Alex Ferguson’s comments about Steven Gerrard are fine. He’s not a “top, top player” (when did ‘top, top’ become acceptable?) insists Ferguson* who has every right to say that. He’s worked with players who have been top, top players so he should recognise one when he sees one.
Funny thing is though, he hasn’t worked with Gerrard. He’s been on the receiving end of him instead. Carling Cup Final defeats, goals in 4-1 defeats etc. Gerrard clearly doesn’t like Manchester United. So it’s a comment with a bit of history, rather than fact, as Rafa might have put it.
But the real question is: how much does Alex Ferguson love Manchester United? He loves the institution he created. He loves the success he has had. But he was interested in other things. Money. Power. He wasn’t afraid to have a go at the fans when they threatened that. He didn’t show any love for the Manchester United fans who sought to separate themselves from the club when the big, bad (or not, if you listen to Fergie) Glazers moved in.
He was at the institution for the best part of three decades, so it’s home. Of course it is. But, and this isn’t new news, the need to put out this book can only have been motivated by money, rather than the best interests of the club, its new manager, owners or fans.
In his defence, I can’t imagine Fergie would have trouble telling people what he thought of them face to face. But that also means it is doubtful that he felt a strong need to ‘get things off his chest’ by publishing the book, as people have suggested this week.
Kenny Dalglish says in the Mirror today that while Fergie may not have lost any sleep over any of Kenny’s signings he “certainly lost a few points” as a result of them.
That may be true, to an extent. But more interesting, is the need for people like Kenny (who remains respected in the game, despite recent gaffes) to come out and take a pop at Ferguson. He will certainly lose goodwill. Goodwill that he shouldn’t have had in my own, unbiased** opinion. Respect his achievements, yes. But admire the man? No thanks.
* I haven’t read it. I assume the media have got it correct.
As if Moyes doesn’t have enough on his plate.
Racism is sweeping through Liverpool’s once proud history, brushing away all sense of the club’s achievements, past glories and honour.
Why? Because after Suarez, the big racist, called Evra something, Pepe Reina has made an ad that apparently depicts black people as “backward, stupid, and animalistic homosexuals.”
According to the Guardian, Operation Black Vote director Simon Woolley said: “I’m shocked on so many levels. Firstly, how would the Spanish feel if the English stereotyped Spanish people as backward, stupid, and animalistic homosexuals?
“Secondly, what does this say about Pepe Reina? The Liverpool goalkeeper has lived and worked in the UK for nearly a decade; does he think it’s OK to characterise black people this way? Does he think his black team-mates will laugh at his joke? It’s back in the fifties this kind of stuff. They [Groupama] said they were ‘going to withdraw it immediately but have done nothing wrong. But if you’re upset then we apologise’.
“Given that Liverpool football club is trying to move forward from the Suarez affair, it is a shame that another one of their players has caused offence by appearing in an advert that seems to come from a bygone era. Those who are old enough might remember those despicable Zulu ads for cigarettes of the 1970s.”
Blimey. The video below shows that not only is Pepe Reina a racist, but he also laughs at black people while he’s being racist*.
Ever seen a Dolmio ad? Unbelievable the way it depicts Italians as pasta-guzzling, mamma-mia screeching bafoons. Ever seen an ad with Irish men? Chances are they’re in a pub. Ever seen a goalkeeper in full gear in the middle of a tribe being ‘wed’ to its leader?
*Or else this is all a big pile of nonsense….
Everyone from Liverpool has apologised in what appears to be the first move by the US owners to put this sorry Suarez issue to bed.
The apologies came after another weekend in which the media has gone to town on Liverpool. Jonathan Norcroft’s comments in The Sunday Times are phenomenal. The Liverpool fans who accuse media, the FA – and anyone else who condemns Suarez – of bias are a joke, but some of the comments again this weekend will only fan the flames.
Norcroft: “Ah Suarez, South America’s greatest charmer since General Pinochet.” And: “Evra helped nobody with a post-match celebration that took him close to Suarez but it was hardly the same as racial abuse.”
Hmmm. A missed handshake is hardly worth mentioning in the same sentence as a mass torturer and killer. And Evra’s match celebration took him close to Suarez? The celebration was as obvious an attempt to gauge a reaction from Suarez as the initial incident between the two.
And Ferguson’s comments were also a disgrace. Stating that Suarez could have caused a riot because of a missed handshake? The only way a riot was starting was on the back of Evra’s inflammatory celebrations. And his statement that Suarez should never play for Liverpool again was apalling, coming from a man who has defended actions from Cantona attacking a fan to any of the combined incidents from players in Saturday’s lineup from Giggs to Ferdinand to Rooney.
There will be no apology from United for any of the above. And you can’t blame them for that. Their reputation soars every time Liverpool’s gets damaged each week. Evra was waiting for Suarez’ hand before accepting it. Gamesmanship that, like Ferguson’s comments, are easy to get away with because Utd’s actions aren’t under scrutiny here. Again, despite Evra being an odious character himself, his own actions will go completely unpunished by club, FA or media.
