Keys, Gray and Allardyce talk football, or are they talking about something else? | Marina Hyde

There are those who talk about sport to avoid the weightier issues of the day, and then there are those who magically manage to combine the two without you even realising it

The nights draw in, November is upon us, and it is time to gather round for another episode in our occasional series What We Talk About When We Talk About Football.

As anyone who has spent any time trying to avoid difficult conversations knows, football (and indeed all sport) is perhaps the greatest proxy subject ever created. It provides such helpful cover for a range of repressed upsets, inchoate resentments and subclinical neuroses that, as life goes on, many find it the subject which they feel safest and most comfortable talking about with, say, their parents. And, in due course, with their grown-up children. It is the circle of life, the Great Avoidance, and anyone who has used it to spare themselves another pointless argument about anything from Brexit to how some domestic issue was handled 30 years ago knows to what extent we are all in its most estimable debt.

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