Cack handed as ever, resolutely sitting on the fence, the FA – via their appointed commission, has made another fine mess of a disciplinary matter.
Nicolas Anelka has been fined £80,000, told to attend a compulsory education course, whatever that may be, and suspended for five weeks, where Luis Suarez not so long ago got eight.
Anelka being cleared of anti Semitism though found guilty of making the quenelle salute – the stock in trade of his friend and notorious anti Semite the so-called comedian Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala.
Though if in Anelka’s case the gesture was in the view of the tribunal not that of an anti Semite nor meant to promote anti Semitism, why was he being punished at all?
Logically, Anelka’s gesture was in support of his malignant friend and therefore by definition anti-Semitic. The imposition of the minimum five-match ban suggests in itself mere compromise.
West Bromwich Albion meanwhile have been quick to exclude Anelka from playing or training till all relevant processes are exhausted.
The £80,000 fine imposed by the FA will not be augmented meanwhile by Albion via a stop on his wages.
And this half-baked judgement took three long weeks to be reached.
Shades of the vexed John Terry affair and his alleged insult to Anton Ferdinand. I am certainly no defender of Terry’s presumed behaviour, but as I wrote at the time, he was subjected to the equivalent of double jeopardy. In Hammersmith magistrates’ court the verdict on his case was virtually the equivalent of Scotland’s Not Proven.
Until quite recently the FA’s position was that they could not prosecute after a court had given its judgement. But that veto had been lifted, in time for Terry to be charged again and this time found guilty and duly punished. Whatever one might think of Anelka’s behaviour, he surely had every right to appeal.
Be sure your sin will find you out. Well, if hardly a sin, Jose Mourinho’s blunt criticism of some of his own players when speaking, off camera as he fondly believed, to representatives of the Swiss watch makers, Hublot, after a sponsored event.
In all innocence, if we may call it that, Mourinho declared, “The problem at Chelsea is that we are lacking a goal scorer. I have one (meaning Samuel Eto’o) but he is 32, possibly 35, who knows?”
So much for Eto’o, Torres and Ba. The jibe about Eto’o’s age was especially barbed. It has been known for a great many years that African players are notoriously lax in many cases about their real age. Something which at one period was especially and somewhat blatantly plain in junior tournaments when not to put too fine a point on it some supposed teenagers looked more like mature fathers of families.
Still and all, it was a gratuitous offence to Eto’o even if it has now been hotly denied. The fact is that Mourinho has only himself to blame for dispensing with a perfectly effective, natural and prolific striker in Romelu Lukaku, farmed out to Everton.
Though it wasn’t Mourinho’s fault that Didier Drogba was refused a two-year contract, offered just one year and left Stamford Bridge where he could still have been invaluable.
****************************David Moyes was clearly Alex Ferguson’s choice as his successor at Old Trafford and without being over cynical, one wonders if it was motivated by a wish however unconscious not to appoint a manager who could challenge his own revered status. Mourinho perhaps? Guardioa, even?
Moyes beyond doubt had been a splendid manager of Everton, a club strapped for cash, with no greater ambition than to stay afloat in the Premier League.
This Moyes most skilfully and resiliently succeeded in achieving. His tactics were sound, his transfer policy shrewd and resourceful. But he never won anything of consequence nor ever looked as if he might do.
When United so dismally went down to defeat to modest Olympiakos, he predictably accepted the blame. Not wholly without reason. To omit from his team both Marouane Fellaini, for who United had paid a fortune to Everton themselves and the 18-year-old prodigy Adrian Januizaj, who given the international break, would have been in for a 10 day rest and hardly in need of being cosseted.
In the meantime Van Persie for all his declarations of support for Moyse has become a dissident figure complaining after the Greek match that he has had to change his tactics to suit his teammates and play outside his zone. Of which there was not a trace on subsequent records of the match.
It cannot have helped to have Ferguson such a constant presence in the stands when United play. Though not as oppressive as having Matt Busby, true architect of creating United’s post war success, insisting on occupying his old office when he retired, to the detriment and despair of the young Wilf McGuinness, wholly untried, who lost all his hair.
Brian’s latest book The Story of the World Cup has just been published by Faber and Faber. This classic account is a celebration of the great players and matches from Uruguay 2010 to South Africa in 2010. It is the essential companion to Brazil 2014.