The Women's World CupThis week’s listening report takes a look at football cliches. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link and can read the transcript of the report (below), where you will also find explanations of key vocabulary by clicking on the links.

Now, clichés are expressions or sayings that have become so overused in the language that they have lost some of their original impact – they are a little bit ‘tired’ in fact. In football, clichés are used quite frequently and are often associated with the emotional side of the game but without giving away too much emotion. Sometimes the meaning is clear or fairly obvious, for example, players will use the phrase

a schoolboy error‘ to describe a basic mistake, but be careful, the cliche football is a game of two halves seems fairly easy to understand at first but you have to remember that it does not really refer to the timing system of the game but instead that one team plays well in the first half and then in the second half the other team is better. More often than not the original meaning of a cliché is difficult to understand. Why, for example, are parrots sick? How can a player give 110% when 100% surely is the maximum? And why does a victory send players and managers over the moon?

Many feel that the overuse of clichés demonstrates the fact that football players, managers, fans, commentators and pundits have a poor vocabulary and are lacking in imagination. However, clichés form part of the football discourse – football fans expect to hear them – and though there is often no logical explanation to their meaning, for example, run your socks off, they do provide some colour and humour for the football world. It is indeed a funny old game.

In order to avoid saying anything controversial, you will often hear football clichés in interviews with players and managers before and after a match. Some managers do, however, delight in introducing us to new phrases. For example, former Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough told us that it only takes a second to score a goal, ex-Liverpool boss Bill Shankly saw football as being more important than life or death, while Jose Mourinho introduced the phrase to park the bus when complaining that an opposing team prevented his side from winning.

Next time you are watching football on television or listening on the radio listen out for some of these football cliches.

If you hear any other cliches or have any questions about them then let us know by posting a comment below. You can also subscribe here to receive more from our selection of football clichés and of course you can check out our huge list of football vocabulary here

More Football Cliche Links

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  • 12 Most annoying football cliches
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    8 comments
    • I think cliches are underrated; what is wrong with using them? The reason a phrase becomes a cliche is because it contains an eternal truth…“we were robbed” is my particular favorite.

    • Some commentators seem obsessed with birthdays – apparently even football players have them. How often do you hear, “that’ll be a nice birthday present for him” or “that’s not what he wanted for his birthday” or “an early birthday present” for a goal / assist etc. when the match is not even played on the player’s date of birth?
      Not a cliche perhaps, but this phrase can be heard at least once a match: “(a certain defender) clears the ball…but only as far (a certain opposing player)”.

    • I love to see a winger skin a full-back, then turn him inside out, before finally whipping the ball into the middle. Hopefully it all causes the full-back to lose his head and the red mist to descend.

    • ‘These things even themselves out over a season’. Usually said by a manager who has gained an advantage due to bad refereeing.

      It’s absolute nonsense!

    • Not cliches exactly but the phrases ‘literally’ and ‘at the end of the day’ are definitely overused in football speak.

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    2014-2015Episode 237