Tag Archives: meaning

Chelsea are an utter disgrace after Mark Clattenburg non apology – Des Kelly

I'm sorry, but Chelsea are an utter disgrace

|

UPDATED:

00:30 GMT, 24 November 2012

Chelsea claimed it had all been done in 'good faith'. Amazingly, the Football Association nodded in agreement. Rarely has the English language been mangled quite so abhorrently.

For a start, there was not a word of apology from the club. Not a single, solitary one. As expected, the FA threw out the spurious and damaging accusation of racism that Chelsea levelled against referee Mark Clattenburg.

But even then Chelsea could not summon up the decency or class to utter ‘sorry’ to the man. Good faith obviously has a different meaning in the corridors of Stamford Bridge.

Disgrace: Chelsea have refused to apologise after accusing Mark Clattenburg of racially abusing John Obi Mikel

Disgrace: Chelsea have refused to apologise after accusing Mark Clattenburg of racially abusing John Obi Mikel

More from Des Kelly…

Des Kelly: Ibrahimovic's goal was NOT the greatest ever scored
16/11/12

Des Kelly: Just man up like Rod and let your teardrops explode
09/11/12

Des Kelly: No Chelsea player heard Terry abuse Ferdinand… now they're blessed with the hearing of a piano tuner
02/11/12

Des Kelly: The finger of blame will only point at you, Roberto
26/10/12

Des Kelly: Now it is time for football's three monkeys to wise up
19/10/12

Des Kelly: Really, what are these people who support Armstrong on
12/10/12

Des Kelly: Terry affair must not derail battle to defeat racism… so let's stop the schism
28/09/12

Des Kelly: Forget the badge… it might have been you on that tragic day at Hillsborough
14/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

What a ghastly week this has been for them. What a horrible stain they have left on the season. Putrid doesn’t quite cover their behaviour. Throw in despicable and it might.

Chelsea have displayed such an arrogant, pig-headed disregard for decency with their allegations against Clattenburg that someone in a position of authority deserves to lose their job.

This is a club that sacks managers and coaches on a whim, even if they collect the European Cup. As far as they are concerned, experienced football men are simply dispensable.

But the relatively anonymous boardroom suits that served up this unpleasant smear to the public are now supposed to be allowed to just walk away from this mess without accepting responsibility I think not.

To implicate a referee in a racism row based on evidence so flimsy it turned out to be non-existent was a truly shocking misjudgment by the decision-makers at the club.

Clattenburg has been hounded for weeks because of their actions. He has been accused, investigated and quizzed. He had his character impugned, he was forced to forgo his job while the storm raged, ordered to bite his lip and hide away from the world as he saw his name repeatedly linked with the horrible slur of being a ‘racist’.

So it must be sickening for Clattenburg to see the FA sugar-coat their dismissal of Chelsea’s laughable case.

‘Good faith’ Not for Clattenburg it wasn’t. Not for referees, who will now tape every conversation they have with players on the pitch, such is their level of distrust.

Bad times: Clattenburg's name was dragged through the mud

Bad times: Clattenburg's name was dragged through the mud

Having done absolutely nothing wrong, having been exonerated, he is also effectively prevented from taking charge of any match at Stamford Bridge for the foreseeable future. More ‘good faith’, I assume.

Ignore the public-relations froth in the prepared statements. Ignore the legalese. Ignore, too, Chelsea’s post-rationalisation of events and the risible claim they had to go public on the night, long before all the information had been properly gathered and assessed.

Here are the facts…

Chelsea accused Clattenburg of being a racist.They were horribly wrong.No credible evidence was produced.The club have refused to apologise.

Why hasn’t someone at Chelsea resigned this morning At the BBC, bosses were clearing their desks when one politician was falsely accused of a repugnant crime.

DM.has('rcp',”twitter”);

Twitter Avatar

Loading tweets…

Over at ITV, a presenter was
grovelling and his bosses paying out damages after he waved about a list
of alleged criminals he had lifted from the internet.

