroad, I couldn’t understand a word the German commentators were saying.
ENGLISH MATE. DO…YOU…SPEAK ENGLISH?
I had been left to my own devices to work out what was going on. It was great.
Turns out that all those years I’d spent thinking I was better than the commentary were in fact a lie. I’d been deceiving myself.
I realised then that despite my protestations, my interpretation of football had inevitably been shaped by all the chat. Even if I were trying my best to ignore the insights of the Neville brothers, they’d still work their way into my head… like tinnitus. Unavoidable.
Watching the European Championships in Germany was a liberating experience. I felt far less stressed out, disagreeing with every Neanderthal-like quip from the commentators.
I’m sure Oliver Kahn was chatting shit too; I just couldn’t understand the geezer.
Fast forward to this weekend, and I watched the Spurs Chelsea match in a pub with the sound off.
I might’ve missed out on the atmosphere generated from the crowd, but I certainly benefited from the lack of Neville brothers*.
*Neville brothers = shorthand for all pundits apart from Steve McManaman.
Once again I spoke to my friend about the game. He’d watched MOTD2, and apparently Deli Ale had played poorly. I thought he’d played well. Apparently Conte had performed a tactical masterstroke. I thought Alonso had whipped in a free kick, and Chelsea had parked the bus.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t have reached these conclusions if I had watched it on Sky Sports. But what I’m saying is, why risk being told what to think by a bunch of people who fundamentally don’t (in my humble opinion) know what they’re talking about?
This is why I urge anyone who loves football but hates punditry to move to Berlin. Or just watch the games in a foreign language.
You know what to do 😉