Comrade Barnes addresses football-loving proletariat, calls on England to adopt socialism

You can forget about your Ken Livingstones and George Galloways. Believe it or not, the left has a new champion, and moreover one who has a plan to sort out England’s footballing woes. Yes, drawing inspiration from the Bolivarian revolutionary process in South America, it’s none other than Liverpool and England legend John Barnes:

“Football is a socialist sport,” he explains. “Financially, some may receive more rewards than others but, from a footballing perspective, for 90 minutes, regardless of whether you are Lionel Messi or the substitute right-back for Argentina, you are all working to the same end.

“The teams which embrace the socialist ideology rather than having superstars, are the teams that are successful. Or if there are superstars they don’t perceive themselves to be that. That’s why I use Messi as an example. As much as he’s a superstar he respects his team-mates and their collective efforts.”…

“Players from other nations when they play for their country are once again a socialist entity, all pulling in the same direction,” he tells me from a dressing room at Supersport’s studios where he is an expert analyst on the World Cup. “The most important thing for every Brazilian player is to play for Brazil.

“It doesn’t matter if he plays for Milan or Manchester United. A Brazilian who puts on that yellow shirt feels the same as the man next to him in that yellow shirt. They have a humility to the shirt. It is not the same for those who wear the Three Lions.”

Barnesy goes on to wax militant about the corporate monster that is the English Premier League, and about the virtues of collective team endeavour against the individualist egotism rampant in the England team.

I like this guy. I wish he was my MP. Or, failing that, England football manager.


  1. jamie said,

    June 30, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Admirable stuff, but he was a complete disaster as manager at Celtic. And Tranmere.

    But since he seems to confuse nation and class, we may put this down to nationalist deviationism.

  2. ejh said,

    June 30, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Talking of the next England manager, Harry Redknapp is no longer under suspicion of illegal activities, is he? Is he?

  3. Dave Semple said,

    June 30, 2010 at 9:40 am

    People can fuck off with this Harry Redknapp business. Us Tottenham fans bloody need him to stick around for a bit. We haven’t won the league in such a long time – bugger the world cup!

  4. ejh said,

    June 30, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Also, if he sticks around for long enough he might leave you in the sort of financial situation he bequeathed to most of his former clubs.

  5. VM said,

    June 30, 2010 at 10:26 am

    His 11 against 11 cliche reminds me of an interview I read with the NZ coach who said that he included a few part-timers in his squad to make this point that amateurs can mix it with the most seasoned and well paid professional divers of Serie A.

  6. organic cheeesboard said,

    June 30, 2010 at 11:42 am

    redknapp’s still under suspicion, trial to follow, though i’m not sure when.

    one of the reason the press are so keen for him to get the job (aside from the fact that he buys them drinks and provides them with quotes) is that there’s no easier column/news story to write in the world than speculation on/trouble with the england job, and redknapp in position would give them a field day with his, er, ‘interesting’ past (and present). he’d be out within a year.

  7. VM said,

    June 30, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    From Thomas Muller at the Guardian WC blog (2.31pm): “England have so many top stars in their squad that they will always be part and parcel of the international football scene. But there are so many ‘alpha males’. It is difficult to have so many ‘alpha males’ and have them row in the same direction. You don’t only need only chiefs, you also need a few Indians. You need people who are ready and willing to do the hard work. It may be a problem with England that players are simply not mentally prepared to go that extra mile for their team-mates.”

    England clearly need some political re-education. I say send them to North Korea to learn from the peasants. If one of the Dear Leader’s gulags can’t knock some humility into them, nothing can.

  8. June 30, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Someone on the Guardian podcast made an excellent comparison (half in jest, but no less valid for that) between the UK economy and the Premier League, and its effect on the English national team. Essentially, production (of industrial output/players) has been abandoned in favour of managing others’ assets (finance sector/overseas footballers.) One might go further; clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool and Man City are effectively multinationals, with all profits repatriated and little benefit to the local economy.

    But yeah, good on Digger. He seems a little confused, but his heart’s in the right place.

  9. Robert said,

    July 1, 2010 at 7:24 am

    The problem is we took four players who had injuries including Rooney, the manager wants to play a type of football the players do not like, it’s called scoring goals.

    The top goal scorer sits on the bench with Crouch, Rooney tries to run off or get fit on the pitch, the only thing that went wrong for England was not enough games, we did not have enough time, and our players were pissed off they could not get their legs over down the local brothel.

    Next manager must hire two hotels one for the player, and one for a local group of girls , if you score a goal win a game, you get a free pass to the brothel, whoops sorry hotel.

  10. July 1, 2010 at 8:45 am

    btw., among the core players of the Brazilian team is a non-negligable number of prosperity-gospel adhering pentecostalists/evangelicals … they have much more in common with English players than with “socialism-barnesianism”

  11. BH said,

    July 1, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Sounds good, but I think you’ll find, like most footballers he has expressed his favouring of a Tory vote in the past, under Thatcher as I remember. Back then a Labour voting footballer was a real novelty: Brian McClair, Pat Nevin and, well that’s it really, spring to mind. Nu Labour probably changed that to some extent by promising to tax the fuckers less. Managers are a bit different. Ferguson is a hungry bastard himself, but he has been both old and new Labour, as was Clough, Stein and Shankly. George Graham was a Tory, as is the mouthy fucker who used to manage Sheffield United and then QPR, can’t remember at this moment…

  12. Sue R said,

    July 1, 2010 at 9:49 am

    What he means is ‘team spirit’. My husband (who knows about these things) says that the problem is that the Football season is too long and the players are tired. I expect they don’t know each other well enough to function as a machine. Perhaps they should send them on teambuilding caurses ie climbing moutains in Wales or play paint-ball?

  13. chris y said,

    July 1, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Blah. The Nigerians have the right idea.

  14. ejh said,

    July 1, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Well, not really, as they may find themselves more suspended than they thought…

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