They’ve apologised

Well, nearly. In saying sorry for including the alleged monkey impersonator in their highlights package, Liverpool effectively played the part of one who apologises for their affair coming out in public, as opposed to the affair itself.

“We can confirm that footage was mistakenly included in the highlights package that appeared on the website. It should not have been included and we are sorry it happened. It was removed immediately when it was brought to our attention,” someone said. “Babe I didn’t want you to find out like this,” they didn’t.

An apology for the edit… not the racism. At last! Soho can move on.

Still, they’re new to this.

Now I know that’s a tad facetious, and I’m sure the club are legally prevented from passing judgement on the man in question due to ongoing proceedings, but the question remains: will the clip be reinstated if the fan in question is found innocent? I strongly doubt it… cos he ain’t.

“Someone’s come in and tickled him under the armpit,” Dalglish lied. “As it was a tickle from behind, whoever did it should have been ejected from the ground immediately – there’s no consistency any more.

“I’ll also say now that our fan was having his other arm pulled back [off screen], and therefore couldn’t scratch his itch with his other arm. The stewards were five metres away and they didn’t see it. What can you do? But at least the evidence is inconclusive.”

Fiction aside, King Kenny actually did say: “I don’t think there was anything there that was untoward.” Now admittedly a monarch is more than likely to have a fair idea of what’s going on in his kingdom – rumblings, dissatisfaction and the like – but it’s a confident one who passes comment on the behaviour of 45, 000 individuals, roughly 12, 000 of whom were directly behind him.

Dalglish wouldn’t be drawn on the news players intend to wear an image of the fan on t-shirts before their game with Wolves in mid-week, and their general sale via the club’s website. Rhetoric Director Ian Ayre defended the decision, which has been criticised in some quarters.

“This isn’t about profit, it’s about unity. This man will Never Walk Alone. We also over ordered on the last batch, and it seemed irresponsible to waste them.”

The error in the edit is just the latest misdemeanour in a colourful (excuse the misappropriation) season for Liverpool, who appear to have lost touch with reality on an unprecedented scale.

In addition to fans still plugging the “Kenny knows” mantra in light of the manifest awfulness of their summer transfer dealings, shirt manufacturer Adidas have now abandoned them; citing the weekly “brand damage” administered by Stewart Downing’s feet, the ignominy of the club taking the Carling Cup seriously, as well as demands wholly at odds with commercial reality.

Tragically, fans have been spared any sort of hubristic humbling by signing a deal for more money with naive American company Warrior Sports – the sort of regrettable moniker that will inevitably spawn hoards of dreadful advertising. God I can see it now, ‘Stevie’ and ‘Carra’ arm in arm in Viking getup, putting inane questions such as: “The Battle of Anfield: Who are you fighting for?!” to fans; there’ll be the ‘Warrior of the Week Award,’ presented by zero to hero Brazilian Lucas; and some self-conceited vox-pop ‘journalist’ asking players: ‘Who’s got the biggest weapon?’ – a cheeky double entendre guaranteeing hilarity due to foreign players ‘not getting it,’ and English ones ‘getting it’ (give Stevie a minute) – it’s just a bit of fun.

That should ensure the club’s odious self-awareness hardens itself yet further in the impressionable minds of the throng, who appear to have lost any semblance of morality.

One could question whether the lack of black players in the squad has been a contributing factor to the fans’ less than welcoming recent behaviour (not forgetting the Oldham/ Tom Adeyemi incident – it’s hard to keep up I know.)

As the Danish Daniel Agger put the Reds one up on Saturday, he was soon embraced by fan of Factor 50 Martin Skrtel of Slovenia, and whiter than white’s Andy Carroll. Now I’m not for a second insinuating some sort of intended purge was instigated by Dalglish, but if I – an enlightened, colour blind, come one come all, not to mention sanctimonious type – have noticed, I doubt it’s escaped the attention of the club’s more outspoken, inward-looking supporters.

The reason I mention this is that the less well-educated (is that still acceptable? If not, I apologise unreservedly for any offence you may have mistakenly taken from my intentionally inoffensive wording) supporters may choose to contrive from such an observation, the existence of a sort of ‘us and them’ ethos at the club, and subsequently a somewhat unfettered outlook on what is and what isn’t acceptable in behavioural terms.

