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Guns, Villains & What Footballers Get Up To ....

Random musings from the week that was, in football.

England Media Access
Raheem Sterling and the gun tattoo that’s caused quite a stir in England ...
Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Last week was a week of weird press reaction to events not so significant.

First, the English press let loose on Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling for having a gun tattoo on his right leg. The outrage and angst that greeted the sensational disclosure reached such a crescendo that some even suggested the player should be banned from representing his country at the World Cup.

Self-publicist and TV presenter of Good Morning Britain, Piers Morgan also became embroiled, suggesting it was not OK for an England football star to tattoo a large assault rifle onto his leg before a World Cup, where it will be seen by billions of people. The presenter went on to tweet, “I find that pretty weird and sad, regardless of his explanation.”

Morgan, publicly espouses devotion to Arsenal, a club named after a British Army gun barracks, which displays a cannon as its emblem and goes by the nickname, “The Gunners”.

I rest my case.

Not Enough Talent …

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Montreal Impact
Remi Garde - making waves ...
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

We also had the nuclear fall-out much closer to home of Remi Garde “calling out” his squad for not having “enough talent.” Never before has someone been afforded such liberal column space, radio air time and social media activity, for stating the plainly, obvious. Oh wait! They have! It was the previous time Remi Garde did something similar involving his under-performing squad.

Impact’s results following these kicks up the rear?

Two wins!!

More positive tension please, Remi.

La Decimotercero …

Well Real Madrid has done it once again. What was once La Decima has now become La Decimotercero. Winning a third-in-a-row Champions League is a wonderful achievement given the level of competition, even if Loris Karius provided huge helping hands.

But where is the game going?

In the wrong direction I would suggest. When giants Bayern and Real met in the semi-finals of the competition, the German kingpins had two Real Madrid players (on loan) in their line-up. This cannot be viewed either positively or above suspicion, in a sport that needs to remain exactly that.

It does nothing to encourage competition (or build loyalty) either, when super-clubs, if we can call them that, aim to retain rights on the world’s top talent, loaning players out and calling them back, as they see fit.

Villain of the Piece …

On another note, Senor Ramos appears to be the villain of the piece once again for his challenge on Liverpool’s Mo Salah, not to mention the sneaky elbow to the head of Karius. The term anti-football might stick to the Spanish international, but he’s cunning and good at what he does. The outrage is that he’s “only” been red-carded a career total of 24 times.

MLS: All-Star Game
Sergio - captain and villain!
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hoped Salah doesn’t miss the big event this month. After the season he’s had, it’s the least that he (and we) would deserve.

Big FIVE-0 !!

The Fiftieth Anniversary of Manchester United becoming the first English club to win Europe’s top prize came and went quietly, red half of Manchester apart, last Tuesday.

This was the event that shaped my allegiances for a lifetime, the first football game I ever watched. George Best became an instant hero, no doubt fuelled by family, friends and the rest of Northern Ireland, who held the then 22 year-old European Footballer of the Year somewhere between infatuation and idolatry.

And it was 10 years since the wonderful, old, man Matt Busby lost his previous great side to a snow-strewn, Munich runway trying to achieve the very same feat. He’d done it ….. finally.

As with recent history, the Red Devils attempts at continuity after a great manager departs, were less than stellar. Within six seasons, United were relegated to Division Two, Best had given in to the drink, and it was to be a full 8 seasons before a league placing high enough would secure European football again. I remained hooked through the dark days. Chasing the glory was not for me. That United won its next league title a full 25 years after I became attached, testifies to that. When the silver did arrive and a trickle became a flood, I’m sure I found it much, much, sweeter for having experienced the lean years.

Maybe there’s a lesson in there, somewhere, for my Montreal Impact friends …..

Canadian u21’s …

On the subject of Montreal, it was nice to see Mauro Biello get some success with his Canadian u21 side. OK, so we know by now that ultimately, although remaining unbeaten, the Canadians were edged out of the semi-finals by a Turkey side which they defeated, but the results point to something positive from a highly prestigious annual tournament.

New York Red Bulls v Montreal Impact
Mauro Biello - a valuable and not unsuccessful visit to Toulon ...
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

It would be wrong not to point out that some of the European nations, Portugal for one, had squads that were more u20 level, than u21, but it’s still a sign of improvement. Impact’s James Pantemis in goal, beaten only once (by Japan’s Kaoru Mitoma) over the three matches, and Clement Bahiya were part of Biello’s squad.

The things players do …

The funniest story I was made aware of last week is not a new one, but one I hadn’t heard previously. It comes from a biography on former Manchester United, Everton, Rangers and Soviet Union/CIS star, Andrei Kanchelskis -

”Whenever a foreign footballer comes into a dressing room, he will be taught how to swear. I’ve seen exactly the same thing with Brazilian players when I have been managing in Russia. They also taught me the correct way to address the manager of Manchester United.”

“Almost the first time I came across Alex Ferguson in the corridors of The Cliff, he said to me, ‘Alright, Andrei, how’s it going?’”

“I smiled at him and replied, ‘F**k off, Scottish bastard.’”

“Ferguson stopped in his tracks and then began to smile as he heard laughter echoing down the corridor, while I stood there bewildered.”

GIGGS MANU
Andrei Kanchelkis had a very successful spell at Manchester United, and some choice words for his boss!

Have a great week, everyone. May your teams win, and to the Italian friends amongst us, I know this will be a difficult month. At least you will find out how most of the rest of us feel, having to watch the World’s Greatest Sporting Event as a neutral. But I can tell you, it’s not so bad!