Category Archives: Barber Shop Punditry

Barber shop punditry: Kaka ‘sucks’


Marylebone Barber Shop.

January 16th, 2009.

Sadly, my barber friend is feeling the pinch. A few weeks ago my usual opener ‘how’s your week been?’ was met with a tentative ‘not great, but can’t complain.’ Now when I give him my usual opener the response is a touch more frank: ‘bloody awful.’ Haircuts, it would seem, are not recession-proof.

Football clubs aren’t either, according to Arsene Wenger. Except Manchester City, that is. But Manchester City aren’t really a football club anymore, are they? They’re a football club in name only. What they are is a bizarre mass of money and talk, making bewildering noises that football purists can’t believe, but which the money-men can’t get enough of unsurprisingly.

So my barber friend is justifiably pissed off that when he makes 500 quid a week doing something useful for society – short-back-and-sides keeps crime down, true story – footballing no-hoper Kaka gets 500,000 quid a week to kick a ball around and reveal that he ‘belongs to Jesus’ all the time. That is, of course, if City get their way.

‘This is the end of football…’ he sighed, trailing off under the drone of the clippers. ‘Kaka…Man City…this sucks.’

And there you have it. Is it just me, or has my barber friend quite perfectly summed up the ridiculousness of this entire saga? Our footballers, and our teams, are supposed to be our heros: we revel in the joy they bring us in tough times, in the moments they make us forget that the world outside the stadium is relatively crap, and in the fact that they fight for the club we believe in so desperately. Now they can crash a £200,000 Ferrari and not really worry about it, so it’s becoming increasingly difficult for us to find common ground with our heroes. When you can’t find common ground with your heroes, you start to forget why they were so heroic to you in the first place.

At this point I fell into a ponderous silence, afraid to say anything positive about football lest it be misconstrued as a defence of the indefensible.

Then my barber friend said ‘I can’t look at the football pages anymore.’ He paused. ‘Page 3 is the only thing that makes me feel better.’

And then I felt a flood of relief. Thank goodness, I thought, at least the recession can’t make us hate everything that’s good in the world.


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Barber shop punditry: December 12th, 2008


Unfortunately, not that much punditry was being offered today at the Marylebone barbershop. I guess that says something about how hum-drum the final group games of the Champions League really were, and also how generally unexciting this weekend’s Premier League round appears to be.

However, as one gent was getting his hair shaved closely, the barber remarked that Wayne Rooney’s hair had grown all the way back from the Rio-inspired shaved look he sported a few weeks back, and what a shame that was.

‘Rooney looked good with a shaved head’ the barber mused, ‘and’, he added,  ‘it did wonders for his baldness.’

After a minute of mirror-staring, the customer remarked ‘He played better when he was shaved.’ Then a few sage nods as the barber contemplated that Rooney’s shaved head could in fact have been positively correlated with his performances for England and Manchester United.

Rob Bagchi wrote about the Roo’s new ‘do in The Guardian a few weeks back, and it got me thinking: maybe an athlete’s haircut is not only correlated to a) their performance, but also b)  how seriously they are taken by their opponents and the watchful media.

Consider Roger Federer:

Pony-tailed, The Fed was a) great but b) still considered an upstart to the likes of Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.


Trimmed and floppy-haired he was a) in a different tennis dimension and b) the inevitable conqueror of Sampras’ all-time Grand Slam tally and the greatest ever player, probably.


Or Agassi himself.


On the left, Agassi was a) brilliantly temperamental and b) an affront to the decency of the blazers at the All-England Lawn Tennis Club.

On the right he was a) brilliantly consistent and b) cementing his place amongst the pantheon of all-time tennis greats.

Ok, so far my sample of two has yielded the desired results. What’s that you say? Rafa Nadal has gotten better and his hair stayed the same length? Zinedine Zidane remained a bald genius from Juventus to Real Madrid? To that I say Nadal will obviously win the Grand Slam if he shaves his head and Zidane…er, well, he only won the World Cup after he went bald. Yeah, that works.

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Barber shop punditry: better than real punditry


I just came back from my barber where the standard of punditry was excellent. Here’s the latest:

Chelsea ‘are rubbish.’

Liverpool will win the League. Crucially, they need a big dose of luck to get there but that is ‘what all teams need to win the title.’

Man United need Berbatov back in the line-up and doing ‘his Cantona thing’ to beat Man City on Saturday. Also, their failure to capitalise on Chelsea and Liverpool drawing their respective matches was ‘ridiculous.’

Portsmouth did themselves proud last night against AC Milan. In fact, they did England proud against those over-paid, pompous Italians. But Ronaldinho is still ‘the man.’

That’s the long and short of it. Pun intended.

What I like about it all is the directness. No guff; no fluff; just brutal, clear opinion. So here’s my idea:

Rebuild the entire barber shop on the Setanta or Sky set, so at half-time of this weekend’s Manchester derby or London ‘derby’, we can all be treated to such concise thought. And all while customers got their hair cut of course. Now that would be entertaining. Or at least more entertaining than the stock-standard phrases and quips turned out by former players in sharp suits, week-in, week-out. It would, of course, have to be called something pun-tastic like ‘The Cut Back.’ Would footy-lovers across the UK be interested in the rantings of John Smith who wants a number 4 or Pete Jones who just wants a bit off the top? I think they would. Don’t think so? I’ve got two words for you: Big Brother.

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