I do not like Garth Crooks. I don’t agree with what he says. How he says those things irritates me. I think he’s patronising. He got no neck of which to speak. His contributions barely amount to cod analysis. His best quality is that he’s not Mark “by the way” Lawrenson.

He is a man who refused to decide his Player of the Season until the end of the last game, claiming the PotS should ALWAYS be awarded to the best player of the title winning side. And so in 2013-14 it was Yaya. Had Man City lost on the final day, then the perspective of who’d stood out over 9 months would have flipped instantly and Suarez would have taken the crown.

And yet I find myself making a weekly trip to absorb his ‘Team of the Week’ selections on the BBC Sport website. I do this for no other reason than I’m confident in my own ability to predict his starting XI armed with nothing more than having watched the last 10 minutes of Final Score and checking how my fantasy football team has fared.

As far as I can tell there are only a select number of criteria which Mr Crooks applies when selecting weekly heroes. Primary of these is scoring a goal. Secondary is scoring another goal. Here’s how I imagine a conversation between Garth and his assistants, who I’ve just made up and named Tobias and Barnaby, goes on a Sunday evening*

*These events did not necessary take place. I’m not saying they definitely didn’t, but the chances of GC using the word ‘apathetic’ are slim.

Garth: Right, did anyone score a hat-trick?
Tobias: Suarez actually got 6.
Garth: Do you think we can include him twice?
Barnaby: I think the idea is to pick 11 players, Mr Crooks.
Garth: *sigh* Fine. But he really does deserve to take up two spots if he’s scored 6 goals. I mean that’s, er *stares at fingers* 2 hat-tricks. Anyway, what other strikers scored?
Barnaby: Van Persie, Demba Ba and Olivier Giroud all scored and assisted 1. But I watched the Arsenal game and Giroud was non-existent. He contributed nothing and his touch was awful throughout. I mean, the crowd cheered when he was replaced by Niklas Bendtner. And even though they lost Connor Wickham led the line expertly. He harassed the defenders and didn’t give them a moment’s peace. He was feeding on scraps but still forced the keeper into 3 top class saves.
Garth: Well then they’ve all got to be in. Not Wickham though. Sunderland got stuffed.
Barnaby: All of them? Including Giroud? That’s 4 strikers in total.
Garth: It’s okay, we’ll rejig the formation. They all scored and assisted so they’ve got to be in. That’s what wins games.
Tobias: Jay Rodriguez scored too and played well.
Garth: Ooooh, if I include him it’ll look like I know about players from outside the top 4 too. Put him down.
Barnaby: So that’s 5 strikers then. Why don’t you just include Hazard too? I mean, he won those 3 penalties, even if he did dive for all of them.
Garth: Superb. Is that 6 we’ve got now?
Tobias: Yep. So looking at the back, Crystal Palace fought well to draw 0-0 at Man City, their defenders were strong and resolute. I’d say Dann deserves a mention for clearing the ball of the line, intercepting everything and dominating Aguero all game.
Garth: City kept a clean sheet, you say? Did Kolarov get forward much?
Barnaby: Well, yes, but…
Garth: Put Kolarov in. What about Baines? He’s usually dangerous from crosses.
Tobias: Yeah, he actually scored that penalty after he slipped and hit the ball with his inner thigh, but Everton did concede 5 at home to Norwich.
Barnaby: But you’ve already got a left back in Kolarov.
Garth: Baines can play on the left side on the central 2, don’t worry. Did any other defenders score?
Tobias: No, but Scott Dann was…
Garth: Just do ip dip on the last 2 spots then, I’m growing apathetic.
Barnaby: Right, that selects Joel Ward…
Tobias: Yes! A Palace player! Although he did play in midfield…
Barnaby: And Phil Dummett.
Garth: Who?
Tobias: He came on for Newcastle in the last 5 minutes. He gave away a penalty but did connect with a header from a corner which nearly went close to the near post.
Garth: That’s fine. Put something about him being an aerial threat. Let’s go. I need to meet Motty for a lesson on how to pronounce the names of England’s opponents in the World Cup.
Barnaby: You still need a keeper.
Garth: Aaaaaaaargh, but they hardly ever score. What’s the point? Just put De Gea down, I like his hair.
Tobias: So the team you’re submitting is
De Gea
Dummett Ward Baines Kolarov
Rodriguez Van Persie
Suazez Ba Groud
Garth: Looks good to me. Now if you can just add some interesting statistics about how many times Kolarov touched the ball with the outside of his left foot, or what percentage of Hazard’s passes to Oscar would have gone out for a throw in if they’d have been overhit and missed everyone else. Thanks guys.

Now, to be fair, I am doing Garth a disservice. He doesn’t just rely on the fictional Tobias and Barnaby for his information. There’s also his uncle Ben, as this genuinely undoctored reasoning behind his inclusion of Wayne Rooney attests:

I was speaking to my uncle Ben on Saturday and said that Aaron Ramsey was almost certain to be the unanimous choice for footballer of the year. He took the glass of champagne out of my hand and said: ‘You mean Wayne Rooney, don’t you?’ I told him that he had made a very good point and promptly went home.

With that, Wazza took his place alongside 8 other goalscorers, Curtis Davies (HE DIDN’T EVEN SCORE! WHAT ARE YOU PLAYING AT GARTH?) and a boring old keeper. And that’s why Crooks earns the big bucks.


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