Big Story *sigh*
So said Jimmy Greaves in an interview this weekend with the Independent. While Pitch Invasion has been doing its darnedest to keep JT’s affair and subsequent de-captaining from the England squad off our lead posts, the subject has so clogged the English media with the story now moving into the meta “guilt-ridden proper-journo” phase that it’s time to take a look so we can drop it forever. And what better day than Sunday to take in the anguished moralizing of every paper in Britain (and one or two in America)?
The pick of the lot (and there are so many op-eds to choose from) has to be the normally-balanced Paul Hayward. He opens with a bit of self-flagellation on behalf of all of England:
It is just a game, like football: a journalistic, blogtastic game of sanctimony versus cool. England’s is a culture talking itself to brain death. Outside the circulation war and its website equivalent most English folk positioned themselves between extremes. They thought John Terry was a wild man, a slave to his appetites, but mistrusted the assertion that an England captain should be sacked for having extra-marital sex, which this saga was never really about. At its heart was persistent misuse of the leader’s role: the latest being the allegation that an associate of Terry’s management team offered the use of his skipper’s subsidised Wembley box for £4,000 in readies.
The article is meandering and downright weird, a screed against Sven Goran Eriksson for what Hayward is convinced he would have done to Terry in Capello’s place, a haranguing of booing opposing fans and friends of Wayne Bridge for alleged hypocrisy, but at the same time an adoration of Fabio Capello.
…how could [Capello] have possibly said to Terry: “For sleeping with Wayne Bridge’s missus I’m stripping you of the captaincy – and giving it to that fine man of virtue who videoed the players’ orgy in Ayia Napa.”
It is vital that English football now guards itself from the temptation to go all ethical. If they don’t, the ensuing muckraking will end up in row upon row of footballing graves. At the start of this saga, the Football Association were denounced for once again displaying their spinal deficiency and leaving the disciplining to the manager. Yet what they did was exactly right. The FA might just have peered down the lists of both the current and past England internationals and spotted a drink-driver here, a wife-beater there… and serial philanderers everywhere else. And thought: “Oh, blimey!”
You can pretty much guess the rest. Meanwhile other broadsheets take the predictable Sunday School approach, particularly the Telegraph, which dallies with xenophobia by opening with this gem: “Things have come to a pretty pass, you might say, when it takes an Italian to lecture the English on sexual mores.” Right. And they get downright slaphappy when the health minister parps in about decisions made by the manager of English national football team.
The best part is, none of this has any consequence for anybody at all, save John Terry, his agent, his sponsors, his wife, Wayne Bridge, and his wife. Talk about an epic football media fail. Most newspaper pundits would have done well to listen to Jimmy.
- EPSN writes a puff-piece on cigar-smoking MLS commish Don Garber, to which Fake Sigi responds in his inimitable way: “Yeah, it’s pretty cool that Don’s living the trailer park tatoo lifestyle, hoarding alcohol, breaking trade embargo laws, and puffing his way toward an early death. Not only does he smoke cigars, which we knew, but now he needs his fix so bad that he will actively turn down free transportation to smoke while he drives at 90 MPH.”
- A Blackburn Rovers supporter has died from injuries sustained at Stoke‘s Britannia Stadium. A man is being held for questioning, and no Stoke supporters are suspected to have been involved.
- Henry Winter gives the floor to Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan, who describes in detail how his hedge fund called him in the middle of an FA Cup tie. It’s a very flattering piece which Winters paints as a “a cautionary tale,” rather than hopelessly obvious when one considers the sort of money one might expect from a Championship side that doesn’t own their own ground. You be the judge.
- Are you a tall footballer? Than expect guff from the referee.