Arsenal and Chelsea balls: Wenger and Mourinho milk the shake
In readiness for today’s Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal, the Sun fearlessly confronts the serious issues:
PUNTERS can get 11/4 on Mourinho and Wenger shaking hands.
In “Hands up Jose: I’ll offer Arsene a shake” we once more revisit the issue of pre-match handshakes, something which occupied reams of print and hours of Sky telly when Patrice Evra and Louis Suarez, then of Manchester United and Liverpool, respectively, were in disharmony. And there was the Chelsea shake, when John Terry and Wayne Bridge were due to go palm-to-palm after the Chelsea captain had been accused of rubbing his hands and god knows what else over Bridge’s lover. And there was Terry once more, this time shaking and not shaking the hands of Anton Ferdinand and his brother Rio.
We’d always suggest that most football fans would prefer there to be no handshaking at all – no teams walking down the lines shaking hands before matches; no cloying talk of the ‘football family”; and no presenting of the match ball on a tee, as if it were the Holy Grail or golf. Most fans actually enjoy the animosity, the rivalry and the passion.
But we were wrong. The media tells us that the handshake is steeped in meaning. Shaking someone’s hand is not a shallow routine dreamt up by a FIFA wonk, possibly to mask the passing of cash, rather a sign that the handshakers are soulmates, working in harmony, each in tune with the other’s needs and morals. Don’t kiss the bride, shake her hand. And keep shaking it should she fall over, lose a game of Pictionary or be substituted for a younger, fresher wife.
The encouraging thing is that Jose Mourinho can work his snark into anything, and when the Sun says he will offer Arsene Wenger “a peace handshake” we give it the side-eyes and examine the comment for it being more loaded than Boris Johnson at a Bullingdon Club house party. Minds turn to previous peace handshakes between Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler, Tony Blair and Colonel Gaddafi, Noel Gallagher and Liam Gallagher.
Indeed the Sun adds:
He may put Wenger on the spot by offering him his hand in full view of TV cameras, instead of in the Stamford Bridge dressing room.
That the TV cameras are zooming in on the managers’ hands is in itself odd – but when you have 6 hours of pre-match and post-match airtime to fill with chatter and heated debate, you seek action in dust. For instance, if Mourinho is using his hands to shake, will he not be using them to wave in the air and point at perceived signs of unfairness; will Arsene Wenger be able to work the long zip on his coat with just one hand? Will either manager mark goals, bad fouls or injustices with a handshake?
As for Wenger, well, he says:
“Realistically, people come to watch football and all the rest is a little bit secondary. What’s important is the quality of what we will see on Saturday at 12.45pm — and you want people to focus on that.”
You do. But BT and Sky have invested heavily in camera technology, so expect lots of forensic focus on pretty much any hand that moves or doesn’t.