How could Hodgson get it so wrong over toxic Terry
21:39 GMT, 29 September 2012
Roy Hodgson is not a man for the
dramatic phrase, so he was stepping out of character with this curious
offering: ‘You know when you take the job, you’re dead. All you can
hope is that you can enjoy that time on your death bed and that when you
are resurrected a few years later, people say: “You know, he wasn’t
They do say that the England job drives them all mad in the end but usually it takes more than five months.
fairness, we should not set too much store by Hodgson’s muddled
metaphysical ramblings, yet they seem to suggest that the pressure is
getting to him, that calm, rational judgment is coming under pressure
from doubt and confusion. Which leads us to the England manager’s
ham-fisted contribution to John Terry’s squalid saga.
From the moment the mess was dumped on his desk, Hodgson’s decisions have seemed woefully ill-considered.
That's my boy: Roy Hodgson embraces John Terry after England's win over Ukraine at Euro 2012
Fabio Capello lost his job through his
outrageous insistence that a man charged with racial abuse was entitled
to remain captain of England. Hodgson was equally perverse, equally
Hodgson could not reinstate Terry as captain, he took every chance to
praise his attitude, to massage his ego. He even selected him for the
finals of Euro 2012 while leaving out Rio Ferdinand, ostensibly for
‘football reasons’. It was an implausible claim, widely and properly
Never did he grasp
the notion that Terry’s problems were of Terry’s making. This was a man
who had lost the captaincy not once, but twice, a man whose life was
lived in lurid headlines and a man, moreover, whose value as a player
was diminishing by the month.
this was the man for whom Hodgson was prepared to hazard his judgment
and alienate a swathe of public and professional opinion.
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Yet still he refuses to acknowledge
the glaring reality. Last week, hours before the opening of the FA
hearing, and shortly after Terry’s retirement from international
football, Hodgson grew quite lyrical. He greeted the departure with a
eulogy to the player’s qualities. He spoke of his ‘good relationship’
with Terry, of his ‘disappointment’ at his departure, of his
‘reluctance’ to accept the decision. Indeed, it was widely reported, and
never denied, that he would welcome him back, even if he were to be
found guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. It was extraordinary
stuff from a sophisticated and vastly experienced manager; almost as if
he was embracing that ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ tosh which plays so well
at Stamford Bridge. Because the truth is that he has no need to make
such undignified gestures.
the next 12 months, England will play their remaining eight World Cup
qualifying games: San Marino, Poland and Montenegro at home and away,
plus Moldova at home and Ukraine away.
Fans' favourite: Terry gives his boots to Chelsea supporters after the 2-1 win at Arsenal
Hodgson seriously imagine that Terry’s presence might represent the
difference between success and failure If so, then England’s situation
is a great deal more parlous than we had been led to believe.
Of course, he does not think that for a moment. But he says it, presumably, because he is anxious to retain unfettered control of selection, unhindered by intrusions from the outside world.
For Hodgson, I suspect, the right to pick Terry was of far more importance than the wisdom of reintroducing a divisive and possibly toxic presence to the dressing room. Terry’s pre-emptive flounce saved the manager from the consequences of such a decision but the fact that he may well have flirted with such a course is genuinely disturbing.
Renaissance man: Hodgson must move on from the Terry saga
Most of us had considered Hodgson to be a more serious man than that. As it happens, Terry’s more deluded admirers need not completely abandon hope of seeing their flawed hero in the national shirt just once more. If, by some miraculous process, England should actually win the World Cup in the Maracana, then there must be a possibility that Terry will emerge from the crowd, tearing off his civilian clothes and leading up the lads, the way he does at Champions League finals.
But it is an unlikely scenario. For the fact is that the game has moved on, having made its civilised point on an important matter of simple morality. It is high time that Roy Hodgson moved on too. After five short months, his resurrection is already overdue.
No laughing matter as Pulis takes his cue from Groucho
‘These are my principles,’ said Groucho Marx. ‘And if you don’t like them, well, I have others.’ Now, it must be said that Tony Pulis does not enjoy Groucho’s way with a phrase but Stoke City’s resident humorist appears to share a similar philosophy.
Two weeks ago, Stoke’s Peter Crouch scored against Manchester City after handling the ball not once but twice. ‘It was basketball,’ said City’s manager, Roberto Mancini. But the Stoke manager was unrepentant. ‘It’s lovely for us, a smaller club, getting a decision against a bigger club,’ was his pragmatic assessment.
Double standards: Pulis
Last Saturday, Pulis worked himself into a splendid state over a spot of alleged ‘diving’ at Stamford Bridge. ‘It’s a part of the game that I don’t think we should stomach,’ he said. ‘It’s difficult enough to referee today without players doing that, I don’t think it’s fair on the referees.’ He thought that Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic should have been given a three–match ban for his theatrics and he contrasted the player’s attitude with that of his own Michael Kightly, who apparently stayed on his feet after suffering assault. ‘We think it’s the right way to do it but what other clubs do is up to them,’ he said.
It is a difficult ploy to master, that mixture of lofty self-righteousness and brazen inconsistency, but Pulis brought it off quite effortlessly. The famously principled Groucho would have been proud of him.
Garry back with the ultimate in daftness
Garry Cook was God’s gift to sports columnists. On slow weeks, we looked to the Manchester City chief executive for a cheery quip, a piece of unwitting daftness which cried out for preservation.
Turn of phrase: Cook
You will recall his remark on his chairman, the noted human rights abuser Thaksin Shinawatra: ‘Is he a good guy to play golf with’ Then there was his masterpiece of middle-management speak: ‘I want to central-entity the top 10 teams to create a global empire.’
Often he would recall his golden days as a glorified sneaker salesman: ‘At Nike, you don’t sit around saying “Can we” You say “We will”… I call it the cultural cascade.’
If David Brent had never existed, then Garry would have invented him. He left City in Brentian fashion, after an unfortunate incident involving an email.
But he hasn’t gone away. In fact, the great man has just been named as executive vice-president and managing director of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the ongoing street brawl posing as a sport.
Garry says he is ‘delighted’. He calls it ‘an honour’ to be working in such a ‘dynamic and exciting industry’.
Soon, I suspect, he will be introducing organised violence to the mysteries of the cultural cascade. For Garry Cook is back. Living proof that, even in UFC, you can’t keep a good man down. Just you wait: ultimate fighting won’t know what’s hit it.
So, farewell Steve Kean, forced to resign as manager of Blackburn.
His departure was inevitable but he was required to endure a parting shot from one Mark Fish, secretary of the so-called ‘Blackburn Rovers Action Group’.
Said the rancorous Fish: ‘The supporters are liberated and free of Steve Kean. I am just enjoying the fact that he has gone … I have longed for this.’
For Kean, the future may be uncertain but he no longer has to endure the insults of vengeful clowns like Fish. He should be duly thankful.