Seemingly quiet lad in the corner Glen Johnson is the one player who challenges the Caucasian totality of the squad, and I can’t help but wonder whether he would have worn that t-shirt at Wigan had there been other black players in the squad, especially of a more stubborn and vocal nature.

Not that he should feel greater affront from racism than the white players of course, but it would have been interesting to see whether he had a slightly alternative view to the prevailing belief that ‘football’s bigger than racism’, and could perhaps have offered a much needed sense of balance and perspective.

Understand that I’m not for a minute saying the club should make a tokenistic gesture and buy in a black player to ‘get the numbers up’, merely observing that…

How people write about this sort of thing is beyond me; I’m sweating pints for fear of offending someone.


The Liverpool Way

Absolutely okay-kay-kay

Call off the search. Today Anfield’s dignity was bagged, weighed down by dense ignorance and dropped into the depths of the Mersey like a Victorian bastard.

He thought he’d been racially abused… and he told someone. Pathetic. Why didn’t he put the Image Of The Game before his own wellbeing and hide the perceived wrongdoing in a mental nook; unseen, unheard? Unfortunately, thought was not a facet many home supporters were burdened with today.

As yet another Hail Mary arced loosely in the direction of Andy Carroll, “Play the Liverpool Way” emanated forth from the digital advertising hoardings. This clearly wasn’t a premonition of the crowd’s reaction to Evra – a last ditch effort to appeal to their better nature (John Barnes etc.) – but it offered a poignancy that transcended Adidas’s intention.

I’ve heard various offerings pertaining to offer tangibility to The Liverpool Way. The search to define the indefinable was put to the club’s broadband season ticket holders on their website. Answers bounced between the predictable, mythical and the conspiratorial.

“Winning,” one simplified.

“Pass and move,” said someone else, ironically.

“Souness effectively murdered it when he took over,” said another, underplaying it.

Liverpool had an opportunity to draw a line under the conflict today, and had they only bestowed upon Evra the standard package of abuse for a United player at Anfield, their generosity of spirit may have been noted by opposition supporters, and would perhaps have gone some way to preventing the sort of treatment Suarez will now perversely but justifiably receive at Old Trafford.

Eh? Bypass the opportunity to feel affront, the hazy ether of righteousness? Lord no. The existence of an enemy is infinitely more important than its identity, which can be selected and tailored to the utmost convenience of the mob according to what is most appropriate at any given time.

In contrast to The Liverpool Way, substance tragically did appear in the form of the Suarez masks sold outside the ground.

“Oi, there’s a black guy in there who ruined Luis Suarez’s life. Give us a quid and you can hurl all manner of invective at him and the cameras won’t be able to tell a thing,” was the essence of the sales pitch; though such tools of deindividuation no doubt sold themselves.

In the light of the FA trial the masks were tantamount to sporting a white pillowcase; the ultimate accessory in cowardice couture. Alas, empathy is a skill beyond most fans, and this ‘regrettable saga’ should now be free to run till such a day that Evra decides to call time on his career in England.

I don’t believe that the FA report was a fair reflection on the affair; I’d even agree that there was more than a whiff of predetermination present. But that cannot possibly be Evra’s fault. Yes the player is undeniably an idiot. Pugnacious, confrontational, easily aggravated. Much like Suarez.

But as I stated previously, Evra thought he’d been abused; the FA decreed he was.

Burn an effigy of the disciplinary panel if you feel slighted. Kick in a model of Wembley, burn a St. George’s flag. You can even kick JT in as he throws himself and a bucket of bravery over it. But that would require a true sense of offence, as well as a degree of proactivity.

For Paullfc1976, The Liverpool Way is “the M1, M6, M62 and M57.” The sound of substance.

Kick Football Out of Racism

An irrevocable bond between men

QPR have asked Anton Ferdinand to shake hands with John Terry this Saturday, when they meet Chelsea in the fourth round of the FA Cup. The Daily Mail are even reporting that “QPR may force Ferdinand to shake Terry’s hand”; though it should be said the article hardly goes on to substantiate this. Wishful thinking, I dare say…

Anyway, thanks to common sense and the death of Habeas Corpus, now everyone watching in the ground and at home can rest safe in the knowledge that an alleged racist incident has been firmly beaten up, brutally dismembered and comprehensively buried under the carpet; and Ferdinand’s petty gripe can be dismissed as the attention-seeking ploy we all knew it was. After all, he is rich and is not The Princess of Wales – attributes it’s tough to marry with sympathy at the best of times.

