Tuesday, March 1, 2011

When is enough, enough?

How many mistakes do you think you would be given in your job before you were shown the door? How many times could you say sorry before the word becomes meaningless and empty?

How many times can you bawl red faced and spitting in anger towards a referee before it goes too far? How many times can you get away with murder?

This week has been a shameful one for English football. Two incidents, with two Englishmen caught red handed will go by without reprimand as the reputation of the game suffers.

Manchester United’s assistant coach Mike Phelan’s assertion that it is unfair to question the referee’s decision to not award more than a free kick to Wigan for Wayne Rooney's elbow on James McCarthy, is an outrageous act of hypocrisy.

“We can’t dispute the referee’s decision” said Whelan as he somehow managed to keep a straight face after the game.

Luckily he has never spoken out, outraged by a perceived slight from a referee against his side. Ever.

“You expect officials to get that one right. It was not even close. Their job is to keep their composure and they failed to do that." Said Phelan after Man Utd lost to Chelsea last April.

So you can’t question the referee’s decision if the decision goes in your favour you mean, Mike?

His boss, Sir Alex Ferguson also defended Wayne Rooney’s clear elbow on Wigan’s James McCarthy, claiming the media wanted the striker “electrocuted" for his actions. An attempt to find a quote where he has turned a blind eye to his own team’s thuggery while lamenting the performance of a referee that awarded a decision against him would have taken too long, there was just too many to sift through.

Carlo Ancelotti was equally as indignant after revelations in the News of the World about Ashley Cole shooting a university student at the club’s training ground with an air rifle.

“He said sorry, said it was a mistake, an accident, we will take the proper action, but tomorrow he will play.” He also suggested he should be allowed off because he had admitted to making a mistake, and who else doesn’t make a mistake after all? We don’t know the ins and outs of the goings on at Cobham, so how can we judge?

Anyone willing to place a free bet on the outcome being a ticking off? Every action does not have an equal and opposite reaction, apparently.

When did football become so removed from the realities of the world? When did it become an inclusive bubble, separate from the rights and wrongs of the world?

Rooney and Cole have proved themselves to be devoid of common sense, morality and class before, and their action only serves to add to their quickly growing reputation for idiocy, and worse, sleaze. But why managers have become PR representatives, spinning a story to coerce others to see their point of view? Win hearts and minds, boys and you will win the war.

Ancelotti, Ferguson and Phelan are blinded by their own cause, and look foolish because of it.

Two of these are managers with excellent records in the game, both Champions League and Premier League winners. Supporters should expect and demand not to be treated like idiots by them.

You elbow someone in the head, you are punished. You shoot someone with an air-rifle, you are punished. Nothing a manager suggests afterwards will ever change that fact. It is only a major flaw in the laws of football that protects Rooney. In your next Sunday league fixture, smash someone in the temple and see if they will accept a free-kick as an appropriate punishment, and that no further action is necessary.

Or shoot someone in broad daylight during a training session and see how many people you are able to convince that it didn’t happen.

Free bets for anyone who is able to get away with it with just a clip round the ear like Rooney and Cole.

But hopefully these two will face a more severe punishment that a three match ban, or a slap on the wrists by a manager. Rooney in particular has completed a quite spectacular fall from grace since the World Cup, while the closest Cole will have been to grace would have been in a nightclub with a girl of the same name draped over him.

Supporters will judge and punish them accordingly, even if those in power have shown an inability to do so.

Make no mistake, football hasn’t been a game of the people for some time, the money men took care of that, but is it too much to expect a level of decency and honesty? The sheer level of unaccountability defies belief; It makes you wonder why you watch the game in the first place.