On sunny days, my eyesight is partially obscured by what are clinically known as scotomas. They’re little black dots that dart around my field of vision following the direction that my eyes take. Clever sounding Greek derivations aside, you and I probably know them better as blind spots. Most of the time, I forget they’re there because they don’t actually impair my vision to a huge degree and I can carry on my daily routines without any discomfort. But when spring eventually peeps its head out of the clouds, they appear and I’m reminded that they never actually went away.
I mention this only because that’s how I’ve more or less regarded Harry Redknapp this season. There was a time not so long ago when I devoted many of these posts to being openly critical of his simplistic management style during his time at Spurs. Yes, he oversaw the club’s breaking of the traditional ‘Big Four’ monopoly but he nevertheless was considered by many, myself included, as an opportunistic self-promoter. His geezer-ish schtick and the openly sycophantic cheerleading of his friends in the media over time grew tiresome and when Daniel Levy eventually dispensed of his services it came as a relief.
Whereas before, Harry’s post-match interviews would result in an avalanche of expletives on my part, his re-incarnation as the overseer of a hapless team of mercenaries at Queens Park Rangers has barely summoned even a ‘flip’ or a ‘feck’ from my mouth. In other words, Redknapp has evolved into my very own footballing scotoma. His shrugging and overreliance on clichés are still very much a part of the footballing panorama, but they just don’t register with me any more because they have no bearing on my experience as a football fan. His voice is just another talking head amongst many clamouring for our attention. And I thankfully am far more willing to use the mute button. He only popped into my mind again this week, when the blame for QPR’s relegation was leveled at everybody involved with the club other than the famed football escapologist himself. He’s a good deflector, is Harry, I’ll give him that. It was just like the old days. For a brief moment I got angry again. But it passed. I tweeted about it and promptly forgot him. I had essays to mark. That’s how psychological scotomas work.
It’s often cited that we are pre-disposed to being able to block out the whirling ephemera of our daily existence. Our consciousness only allows things to pass through a filter according to the significance we attach to them. Hence why a mother who lives by a busy stretch of road is able to sleep soundly amidst the mechanical cacophony but wakes up with a jolt if her baby so much as sniffles in an adjoining room.
Problems and obstacles that may have seemed overbearing a year ago in hindsight, usually seem trivial. Those reports you had to complete or that staff presentation you had to prepare, for instance. Conversely, when rapacious news crews descend upon the latest catastrophe to beset a community in order to feed the frenzied gorgon of twenty-four hour news, our television screens are dominated for days with a voyeuristic splurge of graphic eyewitness accounts, bibbling expert opinions and emotive adjectives and adverbs designed to make melodramas out of spiralling crises. However, once our apocalyptic appetites have been sated, how often do we think about the recovery processes of the people whose lives have been devastated by events such as the Japanese tsunami, the Boston bombings or Hurricane Katrina? To use a Redknappism: out of sight, out of mind, innit. Twitch.
Thankfully, there are some souls out there who are tenacious in their attempts to shake us out of our metaphorical blindness. David Simon is one of those individuals. His masterful series Treme, although fictitious, explores the effects the aforementioned Katrina had on the population of New Orleans as it came to terms with the natural destruction and inevitable human corruption that engulfed the city in the days, weeks and months after the floods. Amidst the tragedy, it’s a beautifully observed and poignant piece of television that captures simultaneously simple and complex snapshots of peoples’ lives. It does not simplify issues for its viewers and is testament to the triumph of the human spirit. It’s got a great soundtrack too. The sad thing is that it continues to be overlooked by a mainstream audience and its British broadcaster Sky Atlantic has pushed it further back in the scheduling relegating it to the wasteland of a pre-midnight Friday night slot. After all, real life social ills are on the surface, less appealing on the eye when compared to the fantastical spilling of blood and sexfests of shows like Game of Thrones, right?
In this case, our collective scotoma is dictated by others, but football routinely throws up increasingly absurd examples that many embrace willingly.
Take for instance John Aldridge’s denouncement of Gareth Bale as “one of the league’s biggest cheats” just days after the Welshman was recognised as the player of the season by his peers. He went on to suggest that Luis Suarez was more deserving of the accolade. Such a view was echoed by (mostly) Liverpool fans, some of who implied there was some kind of conspiracy against the Uruguayan. Obviously, a poor innocent child’s eyes must be protected from an occasional tumble when compared against the repeated offences Suarez has committed throughout his career. But then again, I’m a Spurs fan and to that end I have my own blind spot of bias when it comes to Bale.
Equally skewed however, is the sustained demonisation of Rafael Benitez over at Stamford Bridge that has swelled even more this week as Chelsea fans began salivating at the potential return of Jose Mourinho. This, despite the fact that Benitez has managed to take the club to a European final at the first time of asking, whilst Mourinho consistently failed in that objective during his first stint. Even Avram Grant managed one but nobody’s calling for his triumphant re-appointment.
So, what can be learnt from this? Well, what we choose to see generally relies upon the truth we want to attach to any event. And in the end, it’s all about perspective. That’s not to say that things aren’t continuing to happen out there but we understandably prioritise what we process. Harry Redknapp, for a Spurs fan, is fast becoming a memory and the in-fighting that he sparked amongst us in 2012, ultimately seems irrelevant today. The truth of the matter is that no matter who manages Spurs, whether that is Redknapp, Villas-Boas or a bloke called Santini (remember him?), ultimately heartache and disappointment lurk around the corner for this most self-destructing of clubs. That’s the blind spot that continues to hamper us foolish self-deluders.
The sun’s out today. I can see those scotomas again. What I’d really love to see though is the glory and Wednesday’s Champions League ‘decider’ beckons. My blindfold’s at the ready.
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