Nobody knows nothing, despite what you may think

I’m writing this as my old friend Bill O’Herlihy reads a laundry list of names to Eamon, John and, yes even, Ronnie Whelan.

Arsenal have been humbled 4-0 at the San Siro in what feels like a low watermark in Arsene Wenger’s Gunners tenure.

Now, the RTÉ panel are parsing the great and good of European footballers ahead of the rebuilding job Wenger faces — if he’s allowed to undertake it — by those behind the Emirates Stadium boardroom door.

There’s a guy Edin Hazard in France... should he buy him, Eamon? What about Modric? Will Henry come back? Does Liam Brady still own a pair of mouldy-studded adidas, there at all, John? It’s not often that you’re reminded of All The President’s Men, the film starring the charismatic, young Dustin Hoffman and the perfect-looking Robert Redford when watching the three lads hunched over their RTÉ-emblazoned desk of a Wednesday night.

But they brought to mind the Hollywood film the other evening.

The screenwriter responsible for bringing Woodford and Bernstein’s famous account of their Washington Post investigation into the Watergate break-in and the subsequent resignation of Richard Nixon as US president, was William Goldman.

He penned too the Princess Bride and the immortal line: “I am Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.”

Earlier, he won an Oscar for his writing of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, one of LA’s greatest exports, in my opinion. Not a bad hat-trick.

He also wrote a book called Adventures in the Screen Trade which I’d highly recommend for those interested in those sorts of things. If not, it can be boiled down to his one lesson after decades in the film industry: nobody knows anything.

Goldman insists Hollywood producers, directors and writers have absolutely no idea what makes a hit. It’s something that lies outside science.

Wenger too will know what he means after another night of watching sure-fire hits like Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky bumble their way around the San Siro. And God knows, he won’t find the answers to his personnel woes under the studio lights in Montrose.

Goldman is still with us, though not churning out the silver screen gold as often. For those of us who watch NBA, you’ll often see him in a well-worn New York Knicks cap courtside at Madison Square Garden watching his beloved NBA team.

He will have allowed himself a wry smile as he’s watched the rise of Jeremy Lin on the hardwood in front of him this past week or so.

The story has been detailed in this corner of the paper by John Riordan in New York already. If Hollywood read the script of his rise to fame they’d throw the first draft back in your face with a cynical sneer.

And rightly so. But nobody knows nothing.

After folding away the Arsenal defeat for the evening, O’Herlihy throws some chum in the water for his sharks: Trapattoni’s latest squad announcement in which he stuck with what he knew – Stephen Hunt over James McClean. They bite.

“I think he has neglected his duty. I feel that he believes the system is more important than the players,” Dunphy said. “He seems to forget that we’ve got World Cup qualifiers beginning in September and that these young players will be needed for the future of Irish soccer.

“It’s wrong, it’s wrong, it’s wrong. I don’t care if he wins the European Championships. It’s wrong,” he sighs ultimately, barely restraining himself from firing an Italian ’90 pen across the desktop.

Across town from Madison Square Gardens in the offices of the New Yorker magazine, the writer Malcolm Gladwell too is interested in the process of identifying the difference between potential and actual realisation of that promise.

He’s recognised two jobs in which you can measure people’s skill, talent, training and knowledge but still not know how they’ll do until they get into the job. One involves opening a classroom door and standing in front of a room of young adults who expect you to teach them.

The other involves pulling on a helmet and standing behind the line of scrimmage on an NFL field, as a quarter-back.

College football QBs are distilled into a catalogue of metrics – arm length, height, peripheral vision, temperament, whatever, as scouts compile telephone book reports, with so much at stake.

Earlier on Wednesday Kerry’s AFL legend Tadhg Kennelly put a bunch of invited young footballers through their paces. Pictures emerged afterwards of the Listowel man watching on as the young lads were examined and measured and marked on a variety of different parameters.

But, he’d tell you himself like teachers, quarter-backs, movies and Irish wingers, nobody knows nothing until you put them on.

* Contact: Twitter @adrianrussell

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