Or
is it OK to say a professional match official is a racist — and then
shrug and say ‘Oops’ when the charge is exposed as complete trash No
doubt a lawyer suggested Chelsea should avoid any apology for fear it
might ‘compromise their legal position’. I wonder if it was the same
lawyer who suggested they might have a case in the first place

Amazing, too, that the judgment broke as new manager Rafa Benitez was being wheeled in for his inaugural press conference. A good day to try to bury bad news, perhaps I wouldn’t put it past this lot.

Chelsea are a club run by an easily bored oligarch with no regard for careers or reputations. I often look at Roman Abramovich’s vacant, thousand-yard stare and wonder what he is thinking. Or even, if.

The chances that he might publicly account for his actions at the club are as remote as his home in Siberia.

But it makes my stomach turn to now read someone at Stamford Bridge claim they had a ‘duty of care’ to Ramires, as if that makes it all ok.

They also had a duty of care to the game, to the reputation of our officials, to the ‘Respect’ tags they dare to wear on their kits. They also had a duty of care to the man they accused of being a racist without any plausible proof.

Overheard: Ramires thought he heard a racial slur

Overheard: Ramires thought he heard a racial slur

This isn’t being wise after the event. This isn’t slating Chelsea for the sake of it, although heaven knows they make it easy. The FA verdict was a foregone conclusion even after the most cursory inspection of the so-called ‘evidence’ — and I have said as much on these pages before.

Chelsea could have looked into the complaint and followed it through without rushing into public with their nasty smear. And considering the astonishing lack of ‘evidence’, it is also a mystery why the FA moved to deliver their verdict as slowly as insurance loss adjusters.

That ‘good faith’ remark smacks of days of draft statements knocking back and forth between expensive lawyers. It reeks of a ‘we-won’t-say-this-if-you-don’t-say-that’ trade-off. The referee was put through the mangle on the word of one player — Ramires, a Portuguese-speaking Brazilian who struggles to communicate in English.

A gaggle of players were closer to the supposed incident and heard nothing, including Ashley Cole and John Mikel Obi.

There was no audio or video evidence, nor confirmation from officials on the touchline. But Chelsea pressed on, having been backed into a corner by their own eagerness to point an accusing finger.

Centre of the storm: Mikel was proven NOT to have been called a monkey

Centre of the storm: Mikel was proven NOT to have been called a monkey

Did you note that Ramires took 15 days to pinpoint the moment he believed he had heard a ‘racist’ remark Until then, he had been unable to remember when this extraordinary insult was actually uttered. Does that sound like a credible witness to you No, nor me. Nor the Metropolitan Police. Nor the FA, for that matter.

Chelsea went to make a point of saying they ‘provided 11 witness statements’. How comprehensive of them.

Unfortunately, that appears to have boiled down to 10 people saying ‘Nope — I didn’t hear any such thing’ and one bloke from Brazil saying he definitely might have heard the word ‘monkey’.

The improbable idiocy of it all didn’t stop someone associated with Chelsea briefing the media within two hours of the final whistle with claims the referee may have made racist remarks. It was running on Sky Sports by 8pm. The club knew what the consequences would be.

So it was galling to read this in Chelsea’s statement: ‘All those directly involved have been subjected to scrutiny over the last weeks. Chelsea FC now hopes that all concerned can continue to carry out their duties without prejudice.’

Back to duty: Clattenburg says he hopes no ref has to go through this in the future

Back to duty: Clattenburg says he hopes no ref has to go through this in the future

Oh, you do, do you Only one man has been accused of ‘prejudice’. Only one man has really been under scrutiny. Only one man has been fighting for his job. But now the tables are turned, just look at Chelsea trying to wriggle away from the mess they created.

There is the one comment amid all of this that truly matters. It is from Clattenburg himself, who is thankfully returning to duty.

‘There are processes that should be adhered to in order that any investigation can be carried out in a manner that is fair,’ he said.

‘I know first-hand the ramifications of allegations of this nature being placed into the public domain ahead of a formal process and investigation. I hope no referee has to go through this in the future.’

Damn right. I would add my own hope that Clattenburg and the referees’ union succeed in their bid to take Chelsea to the cleaners in court.

Even if they can’t bring themselves to say it, I hope Chelsea are made to feel sorry.

