The judge in the Harry Redknapp tax evasion case suggested that football had ‘lost its way’ in this country. I couldn’t agree more. This week highlighted it more than most.
First of all, Redknapp is acquitted – rightly, from what one can glean – but none of the intimate details suggest that the words ‘squeaky-clean’ can be ascribed to matters financial at Portsmouth Football Club during Mandaric’s reign. Still, no laws were apparently broken. I myself have now set up a Monaco account under the name of my granddaughter’s guinea-pig. As yet there’s nowt in Fifi64, but give it time.
Next, Fabio Capello hands in his notice cos the FA has told him he can’t have an alleged racist as team captain. Fabio isn’t having it, so he bails out. Of course the Italian insists he didn’t look for an escape exit, it’s just that David Bernstein pulled the lever on a trapdoor that had, since 2010, been mysteriously rusted up.
It’s one of those issues that the ‘sport-and-politics-shouldn’t-mix’ brigade are up in arms about, but you have to be a fuckwitted student of history to believe that. Anyone who thinks that the sports embargo on South Africa had nothing to do with the downfall of apartheid isn’t reading the same books as I have.
The recent death of Basil D’Oliveira served as a reminder that the basic tenet of treating people differently because of the colour of their skin should be resisted at all costs. The fact that Capello saw no political overtones to being the coach of a national team suggests to me that the man shouldn’t have had the job in the first place.
Okay, so the FA, in all its leaden incompetence, managed to make the right decision in the wrong way – it would have been nice to have consulted Fabio before making the announcement – but that’s beside the point.
The manager cannot be immune to the bigger picture. Which brings us to Luis Suarez. I don’t know how comfortable the Liverpool squad were wearing them Suarez 7 t-shirts a while back. I’m pretty sure they’ll be wishing they hadn’t bothered now.
The build-up to this Saturday’s fixture was all about putting events behind you and moving on. The handshake was even touted in some places as an underlining of that.
There’s an acknowledgement among most football fans that Patrice Evra is both a fine left-back and a bit of a knob. (There are many such examples in the modern game. And not all of them play for Man U.)
Nevertheless Evra, urged on no doubt by the wise words of Sepp Blatter on such matters, did dangle a limp mitt in Suarez’s direction and the Uruguayan ignored it, going from bewildered mascot to the slightly more bewildered David De Gea. (To be fair, De Gea might have been disorientated as much by his selection ahead of Lindegaard as the opposition striker’s behaviour.)
Unsurprisingly, Rio Ferdinand – barracked at Chelsea for having the audacity to be the brother of a man who has allegedly been racially abused – refused to shake El Divo’s hand in return, and lo and behold we’re back to square one.
Dalglish, like some antsy doe-eyed parent, has stood four-square behind Suarez before, during and after the eight-game ban. And this is how the bloke repays him. Add to that a Luis special of a performance, neat flicks combined with ludicrous writhing, and it all gets crowned with Evra whipping up the Stretford End into a lather of schadenfraude at Suarez’s defeat.
Ugly isn’t the word. If football had a face at the moment it’d make Andrew Lloyd Webber look like Hayley Atwell.
Not Andrew Lloyd Webber
Fergie’s righteous ire, coupled with a gentle censure of his left-back, was on this occasion forgivable. He’s a pious old rogue sometimes but I agree with him. They need to take that ungrateful little nerk into a small cupboard in Anfield and give him a serious talking-to.
From the moment Liverpool refused to contest the ban, Suarez could forget about being treated as the innocent party. He needs to bloody well shape up or they can send him to, I dunno, Poland where his views might be more sympathetically embraced.
Just as with these utter bankers who are still trousering bollock-twistingly large amounts of money despite their contribution to our blasted economy, so footballers and managers need to understand that part of the quid pro quo of huge salaries and public adoration is a responsibility to at least try to uphold the best standards of society.
Yes, maybe that’s unfair on a bunch of none-too-bright young men whose feet talk better than their gobs, but that’s their reality. Capello can’t stomp off in high dudgeon just cos his employers want to impose a political decision on him. It’s in the nature of his ex-job. Ravel Morrison shouldn’t be tweeting homophobic shite either.
Hopefully Harry understands this. Redknapp’s literacy may well be limited entirely to football, but the England manager has to muddy his mitts in the murky waters of morality too. Of course he’s the obvious choice and not cos he’s English. McClaren, Keegan, Taylor, it’s a roll-call of concrete-shoe-wearers jumping in at the wrong end of the local baths.
But my fear is simply that Redknapp could get swept up by events beyond his control –and if you look at his testimony in the recent court case you’d have to conclude that a lot of his life is beyond his control – and instead of having an upbeat youthful team unburdened by stupid expectation attempting to play the game the right way, you have Avram Redknapp moping along the touchline like a latter-day Eeyore.
I’d have no objection to Guus Hiddink getting the role and Harry carrying on putting a bit of entertainment on to the football parks of England by staying where he is. Whoever it is, at least they don’t have to fret about whether to select Luis Suarez. Or John Terry, actually, if they want my advice.