The good, the bad and the unbelievable

If everything in football is sensational , amazing and world-class – how do football commentators define what is good ? It was a question which was posed by football writer Hesse-Lichtenberger last week who wrote a very welcome article on how the us

If everything in football is "sensational", "amazing" and "world-class" - how do football commentators define what is "good"?

It was a question which was posed by football writer Hesse-Lichtenberger last week who wrote a very welcome article on how the use of words such as "phenomenal" has become run-of-the-mill.

He describes how "superlatives are no longer a stylistic device but most reporters' standard mode of expression".

When putting his cat out two weeks ago he heard a voice booming from the television informing the viewers that something was "unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable" only to find that Claudio Pizarro had scored a goal against Birmingham and that his only previous Chelsea league goal "had come - get this! - on the first day of the season against - wait for it! - Birmingham. According to the commentator, this was unbelievable, just unbelievable".

Hesse-Lichtenberger's assessment of hyperbole in the reporting of football on www.soccernet.com is much more thorough than I could hope for in 300 words, but as I said earlier it is very welcome and is worth a read for all those football fans out there.

Sports reporters do tend to get away with what now is their "standard mode of expression", and it isn't half irritating.

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So is the reporting, and I use the term loosely, of possible transfers of players between clubs.

I'll take the example of Newcastle United.

Ever since the return of the "messiah", Kevin Keegan, to Tyneside the nationals have linked the club to every player in Europe - or it certainly feels that way.

From Monday to Thursday last week alone he was linked with no fewer than 10 players. All that was missing was a goalkeeper.

I suppose if you're a sports reporter and you link a club to every player out there, one is bound to come up trumps and when it does you can claim that your readers "heard it here first".

Amazing.

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