Rafa's luck is pants

Chelsea's future former manager, Rafa Benitez, wears lucky underpants.

Whenever the Spanish boss requires the intervention of fate, he pulls on a red pair of budgie-smugglers adorned with a picture of a Tasmanian devil.

It paid off when he led Valencia to the Spanish title and the UEFA Cup. He wore them for every European game in his first year at Liverpool, too, and picked up the 2005 Champions League trophy.

Lucky pants: Rafael Benitez will neet more than underwear to get the best out of Fernando Torres

Lucky pants: Rafael Benitez will neet more than underwear to get the best out of Fernando Torres

But Benitez might need more than lucky pants at Chelsea after being handed the interim job on one promise; the belief that he can sort out Fernando Torres.

The 50million striker is not the man Benitez remembers at Anfield. He has lost the explosive pace that was his greatest weapon.

Maybe Benitez can restore some of the old magic. But the overriding suspicion is Torres is beyond saving at the very highest level. I’d never dare suggest he might even be a bit pants these days — because he’s not that lucky.

Tony looks a Twit

Queens Park Rangers chairman Tony Fernandes should sack himself. From Twitter.

The knee-jerk social media forum has been nothing but a curse for Fernandes. His wish to communicate with fans is admirable, but he has to be smart enough to know when to leave the iPhone alone, rather than make himself a hostage to fortune.

On Friday, QPR dispensed with Mark Hughes just seven days after Fernandes declared: ‘It won’t be happening — for the millionth time, ha ha.’

Axed: Mark Hughes was sacked despite Tony Fernandes claiming he wouldn't be

Axed: Mark Hughes was sacked despite Tony Fernandes claiming he wouldn't be

We laughed, too. Not with Fernandes, but at his naivety. Now it looks as if Fernandes was forced to wield the axe only after a rift with other key directors. His Twitter feed definitely supports that view.

On October 27, he insisted: ‘We have one of the best managers in the Premier League. We’re in this for the long term.’

I suppose that three-and-a-half weeks is regarded as ‘long term’ in football these days.

Paul Gascoigne and Golaco! Our 90s love affair with Italian football

Gazza and Golaco! Our unforgettable 90s love affair with Italian football

|

UPDATED:

13:13 GMT, 22 November 2012

Golao! It’s Portuguese for 'fantastic goal', but for football fans growing up in the 1990s it had a different meaning.

It meant the start of Channel Four’s unmissable Football Italia programme on a Saturday morning.

My kids thought it was actually 'Go Lazio'. That didn’t matter. What did matter was waiting for the bouncy ball around the Italian themed Channel Four logo, listening to the theme music – it was 'I’m Stronger Now' by Definitive Two – and waiting for the evocative shout that meant the programme was about to begin.

Scroll to the bottom for video of the opening credits and a stroll through memory piazza

When in Rome: Paul Gascoigne won over the Lazio fans by scoring in the derby

When in Rome: Paul Gascoigne won over the Lazio fans by scoring in the derby

At the helm: James Richardson

At the helm: James Richardson

Maybe we started falling for all things Italian after somebody at the BBC brilliantly chose Nessun Dorma as the theme music for the 1990 World Cup.

But if anything extended the romance from four all too short summer weeks into a 16-year love affair, it was James Richardson’s brilliant presentation of the country’s domestic football each weekend.

And Gazza. Of course. You couldn’t forget Gazza.

On Thursday night he’s heading back to Rome as guest of honour to watch Lazio play Tottenham in the Europa League, and what better reminder that the 'daft as a brush' genius, whose tears in Turin helped lift English football from its lowest point, was also responsible for a revolution in the way TV presents the game.

Gascoigne had co-operated on a
documentary with production company Chrysalis charting his fightback
from injury to enable his move to Lazio to go ahead, and when it was
finished said to the producer Neil Duncanson it was a shame nobody would
be able to see his games now he was fit.

So
Neil asked the Italian Federation for the rights to cover Lazio’s
matches, was told he could have the whole of Serie A instead, and so the
show was born.

And what a show. The first coup was for Richardson as the affable, easy going presenter to put Gazza at ease and suddenly England’s most iconic footballer was a TV man too.

