Football is unpredictable — who would have expected Blackpool to beat Liverpool both at home and away this season? But what is more perplexing is the sudden rash of Premier League players with ponytails. English football doesn’t much like this style — when, less than two years ago, Ukraine’s Andriy Voronin was failing to make the grade at Liverpool, his lion’s-mane ponytail was a target for jeering fans.
But now he would be in good company. There are the Spartan warrior ponies of Newcastle’s Jonas Gutierrez and Liverpool’s Sotirios Kyrgiakos; the extravagant plaits-and-ponies of Spurs’ Benoît Assou-Ekotto or Stoke’s Kenwyne Jones; Sunderland’s Kieran Richardson’s god-awful rat’s-tail. Even England’s next great centre-forward hope Andy Carroll has opted for a high-up one.
By necessity, the modern footballer’s life is shorn of vices — excessive eating and drinking will truncate one's career and its resultant millions, drug-taking is too risky, and the recent travails of Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch mean you’d have to be an idiot to expect to get away with sexual infidelities. The one vice the lifestyle can’t touch is vanity, and footballers continue to indulge it via the waxing of the extremities, absurd forays into the fashion industry, even corrective dentistry. You may not be able to cement your masculinity by getting hammered every Saturday night, but you can still feel like Charlie Big Potatoes by doing something sartorially or tonsorially ridiculous that costs a fan’s monthly wage.
But the ponytail? Have we not learned from Voronin? No, says Lino Carbosiero, artistic director of London’s Daniel Galvin salon. “This season I’ve noticed players are trying so many different things — braiding, plaiting, hairbands. They know that a unique look makes them more market-able — even the ugly ones. But nine times out of 10, aside from Beckham or the South Americans, a ponytail is going to look ridiculous. Andy Carroll won’t affect the fashion market.”
So even when he doesn’t have a ponytail, David Beckham can make others wear one anyway. That is power.