Lokomotiv Moscow, whose bigoted fans forced out Peter Odemwingie then gloated over it, are notorious. So are those of Zenit St Petersburg where no manager, not even the cosmopolitan Dutchman Dick Advocaat, dared to sign a black player. Brazil’s famed left back, Roberto Carlos, has suffered such abuse too. As has Chris Samba at Lokomotiv. And the Cameroon international Andre Bikey who somehow slipped through Lokomotiv’s racist net and endured a couple of years there.
You can I suppose understand Seydou Dombia, Toure’s fellow Ivory Coast international, turning Uncle Tom after the most recent outrage denying that he had heard anything opprobrious. Roll on the Three Wise Monkeys.
On these racist or anti racist grounds, Russia should never have been given the 2018 World Cup anymore than putrescent little Qatar should at the same time have been granted the tournament for 2020.
Martin Samuel with typical perception cites a statement from the ghastly FIFA secretary Jerome Valcke in which he defended allocating World Cups to countries ”with less democracy” and “a very strong head of state” such as Vladimir Putin.
May I remind you that only a few years ago the woman judge in a New York court threw out an attempt by Valcke and the corpulent Chuck Blazer to prise Mastercards World Cup concession away in favour of Visa, branding both of them liars. Valcke went back to Zurich to be briefly relieved of his executive position, but when the smoke soon cleared there he was as General Secretary. The defence rests.
Sir Alex Ferguson ‘s rancorous new autobiography is perhaps predictably selective in a number of significant instances. And sometimes he just seems to forget what he has previously said: as in the case of Steven Gerrard whom he now denies being “a top, top player,” when a few years back, he eulogised him as outstanding.
Glossing the Glazers? Ferguson won’t hear a word against them, though they are still hated by fans of the club for the way they bought it then landed it with their own enormous debts; which will take the club years more for all its 75,000 capacity stadium and global range, to pay off.
He is very reticent about the Rock of Gibraltar affair, when having benefited from the generosity of the racehorse’s owners Magnier and McManus who let him pocket all its winnings but drew the line at giving him a share of its breeding profits.
He had been planning to sue them but wisely backed down; after they had drawn up a list of 99 questions for him to answer. I wonder if one of them concerned the strange affair, initially revealed by Sunday Times investigators, of the Tim Howard transfer.
The keeper joined United after excelling in the French Confederations Cup. United then paid a large sum of money to an obscure Italo-Swiss agent for allegedly helping them obtain a work permit for him. That money or most of it then found its way to an English agent in Monaco who duly transferred it to Ferguson’s soon Jason, and his Elite company. The catch being as an appeals panel member at that period, though not on that particular case, knew very well: no agent could ever come near us.
There are incandescent pages about Roy Keane a case you might say of Dracula Meets The Wolf Man. But neither in this book nor his previous autobiography does Ferguson deal with the brutal assault with which Keane felled the Norwegian midfield Alf Inge Haaland revenge, as Keane saw it, for the fact that in an earlier game at Leeds he seriously injured himself trying to foul Haaland; whom he seemingly found unsympathetic.
There is no doubt that Keane dug his own grave with a full frontal assault on his teammates on the club’s internal television statement – it was not transmitted. But then of course it was Keane who walked out of Ireland’s training camp on a Japanese island just before the 2002 World Cup, quite objectively criticising the poor facilities; to be tactlessly rebuked by the manager with predictable consequences. A verbal explosion and exit; a dire blow to a very good team which might have gone even further than it did had he stayed.
But it was hardly Ferguson who provoked him into leaving Old Trafford. That Ferguson has been a remarkable manager, supremely enduring, perhaps even more remarkable in his period at Aberdeen he was even more impressive with so much less to work with.
Yet his managership of Scotland in Mexico in the 1986 World Cup was a failure. Perhaps it would not have been had Kenny Dalglish then in such coruscating form for Liverpool, had not pulled out of his squad, injured. Though some, not he, suggested that he was distressed by the omission from the Scottish squad of his club mate Alan Hansen.
All in all, it has to be said that Ferguson’s is not a generous book and some of his targets, like Liverpool’s young Henderson, have been gratuitously criticised. Charity is conspicuously lacking, but perhaps as the French revolutionary Saint-Just declared, “You can’t govern without blood on your hands.”
There was an old cruel Victorian saying, “He’s the fool of the family so make him a parson.” For parson perhaps today we should read Sports Minister. The one who has just departed, Hugh – was it Hugh? – Robertson was not always on top of his brief.
Now we have in Helen Grant a new sports minister who could scarcely be more politically correct; black, female and reportedly brilliant. I’m sure she is, but her first foray into public pronouncement was drearily “right on.” She has urged Greg Dyke – the FA Chairman who missed important England matches and reads his programme when actually watching them involved in one – to include women on his doomed, superfluous investigative commission.
Already the object of ridicule not least by Gary Lineker “I know the contribution that women can make,” says Helen Grant. “I’ve met many fantastic women in my days as both a lawyer and a politician.” Quite apart from begging the question of whether the Commission has any validity, and wholly accepting that fantastic women abound, why should they have anything to offer to a football body?
The two goals Arsenal gave away at The Emirates to Borussia Dortmund were a disaster, even a disgrace. Sad to see as gifted a player as Aaron Ramsey, now blessedly and fully recovered from that horrific “tackle” by Stoke’s Shawcross dwelling on the ball and giving it away for the first one. Abysmal to see both full backs far out of position when Dortmund broke to score the winner.
But why did Lewandoski receive the ball unmarked with such leisure to score? Steve Bould, assistant manager, defensive coach, once a defensive bulwark, there is work for you to do. Or to have done.