Each Saturday morning we shared his Italian adventure with him, driving round Rome in open top sports cars, wandering behind the scenes of Lazio’s training ground, or sitting outside pretty pavement cafes.

Let's talk football: Gascoigne and presenter Richardson dealt with the big issues in Serie A

Let's talk football: Gascoigne and presenter Richardson dealt with the big issues in Serie A

Outside broadcast: Gazza spoke to the viewers - while driving through the streets with the top down

Outside broadcast: Gazza spoke to the viewers – while driving through the streets with the top down

That was part of the secret. It was the first football show that moved you out of a studio and took you from your front room into a different world.

Richardson would sit with his cappuccino and a couple of croissants on the streets of Milan or Genoa, holding up the pink pages of the Gazzetta dello Sport to bring us the headlines, and chatting through the games and the goals to come.

On a cold, wet, winter’s morning it was pure escapism.

At its peak it pulled in nearly a million viewers every week, and while Match of the Day might have never lost its place as the must-see football programme on British TV, Football Italia ran it a mighty close second.

There was always a competition to win a trip to Italy to see a game, but it felt like you were there anyway.

Fancy a coffee: Richardson never went hungry or thirsty when he presented Football Italia

Fancy a coffee: Richardson never went hungry or thirsty when he presented Football Italia

Italian football then was where the riches were, and where Europe’s best players flocked to perform.

They didn’t encourage characters in English football in those days.

It was the age of 4-4-2 when words like 'workrate' and 'industry' were becoming the buzz phrases for our coaches.

And POMO, the position of maximum opportunity, which basically meant you lumped the ball as far as you could and chased after it.

The Italians played with the ball at their feet. They caressed it. They passed it.

Milan had the money to pull in Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard. And they had showmen like Fabrizio Ravenelli who folded his shirt over his head every time he scored a goal.

They had crowds full of passion with gigantic flags who brandished firecrackers. Even the refs had character, with the boggle-eyed Pierluigi Collina bringing out red cards with a flourish of his right arm.

Dutch courage: AC Milan had (from left) Frank Rijkaard, Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit in their ranks

Dutch courage: AC Milan had (from left) Frank Rijkaard, Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit in their ranks

It ran from 1992 to 2002 on Channel Four, then limped through a few more seasons on Eurosport and Bravo before the plug was pulled on the last programme in 2008.

Maybe by then the Premier League’s money and glamour had seduced us away from the romance of Italy, or maybe we all just grew up and moved on.

But Football Italia will always have a special place in our memories.

And how fitting it will be if Gazza and the rest of the crowd in Rome tonight get to shout for one more time: Golao!

What an intro – Football Italia had a proper tune at the start

Sir Alex Ferguson had the title… then he lost it

Fergie had it… then he lost it… but he says it will take City 100 years to match United's history

|

UPDATED:

21:40 GMT, 13 May 2012

So cruel: Rooney shows his frustration

So cruel: Rooney shows his frustration

When Sir Alex Ferguson came up with
one his most famous remarks – 'Football, bloody hell,' – it was in the
brilliant, crazy aftermath of Manchester United's epic European Cup
triumph over Bayern Munich in Barcelona.

Thirteen years on, Ferguson looked as if those words were going through his head once again on Sunday.

Same words, different meaning. It was 13 seconds after the final whistle.

Once referee Howard Webb blew,
Ferguson moved across to shake the hand of Martin O'Neill, then marched
on to the Stadium of Light pitch.

At
that moment, the title was on hold. The atmosphere inside the ground
was heavy, uncertain, quiet, not unlike a hospital waiting room.

The scene had a slow motion feel to it.

Ferguson had just heard of Edin Dzeko's equaliser at Eastlands but in
those few seconds Manchester United were champions of England for the
20th time.

In a room at the stadium a Premier League trophy was being prepared with red ribbons.

Ferguson
could not see that, which was a small mercy for him. He was on the
grass with United's players who thought were about to hear good news.

Crying shame: Patrice Evra weeps as the title that seemed to be theirs was snatched away

Crying shame: Patrice Evra weeps as the title that seemed to be theirs was snatched away

Ferguson ushered them towards the travelling United fans who were hanging in that same waiting room themselves.

