Rafa was right… the sight of Sir Alex ranting at THREE officials on the touchline laid waste to the feeble Respect campaign
00:47 GMT, 29 December 2012
Every 12 months we make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, drink less, exercise more often and be an all-round better person.
We see some previously chubby ‘celebrity’ selling the tale of how they transformed themselves from a fridge-bothering munter into an amazingly svelte, ‘have it all’ picture of perfection thanks to an amazing diet regime (plus a gastric band and a considerable amount of plastic surgery, although they usually neglect to mention this).
Duly inspired, you decide to drag yourself off the sofa, squeeze into gym gear suddenly stretched to the limit of its molecular structure and do something about it. Yes, it’s time to jog to the home of that D-list celebrity and club them to death with a copy of their bogus diet book.
Scroll down to watch the video Rafa's rant from 2009
Speaking out: Rafa Benitez (left) criticised Sir Alex Ferguson during his 'facts' speech in 2009
According to reports, Rafa Benitez is in line to become Chelsea’s permanent manager. BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: At Stamford Bridge, there is no such thing as a ‘permanent manager’.
If you are feeling inadequate or lacking in willpower, console yourself with the idea that at least your resolutions last longer than the average ‘disciplinary crackdown’ in football.
Football is forever threatening to ‘get tough’ on managers and players who set a bad example. It generates a few useful headlines, yet like a New Year’s vow to cut out the sauvignon blanc, it usually lasts less than a week.
But I have a resolution for the Football Association and the Premier League in 2013. Find some resolve. Show some resolution.
The game becomes a laughing stock when it is too timid to control itself and the sight of Sir Alex Ferguson ranting at not one, not two, but three officials on the touchline laid waste to the feeble ‘Respect’ campaign. And what happened Nothing much.
Elsewhere Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini grumbled the referee at his match might have eaten too much turkey at Christmas and Harry Redknapp advised the assistant to take a trip to Specsavers. They were immediately told to account for their critical remarks.
So there we have it. The FA is prepared to get tough on sarcasm. But angry, spittle-flecking displays of fury and dissent That passes without a word of official condemnation.
Mancini and Redknapp should write back saying: ‘Dear FA, I didn’t do anything that was even half as bad as Ferguson. So get stuffed. Yours sincerely, etc.’
The FA hid behind procedure. They claimed it was impossible to initiate action against
Ferguson because referee Mike Dean had bottled out . . . sorry . . . neglected to mention the incidents in his report.
So what Even if Dean ducked any hassle, the whole unedifying scene was caught on camera. It was obviously aggressive in its intent. It was certainly designed to intimidate officials and it absolutely falls within any definition of the term ‘bringing the game into disrepute’. So do something, FA.
Managers snipe at officials because they believe they can influence them, bully them into submission and they assume they will get away with it, too, with plenty of justification.
But far from engendering Respect, the game’s governing body actively undermines referees by shying away from tackling managers at moments such as this.
Eight months ago, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore announced all the top- flight clubs had decided it was ‘time to raise the bar’ on standards of behaviour in English football.
Ref rant: United manager Sir Alex Ferguson makes his point to Mike Dean
Miscreants would be tackled with a ‘zero tolerance’ approach, we were told. So how’s that going
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Across at the FA, they have trumpeted so many crackdowns in recent years I’ve lost count. But just 12 weeks ago chairman David Bernstein was banging on about how football would ‘draw on the sporting spirit of the Olympic Games’, offer ‘moral leadership’ and take the ‘high ground’.
Looking at how things are panning out, I don’t think the high ground is going to be at the kind of altitude where we’ll need oxygen.
It’s quite simple. When a knight of the realm, a statesman of football and an occasional lecturer at Harvard starts shouting the odds like a white van driver abusing a traffic warden, the authorities have a duty to deal with him, or anyone else for that matter.
Not so long ago managers were told they would be fined for even daring to mention a referee before a match. Now, contests are engulfed in all-too-familiar squalls of complaint, recrimination and bitterness. Significantly, assaults on referees at the grassroots level are increasing.
So is Ferguson treated as a special case I know a manager who thinks so. Back in January 2009, when he was at Liverpool, the current Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez said this: ‘During the Respect campaign — and this is a fact — Mr Ferguson was charged by the FA for improper conduct after comments made about Martin Atkinson and Keith Hackett. He was not punished. He is the only manager in the league that cannot be punished for these things.
‘We know what happens every time we go to Old Trafford and the United staff are always going man to man with the referees, especially at half-time when they walk close to the referees and they are talking and talking.
‘You can see every single week how they put (referees) under pressure. We had a meeting in Manchester with managers and FA about the Respect campaign — and I was very clear.
