GILES SMITH'S THURSDAY THOUGHTS

Posted on: Thu 04 Oct 2012

Pronunciation revisited and true meaning are themes of this week's column from supporter Giles Smith, who been taking in the view up north…


'Jittery' was a word one heard used in relation to Tuesday night's Champions League performance in Denmark, but I'm not sure how strongly it applied, or whether it merely betrayed unhelpful and quite wildly outdated assumptions on the part of the people employing it.

On closer analysis, users of the word 'jittery' seemed mostly to be referring to the fact that we were still 'only' 1-0 up after 79 minutes and that Petr Cech had to make a world-standard save to prevent Nordsjaelland equalising.

But to use the word 'jittery' in this context is, surely, to take an unpleasantly patronising view of our Danish opponents - the champions of their league, let's not forget, and playing at home. Well, OK; not actually at home. (They were using FC Copenhagen's stadium because their own ground doesn't quite come up to Uefa Champions League standards.) But quite near home. Certainly a lot nearer home than we were.

For 'only 1-0 up after 79 minutes', a more respectful analyst might have said of us that we 'held the lead from the 33rd minute'. And you'd expect a team who had qualified for the Champions League and were playing at home (or just up the road from it) at least to have a shot, wouldn't you?

The expectation in English punditry circles seems to be that English teams will just storm all over sides like Nordsjaelland. But that's plainly unreasonable and way out of line with the way the modern game is. Sometimes the English team just has to be content with merely winning 4-0.

Manchester United's performance against Cluj, on the other hand… now that really was jittery.

At the Emirates on Saturday, I was offered the opportunity to go down beside the pitch for a couple of minutes while the players were warming up. And because you can't normally go in the technical area on a match day without very quickly finding yourself surrounded by men in orange coats and eventually getting your season ticket confiscated, I gratefully said yes.

And here's what I learned. I learned that the view from the managers' seats at the Emirates is completely fantastic. My impression is that exactly the opposite is true of approximately 99.7 percent of dugouts in world football, including (at the risk of sounding disloyal) our own at Stamford Bridge. Indeed, in most football grounds, the dugout is typically the worst place in the building from which to get any idea at all of what's going on out there. (The second worst is normally the press box.)

At the Emirates, by contrast, something about the expansiveness of the technical area, which is unusually large, combined with the lack of camber on the pitch, means that the staff on the sidelines are given a view of the action which is, unusually, startling in its HD-like clarity.

Wenger

In this context, the fact that Arsene Wenger should have a reputation for being a manager who simply doesn't see controversial events is… well, let's say that, at the very least, it seems ironic in the circumstances.

Last week in this space we thought we dealt helpfully, and perhaps even conclusively, with the problem confronted by every one of us who doesn't know Spanish this season - namely, how to pronounce the surname of our new right back, Cesar Azpilicueta.

The solution: a basic, three-part phonetic breakdown - Az Pilly Kwetta - which, once learned and mastered, enables one to tackle the name crisply and confidently from almost any angle, at almost any speed.

However, Barrie Collins from Ontario ('Darkest Ontario' is actually where he locates himself) straight away got in touch to press the claim for what I reluctantly concede to be a superior pronunciation model, involving three simple, easily coined words: Ass Pill Equator - which might seem like a string of random nonsense but is actually, as Collins points out, the technical term given to 'the line drawn round the centre of a suppository'. Suddenly those five syllables present no daunting obstacle whatsoever.

'For what it's worth,' Collins wrote, 'you can onpass this to my fellow supporters.'

So I have.