Suarez is an idiot though. He doesn’t have to like Evra. He’s been slandered across the world by people queuing up to call him a racist due to their spat. He’s missed out on 8 games for his club for something he feels aggrieved about.
But not only did his actions cause further embarrassment for the club, they put Liverpool under more pressure in the game. They were under massive pressure throughout against a riled-up team. Suarez’ own performance was poor and emulated in each Liverpool player.
As for Dalglish, I started to feel a resignation was coming today. He has been badly let down by Suarez saying he would shake Evra’s hand only to refuse to do so. And his comments generally appear ill-informed in the face of the media’s glare.
I feel sympathy for him at the same time. What he is trying to do in turning Liverpool into a fortress is the right thing to do. The club has been a soft touch for too long now and Ferguson is the perfect example of someone who turned his club into an ‘us against the world’ mentality.
Few people like Ferguson. But the fans don’t care. Once Utd win he can continue being a bully, who peddles abuse of officials from the sidelines every weekend. Dalglish is a warmer character, but maybe this weekend he’ll have learned that he needs to emulate Ferguson’s ability to ensure he knows everything going on about every issue within the club.
When Geoff Shreeves mentioned the handshake I think Dalglish betrayed genuine surprise. He glances to his left, potentially at a club official, and goes straight onto the defensive. Ferguson would have had his words planned beforehand.
However the apology below, along with that of Ayre and Suarez will hopefully be the end of this. However the initial reaction on Twitter from journos was that ‘it should’ve been done with ages ago’ and ‘too little-too late’. Don’t expect this saga to end till one, or both, of Suarez and Dalglish departs the club.
Dalglish: “To be honest, I was shocked to hear that the player had not shaken hands having been told earlier in the week that he would do. But as Ian said earlier, all of us have a responsibility to represent this club in a fit and proper manner and that applies equally to me as Liverpool manager.
“When I went on TV after yesterday’s game I hadn’t seen what had happened, but I did not conduct myself in a way befitting of a Liverpool manager during that interview and I’d like to apologise for that.”
The unfortunate thing about racism being a dominant theme in the media at the moment means that more and more incidents are set to occur like the man arrested for apparently making monkey chants at Evra on Saturday.
If he did, he’s an idiot. But the fact that he’s so focused on an opposition player (or fan) when everyone around him is focused on football, is indicative of an idiot regardless.
People who relish the abuse between fans more than a cup game with their biggest rivals are a strange breed who shouldn’t be allowed to tar all football fans with the ‘racist’ tag that’s being thrown about at the moment.
But the criticism of booing (by people including PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor) is a joke. Liverpool fans aren’t booing Evra because they’re racist. They’re booing him because he plays for a team they hate and not only did the murky racist affair end with their star player being banned, but last time Evra was at Anfield he was kissing his badge, blowing kisses at the crowd and feigning injury (all shown in the video below) and waving imaginary yellow cards (for a dive by Downing which should also have been a booking).
Evra led the French team on a strike on what should be the world’s greatest stage, the World Cup. He regularly makes comments about ex-teammates and opposition clubs (as is his right). Evra shouldn’t be vilified for the colour of his skin but as an opposition player, booing is surely fair game.
And the ‘abuse’ Evra suffered at Anfield is the same ‘abuse’ Gerrard gets taking a corner at Old Trafford and the same ‘abuse’ Suarez will suffer in every ground from now on.
Let’s not kid ourselves here that Evra is a victim, full stop, and that booing him is a ‘disgrace’ as so many rent-a-pundits opined over the weekend. Evra’s no angel and he had his part to play in the racism incident. Both by starting it by insulting Suarez, and then complaining that Suarez called him a n*****. He didn’t.
And before I start getting abuse of my own – Suarez deserved his ban. Primarily for referring to Evra’s skin colour, but also because he blatantly lied to the FA’s commission. To say he patted Evra on the head and pinched his skin in a ‘conciliatory’ manner, was nonsense. He was trying to wind him up, and he was trying to get Evra to lash out. Both were obvious when watching the game. Had he said to the commission, “I was trying to wind him up, the same way he tried to wind me up by insulting my sister”, he would have been a reliable and accurate witness. The rest was a farce.
For the Anfield crowd to call Evra a liar doesn’t seem to me to be that big a deal. They’re defending their star player who got banned for 8 games for racism by a panel who found he wasn’t racist. Booing is more than acceptable, abuse isn’t. There were the usual stupid chants by both fans according to witnesses on Saturday, but little more when it came to Evra (bar, it seems, the idiot we’ve talked about).
Man Utd fans criticising the supposed ‘abuse’ of their left-back should probably hold their tongues. In less than two weeks Old Trafford will be the venue for Suarez v Evra and I fully expect around 60,000 fans to be booing the Uruguayan. With justifiable cause. And presumably calling him a racist. With less justifiable cause.
