Friday October 25
If I had any doubt that YaYa Toure was right to call for a boycott of the World Cup if the Russian racist abuse continues it has been instantly removed by the fact that Sepp Blatter has stated that he is against it. Blatter is one of those people who have the uncanny knack of making the wrong choice whenever required to make an instant decision. Yesterday in an interview he jokingly referred to the fact that some people see him as a James Bond villain, stroking a white cat in his Swiss HQ. All I know is, if he found himself in the hero’s position of having to decide whether to cut the green wire or the red wire on a nuclear bomb with 7 seconds to go, there would be no sequels and the franchise would end there and then.
Blatter’s initial reaction to every major football issue that has come up in recent years has been completely wrong. He has then made u-turns and climb downs on each one, always denying that is what he is actually doing. He was wrong to rule out goal line camera technology. He was wrong over the award of a summer World Cup to Qatar. He is wrong about the value of threatening a boycott of Russia now. Michel Platini, on the other hand, who is not one of my favourites because of his ill-concealed dislike of England, is right to call for an explanation of why the ref did not follow the rules when the chanting was drawn to his attention by the Man City players during the game.
Simon Barnes, Times Sports Commentator of the Year, produces another article which shows why he earned that accolade. In a piece entitled “A Bringer of Joy versus a Deliverer of Wrath” He says what needs to be said about Ferguson’s comments on Beckham.Sir Alex Ferguson writes with contempt about a lot of people, among them David Beckham.
David Beckham thought he was bigger than Alex Ferguson, there is no doubt about that in my mind. Perhaps he did but if so he was right. Beckham is bigger than Ferguson in very many ways. Here are just ten of them.
1. Beckham is a player
2. Beckham brought joy to the nation.
3. Beckham is much richer than Ferguson.
4. Beckham never cost Man Utd £500 million (He suggests the outcomes from Ferguson’s dispute with the previous owners did).
5. Beckham has never indulged in public feuds.
6. Beckham does contrition.
7. Beckham is loyal.
8. Beckham does self-mockery
9. You can always count on Beckham. If you want a good deed done for the nation, Beckham is always ready to stand up and do it. Ferguson who has lived and made his fortune in England (some might say like a cuckoo in the nest, like a number of professional Scotsmen – me), makes antediluvian jests about becoming England manager to drag them down below Scotland.
10. Beckham has made football a nicer place.
Beckham’s autobiography is out next week. I’ll definitely be buying that one and expect to enjoy reading it, rather than experience the mixed feelings of massive respect for his achievements but sadly also disappointment, anger at and contempt for the behaviour that the most successful Premier League manager in a generation has displayed. A book too far, I think. Still, there is no need for anyone to do a hatchet job on Sir Alex. He has just done it to himself.
Bless, Even Judy Finnegan has gone off on one in the Express, “Sir Alex came across as an embittered resentful old man. Beckham is a global superstar with a talented designer wife and 4 beautiful children who has earned the adulation of the whole world. A one off who wrote his own script with stunning success”.
Sat October 26th
As predicted, 24 hours on, Blatter has climbed down and taken a completely different tack. At the dinner to celebrate 150 years of the FA he says, “As usual, we will be very tough…eliminate one team from a competition or by deducting points.” It’s as if a team of advisers got hold of him after his head in the sand comments on Toure’s call for a boycott and told him he better come up with something more positive – and quick.
Saturday’s Premier League games Mauricio Pochettino continues to get Southampton to punch well above their weight as they reach the giddy heights of 3rd. He has proved his qualities as an excellent coach. Whilst he continues to make no attempt to speak English in his interviews I’ll remain convinced he is using the south coast club as a stepping stone to greater things.
More great goals. Suarez hat-trick and an exquisite chip from Sturridge as Liverpool beat West Brom 4-1. United claw their way back from going behind twice and very nearly much worse at home to Stoke. Norwich batter Cardiff but can’t quite register a goal, having a controversial 93rd minute effort ruled out.
The media will be full of reports of all the usual match details, so I just thought I’d draw attention to what for me was the tackle of the day which probably won’t get much coverage elsewhere. It was from that Southampton game, a tackle by Fernando Amorebieta on Dejan Lovren. The last time I saw this move it was carried out by James Herriot on All Creatures Great and Small on a cow. He had a shoulder length rubber glove on. Look at the expression on poor Lovren’s face. He might have expected it if he was sharing a prison cell but on a football pitch on live TV? It reminded me of a memo written on embossed velum House of Commons notepaper by the Chief Adjudication Officer when he heard about the unintended effect of some poorly drafted legislation. “Surprised? You could have b***red me through my oilskins!” (It was 30 years ago. I trust sufficient time has passed not to worry about that little revelation breaking the Official Secrets Act.)
“World class banner signing earns a place in history by scoring a goal on his El Classico debut and makes another”. That’s Neymar for Barcelona. Gareth Bale on the other hand sadly failed to make an impression, played a hospital ball to Ronaldo, missed with a long range shot, got booked, performed a high studs up tackle and was substituted as Madrid were defeated. Young Gareth seems to be making a similar start for Real Madrid to the one he made for Spurs. Give it two years and they should get two seasons when he plays out of his skin before moving on for a world record fee to a club that we never knew he has loved since he was a child. By then Andros Townsend will probably have a World Cup medal.
Sunday 27 October
Remembered to put the clocks back. Chelsea beat Man City although it could have gone either way. Torres seems to have his energy and pace back. Sunderland beat Newcastle 2-1 with another wonder strike.