And that's a fact: Benitez during his rant about Sir Alex Ferguson while Liverpool manager in 2009
‘Forget the campaign because Mr Ferguson is killing the referees but he is not punished. How can you talk about the Respect campaign and criticise the referee every single week You can analyse the facts and come to your own decision and ideas.’
Four years on, I think we can. We will also wait and see what happens to Mancini and Redknapp with some interest. In 2013, surely it is time the Respect campaign was shown some respect.
VIDEO: Rafa Benitez's 'Fact' rant from 2009
This item’s a Zlatan…
The Swedish have added the verb ‘to Zlatan’ to their dictionary. They have introduced the new word in honour of footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic to describe an act ‘with an outlandishly talented action’. This bout of national adulation set me thinking. Which sporting figures would earn a place in our own English dictionary
A new word for a star: Sweden have introduced a new word into their dictionary in recognition of Zlatan Ibrahimovic
‘terry’ (verb): to gatecrash a ceremonial occasion or celebration in matching garb.
‘berged’ (past tense of verb ‘to berg’): sunk without warning on an unlikely trip. Known as ‘iceberged’ or ‘henninged’ in Nordic countries.
‘bartonesque’ (adjective): to speak with a ridiculous comedy accent; to fake it; to assume the role of poseur.
‘wenger’ (verb): to blindly pursue an unseen object or ideal, however futile, eg. ‘I spent hours wengering for my keys in the dark’.
‘fergiefied’ (adjective): when an authority figure cowers or backs down after being confronted by rage, eg. ‘the teacher was fergiefied when the delinquent pupil began to shout in front of the entire class’.
Fit for a word: Both John Terry and Henning Berg could have their names used in the English dictionary
‘suarezing’ (also ‘baleing’ in Welsh): the act of losing one’s balance for no apparent reason; to succumb to Newton’s laws of gravity without any indication of an external force.
‘deliaing’ (noun): haranguing from an older lady who appears to have imbibed excessively, eg. ‘I was minding my own business in the pub when this old girl on the sherry gave me a right deliaing for no reason’.
‘mcleish’ (verb): to take on a challenge despite the lack of popular support, eg. ‘I want to be sheriff of Nottingham, but I’m taking a mcleishing in the polls.’ Also known as ‘clegging’
Will 2013 be the year Shebby reveals his grand plan
The business of prophecy is a hazardous one. As Paul Gascoigne observed: ‘I never make predictions — and I never will.’ But there are some things we can be confident of seeing in the year ahead.
We know that compared to the recent bash, the Sports Personality Of The Year awards in 2013 will be as barren as Oliver Reed’s hotel minibar the night he bumped into Alex Higgins. There are other sure-fire certainties in the 12 months ahead.
January: Blackburn Rovers appoint a new manager — a former boss of a friend’s chicken takeaway. The club’s Global Adviser, Shebby Singh, says: ‘This is part of our plan to return to the Premier League.’
Man with a plan: Shebby Singh is the Global Advisor at Blackburn
February: UEFA chief Michel Platini says acts of racism will not be tolerated as he upholds UEFA’s appeal against the punishment imposed on Serbia — by UEFA.
March: Blackburn Rovers sack their manager. The club’s Interplanetary Adviser, Shebby Singh, says: ‘We have a plan.’
April: UEFA chief Michel Platini demands the sacking of Michel Platini as part of UEFA’s crackdown on itself.
May: Blackburn are relegated from the Championship. The club’s Intergalactic Adviser, Shebby Singh, says: ‘It is part of our plan.’
June: Taking his cue from UEFA, FIFA president Sepp Blatter declares he will investigate himself in a new corruption probe, until colleagues point out he has done that many times before.
The only hope: Andy Murray is likely to be the only male British tennis player to progress at Wimbledon
July: Every British player crashes out of Wimbledon in the first round — except Andy Murray. Lawn Tennis Association chief Roger Draper hails ‘a great success story for British tennis’ and awards himself a huge pay rise.
August: Australia unveil a new spin bowler as they defeat England in the Ashes series. It subsequently emerges it is Shane Warne, only nobody recognised him because of his scary ‘new look’.
September: Sir Alex Ferguson slams a referee for forgetting to serve him his customary glass of red wine at half-time.
October: Blackburn sack their new boss before hiring him. Pan-Universal club adviser Shebby Singh says: ‘It saves time and money and is part of our plan.’
Outcast: Jose Bosingwa looks unlikely to play for QPR anytime soon after his refusal to be a substitute
November: Queens Park Rangers go bankrupt. Former player Jose Bosingwa emerges as a potential buyer.
December: Channel 4 racing presenter Clare Balding wins Sports Personality Of The Year in the absence of any other nominations.