The Premiership season returned to our screens this weekend and was once again greeted like an old friend. Only this time, our adored acquaintance had returned from its holiday proudly displaying a nipple ring and gap yah tattoo. I’m referring to the introduction of VAR, a computerised system that pauses the game to aid referees in ensuring the correct decisions are made. If it sounds robotic and laborious, that’s because it is. It’s the equivalent of going for a kick about in the park with your friends and one of them stopping every five minutes to confirm that the dog faeces you just ravaged your Reeboks with actually belongs to a German shepherd and not a King Charles spaniel.
However, the VAR process paled in comparison to some of the lurid hairstyles on display. Anyone not interested in the beautiful game – and I would hazard a guess that there were many partners across the country forced to endure the middle-aged paunch and puns of Jeff Stelling – would have found renewed interest in the ridiculous barnets brandished. On Saturday’s televised fixtures alone, there were more dodgy decisions carried out in the salon as opposed to the stadium.
Saturday’s lunchtime fixture featured Leeds United, but the real standout came from their midfielder Kalvin Phillips, whose hair resembled a roadside pineapple rather than an actual hairstyle. However, nothing compared to what was going on Aston Villa, for it seems their transfer strategy had been deployed on the sheer basis of foolish thatches rather than tactical tenacity. They must be the only team whose highlight reel comes from Toni & Guy rather than Sky Sports.
Much has been discussed about Jack Grealish’s syrup but it looked especially absurd in their opening game. Almost arbitrary patches of freshly shaved skin surrounded his ears and neck, looking like he’d endured painful brain surgery moments before stepping on to the pitch. Then there’s the backcombed quiff teetering nervously on top like an uncontrollable wave in a fish tank and the headband cramming it together like gaffer tape holding in a hernia. He made a mistake giving away possession on Saturday, but some would say that was only a minor error compared to gracing the pitch with that ‘do.
Grealish was not the only guilty one. Douglas Luiz came off the bench when he should have stayed in the barber’s chair, rocking rancid blonde dreads that made him look like a dehydrated Medusa. Not to be outdone, Villa’s Jota proudly showed off his own strange plumage, a short and sharp bob that is usually adorned by first-time moms in the Home Counties.
All of this gives me hope. I have spent my life making brave decisions in the barbers. In sixth form, I spent the autumn term boasting a jet-black emo style with a blonde panel fringe, resembling a mixture of an anaemic Kevin Pietersen and a gay skunk. Then there was the long, bleach blonde mane that combined a destitute Swedish DJ with an edgy scarecrow. At the moment my hair remains relatively conservative, but after seeing so many professional footballers showing off such wacky wigs, I feel it’s time I went back and asked for a modified Noel Fielding.