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Football Managers Are Hypocrites

Rarely a week goes by where we don’t get some manager, player, or chief executive spouting off to the press about some vapid issue or another. This week we were treated to Ian Holloway and Alex Ferguson raging about whatever matter of contention was vexing them at that particular moment while Arsene Wenger criticizes opponents for their tackling while his own team sit on top of the red card table in the EPL.

Every time you open a newspaper or flick on the news there is usually a manager looking to impart some wisdom on the world.

So far this season we’ve had Arsene Wenger criticising Stoke about their style of play in an effort at influencing refereeing decisions and then having a go at Manchester United’s Paul Scholes too. Then we had Rafael Benitez espousing about “Priest’s on mountains of salt” and “milk” in thinly veiled insults towards Roy Hodgson and Christian Purslow at Liverpool.

We’ve had Sir Alex Ferguson refusing to let the famous Carlos Tevez “welcome to Manchester” poster go. Ian Holloway famously compared Wayne Rooney to a car while the England star was negotiating with the Red Devils over a new contract.

Sam Allardyce claimed that he could win the double every year if he was in charge of one of the “big” teams

Harry Redknapp and Danny Murphy came out with real clangers in the space of just 24 hours as the Spurs boss tenuously defended Tom Hicks’ and George Gillett’s time at Liverpool while Murphy openly condemn Stoke’s, Blackburn’s, and Wolves style of play.

In the last example at least Murphy has the defence of actually being asked to comment on the problem of tackling in the game today, whereas every other diatribe has been contributed without being asked for.

There are many, many more examples of managers and players saying something that adds up to nothing about the beautiful game.

Ian Holloway and Sam Allardyce have become caricatures of themselves in recent years. Now they are living up to the persona that the media have built up for them instead of concentrating on what they get paid to do.

Did Holloway have any issue with Wayne Rooney when he accused the striker of “bullying” Sir Alex Ferguson? His bizarre rant at Wayne Rooney actually made more people sympathetic towards the United player after he compared him with a house that you’ve owned for 24 years…

Big Sam is always in the papers for some reason or another. Be it the current Blackburn boss claiming that he’s hard done by not to be considered good enough for the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, or even England.

He regularly claims that he loves psychological mind games with his opponents and that he tries to wind them up in the media and most recently he claimed that he would win the double every year if given the chance at a big side.

While Holloway and Allardyce are treated as eccentric uncles by Premier League fans and media alike, the same can’t be said of Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson.

The two longest serving managers in the game and held up on pedestals by the vast majority of people associated with the EPL. There is no doubting that they are two of the best managers the game has ever seen and that they are extremely intelligent and talented men.

But why do they regularly fall into the old trap of speaking without thinking?

Earlier this summer, actually you could say it happens almost every summer at this stage, Arsene Wenger rants about teams in the league being too physical. It is worth knowing that between 1996 and 2008 Arsenal, under Wenger, received 73 red cards and so far this year they have four cards in just twelve EPL matches.

Then he lashed Paul Scholes for being a dirty player. Why? Everyone knows that Patrick Vieira was ten times worse on the pitch than the likes of Scholes could ever be. Is it just a case of a manager playing more psychological games ala Big Sam?

After criticising other teams and managers, Arsenal is now one of the dirtiest teams in the league. Jack Wilshire’s tackle against Nikola Zigic and Cesc Fabregas’ tackle on Stephen Ward have been two of the worst tackles seen this year and now Wenger finds himself with the shoe firmly on the other foot.

In fairness to the Gunners’ boss, he did apologise to Mick McCarthy about Fabregas’ tackle even though he didn’t see it and Stephen Ward accepted the challenge as accidental because Cesc just isn’t that kind of player…

Sir Alex Ferguson is equally as frustrating as his counterpart at Arsenal.

His protection of his own players is every bit Wenger’s equal, although he doesn’t seem to bring the moving stanchion that afflicts the Frenchman’s vision.

He has ranted and raved over the years about everything from referees to timekeeping to the FA to BBC to international football to opponents etc… You get the picture.

However, the fact that he is still venting about Carlos Tevez’s poster one year later is baffling to say the least.

Rafael Benitez’s time in Liverpool left us with his famous “facts” rant on Alex Ferguson amongst others. Now that he has moved to Inter Milan he has become exactly what he criticised Jose Mourinho of becoming; a hypocrite.

The Spaniard and Portuguese regularly jousted during their rivalry in the league and in Europe. When Mourinho moved to Italy Benitez used to tell Mourinho to mind his own business and comment on his own team when the Portuguese talked about how good the Chelsea side he left behind was.

Now one year later and Rafa is guilty of exactly the same. Instead of sticking to his own job he comments about Liverpool at every opportunity.

One common thread links almost every comment.

They come from managers who are on the losing end.

When was the last time you heard Carlo Ancellotti ranting about his opponents?

Managers should stick to the jobs they are employed to do. When they comment on subjects that do not concern them it has a nasty habit of returning on them ten fold.

When Ferguson and Wenger managed teams who were on top of the league did they communicate as much diatribe?

Most probably not.

When they speak about such subjects they actually say very little and should let their teams do the talking for them on the pitch. That’s where you’ll find the only language that counts in football.

Comments (2)

  1. A bit over the top in my opinion, Willie. I’d make a few points in defence of the managers you mention:

    1.They work under huge pressure and constantly in the spotlight.

    2.They give press conferences several times each week and much of their comment is provoked by wiley journalists.

    3.The headlines we read are frequently blown out of all proportion by the media to get a good headline/story. Often, when you actually look at the interview/press conference the ‘big headline’ issue is a minor part.

    4.Football is an emotional game and managers have to front-up to the press just after games have finished. That emotion invariably vents itself (human nature) and I suspect many would like the opportunity to change their words given a cooling down period.

    5.Football is a colourful game and we all love the controversy, rivalry and opportunity to ‘have a go’ on the blogs etc. Would we prefer it if all managers were tight lipped and gave us little to talk about?

    On some of the specifics. I like Holloway….he’s his own man and a genuine character. He (and others) we’re giving the view of the ‘managers union’ in the case of the Rooney affair…..player power; contracts having no value etc.

    There’s also a difference between red cards and very bad tackles……which cut’s Wenger some slack….although I do think that he whines too much.

    Mind games have long been part of the management scene and much of what you quote is just that.

    Now I’m no Benitez fan but his musings were in response to what he viewed as a personal attack on his tenure at Liverpool by Hodgson. He was trying to defend his reputation.

    As for: “Managers should stick to the jobs they are employed to do. When they comment on subjects that do not concern them it has a nasty habit of returning on them ten fold.

    When Ferguson and Wenger managed teams who were on top of the league did they communicate as much diatribe?

    Most probably not.”

    Well yes, actually! Fergie and Wenger were always at it when they were winning things. Don’t you recall the Fergie attack on Leeds when Utd were head to head with Newcastle for the PL title? And “Fergie Time” arose while Utd were winning 3 titles in a row! There are many more examples.

    I like my managers colourful, outspoken, forthright and being human(love them or hate them.)

    In short……I don’t agree with your perspective on this. ):

  2. Of course managers are hypocrites. Those managers that try and set out their stall as honest ‘tell it like it is’ managers invariably fail… usually because they lose the backing of players and fans.

    Morale is vital, and Managers have to defend their players no matter what they do. They have to throw that protective net around them in order to deflect media attention and get the best from the player, even if it means focussing all the attention away from the players an on to how ludicrous the manager’s claims are (Mourinho was a master at this).