What the FA’s morality department don’t want is a scene. God forbid. To have one racist charge in a season may be regarded as a misfortune, to have two looks like carelessness.

It is quite reprehensible that Ferdinand’s employers can publicly dismiss the severity of their employee’s claims, and expect him to shake hands with a man he genuinely believes to have called him a “fucking black c*nt.”

The Mail go on to reveal – mother of all bombshells coming up – that the discussions “are likely to include the former Sunderland defender.” One suspects this may prove a genuine point of controversy amongst the readership.

Surely the only proper course of action in a free-thinking society would be to respect his right as an individual to make his own decision, rather than effectively pressuring him into having to decide: to be smeared all over the papers, or not to be smeared all over the papers? At least JT will have some useful coping tips should he choose the former.

Were the two to slap palms, I fail to see how it wouldn’t water down the severity of the accusations; it would barely differ from a divorcing couple shacking up for a night of “you know what, you’re actually alright” sex. In addition, I don’t think I’d put it past the latter to use any subsequent footage in court as evidence that the two had “patched things up, your honour.”

However, it would be perverse to leap to a judgement before the trial has even begun.

But my God is it tempting.

Racism aside, JT looks increasingly likely to incur the wrath of the law irrespective of the trial outcome, due to inadvertently revealing his legal approach: “I’ll fight tooth and nail to prove my innocence.” Were I on his wages I’d bring in some of those lawyer thingys, just in case the two-footed studs up approach proves to be mistaken. But far be it from me to question the way JT defends himself; I’ve never played the game.

Should QPR face any allegations of cowardice from sandal-wearing liberals over their shamelessly dismissive stance, they do at least have a get out clause from on high. Fifa President Sepp Blatter intriguingly suggested recently that the fight against racism could be solved by a full-time on-field handshake between racial aggravator and victim. While Terry and Ferdinand may have missed out on that neat little opportunity on the day of the game, Blatter would no doubt assert that time is as good a healer as any when it comes to cooling racial tension, and so perhaps his esoteric brand of diplomacy will get its first outing this weekend.

Ah, time and a handshake… I hope you’re watching Israel.

Some have been a bit sniffy regarding the gravitas of the handshake as a peacekeeping force, seeing it as an essentially meaningless gesture of largely mythical significance – the sort of bollocks peddled out in war films at poignant, going over the top moments etc. How wrong they’d be. You know as well as I do that when two men shake hands, all other guarantors become superfluous – it’s surprising the legal profession hasn’t gone up in a cloud of it’s own vacuity.

However, in the unlikely event that the act of grabbing another man’s hand for roughly two seconds (longer if you’re socially inept) proves insufficient, perhaps a full on snog would get the rift-healing job done.

Nothing says sorry quite like a pull – and that way JT can simultaneously bust any remaining taboo about homosexuality in football (a slight deviation from Blatter’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, admittedly.) As the current keeper of Her Majesty’s Captain’s Armband, I’m sure that both Terry and his agent would be well behind any initiative to use football’s prominent position in the national conscience to promote a more tolerant society…

“… so how much are we talking?”

Moneyday Morning

“Spend some fucking money!” screamed the family stand at The Emirates.

“Don’t spend any fucking money!” cried the travelling throng at The Reebok.

“I’m not a fucking wheeler dealer, your honour!” exclaimed the defendant at Southwark Crown Court.

The relationship between money and football is over-documented. While fans may bemoan a lack of spending from their respective boards, what they’re really irritated about is lack of value. Wenger has brought players in. From recent memory, he’s purchased Andre Santos (woops), Per Mertesacker (woops), Mikel Arteta (er…) and Park-Chu Young (judgement reserved thus far, much like Park himself.) Wenger set the benchmark for spotting talent, potential and value over several years; a gift that sadly appears to be deserting him.

It seems futile to mention (£15, 000, 000) Andrey Arshavin at this point. While all and sundry have ridiculed his non-contribution on Sunday, in his defence (irony ahoy!) he has done a remarkable job in shielding (£12, 000, 000) Theo Walcott from over-lapping criticism; who was equally atrocious – but for the entire game. I don’t know if I’ve missed a saga or two, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen Walcott linked with another club. In a game driven by agents seeking signing-on fees, as well as a club seemingly in decline and who aren’t opposed to selling, that’s a fairly damning indictment of his ability.