And then, up in the south-west corner, adjacent to the visiting support, a noise erupted from Sunderland fans.

Ferguson's antennae picked it up instantly. There was no hesitation on his part, no thinking this could be a hoax.

Ferguson knows football, knows it can bring pain as well as pleasure. He was in Barcelona. QPR had not been able to match Aberdeen against Real Madrid.

Football, bloody hell.

United won, they lost, they had it, then they didn't.

Down to earth: Antonio Valencia can't believe the title slipped away

Down to earth: Antonio Valencia can't believe the title slipped away

As Ferguson turned for the tunnel, Sunderland fans were already doing The Poznan.

Mockery comes quick.

So, too, from Ferguson, did 'congratulations to our neighbours'.

His response was magnanimous.

'We congratulate Manchester City. Anyone who wins the league deserves to win it because it's a very, very difficult league to win. We know that because, as we've experienced today, we've lost on goal difference.'

Mockery: Sunderland fans celebrate a goal by Manchester City by doing a Poznan

Mockery: Sunderland fans celebrate a goal by Manchester City by doing a Poznan

Eight goals over 10 months, a difference as slim as an upright. United understand its dimensions, having struck the woodwork three times on Sunday.

Wayne Rooney hit the crossbar in the first half and a post in the second. He scored the decisive goal, his 27th in the Premier League this season, his best league tally by one.

As he boarded the team bus afterwards in club-issue black suit, Rooney's face gave no hint of happiness at that fact.

'We're all disappointed, obviously,' Ferguson had added. 'We should be disappointed because we did our best today. But for their goalkeeper, we could have scored seven goals. We hit the post, the bar and the goalkeeper made fantastic saves throughout the match. We conducted ourselves in the right way.

'Yes, there will be a time when we can sit back and say we did this wrong, we did that wrong, but 89 points would have won the league most seasons.

Magnanimous in defeat: In any other year Sir Alex Ferguson knows United would have won the title

Magnanimous in defeat: In any other year Sir Alex Ferguson knows United would have won the title

'They're a good bunch of lads. The younger players will remember today because sometimes a bad experience is even better for you.'

Ferguson was correct about that points total. United won their historic 19th title last season with 80 points. They scored fewer goals then, and conceded more.

United improved by nine points; City improved by 18.

Ferguson said there were no recriminations but the sight of Nemanja Vidic in the directors' box was a reminder of what United have missed since December 7.

Vidic played in neither league derby against City, he was not there when Everton scored two late goals of their own three Sundays ago.

Vidic was injured in Basle when United exited the Champions League. If the league offers one measurement of a team, then so does Europe. United were deservedly beaten by Basle and then by Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League.

Ferguson will address that in due course.

Signing off: Signage for the potential trophy presentation had to be shelved

Signing off: Signage for the potential trophy presentation had to be shelved

There was some consolation in pushing the league to the last kick of the last day but ultimately Old Trafford has its first trophy-less season since 2004-05. That was Rooney's first season at the club, Roy Keane's last full one.

After United had gone out of the Champions League at AC Milan, Ferguson had spoken inside the San Siro of renewal, of the youth of Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

On Sunday he talked of a clutch of young players – Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, David De Gea among others – and said they could be at United for 'five, six, seven, 10 years.

'The experience is good for them even if it's a bad one.'

Learning process: Jonny Evans (right) is among a crop of exciting United youngsters

Learning process: Jonny Evans (right) is among a crop of exciting United youngsters

On Friday the 70 year-old had warned City: 'We're not going away and I'm not either.'

Here he addressed City again: 'They can go on as much as they like but the history of our club stands us aside. We don't need to worry about that. I think we have a rich history, better than anyone and it'll take them a century to get to our level of history.

'But for us, it's still a challenge and we're good at challenges. We'll kick on from here.'

That process may have started – there were shades of Spanish pressing when Sunderland had the ball.

Then United had the home team on the carousel in the second half. They were controlling possession, counting down the seconds and shaping their future.

But back in Manchester, City were stealing United's late, late trademark. Or, as Ferguson would say, borrowing it.