Communication Breakdown

by on October 9, 2012
in He Did WHAT?

I’m trying to think of how far back the record of PR disasters surrounding England players, managers and the FA actually goes: it’s a long way and might even start as far back as the Alf Ramsay era. Ramsey was famous for his curt manner with the press and although we’re separated by five decades and an almost unimaginable leap in technology, I’m almost certain that to some extent the anti-England agenda that occasionally manifests itself in the mainstream press dates from that time.

In the last week, we’ve seen what can happen when both managers and players attempt to communicate information and opinions in an informal atmosphere. Although Roy Hodgson was giving an honest answer to a reasonable question about Rio Ferdinand’s international future when he took a tube train to the Emirates to watch Arsenal play Olympiakos in the Champions League, it’s fair to say that either a political answer or keeping schtum altogether would’ve been better options. I happen to agree with him: I think this might be the last time Ferdinand gets mentioned  in this blog as a player. Rio Ferdinand is too old and unfit to play for England but could make a decent coach somewhere along the line.

On the other hand, exactly what Ashley Cole was hoping to achieve when he tweeted about the FA in the wake of the John Terry case is beyond me. At first I thought his ‘foul mouth rant’ was a joke: but then I saw the ‘verified’ symbol next to his handle. In a way, referring to the FA as ‘a bunch of twats’ is a simple case of it takes one to know several. Having been ‘encouraged’  to be a bit more media friendly in the summer and being only two caps short of a century of international appearances, you’d have thought that Cole would’ve been smart enough to realise that keeping quiet would’ve been the best option under the circumstances, especially as there are still questions about the captaincy going forward.

However, apart from possibly in the context of wearing expensive clothes, the words ‘Ashley Cole’ and ‘smart’ seem never to be destined to be used in the same sentence again. I wrote what I thought of John Terry here and I’ve got no problem with including Ashley Cole in the description of some contemporary football players in the fourth paragraph.

I’m pleased that the FA seem to have indicated that Cole won’t play against San Marino at the weekend, but that’s not really a punishment. He’s just lucky he wasn’t around in when Ramsay was boss.

He wouldn’t have played for England again.

I’ll be back later in the week when I’ll attempt to concentrate on the two forthcoming games. But it’s only Tuesday afternoon: plenty of time for tweeting.

John Terry: A Career

If you’re reading this expecting some kind of eulogy, then I’m afraid you need to look elsewhere. In purely footballing terms, Terry will be remembered as one of the better central defenders who played for England, but I’d put him on a par with Dave Watson (13 fewer caps and two fewer goals when England were really terrible) rather than Bobby Moore.

However, Terry will not be remembered in purely footballing terms. Just after the 911 terrorist attacks, Terry – along with four other Chelsea players – was fined for harrassing American tourists whilst he was drunk. Just under a year later was charged with assault and affray outside a nightclub and was given a temporary ban from appearing for England by the FA but was cleared after a court case.

Since then, he’s been fined for parking his Bentley in a disabled bay, allegedly had an affair with Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend (at which point Capello took the England captaincy away from him) and was in court once again this summer following the ‘incident’ with Anton Ferdinand at Loftus Road last October.

So if anyone’s made his position ‘untenable’ it’s hardly been the FA has it? My personal opinion is that Terry is the embodiment of pretty much everything that’s wrong with the elite group of contemporary English footballers: arrogant, overpaid, having no moral compass, seemingly incapable of expressing genuine regret or remorse for any of their actions and – following his laughable display at the end of last season’s Champion’s League final – a bit of an all round dick.

I’ve no doubt he’ll be lauded elsewhere, but I’m actually quite glad he’s decided to retire from the England team. In a couple of decades time he’ll be one of those balding, overweight has beens that Sky Sports dust off to tell us about their ‘glory days’: at first you won’t recognise him…but then it’ll slowly dawn on you…is that John Terry?

It’s Beginning To Look Like The End Of An Era

Well, it’s two weeks since Fab resigned 19 months later than he should have done and it’s finally time for me to pick up my virtual pen and appraise the current situation.

Personally, I think Capello should have gone after the shambles of the World Cup in South Africa. If you’d said in July 2010 that he wouldn’t have been in charge for Euro 2012, I don’ t think many people would have disagreed with you: arguably the bigger surprise is that he was still in charge less than six months before the tournament started.

The big problem the FA faces with his abrupt departure is whether the process of finding a new manager should be begun immediately or after the European Championships.  Stuart Pearce will be in charge for the friendly against the Netherlands next week but the bookies make the loveable but dysgraphic Cockney dog walker Harry Redknapp the favourite for the job – in fact, if Redknapp’s odds were any shorter it’d be worth betting against him getting the job.

However, despite being the people’s choice there are some issues surrounding Redknapp. He’s only won one major domestic honour (the FA Cup with Portsmouth four years ago – and they beat a Championship side to do it) and – if as seems likely – he has to fulfill his obligations to Spurs before he leaves them, there’s the prospect that he might only have twelve days in which to familiarise himself with the job. Spurs’ last game is scheduled for May 13th: England’s first warm up for the Euros is against Norway on May 25th.

