I’ve tried my best to explain yesterday in words, I don’t know whether I have done a good enough job. It kind of describes the game, it kind of nibbles around the edges of it but is it a real thing? I don’t know. I did me best.
How do you write about that? How do you sit down with a cup of tea and try to put this four dimensional football onto a two dimensional medium like a web page? Standing behind the Wheatsheaf pub after the game I was struggling to understand anything about it. I was standing up straighter I know that and we were all louder than normal. The sounds of our laughter bouncing off the walls around us. I had another sip of beer and actually felt like sobbing. Why? It was an emotional game. No ghosts, no departed souls in mind but the beauty of what I had just witnessed drove me to the edge. My normal miserable view of the world had been shattered by that football. Now the world had turned into a weird blend of 60 yard passes, of Neves, of Jota, of Cavaleiro, of Coady, Boly and Bennett. The whole drama was running like a film in my head now. It was cold and my fingers were numb. The night was dark but…I don’t know man.
But four dimensional? Sweet football. It transformed from the edgy sometimes clumsy ‘getting to know you’ vibe of some of the last few matches into a feast of effortless and transmutated football that inspired me and also left me speechless. All I could think about as we talked about what had happened was ‘what the fuck am I going to say about that?’. I’m fucked. It has destroyed me. Can one man be so filled with awe at what he just watched that all he can do is sit and stare at a screen and all he sees is that pass from Coady to Cavaleiro, the sublime manipulation of the ball to Neves and my heart stops, Neves looks up for a split second and then he puts the ball into the air. I see it floating and the time had stopped, relativity my friends. That ball took at least twenty seconds in my mind, until it hit the inside of the post and went in. I didn’t even shout as the Molineux exploded into a noise I had not heard for a long time. Was this the point in which our voices unleashed that anger and passion we had been holding back? I’m not sure. But I turned to Horace and we both just stared at each other in absolute magnificent respect for that absolute pearler of a goal. It transgressed the idea of ‘goal’, it twisted and turned the definition of the word and I can’t say ‘wonder goal’ because it wasn’t that either. Relativity I suppose. Some people saw an excellent goal, perhaps it was ‘fantastic’ maybe even ‘sublime’. I don’t know. But I have to be a good loser here and say in all honesty that I cannot truly find words to describe it. Lets just say it was 1-0 to us and Sheffield United were already fucked.
Deane and Agana eh? Those battles we used to have in the lower divisions when we were battling for top spot and promotion. They were always a noisy lot these Yorkshire bastards. But today. Nothing. Their ideas were unforged and lacklustre. They stunk. Lee Evans boots the ball into the family enclosure. The petulant little bastard. He’s put on weight, he looked slow, he was a pondering kind of player for us. He lacked quality here even under the tutelage of a decent Coach in Jackett. But now his career is sliding back into the abyss with his cohort Leon Clarke. We all knew that Leons time as a goal scorer of worth would end. We saw that yesterday evening as he threw himself at Coady and Boly time and time again with no result. His runs were short and aimless. There was nothing the United midfield could give him. At one point he held Jota by the throat and Jota just laughed at him. Don’t fuck with the Little Wolf Leon, he’ll bite your fucking hand off.
This Sheffield United thing. They too had lacked any real focus pinging balls at each other on the rare occasions they had possession. It seemed like nobody wanted the ball. Big Alf did. Rumbling across the pitch. If Jota is the Little Wolf then Alf is the Big Bad Wolf. Slathering passes, holding the ball, getting into that twenty yard space in their half and blowing the fucking door off the little piggies house and eating him in one bite. Beautiful. Coady again massive. I told you he would be England Captain one day and he will. Effortless defense, vision and thought. Here is the class that this lad shows, here on the pitch in front of us. The whole edifice of the Nunoist philosophy is built upon the foundation of the Boly and Coady nexus. Of that rock solid partnership. They understand each other because they have the intellectual nous to be a companion to their physicality. This is Nuno, this is what he has built here and again watching them I am fraught with fear. Am I a good enough fan and supporter to appreciate this? Am I able to understand it? Am I worthy of watching it? I’m not sure. I can’t look sometimes during the game and I shout abuse at the Sheffield fans instead for something to do. I can’t stand the utter beauty of it. I am ignorant and ugly, my language is course and gutter ridden, my boots are stained with mud, I have nicotine stained fingers and bad teeth, my hair looks shit. I am shit. I really am not worthy to watch this.
