It would be easy to say that the sacking of Roberto Mancini shows the short-term mentality that is now part of DNA of owners. If a manager, who secured City their first League title for over 40 years, can be sacked a year after that triumph, then no one in modern football is secure. Yet the Italian’s departure raises questions about the faceless men of football, they are all generally men, the people who really manage the club but who never,
It is a measure of how much Sir Alex Ferguson changed football that his retirement should have overshadowed the Queen’s speech and led to newspapers printing souvenir editions. It is hard to imagine any other football manager leaving his job, and that too at the age of 71, having such a profound impact. Indeed the amount of time and space devoted to his retirement suggests he is no longer regarded as a football coach but more like a statesman or world thinker who shaped all our lives.
The recent disclosures about the scandals in world football, so graphically documented on this website, not only raise serious questions about football and its lack of morality but also about how such issues are treated in the western media.
That football has become a business is now so taken for granted that it hardly seems worth repeating. However the problem with the football business is that the business is self regulated. That may be true of all sport but no sport is such a huge business that football has become in the last two decades.
As Manchester United celebrate yet another Premiership, and a record haul of 20 of the most sought after prize in English football, spare a thought for Dave Whelan. Had things turned out differently the Wigan owner would today not be fearful that his team may not survive in the Premiership. Instead he would be lording it over Old Trafford and joining the celebrations of the fans as the owner of greatest club in the land.
In Britain this has been a great week for turning the clock back promoted by the death of Lady Thatcher and a necessary look back at her legacy.
Yet it is too simplistic to see the riots by Millwall fans at the Wembley semi-final as a return to the old spectre of football hooligan. There is, of course a historical twist to this. With the riots coming just days before Thatcher was laid to rest it was natural to reflect that it was Millwall and their riotous fans back in 1985 filling British television screens with violence which first prompted the Lady to think that the only solution for such behaviour was more stringent police control.
Mrs Thatcher’s death not only marks the passing of a leader, the like of which we may not see again, but it also marks a watershed in sport.
Thatcher was the last of the British Prime Ministers who did not care about sport. Her husband Denis was passionate about sport, particularly his golf and was a former rugby referee, her son Mark played cricket for Harrow’s first XI but Mrs Thatcher could not understand why people cared about sport.
Why is it impossible to decide who is the Lionel Messi of football’s men in suits?
Forget the argument about whether Lionel Messi is the greatest player. That argument can never be resolved as it depends on a variety of factors, many of them intensely subjective.
For instance, people of my generation who were brought up on the greatness of Pele will continue to believe that while Messi is a wonderful player,
The World Cup qualifiers have produced the usual bag of results that make you sit up and take notice. Spain rediscovering their touch with their victory in Paris, Israel suggesting they might become more than a country that makes up the numbers but, inevitably, it was been England that has made all the headlines and the wrong ones at that.
So the common refrain has been why cannot the English play like champions to be?
The Rio Ferdinand saga has once again raised the hoary old question of club versus country, always a potent question in international football, particularly the English game. Over the years this has generated much heat, except in the case of Ferdinand this old story has taken a very modern, and it must be said, fascinating twist.
In the classic battles between club and country the story often went as follows. A player would be called up to play for England.
It is always tempting in sport to draw huge global lessons from one defeat or victory. That is a temptation that should be avoided for the simple reason that sporting victories or defeats on their own do not signify vast changes. That only emerges if they are part of a consistent pattern over several seasons.
The most potent example of this was provided by Barcelona. Before their match against A.C. Milan many were prepared to write their obituary.
The resignation of Paul Elliott from the FA and other bodies because he used the “n” word in a private text sent to another black player and a business colleague, is both sad and revealing. It is sad because Elliott had, probably still has, the capacity to go from having played the game at the highest level into becoming an excellent football administrator. It is revealing because it shows how attitudes to race, and particularly use of certain racial words,
A revolution devours its own as history teaches us. Arsene Wenger, known as the Professor, should know that. But he seems to be oblivious to the fact that having been the greatest agent of change in English football he cannot stand still and needs to evolve if he is to move forward and not fall victim to his own revolution.
That Wenger has been the greatest revolutionary in British football cannot be doubted.
Last weekend’s English Premier League match between Sunderland and Arsenal does not on the face of it merit much attention. A regular Premiership match, one of the rare ones played at 3pm on a Saturday, it ended in that classic score: 1-0 to Arsenal, after the Gunners weathered a late Sunderland assault.
The story of match fixing in football is very like the story of Lance Armstrong. The world knew, with the singular exception of UCI, cycling’s world body, that Armstrong was a cheat. The problem was finding enough evidence to prove that he had doped his way to victory. And once the Americans had seen the light it was always a matter of time.
Of course even now the UCI refuses to accept responsibility for the fact that Armstrong cheated right under their noses.
It would be foolish in the extreme to believe that just because the Commons Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport has given the football authorities a bollocking, things will change in the national game. This may be the second verbal lashing the MPs have administered football in two years but just because the MPs wave a big stick it does not mean they will follow up by using it to whack the football authorities if,