The 12 most annoying football clichés

We all love talking about football, with the latest matches, transfers and events dominating the train of thought and sparking debate on a daily basis. From the highest echelon of football commentators, journalists and even the players and managers themselves, down to the man in the pub, anything can be explained and justified with a well-rehearsed and used-to-death cliché. Here are the football clichés that annoy us the most (in no particular order):

1. Football is a funny old game

Generally used to explain the unexplainable, if something happens that was unexpected it was because ‘football’s a funny old game’. No-one usually laughs despite the game being ‘funny’ but this ends any argument and can justify just about anything in football.

2. He gave 110% / he worked his socks off

Generally reserved for a hard working striker or midfield player, and almost always deployed as the said-player is being substituted. Even if you score an own goal hat-trick, if you run about lots you can save some face by ‘working your socks off’.

3. A great advert for the game

This can be either a wholesome player (are there any left?) or an exciting match. Steven Gerrard is a great advert for the game (especially when frequenting a bar), or Manchester City’s 3-2 win over Tottenham was a great advert for the Premier League. Even though Balotelli should have been sent off.

4. This game needs a goal

Utilised mostly by commentators or onlooking neutral fans, this phrase is coined to state the speaker’s desire that more entertainment is offered by the players. If a goal is scored it breaks the deadlock and the other team have to come out of their shell and attack. Let’s be honest though; the game doesn’t need a goal, you just want to see one.

5. He’s hit it too well

If you connect with a cross ‘too well’ it means you have struck the ball cleanly. Used invariably after a chance is missed or more commonly saved by a goalkeeper, the thinking is if the attacking player scuffs or doesn’t connect with the ball as well, it would take a different direction and maybe go in. Funny, you don’t usually hear ‘he’s not hit it well enough’.

6. Too good to go down

“West Ham are too good to go down.” No they’re not. This one is reserved for under-performing teams who are threatened with relegation, but “on paper” (another cliché!. look to have too much quality (and another!. in their ranks to be demoted to the league below.

7. There are no easy games at this level

‘This level’ can be any level really, whether it’s the World Cup or the Albanian Superliga; all coaches will state this tried-and-tested cliché before a game that they expect to win, and probably expect to be pretty easy. Similar to ‘keeping our feet on the ground.’

8. Take it one game at a time

This one is a manager’s favourite; typically used by a side who are doing better than expected or progressing well in a cup competition. No thinking about the Champions League game against Real Madrid in two weeks please, lets take it one game at a time and beat Wigan in the league first.

9. It’s a game of two halves

In a literal sense I guess this one can be used as a pretty obvious fact, but the phrase is mostly spurted if one team is getting beaten at half time and have aspirations of getting back in the game. Still pretty stupid though.

10. Bad time to concede

Ask any football fan if there is a good time to concede a goal and they will stare at you blankly. This cringe-worthy phrase is uttered if a team loses a goal straight after they themselves have scored, or just before half time. If we are being honest though, anytime in the entire 90 minutes is not a great time to concede.

11. Every game is a cup final now

There’s something special about a cup final that gets the club – from the playing squad and manager to the reserves, the coaches and the tea lady – pulling together in the same direction and brings everyone together in a good mood.

But when you try to apply the same line of thinking to your last 15 league games (and we have managers spouting this line as early as January in the league), it’s the worst form of siege mentality – instead of experiencing the joy of playing in a final, the players are left with the insane pressure and fear of defeat in each game. That sort of pressure can get you relegated, and it sure doesn’t help when your team is already under a lot of pressure.

12. For a big lad, he’s good with his feet

You’re a footballer, you’re supposed to be playing the game with your feet. And it’s worse when that player in question is below average with both his feet and his head. Here’s looking (up) at you, Peter Crouch.

Which football cliché has you tearing your hair out?

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Mick McCarthy pays price for misplaced priorities


  1. shawn 14 February, 2012
  2. stefan 14 February, 2012
  3. Mohit Anchalia 15 February, 2012
  4. Haider Hussain 16 February, 2012