IS IT just me or has the storm in a tea cup over ‘Poppy power’ thrown up some rather strange conundrums.
Daily Mail sports journalist Charles Sale went on the campaign trail to out and embarrass clubs who had not embroidered poppies into their kits for last weekend’s Premier League games.
‘Three Premier clubs are still refusing to back Sportsmail’s campaign to honour our heroes’ thundered Sale as he hauled Manchester United, Liverpool and Bolton over the coals for not committing to his cause last week.
However, one of the upshots of the push for poppies was that Chelsea’s German midfielder Michael Ballack pulled on a shirt sporting the emblem, while his Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti wore a poppy in his lapel during the Blues clash with United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday – top marks to both of them for taking a ‘When in Rome’ attitude to the situation.
Now I am happy to accept that we can remember everyone’s losses due to the two world wars but Sale was very particular about wanting to ‘honour OUR heroes’.
To me that seems a little odd for a journalist with the Daily Mail given that in early 1934 Lord Rothermere, the paper’s then owner, and the Mail were editorially sympathetic to Oswald Mosley and the radical National Socialist British Union of Fascists. Rothermere even wrote an article entitled ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’, praising Mosley for his ‘sound, commonsense, Conservative doctrine’.
Given the myriad nationalities represented in British football these days maybe an embroidered dove of peace might be a little more apt.
APPARENTLY Manchester City manager Mark Hughes is not best pleased with the boys at Match Of The Day.
Reports suggest that Sparky was unhappy with the criticism of his defenders on the show after the 3-3 draw with Burnley at the Wastelands last weekend.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Hughes is probably just feeling the same as the rest of us and is getting fed up with the banality of what is served up on a Saturday night.
Maybe they have been at it too long, maybe we as viewers haven’t said enough is enough, but you cannot escape the fact that there is a mind-numbing quality to Lineker, Hansen and Co perpetually stating the stark-staringly obvious.
When the former Liverpool defender revealed that there had been some ‘schoolboy defending’ did fans of City and the Clarets stand up from the settee and say ‘I knew there was something slightly awry with our play this season, it had both vexed me and perplexed me as to what it was, but, damn it, the expert on the telly chappy has hit the nail firmly on the head’. I think not.
Throw into the equation that for some reason the Beeb have yet to see fit to replace Alan Shearer’s end of the sofa with a fence so that he can sit on it, and really you have to wonder just what the art of punditry is about.
Strangely perhaps the best small screen pundit of all time was the one to reveal the arts real failing.
The late great Brian Clough (great because anyone who can do that much damage at Leeds United deserves a medal) used to spend more time deriding his fellow panellists’ lack of knowledge of the game than actually analysing the match – whether Mike Channon has recovered from the verbal beatings yet I really don’t know.
But Clough once wonderfully summed up TV punditry with a long rant that ended ‘Shut up and show more football’.
When you weigh it up all these guys are getting paid a small fortune to do exactly what the rest of us do at work or down the pub – and with a damned sight less humour.
Perhaps to freshen up the format the MOTD team should be taken to the pub when the games finish and by 10pm we will be treated to Hansen, with the benefit of 15 pints, attempting to slur ‘sshhhurely that wassshh a ssskkkoolboy missshhtake’, while Shearer slowly slides inelegantly down a freshly creosoted piece of garden panelling.
Now I’d stay up to watch that every week!
SO THEY get to the final of rugby league’s Four Nations tournament and still the Aussies can’t stop whingeing.
Tim Sheens takes his Green and Golds to Elland Road tomorrow to face an England side who are growing in confidence under former Huddersfield coach Tony Smith, and already this week the Aussie boss has been ‘at it’.
His gripes have centred on the quality of the referees for the tournament and he was quick off the mark to express his dissatisfaction that Steve Ganson was the preferred option.
In the end a neutral in New Zealander Leon Williamson was perhaps rightly the choice – let’s hope this suits Mr Sheens (feel free to enter your own household cleaner joke here).
But there have been problems with the men in the middle.
Kiwi skipper Benji Marshall said after his side’s 20-12 defeat at the Galpharm Stadium last weekend that it had been ‘hard to work out the interpretations’ of referee Thierry Alibert (pictured). You and 19,390 others mate!
You could have achieved the same result by having someone randomly blow a whistle every so often and then pull a piece of paper out of a bran tub with a decision written on it.
Fortunately the crowd at Huddersfield saw two sides transcend that problem and produce a great game of rugby.
Now all we need is for Tony’s boys to repeat the dose against the Kangaroos – here’s hoping.