The main issue that seems to have finally exhausted Capello’s patience is the decision by the FA to strip John Terry of the captaincy of the England team. Regardless of what you think of the decision or why it was made, it seems to have been the catalyst for Capello’s resignation – presumably because he thought he was the only authority who could remove the honour from Terry. It looked likely that the former captain would travel to the Euros in some capacity (although probably not in the seat next to Rio Ferdinand), but following today’s news that the Chelsea defender will be out for two months it looks as if Terry might miss what looks increasingly like his international swansong: he’ll be 32 in December.

It seems unlikely, but with Capello gone, Terry a possible doubt and Rooney missing the first two games this summer due to that bloody stupid red card he picked up in Macedonia, fan expectations could be more realistic for this tournament than they have been for previous ones. England are currently fourth favourites behind Spain, Germany and Holland which looks about right – until you remember that the previous winners have never successfully defended the trophy and neither ourselves nor the Dutch have ever won it.

So if ‘Arry is as canny as most people seem to think he is, I’d not be surprised if the following scenario occurs:

He stays at Spurs until the end of the season, with a big Cockney farewell knees up at White Hart Lane (the last game of the season is against Fulham). Harry then goes straight into the England job and manages to get through the group stages before the customary knock out by the eventual winners – at which point he’s largely absolved for any blame because he’s hardly had any time in the position. So his first real task will be qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil: Redknapp may be secretly hoping that John Terry may have announced his international retirement at that point.

We’ll see…

Hail Blatter!

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

Lewis Carroll, ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ from ‘ Through The Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There’

In the run up to Blatter’s coronation we’ve had all kinds of lurid tales including some concerning our unsuccessful World Cup bid: principally the suggestion that the FA Cup could be re-named after Dr. Nicolas Leoz (the president of CONMEBOL) and the attempt by the execrable Jack Warner to exploit the Haitian earthquake by demanding discounts for broadcasting rights that were not his to offer. The representative from Argentina (who I am not even going to bother to name) apparently suggested the Falkland Islands should be returned to Argentina.

From a purely British point of view, there are a number of people who emerge from this mess with any sort of credibility. It’s easy to be wise after the event, but it looks like Lord Triesman was right all along, despite having undermined his position by falling head over heels into a honey trap set up by an odious rag that we continue to boycott. The FA and Scottish FA will be the only football associations to abstain from voting this afternoon and Prince William has also backed the decision to do so.

However, what happens today is ultimately of no concern to Blatter and his henchmen who – rather like some of the other notorious European dictators throughout history – won’t tolerate any dissent and are more than happy to hang their own supporters out to dry.

As a keen amateur historian, some of the statements coming from both sides (and this means you, Geoff Thompson) are beginning to sound like the dialogue that went on between Hitler and Chamberlain over Czechoslovakia in 1938: appeasing those b*stards didn’t work then and appeasing this bunch of crooks won’t work now.

It’s time to pick up the ball and leave. Football should be coming home.

For good.

Andy Gray: A Career

by on January 26, 2011
in He Did WHAT?

My late father wasn’t a big fan of Andy Gray. Being a rugby union fan from South Wales, dad had issues with Scottish sports commentators anyway but Gray got his back up so much that over the years he developed a special ‘impression’ of the Fox Sky Sports analyst that – more often than not – sounded like one of the characters from Rab C. Nesbitt in what might best be described as a ‘private moment.’

I’m sure my dad would have been highly amused to discover that his impression seems to have been closer to reality than either of us could have imagined: having been suspended from Sky Sports’ coverage of Monday night’s game at Bolton, Gray was sacked yesterday following further revelations concerning his off screen behaviour. Following even more leaked footage on Monday afternoon, Richard Keys’ future with Sky looks somewhat uncertain (update: Keys resigned from Sky Sports on Tuesday evening)

Gray’s departure from Sky heralds the end of one era and the start of another. He spent the best part of the last two decades as part of the team that revolutionised the way that British football is televised, even though the model Sky adopted is instantly recognisable to followers of American sport. Gray was basically the ‘colour’ analyst to Martyn Tyler’s ‘play by play’ announcer: his arsenal of toys and gadgets seemed to increase every season and one of the jokes doing the rounds of the internet in the aftermath of his dismissal involves him trying to sell his ‘great big iPad’.

However…Gray is not the first TV sports analyst to get into trouble for offscreen behaviour and despite all the cutting edge technology and multiple camera angles, there were obviously some old fashioned attitudes (to say the least) in Twickenham. These days high profile employees of large companies have certain standards to adhere to – including being circumspect about what they say on and off air, which is something I suspect that Jamie Redknapp is very conscious of.

What’s interesting about this particular case is that the leaked clips appear to have been an inside job, which makes me wonder if evidence of his behaviour was being collected beforehand – if that’s the case, then some of the rumours concerning the nature of Gray’s general conduct at work may have more credibility than usual. 

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about – or are bored with it already – here are a couple of clips that pretty much sum up the whole thing…the real thing is somewhere between the two. If anyone from Sky Sports is reading this, I’d be happy to be considered for either role 😉

David James Joins Bristol City

by on July 31, 2010
in He Did WHAT?

I hereby declare a conflict of interest: I’ve tried to be keep my posts about the England team, the Premiership and interesting bits and pieces about international foobtall around the world but I hereby declare that I am a Bristol City season ticket holder and have been for some years. So I can pretty much guarantee that at the moment I am probably more stunned that David James has decided to join City than anyone else reading this.

I’m going to have a lie down now.