A few miniature tidbits today – 2 regarding two gentlemen who have got my goat up this past week, one regarding a fella who has come out of his club’s latest “taste” crisis saying precisely the right things.
Rant 1 – Francis Lampard
What an heroic penalty. I mean have you ever seen such an heroic, selfless penalty taken by such a man? I speak of course about the mawkish sky-pointer Mr Lampard, who courageously got off the substitutes’ bench and scored a goal from 12 yards out this Monday past. Which won Chelsea a whole game and everything. The commentators on the night (Messrs Tyler and Wilkins) were (particularly Wilkins) unsurprisingly lavish in their praise of Lampard’s contribution. Wilkins also was brave enough (as if we needed to be told) to admit that there was a little Chelsea bias in his commentary.
What really got my goat, however, were Lampard’s interviews thereafter. Lampard is 33 years old – yes he was and still is a vital player in the Chelsea side. However, he has no absolute right (as no player does) to a starting berth in the team. His complete lack of respect for his manager (Andre Villas Boas) is only matched by his apparent unwillingness to recognise that maybe the reason Chelsea have stumbled a little of late is because his presence (among John Terry, Didier Drogba and the like), and (more pertinently) the trigger-jollity of Roman Abramovich make it difficult for any manager to renew and refresh their sides.
AVB has taken that step (as Alex Ferguson has on numerous occasions over the years) in attempting to renew, hence Chelsea’s slightly inconsistent form this season – and in response to that rather brave move Lampard has extracted his toys from the pram as only an arrogant, blinkered footballer can. Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes thrived at Manchester United until their late 30s by not playing in every match and being thoughtfully used – if Lampard can put his ego to one side and not unconstructively criticise his manager in public, he too could find himself with a similarly rewarding and lengthy end to his career.
Rant 2 – Paul “the Guv’nor” Ince
Paul Ince. You remember him don’t you? Midfield enforcer for West Ham and Manchester United. One of the first high-profile English players of the Premier League era to successfully move abroad (to Inter). A man who played his heart out for his country.
His managerial career, however, has been rather less than successful. A promising start with Macclesfield Town and MK Dons saw a move to the Premier League and Blackburn Rovers. Where he lasted half a season. Then back to the Dons, followed by an equally unsuccessful spell at Notts County.
So where now does he find the temerity to tell Sir Alex Ferguson what he should be doing? “Er, yeah, I fink he should buy a striker and that innit.” That’s Manchester United. Who have Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Danny Welbeck currently at their disposal, and Javier Hernandez not far from returning from injury. So that’s 1 world-class striker and 3 at least Premier-League-class strikers to choose from. Hmm.
I rather think, Paul, sorry Guv’nor, that he might concentrate on, I dunno, getting a central defender in given that his current captain and one of the best centre-backs on the planet is currently injured and will be for at least the next 9 months. Or maybe getting in a top drawer creative midfielder as this seems to be the area of the field that the rest of the sane world has decided Man Utd need some January-based input.
So Paul, stick to the day job. Whatever that is now. He is Rochelle from the Saturdays’ uncle – maybe he can suggest a 70-year old man as their new member.
Rant-esque 3 – Celtic, the Green Brigade and Mr Neil Lennon
Scotland’s not-at-all-secret shame is something that hacks me off. It doesn’t belong in this country, it has no place in the 21st century in any country and is a good excuse for cretins to abuse one another verbally and physically, and more seriously their spouses, in the name of football.
Which is why the intervention of Neil Lennon into his “fans’ ” latest piece of idiocy is just fantastic. For those of you not familiar with the story, Celtic were fined £12,500 by UEFA for a section of their support (the “Green Brigade”) singing some lovely pro-IRA ditties at a recent Europa League match against Rennes. Their measured response to this? Take a banner to Udine, in providing support for their side in a vital match, which said “F**K UEFA.”
Reasoned argument then, excellent. As Lennon rightly said, such behaviour served to detract from his side’s performance (which was surprisingly good), and instead gives UEFA a cracking opportunity to double the fine. Lennon was absolutely livid, stating he was impressed they’d managed to spell the banner correctly, and that these people weren’t Celtic fans. Furthermore, seemingly the club will be going out of their way to ban those fans from going to Celtic matches ever again.
The Green Brigade seems to have become a self-styled “political” wing of the Celtic supporters (their “bloo-stained [sic] poppies” nonsense being the most notorious incident). I remain to be convinced that they will be stamped out, but Celtic’s approach is a step in the right direction for the sectarianism problem generally.