I can’t really say I missed watching the England game live on TV. The Radio Five Live commentary in the background, as I pottered around the house, was fine. However, even though this match was a “dead rubber”, I do feel sorry for those punters who are more dedicated to the national cause and forked out the £12 or whatever to watch the game online. How must they have felt when they heard directly after final whistle that highlights would be broadcasted, by the BBC, later that evening?
Alan Green, who relayed the details, said they couldn’t tell us before due to “contractual reasons”. By that I assume the web company, who the BBC did the deal with, told them to keep it quiet otherwise no fans would log in, sign up and pay out for the game? A tad underhand one feels and another example of fans being exploited?
The match itself was unremarkable. Among the hullabaloo about Rio Ferdinand, was the question of Steven Gerrard? Was he taken off at half time for tactical reasons or, because Capello had made a deal with Rafa to play him for only half the game? Worse still was he hooked because he was crocked? The highlights didn’t suggest anything and I’ve read nothing, so presumably he is OK?
Glen Johnson got good reviews for going forward but equally bad ones for his defending and positional sense. Anyone would think this is a surprise. Surely by now everyone knows what he is like? Perhaps Rafa and Capello should have done with it and play him on the right side of midfield? Either that or his roving forward needs to be counterbalanced (playing the five at the back/overlapping full backs formation) or he needs to learn to work a bit more on his defending? It’s an intriguing situation and it will be interesting to see how his develops as the season unwinds. I’m not criticising Johnson but I’d really be interested to hear what Jamie Carragher and the other Liverpool centre halves feel about this. How do they feel when Johnson goes careering up the field?
If Jamie had an issue he would be too professional and diplomatic to get personal and publically air his views. This is more than can be said for Sir Alex Ferguson who is slowly becoming a “lose cannon” and potential source of embarrassment to his club even allowing for the many indulgences, based on what he has achieved, they and others give him.
Alex Ferguson’s apology to Alan Wiley for the comments he made about him was a welcome turnaround and sharp reminder to him that he is not untouchable or beyond reproach, regardless of who he is and what he has achieved. The apology smacks of a legal statement rather than anything genuine or heartfelt. However, it does highlight a number of issues. Firstly that Rafa’s rant against Fergie last season does seem to have more credibility and resonance, especially if the FA decide not the punish Ferguson?
“During the Respect campaign – and this is a fact – Mr Ferguson was charged by the FA for improper conduct after comments made about Martin Atkinson and Keith Hackett. He was not punished. He is the only manager in the league that cannot be punished for these things”
Fergie’s lack of respect is one thing. But when you are squirming, as Fergie has done in his statement, because you’ve realised you have gone too far it simply makes things worse?
“My only intention in speaking publicly was to highlight what I believe to be a serious and important issue in the game. The fitness levels of referees must match the ever-increasing demands of the modern game, which I hope will now be properly addressed through the appropriate formal channels”
Nonsense, it was simply the result of Fergie’s frustration at seeing his team selection, for the drawn home match against Sunderland, backfire. He used Wiley as a diversionary tactic to take attention away from the result. It’s a common Mancs tactic, here’s Rafa again…
‘We know what happens every time we go to Old Trafford and the United staff. They are always going man to man with the referees, especially at half-time when they walk close to the referees and they are talking and talking”
He doesn’t sound so demented now does he? Making a point about referee’s fitness or otherwise is one thing but doing in such a way that you publically insult someone personally is, to quote a phrase Fergie used when describing Rafa’s comments about Everton being a small club, “beyond the pale”.
It is not surprising that the most pertinent comment comes from a referee, Jeff Winter and I make no apologies for the length of the quote.
“It was a cowardly attack – Sir Alex wouldn’t have said it to Alan Wiley’s face. Every game Alan Wiley takes charge of now where he makes a decision which upsets some fans is going to result in chants of ‘You’re not fit to referee’, he’s going to be known as the ‘unfit ref’. Sir Alex won’t care though. He’s a knight of the realm and he thinks he’s untouchable, bullet proof. But he’s also a bully. He spoke at Sir Bobby Robson’s memorial service a couple of weeks ago and said he’d learnt a lot from Sir Bobby. But he hadn’t, they were totally different, Sir Bobby was a gentleman. He was humble and had respect for people”
Damming but deserved comments. This is not the first time Fergie’s month and deluded sense of self importance has got the better of him. Anyone remember Rock of Gibraltar? I can’t help thinking what the reaction would have been if Rafa, and not Fergie, who made these comments. He would have been slaughtered and deservedly so.
Sir Alex Ferguson has achieved a lot in the game. He is in a privileged, enviable position. Many people look up to him. He has power, experience and, as a result, influence. It is a pity that he chooses not use this for the common good and lead by example. Instead he appears hell bent on cheapening it with ill conceived, petty, crass, classless and stupid insults like the ones he blurted out last week.
He final words should go to Jeff Winter
“Human nature’s a funny thing, Sir Alex might just find a few refereeing decisions going against him”
Let’s hope this starts in two Saturdays time?