It’s also a story of frustration at Liverpool, though not for lack of – poorly concealed synonym for spending unwise amounts of money in the hope of garnering success – ambition. If talent is in the eye of the beholder then it’s a small wonder Dalglish hasn’t stepped out in front of a bus.

On the issue of value for money, one manager who isn’t oblivious to the rewards to be gained from looking abroad is patriot Harry Redknapp, who today furthered his claim for employment by the FA by appearing in court on charges of tax evasion.

I can’t help but wonder whether Redknapp will keep true to the principles that have served him so well in the day job, and reject meticulous preparation and minutiae (perhaps even lawyers altogether – the greedy tykes) in favour of a laissez-faire approach to mounting a legal defence, relying primarily on his loquacious inclination and considerable interpersonal skills.

Rather than bother with all that ‘paragraph 4 of article 6’ nonsense,’ ‘Arry should instead elect to see the courtroom through the prism of the dressing room. Bale & Co. are obviously replaced by the jury, a group of 12 randomly assembled don’t-want-to-be-here types (- Arsene and the boys? oh stop it) he can seek to imbue with a bit of joie de vivre through his famed ability in getting the best out of people. This should also have a subconscious influence over the nominally impartial referee, Judge Anthony Leonard.

He should beware of taking this tenuous parallel to extremes, however. He wouldn’t want to risk claims of witness intimidation as a result of his coaching team popping in to provide ‘moral support.’ Joe Jordan and Clive (nearly an acronym of vile, which would be most apt) Allen are not men I’d want fighting – figuratively speaking – in my corner, and I’m sure ‘Arry has sought to recreate the family vibe that so appeased Nintendo down in Southwark, with no-ad-to-too-demeaning Jamie literally in attendance and even Sandra, somehow, managing to get herself to the Family Stand in time.

No matter how damning the evidence, or the dubious nature of good-for-the-game’s Milan Mandaric, I don’t foresee so much as a hiccup for ‘Arry in this case. If any mistakes have been made relating to his affairs, they will no doubt be proved ‘accidental’; he simply isn’t that sort of tax-payer. I say this with the confidence of one who absorbed with great heart his lucid commentary on the criminal horribleness that took place during the London riots a few months ago, in purveyor of truth daily The Sun.

“It scares me where this country going, to be honest.” Indeed ‘Arry could do a lot worse than to give a reading of his article that day to the jurors, the subject of which left him “sad, sickened and angry.”

In my utilitarian opinion it’s also for the jury to decide not only whether ‘Arry is or is not guilty of massaging the figures a bit, but also whether Britain in its current state can really afford to see men of his supernatural foresight locked up in one of our already overcrowded prisons. After the inception of the riots he revealed:

“… I’ve had a feeling for a while, for a few years now, that something like this was going to explode somewhere in this country. And, unfortunately, I was right.”

Christ. If only he’d said.


Waving another card - is this guy for real?

How dare he? In imploring referee Mike Jones to send off Martin Skrtel a few weeks ago, Roberto Mancini added to his growing list of crimes against cultural assimilation. Notable others include his insistence on driving on the right-hand side of the road, paying rent in Lira and preferring coffee to tea. I think we’re all looking forward to The Daily Mail’s “Surprise surprise: Italian jumps ship” headline should he ever decide he wants to leave these shores.

“In Italy we move our hands to express ourselves,” he claimed, fooling no one. Mancini’s touchline behaviour was surprisingly picked up by the Twitter community – revered for its level-headed debate. Paragon of virtue Wayne Rooney was just one to feel affronted.

As fellow card-wielders, the more logical outcome to the St. Wayne Vs ‘Manchini’ (sic) feud should surely have been the advent of the feisty pair’s friendship, and not the rift that’s predictably occurred.

“I was tryin’ to win dee match, no?”

“Ha ha. Yeah me too lad #football”

But no, instead rationality and perspective unsurprisingly gave way to moronic tribalism. Come friendly bombs…

I find it hard to condemn card waving. To this humble viewer it appears as much an expression of opinion as it does a player looking to influence a referee, and should thus be disregarded as the meaningless gesture it is.