Cardiff have beaten Crystal Palace to reach the Carling Cup final after winning 3-1 on penalties at the end of a 1-0 win and a 1-1 aggregate draw tonight.
A seventh minute own goal by Anthony Gardner and the dismissal of Palace captain Paddy McCarthy just over ten minutes from time were the main highlights of the game, watched by new Wales manager Chris Coleman.
However Cardiff were unlucky not to win the match with three shots hitting the woodwork and Speroni pulling off some decent saves. The pick of the efforts was a Kenny Miller swivel and left footed shot in the first half that ricocheted off the post, while Gunnarsson hit the bar from a free header with barely a minute left of the 120 for Cardiff.
Miller blazed a penalty horrendously wide with the first effort and I was beginning to think the £20 I invested in Cardiff to qualify in the second half of extra time was a goner. But Heaton was the hero in the Palace goal with two fine saves.
In truth, Liverpool and Man City won’t be too worried. Palace with the likes of Zaha (see below), Scannell and the right-back who looked really bright (and has been linked with a move to Man Utd) Nathaniel Clyne could have posed a few unforeseen problems and a bit of trickery. Cardiff were better, but will play more into the other semi-final winner’s hands.
I watched to see what to make of Wilfried Zaha, the Palace youngster who’s been linked with Liverpool. He looks handy, strong enough despite getting a kicking, but seems to get his head down too much when looking up and spotting the right ball to play would set him apart from the rest.
He has skill, pace and looked one of the fresher players towards the end despite being at times triple-marked and playing in a side with ten men for almost 40 minutes. Think £10m is a bit steep, but he was brave and could be shaped into a good player.
Again, not sure Anfield is the place for him to do that though. Touch of the Ryan Babel about him in that he probably needs a club who’ll let him play, give him space and a chance to get a regular run of games to show what he can do.
Personally I preferred Clyne at right-back. Looked a real player, current England U-21, and out of contract at the end of the season.
If Manchester City beat Spurs and Arsenal beat Manchester United the title will be switching sides in for once in a blue moon.
That opening statement is a little controversial, but hear me out. The loss of Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and David Silva in recent weeks, coupled with a tough, and strange, run of fixtures that saw City play twice in 48 hours at one point and then once in nine days afterwards, has left them in a rocky patch.
The linesman wondered why Platt and Mancini were singing opera – Pic from Daily Mirror
Don’t mind what Mancini or the players say. They have lost to Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester Utd in recent weeks. That can’t do anything but leave a niggling doubt as to their ability to consistently beat the big boys. Now it’s time for Spurs. This is a crucial game.
Adebayor is a massive loss for Spurs, despite Defoe’s better goal tally in spite of fewer games. Kompany’s absence would leave City vulnerable to Adebayor’s strengths and in particular his new-found attitude to playing for the team, from which Spurs have gained considerable reward this season.
Defoe is Defoe no matter who’s in defence. Might smack one in from 30 yards. Might smack six wide and keep on trying his luck…Savic will be happier competing against the man linked with a move away from White Hart Lane. His struggles against Carroll in the Carling Cup against Liverpool were washed away by a capable performance against trickier customers at Wigan in Rodallega and Moses.
So if City were to win on Sunday, in the earlier kick-off, piling the pressure on Manchester Utd as they travel to the Emirates, it would be a crucial result without their captain and would bring his league suspension to an end, before Everton the following Saturday with the Carling Cup second leg in between.
Man City V Spurs. 1.30. Sky Sports 1
Arsenal V Man Utd. 4pm. Sky Sports 1
And in other news…
(1): Manchester United’s trip to Arsenal fills me with a sense of foreboding for gunners fans. Maybe it’s because the last time these two teams met Ferguson’s troops racked up almost a goal a minute. Kind of. And Arsenal don’t have a defence to speak of.
(2) Joey Barton on Twitter (Jan 20):
“If I talked about Neil, he’d do well to get another job. Twitter cost him his job???? I can think of a million other things!
And: “Lost his job and the guy is blaming everyone but himself! Embarrassing, time to look in the mirror mate. Last thing we need right. Big week.”
And: “Not a big fan of people that try to make scapegoats out of others. If u live by the sword, u die by it.”
QPR manager Neil Warnock on Barton’s arrival (August 26)
“We’ve got a very, very good player on our hands, he’s very enthusiastic. People will say one or two things about him, but they’ve said stuff about me in the past too, so I won’t worry about that.”
Warnock on QPR chairman Tony Fernandes (Aug 27)
“I’ve been speaking to him (Fernandes) most evenings, I’ve never had that kind of support anywhere. I’ve given him the names and he’s said go for it – you can’t have any more than that as a manager.”
For the record Neil Warnock will be appearing on BBC’s football focus tomorrow.
(3): Carlos Tevez. I’ll give you a fiver to piss off.