Recasting roles: The similarities between the entertainment industry and the Premier League
Award ceremonies are, by nature, lavish spectacles. Glitzy. Golden. Glamorous. These events tend to exist merely to plaster further praise upon some of the most egotistical members of society, musicians and actors generally. However, awards ceremonies also include one of the most solemn, and touching, gestures in mainstream media: the ‘In Memoriam’ segment.
Black and white photos are displayed on a big screen whilst Brian Eno’s ‘An Ending (Ascent)’ inevitably plays in the background. We sit in silence, remembering talented people, young and old, lost forever to the world, preserved only in film.
This year, the British Academy Film and Television Awards paid tribute to, among others: Roger Lloyd-Pack, Peaches Geldof and Bob Hoskins. The Grammys remembered Lou Reed, Phil Everly and Ray Dolby. A multitude of people, united by the fact they passed away during the same period of time.
In Issue 2 of The Blizzard, Rory Smith argues that modern football has become more like a soap opera than a sport. The Premier League in particular, has become almost an entertainment package, airing to millions worldwide. It has its actors, its heroes and villains, its winners and losers, each of whom makes the League as dramatic and watchable as it is.
Every season, the Premier League, like the music industry and Hollywood, loses several of its notable participants. Not to death, but to football’s own mortal blows: retirement, release clauses, and Real Madrid.
So, let’s take a moment to remember the colourful characters who will no longer grace these shores; the figures magically airbrushed out of the Sky season previews; no longer relevant to The Greatest Show On Earth.
Let us remember Luis Suarez. For three-and-a-half majestic seasons, the Uruguayan tantalised English defences. Norwich in particular were Suarez’s forte, he scored 12 goals in just five appearances against the East Anglian side. A controversial character, he went a step too far in biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, and has left to join Barcelona. Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and now Suarez; the mass exodus of the Premier League’s leading lights to La Liga continues.
The ringleader himself, David Luiz, has also left the circus. Derided by many as a clown-like figure, particularly after the World Cup, Luiz was a stylish, if erratic centre-half. His signature perm and wide-eyed celebration turned him into a vibrant caricature. He will be sorely missed.
What of those old hands, whose time had surely come? Ryan Giggs, the midfielder older than Time itself, called it a day after many a title-winning credit. Craig Bellamy, who revelled in the role of the pantomime villain, also retired. He scored for seven different Premier League clubs. The Welsh record breakers passed serenely into footballing folklore.
The comedy duo, Nicklas Bendtner and Shola Ameobi, were released from their contracts after a combined four goals in 35 games last season. Each was their club’s longest serving player, yet rewarding loyalty is low down on the list of priorities for Premier League managers nowadays. The Dane and the Nigerian had their opportunity; time to pass on the proverbial baton.
Let us not forget the lesser spotted Heurelho Gomes and Federico Macheda. Contributors to the drama in days gone by, the pair had long been shoehorned into some metaphorical Premier League ‘Lost Property’ box. They have since been claimed by Watford and Cardiff. Their memory lives on, in the form of Premier League Years 2008/09.
Suarez and Luiz. Giggs and Bellamy. Bendtner and Ameobi. Gomes and Macheda. The roll-call of departed Premier League figures is a hotspotch of star talent, realised dreams and wasted youth; much like the sepia-tinged slideshows aired annually on Hollywood Boulevard.
Fortunately, sport, like film, is a cyclical industry. Stars are interchangeable. For every talent lost, another is bought or discovered.
The likes of Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa and Angel di Maria wait in the wings, vying for Suarez’s vacated title of best player in the league. Each has their own defining qualities; different to Suarez, but the entertainment potential is there, nevertheless.
Mario Balotelli, of course, is a figure we know all too well. He has previously featured as a ‘Best Supporting Actor’, assisting that Sergio Aguero goal back in May 2012. Liverpool fans will now hope he can move forward and become one of the leading lights of the industry.
Radamel Falcao, for so long one of Europe’s most vaunted strikers, will finally get the chance to play in the Premier League. Is he, however, past his best? Can he ever live up to his inflated salary? Is his reputation alone enough to lift a failing brand?
It is not just the big clubs who have a monopoly on the intrigue. Enner Valencia and Muhamed Besic come to the Premier League after strong World Cups. Jordi Gomez and Mauro Zarate return to the top flight, after previously impressing in supporting roles. Child star Bojan Krkic is in last chance saloon at Stoke. These new recruits all have their own motivation to succeed. All have the potential to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Michu, and become bona fide sensations.
Remember those we have lost. Cover them in the shiny glow of nostalgia. But, look forward to seeing the new crop in action. After the closure of the transfer window, it is clear that, as football connoisseurs, we have never been so spoilt.