Players waving imaginary cards are hardly revealing any hitherto unseen, regrettable malaise in the game – of course you want your opposition sent off. For God’s sake, if you’re not intimating your thoughts to the referee then you could paradoxically be found guilty of the most heinous crime in football: Not Doing Everything That You Can To Win; for which sentences can range from such hardships as pithy name calling to the decadent existence of football nomad Nicolas Anelka.

Much has been written about refereeing consistency in recent weeks, and the continual uncertainty about what is, and what isn’t a ‘good tackle.’ Well, this appears to go some way to alleviating card brandishers of fault, no?

After all, who’s to say players aren’t brandishing non-cards because they haven’t studied the rules in ridiculous detail (I know, I know – though Martin Keown does look the type), and are genuinely perplexed as to how the referee could have arrived at that particular line of interpretation?

Yes, everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but some are obviously more wrong than others. Some people watch Emmerdale for example. Why can’t the referees be more wrong than players? After all, a lot of them haven’t played the…. zzzzzzzzz

I understand that the referee’s word is final but if they’re clearly an idiot then who’s to say they won’t need a gentle reminder to book a player, or perhaps go the other way completely and book a player three times (at a World Cup, no less) a la Graham Poll?

Players will inevitably have experienced different outcomes to identical situations at the hands of other referees. How are they expected to take heed if the goalposts keep changing? “It wasn’t me wielding that card ref, it was that Phil Dowd, wielding through me. Don’t shoot the messenger! Don’t shoot th… aarrrgghhhh!” etc.

Referees are now infamous for their inability/ unwillingness to communicate with players. If I spoke directly to someone and they didn’t respond it would send me apoplectic. Anyone who’s put a basic question to an employee at Sports Direct will know the feeling; you’d do better to ask your subconscious. It’s only natural that players should seek to find alternative means of communication.

Also, I’m pretty sure that if players were fully audible as well as visible, no one would be talking about this pseudo-refereeing nonsense. In addition to card-wielding, players obviously shout all manner of expletives to convey their sentiments to referees, but you don’t see them scolded – because you the viewer at home can’t hear it.

Outrage doesn’t stem from invisible cards being brandished, but the fact that they can be seen to be being brandished. The uproar over Mancini’s actions recalled the staple “not good for the image of the game” condemnation. If that’s not an endorsement of the superficial then I don’t what is – it’s the equivalent of bollocking Satan for looking grumpy as opposed to perpetuating evil.

“Ah, but what about the ever impressionable kids?” says Mr and Mrs Middle-England with keenly felt concern. Well, I personally find the sight of a 70 year old man masticating gum with his arsehole wide open before spitting it out onto the pitch infinitely more unsavoury. What if ‘the kids’ started doing that? In Singapore, one hears that that sort of behaviour gets you your hand chopped off. Considering the popularity of United in the Far East one would have hoped that by now the club’s Pretending To Do Good In The Community department would have sent Ferg a timid email at least.

Another problem here is the presence of some dubious pre-24/7 media notion of the way players of old conducted themselves in this country, some Merry England-esque myth perpetuated by rose-tinted old folk and their kowtowing minions in the press. And even if card-wielding were a ‘foreign’ influence, I don’t see Johnny F getting much praise for bring tactics or respect for an opponent’s career to our game. As I write, I see that Sky Sports fave and England’s most fervent protector of the national interest has waded needlessly into the issue:

“I don’t like it. I wouldn’t do it. I don’t like to see it,” said ‘Arry.

Well when you look at it like that…

Ultimately this is professional sport, and Cardgate has firm roots in jealousy, naivety and ignorance. Footballers are doing something we’d all love to do but can’t, by dint of insufficient talent. They have 90 minutes to get the job done or face character and professional assassination, but if Hazel in HR doesn’t feel like having a meeting today, she’ll just push it over into next week. That should leave her enough time to write an uncompromising blog post in which she can vehemently castigate the unemployed on spurious grounds of work-shyness and limp motivation; the absence of 60,000 up-on-the-wrong-side-of-bed types rendering her utterly oblivious to her own hypocrisy.

Personally I have far more of a problem with the arm round the shoulder, verbal diarrhoea, it’s alright ref JT’s got your back approach to authority… another time perhaps.

