TV WATCH THIS MONTH’S SCREEN REVIEW
The frustrating footballer eventually becomes stocky and grows the full beard of an east London bar manager. That’s the main conclusion to be drawn from new documentaries about two thwarted modern talents. There’s technically still time for -year-old Neymar to justify his £ million transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain and his status as – mentioned in three-part documentary Neymar: The Perfect Chaos (Netflix, released January ) – “the world’s fourth-best-paid sportsman”. It looks more likely PSG’s Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich in Lisbon in will summarise the extravagantly gifted and startlingly theatrical playmaker’s nearly man status.
The Perfect Chaos shadows Neymar in the season leading up to that Bayern defeat. It dodges some key questions: Neymar spoofs, including The Simpsons, mocking his play-acting at the World Cup were shown, yet the player wasn’t quizzed about why he’s such a terrible ham. Strange, when Neymar being injury-prone is an easy excuse. More troublingly, Neymar’s attitude to women was left unvoiced. Filming coincided with a subsequently dismissed rape accusation, but it was left to newsreel footage and his mother Nadine to defend the player.
Relationships of any kind seem puzzling to Neymar; little surprise, given the looming presence of his father. At times,
Neymar Sr appears the archetypal domineering parent. Throughout, Sr tells Jr he can “take control of the company” once he finishes playing. But to what end? Neymar already has more money than he could ever spend and seems to have no interest in business. The sourest scene in The Perfect Chaos shows Neymar trying to fire his father for being a bully. If his son has witnessed him being a blowhard to staff, it’s likely Neymar Sr is horrific when Neymar Jr isn’t there. Yet the father – a former semi-pro journeyman – is convincing about what’s best for his son, telling him outright the PSG move is a mistake, motivated by jealousy of Lionel Messi’s top-dog status at Barcelona. Interviewed throughout, Messi himself is serene
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discussing Neymar, like Paul McCartney talking about Gerry and the Pacemakers.
Similarly troubled by relationships, Wayne Rooney is questioned about his numerous infidelities in Rooney (Amazon Prime, released February ). Trouble is, Rooney’s ability to keep his counsel is unmatched, even among the platitudes typical of the noughties footballer. “I hold my hands up, and that’s it,” shrugs Rooney of his unfaithfulness, as if admitting he probably deserved a second yellow after all. As the title of his documentary implies, Rooney is a black hole for glamour, with the stolid and unblinking presence of a born centre-half, mischievously gifted by fate the ability of one of history’s greatest street footballers. Asked what the appeal was of getting into fights at gigs as a teenager, Rooney eventually settles for “I just liked it, maybe”.
It’d be a mistake to suggest Rooney is impervious to insight, however. David Moyes suggests Rooney’s stern façade is down to his upbringing ensuring he doesn’t want to be helpful with answering questions from authority. Sure enough, there’s the occasional twinkle when blankly discussing his career that suggests Rooney is thinking: “You’re dead right, mate, I’m giving your film absolutely nothing here.” With the documentary strangely glossing over Rooney’s career after another injury-hit tournament at the World Cup, it’s left to Gary Neville to point out how his team-mate’s talents weren’t unfulfilled after all: instead of carrying on as a gifted individual, Rooney ensured he became one of the ultimate team players, sublimating his own skills
NUMBERS GAME The figures behind the facts
Players called Hamilton involved in Arbroath v Hamilton on February , three for the home side, one for the visitors
The total sum agreed in an equal pay se lement negotiated by the US women’s team after a lawsuit lasting several years
Billy Sharp is just a fifth-minute goal away from becoming one of the few players to have scored in every minute of a match
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