If you indulge in silly game playing, you shouldn’t get too upset if someone decides to take you on and have a go back. That’s exactly what Fabio Capello did to Rafael Benitez last week and the Liverpool boss didn’t like it. But, in the words of the playground, he started it. Before
England’s last two World Cup qualifiers, Benitez pulled Steven Gerrard out of the squad without giving Capello prior notice so that his player could undergo minor groin surgery. Then, before the friendly away to Germany, Liverpool announce that Gerrard had picked up an injury during the Premier League game with Bolton in which he played all 90 minutes, scored and didn’t exactly limp off the pitch at the end.
Is it any wonder that Capello might have felt that this was a diagnosis with club rather than country in mind? So, he exercises his right as an international manager and orders Gerrard to attend England’s training camp to be assessed. Benitez says the FA owe him an apology for the way his captain was treated but he has no-one to blame but himself for playing silly b*****rs last time out. And its total guff arguing that Capello didn’t order Rooney and Ferdinand to also attend a fitness assessment because unlike Gerrard, they didn’t turn out for their club that weekend.
Benitez is not doing Gerrard any favours on the international front either bearing in mind that in his absence, England have remained unbeaten, and indeed, won all three games that he’s missed. It’s possible that very soon, Benitez will have Gerrard all to himself as the England boss will have decided that he’s more trouble than he’s worth and surplus to requirements.
First Fifa now the FA
Last week, it was Fifa rules that saw Emmerson Boyce banned for 1 game after receiving 2 yellow cards, the second of which was undeserved. Now we have the case of David Moyes, fined and warned as to his future conduct by the FA, despite his point of view being proven correct before the FA hearing.
Moyes was sent to the stands by ref Alan Wiley after arguing, perhaps too vigorously, that his side should have been awarded a penalty during Everton’s 3 – 2 win at Stoke in September. After the game, Wiley reviews the tape, realises he was wrong and phones Moyes to apologise.
That surely should have been the end of the matter. But that of course would mean the nobodies that make up an FA disciplinary committee wouldn’t get their 15 minutes of fame, not to mention their expenses and a few nice sandwiches to boot. Instead of agreeing that Moyes had a point all along, they fine him £5,000 and give him a lecture about his behaviour. Out of touch, off the pace and beyond a joke are just a few responses this pathetic ruling has generated. But then, if an organisation acts as judge and jury on its own rules, what do you expect?
Anyone out there a fan of Ligue 1, the Championnat, in France? No, thought not. Hardly surprising really as the title has been won for the past 7 years by Lyon making it the second most uncompetitive league in the Uefa family.
Even though they got beaten at the weekend, Lyon still have a healthy 5 point lead at the top of the table. Only in Moldova does football have an even more familiar ring to it as the brilliantly named Sherrif Tiraspol have won eight tiles on the bounce since 2001. And yet, French politicians and officials, backed up by Uefa boss Michel Platini, a man who exists to pour scorn on the Premier League, are hoping to persuade the European Commission to adopt a crackpot French scheme which will effectively see the formation of a Euro-wide financial commission for football. If this isn’t bad enough, it will be based on the existing French model, the DNCG, which already governs much of French sport including Ligue 1.
In other words, the French position seems to be along the lines of ‘football in our country has ceased to offer any real competition so we want to impose similar conditions on all of you’. One can only hope that Europe’s sports ministers, like the fans they represent, aren’t lovers of dreary predictability and dismiss this proposal with a resounding ‘non’.
It’s been reported that Steven Gerrard wants to sign a new contract at Anfield, keeping him on Liverpool’s books for the rest of his career.
One UK tabloid paper came up with this headline: Gerrard: Red until I die. Coincidentally, word has it that is was exactly the tack Liverpool’s medical staff are going to take with Gerrard ahead of the next England game should he be lucky enough to get in the squad. “Yeh, sorry Fabio, Stevie won’t be available as he’s passed on. Though we are expecting him to be fully fit for our next club game on Saturday.”