Cause and Effect

Yesterday Neil Warnock blamed his mother-in-law for his dismissal from QPR.

“She’s done nothing but undermine me ever since we got into the Premier League. On the first day of pre-season she rang the wife up at eight in the morning. In turn, she then over-cooked my scrambled eggs; they were like rubber. I was in such a foul mood I couldn’t articulate my detailed tactical insight to the lads.”

When put to Warnock that poor form, dangerously low league position and a spate of dismal signings may have contributed to his sacking, he brushed off the suggestion with consummate ease.

“At the end of the day you lot in the press get a bit too caught up with that ‘points on the board’ thing. What I say to these table-never-lies doom-mongers that are ruining the modern game is: extract the fact from the opinion. Journalists, agents and Derren Brown are clever when it comes to distorting reality.

Warnock has long been at odds with the English media, who he sees as overly keen to pander to migrant workers.

“Only today did I read in The Telegraph – one of these London only papers that’s reputedly respectable – that Manchester City are top of the league. When I rang the Editor up to complain, he had the temerity to talk me through the maths.

“Now, are you honestly telling me that Roberto Manchinio is higher up our English Premier League than Sir Alex Ferguson? It’s political correctness gone mad – the guy can’t string two words together.”

Warnock is convinced he’ll be back managing in the top flight before long. When asked about a possible destination, he preferred not to go into detail.

“My agent’s speaking to a few clubs. I don’t want to undermine anyone but I’ve already been offered the Blackburn job. Well I’m sorry, if you think I’m working for those clowns you’ve lost your mind. India’s the other side of Kent for Christ’s sake.”

Don’t be fooled into thinking Warnock will alleviate himself entirely of blame. Such is his eagerness to claim full responsibility for his own actions that he still feels a strong sense of guilt over Enron.

“The thing is we all knew it was going on. I could, and probably should have said something, but I didn’t. Yeah, we thought we were invincible.”

The future’s Oranje

AW, literally coming between a father and son

Arsenal have attempted to sign Robin van Persie’s five year old son.

And again:

Arsenal have attempted to sign Robin van Persie’s five year old son.

The club’s fiscal responsibility is well documented, and as self-proclaimed purveyors of “playing football the right way,” morally speaking they appear to sit head and shoulders above every club in the world. Aesthetic martyr Arsene Wenger is not the type to call the board into question over their intrinsic fear of overdrafts, choosing instead to trust his keen instinct for a bargain and extensive collection of rib-tickling videos in which club marketing legend Theo Walcott tries to trap a ball, to lure targets to The Emirates.

Thus it comes as no surprise that he’s looking to explore another tight-Arse scheme to ensure The Gunner’s talent conveyor belt continues to produce, asking wantaway club captain Robin van Persie to be a good father and call time on his own career for the sake of his little lad’s.

Some press reports claim that the level of emotional blackmail and contempt for free-will at play here has prompted long established East End foster care agency Fagin’s to offer Wenger a seat on the board. They speak cynically of a last-ditch attempt to avoid an upsetting beginning, middle and end to VP Senior’s Contract Talks, due for release in Summer 2012 on Broken Records; available in all national newspapers.

Now, it’s not initially clear what the proposed deal for Shaqueel van Persie – who seems to have been conceived under a basketball hoop – is worth. Speculation has placed the offer at anywhere between a year’s supply of Jelly Tots and a chocolate coin pay-as-you-play deal, plus customary one-on-one shooting-wide practice bonus with… club marketing legend Theo Walcott. Were such high levels of remuneration as these to prove authentic, I doubt we’d be hearing much more from these NSPCC naysayers.

The spanner in the works appears to be the ambition – or lack thereof – of Shaqueel himself, who’s been found guilty of forging healthy childish relationships with team-mates at his current club, Hitherto Anonymous FC. His team mate Ollie Withers, who is four years old, likes dinosaurs and hates girls, was overheard by a press mole at break-time saying that ‘Shaq’ prefers a move to Man City, who offer their protégés an end of season jolly at Disneyland, the day off on your birthday and no chance of one-on-one training with Walcott.

I personally hope the poor little mite grows up to resent football and his father’s ability at it, and instead chooses to pursue a career as a full-time hipster; designing his own t-shirts on an ipad and sporting a questionnable haircut.