The Ballad of Paul and Marcus
Background image: Christiane Wilden
If the Beatles were a football club who would take the penalties? Would it be just one band member? Each of the Fab Four wrote hit singles for the group, including Ringo Starr.
In my mind’s eye, I see Ringo more as a goalkeeper, backstopping the group on its amazing eight-year run in the charts. It’s a bit awkward for a keeper to take penalties during a match. Tough to ‘Get Back’ between the sticks if it’s saved or clangs off the woodwork. Then again, Ringo was something of an awkward drummer. Who knows?
Still, given that John and Paul wrote most of the hits, sharing credit for all even though it was usually one or the other who did the heavy writing, you’d expect them to split the duties most of the time.
Then again, that isn’t to say George doesn’t deserve to have a go now and then. After all, he was the calm, composed one in the group even if he was the youngest. You can imagine him stepping up to bury one in a critical moment as Marcus Rashford did against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last season. That quality might have even found him designated for spot-kick duty if his namesake, George Martin, proved to be as insightful a manager as he was a producer.
Nor would you expect young George to be put out if Paul asked to take one. Marcus Rashford wasn’t when his Paul [Pogba] strolled up during the Wolves match on Monday night. Depending on whose version of events you believe, it might even have been Marcus’ idea for his French teammate to do the honours after winning the penalty himself.
Back to the lads from Liverpool, the group wouldn’t have broken up because McCartney missed, either. Not every note the Beatles struck was on key even before John met Yoko. In fact, the one thing the Ballad of John and Yoko reveals is that the media hasn’t changed in the half-century since the Fab Four went their separate ways. Sky Sports did its damndest to get Rashford to say he was pissed that Pogba butted in where he wasn’t wanted, Hey Bulldog rather than Hey Jude as it were.
Thankfully, this young Manchester United squad has enough harmony to rise above the manufactured controversy. Others haven’t. Neymar and Edinson Cavani quarrelled over penalty duties when the former Barcelona man arrived at PSG. Dani Alves intervened on his compatriot’s behalf but it’s the Uruguayan having the last laugh now.
Who is gonna make it? We’ll find out in the long run. Yes, the Eagles were another band with a handful of stars who could work together. On the other hand, you had Liam and Noel Gallagher. They’d still be arguing today over who should have taken the kick in the last match before they broke up in 2009, a full decade ago.
For all that, it was Thom Yorke and Radiohead who understood the issue better than anyone. Players see a teammate step up to bury a penalty, bask in tens of thousands of supporters’ admiration and they think, “You’re so fucking special; I wish I was special.”
But when they intervene and miss as Pogba did, it’s very much the opposite sentiment. “I’m a creep; I’m a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here. I don’t belong here.”
PS: The security guys at Molineux aren't supposed to be watching the penalty. I love football.