The Holy Trinity of Jota, Cavaleiro and Costa. Helder, I knew you would stop ‘believing’ and start ‘doing’. How happy I was to see the movements you presented to us. How many times was another Sheffield player left tackling empty space? Loads. Every time you did it I laughed. This wasn’t entertainment, this was art in it’s purest form. The play smashing the whole abstract ideas of football into a coherent and tangible beauty. You Helder, you little treasure. I told you it would come, he skips past two United defenders who might as well have just seen the Holy Ghost wafting between them It was like he wasn’t really there as his movements are ethereal and unreal. A dip of the shoulder and a twist of the hips, accelerate, move, pass, collect the ball back, twist and he’s gone again. I never stopped believing in you Costa.
Cavaleiro. What can I say about you? Again, words fail me. They aren’t sufficient a medium for you, there is a famine of superlatives for your play. I think a piece of music or maybe a big canvas would. Darting between players he swapped places again and again. Appearing here, then there, then again over there until it seemed as if there were two Cavaleiros playing. Sheffield United were dizzy now and their Kwan was non existent. Their fans were stunned into a silence that is typical of many opposition fans we have seen this season. They are quiet because they are sad. They will never have this. For as long as we watch this passion from this Holy Trinity we will see again and again the sad long faces of the sticky headed opposition fan bobbling in disbelief. Watching Lee Evans comedy football and then looking at Neves. Lee Evans is the Austin Allegro compared to the sleek Maserati of Neves. Even Evans haircut looked like it had been done by gerbils gnawing on his head, his whole countenance lacked anything of value. What a disgrace he is.
Their Goalkeeper tries to decapitate Jota. He is sent off. This is their reply to us. Violence and physical reaction to things they will never understand. Cavaleiro takes the freekick and a deflection, a bobble, their sub keeper disconsolately picks the ball out of the net. His first touch of that ball and the ball was probably still vibrating with excitement and intent. It was 2-0 now and I honestly thought the Referee might as well blow the whistle and save Sheffield United blushes. Things will go two ways with that Sheffield Team now. They will be sitting in their cars outside the training ground silent. Staring out of the window of their slick luxurious cars, just looking at the sky maybe. The radio is off. They grip the steering wheels tight as they replay what had just happened. Afobe comes on for Cavaleiro and the whole stadium erupts. Healing. We have ripped off the bandages and see pure flesh, unmarked and unsullied. The ghosts of Morgan and Moxey are silent in their tombs with just the gentle tinkle of a chain as the wind that Nuno has wrought blows the doors of their tombs. He came close too. He was a handful. We know that just being in this place will give Benik another half a yard of speed. Another phase to his game. Benik Afobes back home and it is actually magic, the whole crazy thing is esoteric and spiritual. This feeling that we are bound for glory is tangible and real now. Benik slaps the badge on his chest and my heart skips a beat or two and I fill up again. What is wrong with me?
This isn’t a match report. Jotas goal was beautifully taken. The whole aspect of the game for me was metaphysical. In the pub before the game I was with people I love, in the ground I love watching the team I love. What madness this whole season is. Nuno smiling on the touchline, Cavaleiro grinning, Coady slapping somebody on the head again. Beer thrown in the air, singing in the subway. Me searching out people like Stan who I have known for years, asking him…’What are we watching Stan?’ and him replying ‘I don’t know’. I don’t think we will come to terms with this season until we are sitting in the garden one day in the summer, watching the Bees fly around the plants. We will be wondering whether to have a can of beer maybe then it will hit us like a delayed reaction and we will fall face first onto the lawn in shock. A mouthful of grass as we suddenly understand it all. And this is just the start of the whole fucking show. This is just the beginning my friends. And if this is the beginning what will the end look like?