Anomaly after anomaly. Shock after shock. The collapse of Barcelona in Munich followed by the thrashing of Real Madrid in Dortmund. The devastation of Newcastle United by a Liverpool team without Luis Suarez, followed by the six goal riot of a Sunderland team seemingly revived by Paolo Di Canio at Villa Park against supposedly struggling opponents. Who could possibly understand the ways of football?
Liverpool’s relentless display at Gallowgate came hot on the heels of Brendan Rodgers’ emotional and frankly wrong-headed defence of Suarez whom he seemed to see as a victim rather than an offender, in need of anger management. If this were the case then why wasn’t it managed at Liverpool, since the recidivist Suarez already had mordant form, having sunk his teeth into an opponent while at Ajax?
Was a ten-match sentence too harsh? I wouldn’t say so. The tribunal acting on behalf of the FA obviously knew all about the previous seven game punishment even though, officially, it wasn’t taken into consideration. Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish howled low and long when Suarez was suspended for eight matches for insulting Patrice Evra, and at least on this occasion neither they nor indeed Suarez himself contest the suspension. Any chance of contesting the eight game suspension was thrown away by the wholesale and wholly exaggerated protests of Dalglish and the club at imposing a suspension at all.
But Liverpool after their Newcastle triumph with young Sturridge – so casually treated by Chelsea – outstanding, might even ask themselves whether they need Suarez at all, for all his exceptional talents.
And then, yet again, there is John Terry who has announced that he is ready for play for England again. The legalistic stumbling block being that when the FA sanctioned and suspended him for racially insulting Anton Ferdinand, he had already withdrawn from the England team, thus precluding any international ban.
If they stick to the letter of the law, the FA could presumably block his return with England but I hope they don’t and I imagine the hope is shared by Roy Hodgson badly short of centre backs (Rio Ferdinand now being an unknown quantity) as he is.
In retrospect, the very fact that the FA were able to sit in judgement on Terry after the Magistrates Court had found him not guilty was extremely worrying, since, let it be said yet again, the FA had only recently changed the rule which precluded them from second guessing a judgement made in a court of law.
Meanwhile, you have to wonder whether Bayern Munich are now happy with their decision to make Pep Guardiola their new manager while parting company with Jupp Heynckes who is finishing the season on the crest of a Barca beating wave. For a club which traditionally deploys former German internationals of renown, from Franz Beckenbauer downwards, at the higher levels, this sudden break with tradition now becomes the more surprising after Barca’s debacle.
Guardiola was an outstanding manager of that club, but its success depended heavily on a system which brought cleverly coached youngsters up from junior ranks to play in a certain intricate style. (Not to mention the now plain reliance on Lionel Messi and his goals, unforthcoming in Munich where he clearly wasn’t fit.) Bayern don’t play in remotely the same style so Guardiola could find himself a fish out of water. Perhaps he’d have been wiser to risk the revolving door at Chelsea.
No doubt at all though that German football has got things right which have gone horribly wrong with the Greed Is Good League.