The debate goes on, and on, and on...

Football’s Groundhog Day déjà vus that will repeat until the heat death of the universe

February 2nd is Groundhog Day on the other side of the Atlantic, but the theory of things happening over and over again can also very much apply to our beautiful game.

Football is cyclical and with that comes plenty of repetition. From imitation and flattery to insufferable patterns and feelings of déjà vu that will drive you up the wall, the game is littered with moments we think will repeat for the rest of time.

In celebration of the United States’ odd tradition and its namesake film, we’ve put together a list of things in football that will keep happening over and over again, and again, forever and ever, until the eventual heat death of the universe.

Jonjo Shelvey shooting from the halfway line

Shelvey exists to pick up the ball deep in his own half and either ping a 70-yard diagonal or have a shot from an area he has no business shooting from. Pace disappears with age, pingers never die.

The best part is, he’s pretty good at it.

Jonjo Shelvey celebrates his goal for Rizespor. (Credit: @beINSPORTS_TR Twitter)

READ: Jonjo Shelvey is thriving in the Turkish sun one halfway line howitzer at a time

James Milner making at least 20 Premier League appearances

Climate change might destroy our ecosystems and rip society apart, but James Milner will still be grinding out 7/10 performances in the Scorched Earth Barclays.

The man simply cannot be stopped. He’s an animal.

Norwich yoyo-ing between Premier League and Championship

Dread it, run from it. Destiny arrives all the same.

At times we’ve genuinely had to check the number font on the back of a Norwich kit to be sure of what league they’re in.

Guaranteeing they’re back in the Premier League before long.

FIFA / EA Sports FC releasing the same game

“New hyper-ultramotion ghost touch technology enhancement brings you even closer to the beautiful game…”

Stop it. Just stop. Just be honest and say you’ve updated the squads and fiddled about with the game mechanics a bit completely at random. It’s fine.

We’re all still going to buy it anyway.

Roy Hodgson on the touchline

You know in Harry Potter how Professor Binns, the History of Magic teacher is supposed to have died in his chair one day and just kept on teaching as a ghost without even noticing?

If and when Roy’s time on this Earth comes, hopefully many years from now, he will be the first ghost football manager, gliding up and down the touchline. Big coat on and everything. That’d be good.

Football fans being unhappy

It’s all about the pursuit of happiness. The journey. We’re all just Sisyphus pushing a rock up the football pyramid hill for eternity. If your team won every game, you’d get bored.

The key to enjoying football is, actually, being quite unhappy.

“Everything that ever has been always will be, and everything that ever will be always has been.” — Kurt Vonnegut.

Poor refereeing

Perfection doesn’t exist. Embrace human error. VAR and technology won’t fix everything. There’s a reason Match of the Day is still running and Robot Wars isn’t.

Having said that, Robot Wars was class. Imagine Sergeant Bash brandishing a red card and then flamethrowering the offender to death. Adidas and Nike producing flame-retardant kits for very frightened football players. Something to think about.

You get the idea. Referees can never win. There’s also quite an institutional issue. We’re convinced neither of those things will ever change.

Sol Campbell sliding

You know what we’re talking about.

Legend has it that he’s still sliding. 

READ: An ode to Sol Campbell & his never-ending slide tackle for England

The cyclic trend of football tactics rotating

First it was 2-3-5, then there was the ‘W-M’, 4-3-3, 4-4-2, the diamond, 3-5-2, the diamond, 4-4-2, 4-3-3, the ‘W-M’, 2-3-5… you know how it is.

Inverted full-backs this, overlapping defenders that. Like we said earlier, football is cyclical and tactics are no different.

The modern game’s greatest managers are hailed as revolutionaries, but take a closer look at where their principles and philosophies derive from and its clear that imitation is the biggest form of flattery.

What goes around comes around.

Phil Jones putting his head on things

Jones has retired from professional football now having sadly succumbed to his injuries, but we still believe he’ll find a way in this world to put his head in there when it matters most.

It’s his thing. It’s what he does. He blocks stuff with his head. Pray he doesn’t go into ice hockey like Petr Cech.

Probably best if Manchester United put some spongey insulation around the walls at Carrington while he completes his coaching badges at the club.

Emmanuel Adebayor will be offside

He was born offside, lived offside, and will die offside.

See also – Timo Werner, Marcus Rashford, Pippo Inzaghi and the rest.

The Messi v Ronaldo debate

Despite plenty believing that the 2022 World Cup was the final nail in the coffin for the debate, it still goes on.

And it will continue to go on. Forever. Because that’s just how football works.

What is life without ‘Pessi’ and ‘Penaldo’ Twitter anyway?

Arsenal being in the top-flight

105 years and counting.

Alvaro Morata switching between Juventus & Atletico Madrid

Surely, surely there’s more than meets the eye with this never-ending saga involving Morata and his two favourite clubs.

Some suggest it’s a money-laundering scheme, but what if it’s more than that? Without going full Matt Le Tissier, perhaps that’s what they want you to believe.

Romelu Lukaku’s endless accents

The man who’s changed gimmicks more times than Chris Jericho and Matt Hardy – combined. That takes some doing.

He’s nailed the English accent, the American one and probably the Italian at this point.

Mikel Arteta going full David Brent

He just can’t help himself. Mikel Arteta during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium, London, September 2023.

READ: 7 times that Mikel Arteta was football’s answer to David Brent

Sheikh Jassim fans

Despite Sir Jim Ratcliffe completing a minority takeover of Manchester United and looking likely to purchase the club in full in the years to come, there is still a weird corner of the internet that insists ‘Sheikh Jassim’ will ‘save’ United.

We’ve seen no more than three pictures of the man and are pretty convinced he doesn’t exist. Despite there literally being proof that Jassim/Qatar never provided proof of funding in the takeover race, they’ve still not disappeared.

They’re a strange bunch and they won’t ever give up. They’ll probably be after us after reading this. Who knows, maybe ‘Jassim’ himself will reach out.

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