On the whole I'm quite a laid back sort of guy. The world keeps spinning round and Emmerdale is on every night. So I just go with the flow. But like every mortal sole there are a few things that drive me round the bend.
latest addition to this every growing list is the bland world of
football pundits. The species who inhabit various media outlets. The
likes of Leroy Roseinor, Gary Neville and Don Goodman. All decent chaps
with a good dose of tactical nous. I must congratulate the Neviller on his mastery of Andy Gray's technical gadgetry. So I'm fine with Gary's insistence that defenders need to block
shots with their whole body. Seems sound enough logic to a mere layman.
But one question
sends a shiver down the spines of these wise old sages. I refer to
the thorny issue of a manager's future. Ranks are closed and the first commandment of the pundit's handbook is evoked. Thou shall never criticise one of our own, particularly if I have to bump into that person in the future.
But we can not simply rebuff a QPR fan who has forgotten what a
win feels like. Evidence must be found to show that the manager really
is the man to turn things round. After all I was planning to go on holiday
with Mark Hughes next summer.
The standard "It's early days
yet" or "All these new players need time to gel" cliches will do the
job. With the exception of Roman Abramovich, most punters will buy
these as plausible reasons for continual failure.
But as the
nights draw in, our heroes need to unearth new reasons for dismal
results. Time to accentuate the positives, because the good times are
on the horizon. I give you Exhibit A as provided by Mr L Rosenior. When asked to comment on Wolves' nine-match winless
run. The resident pundit of the Football League Show replied: "Wolves
have only lost twice at home all season." Happy days, why are you shouting
at your Norwegian boss?
He excelled himself later: "Birmingham City are struggling, but I do see glimmers. For instance substitute
Rob Hall really made a difference (to the Blues' 3-2 defeat). Okay you
are 19th in the table, but honestly I do see glimmers. Stick with Stale
Solbakken and Lee Clark, they will
come good." Maybe they will, who am I to say? But Leroy, you're defence
is hardly Old Bailey material. Tom Cruise in a Few Good Men has
nothing to worry about.
Alan Shearer offered this defence of Martin
O'Neill's Sunderland: "At least they are creating chances." Shearer must
have thought: "I might be working with O'Neill at the next World Cup."
Some time the pundits are genuinely star struck. Robbie Savage
worshipped Mark Hughes as a youngster. So what was the point of asking
Savage to comment on Sparky's Loftus Road future? Similarly Gary Neville was Hughes's team-mate at Old Trafford. The old school tie was always going to colour their opinions.
Local radio experts are also staunch defenders of the manager. In the West Midlands our local BBC station has a football phone-in
every weekday evening. Former West Ham, Walsall and Newcastle striker
David Kelly is one of the shows regular guests. A pattern seems to be
developing. Birmingham City lose again. Unhappy fans call for Lee
Clark's head. Kelly trotts out: "Win two or three games and your're
right up there." A line he's been using since August and will still
employ in May. Do me a favour, we know you are mates with Clark.
protracted St Andrews takeover is another hardy excuses
provided by Kelly. "It's impossible for Lee to do his job in those
circumstances." Well financial problems haven't prevented Port Vale from
pushing for promotion or Malaga taking the Champions League by storm.
I've voted with my fingers. Ned Kelly has been vanished in favour of
No-one likes to see a manager lose their job. But sackings have always been part of the game. They all know the rules
before taking the helm, as we are constantly told it's a results business. I guess the experts don't like to upset their peers, that is fair
enough. My solution is to scrap the manager question because this
query is as redundant as suncream in a British winter.