Let me first of all declare my own prejudices when it comes to the subject of this blog – hair! Not only do I not have any now – at 57 years of age that is hardly unusual – but, even in my early twenties, my hairline was receding as quickly as Manchester City’s Title challenge. The reason for my focus on hair this morning is that I believe it has had a major bearing on events at the top of the Premiership this weekend.
There is the great story about how the legendary late professional cyclist Lauren Fignon lost the 1989 Tour de France (he was a two time winner) to his great rival Greg LeMond by 8 secs and how statisticians since “proved” that had he cut off his trademark ponytail that the aerodynamics would have turned the narrowest ever defeat in Tour history into a marginal victory.
When I saw first Danny Welbeck’s goal I wondered if indeed he had touched it with his head at all. I studied it online this morning (I get paid for such indulgences) and now I am absolutely convinced that had Danny Welbeck not chosen to go to the barber shop – ok hair salon – on Friday after training, Leicester would have left the Emirates with a point. Watch it. The goal is about the quality of Ozil’s cross, the timing of the run, the accuracy with which the ball is steered by Welbeck and the brilliance of his hairdo. Whoever does his hair has a case to the “assist” credit ahead of Ozil. Look at it more than a few times and you will see that it should not even be classified as a headed goal. It was a “permer” not a a “header” because I am certain that Welbeck’s skull would have registered not even the slightest impact. When, post the mad celebration, the camera settles on him at the halfway line the evidence of how the two or three inches of perfectly permed growth allowed him touch Ozil’s delivery is manifest.
Welbeck’s perm may well have doomed Leicester to defeat but I’m convinced someone else’s has made Manchester City’s hopes of winning the Title even more difficult. It’s a more sinister example of where hairstyle has had an effect on decisions that could have a major bearing on the destination of the FAPL.
When I saw the award of a penalty to Spurs at the Etihad I was disbelieving. Even live it looked odd. The player, Raheem Sterling, jumped and turned his back to attempt to block a cross by Danny Rose. It appeared to hit him more on the shoulder blade or between his shoulder blade and his armpit and, while his arm was raised, his body position was of a player conscious of the danger he was running in trying to block the cross. Look at it again. The left arm is bent and kept tight to his body – in contrast to his outstretched left leg. Then, as I looked at the replays, I remembered it was Mark Clattenburg who was refereeing.
Mr. Clattenburg most definitely had been to the hair stylist on Friday. Honestly, I kid you not, look at the newly layered and permed 40 year old head on him as he marches towards the penalty box having awarded the penalty kick. There is a “screw you” look of disdain fixed on the protesting Sterling who is appropriately innocent to the real source of the decision but Pablo Zabaleta, who is closer in age to Clattenburg than to his teammate and who, nowadays goes to the barber shop for just an occasional polish, knows exactly the reason the penalty has been given; Clattenburg resented Sterling’s classy hair style. The ultimate proof is that the principal beneficiaries were Danny Rose and Harry Kane – hardly style icons in the hair department like Raheem or Mr. Clattenburg.
Some people may diss this kind of post match analysis but it is on such fine margins that Championships can be won or lost or, indeed, relegation can be avoided. Whether or not Wenger’s genius for detail extended to instructing Welbeck how to get his hair permed ahead of the match, what is clear is that any responsible manager who sees that Mark Clattenburg is slated to referee his team, should order ‘short back and sides’ all round ahead of the game