The word is that nothing but criminal prosecutions of those seen as responsible for the horrific Hillsborough disaster will assuage the pain of those who lost relatives. Wholly understandable even if though revenge is sweet nothing can truly palliate their cruel loss.
Yet who, if anybody, should be prosecuted for what was plainly an avoidable disaster? The hapless David Duckenfield, the police officer so ineptly in charge of the policing for that semi-final, would plainly be in focus; but as I have often written before, it is surely arguable that whoever put him in power that day is ultimately responsible.
It can surely be said that whatever senior police officer decided in his manifest unwisdom to take the policeman in charge of security at the previous semi final between the same opponents a year earlier off the case, should carry the can. Again, I repeat that the reason given for this clearly mistaken decision at the time was that the previous presiding officer was “punished” for failing to prevent so called “horseplay” among members of the force.
Duckenfield, indeed, saw to it, as the Lord Taylor inquiry scathingly emphasised; that gates were open which should have stayed closed to appalling effect. But there is still reason to think that in the final analysis, however ineffectual, Duckenfield has been the obvious scapegoat.
It is, I suppose, reassuring to know that the utterly superfluous FA committee presiding over the John Terry-Ferdinand affair has now dropped its presumptuous attempt to commandeer telephone records that even the Metropolitan Police were legally unable to lay their hands on when Terry went on trial.
I remain perplexed that the Met Police intervened at all, simply, as we know, because one of their off duty number simply reported that he had lip read from television Terry’s supposedly insulting words. Which as we know meant a hugely expensive QC ridden full-scale magistrates’ court case, when, even had Terry been found guilty, which in the event, he wasn’t, would have meant a derisory fine of £2,500.
Again I am not making Terry an innocent or a martyr any more than I think his case and the previous affair of Luis Suarez and “negrito” truly reflects the level of racism in English football. Had the case gone immediately to the FA, thus requiring a lesser burden of proof, it could have been done, dusted and dealt with in minimal time. As things transpired, David Bernstein, soon to be on his way, with little but his laudable defiance of FIFA’s World Cup imbroglio to his credit, was manifestly wrong in prolonging the agony of this horrid but ambiguous affair.
Owners interfere. Sometimes with negative effects, sometimes for the good of their club. He who pays the piper calls the tune; even if at times the tune may be discordant. Thus Daniel Levy eventually and in my view prematurely called time on Harry Redknapp, installing in the person of Andre Villas Boas a manager who, whatever his precocious success in his native Portugal, has yet to command the same prestige in London. Definitely a gamble though undoubtedly made no easier for Villas Boas by the loss of Luka Modric, the creative heart of Harry’s team.
At Liverpool the second echelon of American owners refused to open the purse strings to enable the new and now embattled manager, Brendan Rodgers, to buy Clint Dempsey from Fulham. Surely an error though fatally compounded by Rogers’ precipitate sale of Andy Carroll to West Ham. Where I saw him make an impressive and effective debut against an admittedly feeble Fulham.
Clearly, Rodgers should have hung on to him till he was sure that Dempsey was signed. But how to make sense of Rodgers’ declaration on a documentary made when Liverpool were on tour in the USA that it would be unthinkable to get rid of Carroll?
And what of Chelsea, whose oligarch owner would clearly like the team to play like Barcelona, and even tried to appoint Pep Guardiola as the new manager. Only now to impose a dangerously more open style on poor Di Matteo. We saw all too plainly what that meant in Monaco, against Falcao and Atletico Madrid.