One of the things I detest most about sports broadcasters and pundits - in any sport, not just soccer - is the “hot take”. You know the type: the dashed-off thought that isn’t really fully formed, or isn’t based on anything measurable, objective, or rational. The kind of thought that exists only to sell ad time on sports shout radio or raise ad rates because of click volume.
These smokin’ hot takes are generally easily ignored, because they stand out from actual intelligent commentary pretty easily; it’s a lot easier to say “THIS THING SUCKS” than it is to say “THIS IS A NUANCED THING AND HERE ARE THE SIDES OF IT WE SHOULD CONSIDER BEFORE COMING TO A CONCLUSION”.
Which brings me to Stanley Victor Collymore. Stan, as some of you may know, was a football player of some....well, he was a football player, that’s for sure. His was the most expensive transfer to date in the English game when he moved from Nottingham Forest to Liverpool in 1995, a fee which reached the stratospheric heights of £8.5 million.
After a glittering career that saw him score 99 goals in 11 years and win...let’s see...if we round up, very nearly one trophy, Stan, like many of his ilk, decided to turn in his boots for a suit, tie, and microphone. And off he went a-punditing, and that should have been that.
Instead of going the Neville route and thinking his way through, though, Stan decided to go all Man Of The People on us, and shower us with the aforementioned smokin’ hot takes. Just today, he had one about Arsenal!
Column 2. Mesut. WILL he do what he did last night against City? United? Chelsea? Or his team likewise? Enjoy! https://t.co/j5ucAYzzSb— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) October 20, 2016
In this Hot Take, he says that Özil “epitomizes what Arsenal have become”, which in his mind is a team of “flat track bullies”, a team who wins the easy games and can’t win the hard ones. Now, to grudgingly be fair, there may be something to that, at least in the CL - as a host of Round of 16 exits might actually attest to - but let’s set that aside for a second.
In condemning Özil, though, Collymore offers absolutely zero examples of what he means - absolutely no examples of play where Özil didn’t produce as Stan expected, or where he was actively bad. He just used Özil as a throwaway entry point into a lazy description based on a narrative that may or may not have merit - not that we’d ever know if it did from what he said, because he didn’t bother to try to prove either the flat-track bully point or the Mesut-is-the-epitome-of-this point.
But then this is a guy who thinks that Pep Guardiola’s not a Brian Clough-level genius, so there’s that.