#DontBuyTheSun and don’t criticise ‘soft’ Southgate

Raheem Sterling warned us … The post #DontBuyTheSun and don’t criticise ‘soft’ Southgate appeared first on Football365.

#DontBuyTheSun and don’t criticise ‘soft’ Southgate

Raheem Sterling warned us; The Sun took offence. Plus Gareth Southgate ‘needed to be harsh’ on Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden.


When Raheem Sterling dared to buy his mother a house and give someone a tour in the aftermath of his and England’s disappointing Euro 2016 campaign, he was described as ‘gloating’ and ‘showing off’ a ‘plush pad’. The Sun slapped ‘OBSCENE RAHEEM’ over their front page. An anonymous ‘Sun reporter’ wrote the following two opening paragraphs…

‘RAHEEM Sterling was once told by a teacher: ‘You’ll either end up in prison or playing for England.’

‘And while the £49million Manchester City star chose the latter route his short career has been plagued by controversy.’

…in a feature with this headline:

‘Life and times of Three Lions footie idiot Raheem’

That article is astonishingly still up on The Sun’s website. Mediawatch would rather not link to it.

When Sterling then contrived to propose to his girlfriend, they reserved this headline for the happy couple:

‘Love rat Raheem Sterling proposes to long-suffering girlfriend Paige Milian’

Beautiful sentiment. And again, that story is still up on The Sun’s website. And again, Mediawatch shan’t be linking to it.

When Phil Foden, in his own words, ‘breached COVID-19 protocols put in place to protect myself and my England colleagues’ by inviting two women back to the team hotel while on international duty during a global pandemic, the same outlet produced this headline:

No ‘love rat’. Just ‘childhood sweetheart’. And no ‘footie idiot’ who is ‘obscene’ and ‘gloating’ but an ‘ace’ who just so happens to be a lovely son.

A reminder that when Sterling in December 2018, having been the victim of abuse from Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge that same month, about how the use of certain prejudicial language, subconscious or otherwise, in newspaper reporting ‘helps fuel racism and aggressive behaviour,’ The Sun responded with the following:

‘Let’s get something straight.

‘The racist abuse of Raheem Sterling at Chelsea is not somehow The Sun’s fault. We hope those allegedly responsible get what they deserve.

‘We hugely admire Sterling’s talent. Our coverage of his off-field behaviour has nothing to do with his skin colour.

‘The suggestion is ridiculous and offensive – and the idea it inspired racists is baseless.’

It does not bear to think how they would have reported on the story if it had been Sterling in the same situation. Nor how little they will care that their biases have been made painfully plain for all to see.


Why so serious?
Over at the Daily Mirror, John Cross is not happy. This story is clearly not a mere molehill yet he has made an entire range out of but a single mountain.

‘KICKED OUT IN DISGRACE’ is the headline to his story, the opening paragraph to which reads:

‘Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood were sent home in disgrace with their England futures in serious doubt.’

Really? Their entire England futures? They surely won’t play in next month’s games and perhaps the fixtures directly after those, but the international prospects of a 20-year-old and 18-year-old are ‘in serious doubt’ because of one, albeit considerable, indiscretion?

Apparently, ‘Southgate has a history of excluding players for longer if they break rules.

‘Wayne Rooney and Kyle Walker have both fallen foul of Southgate’s discipline in the past and, while Foden and Greenwood will not be dumped for good, they may find themselves out in the cold.’

Rooney was named in November 2016’s England squad, dropping out from that due to injury two days before pictures emerged of him drinking at a hotel wedding party.

Southgate then opted not to choose him in March of the following year due to poor form and better alternatives. He tried to recall him that August but Rooney subsequently retired from internationals. At what stage did he ‘fall foul’ of anything?

As for Walker, wasn’t that the fella who played against Iceland on Saturday? He sure did look excluded.

Cross later adds that: ‘There’s little doubt that two of English football’s brightest young stars now find their international ­futures in serious doubt.’

There’s at least a bit of doubt that two of the best young footballers in the country will face permanent ‘exile’ from the side for one stupid mistake. Calm down.


Soft touch
Southgate described the pair as “naive” and said “they have got this wrong” but expressed the need to speak to them “in the appropriate way” and “not add to how difficult their situation is going to be”.

Quite how someone could look at and criticise the manager is a mystery. But David Hytner of The Guardian gives it a go.

He describes Southgate’s ‘tone’ as ‘curious’, and that he ‘appeared reluctant to criticise them’. That any decision to send them home ‘was imposed on him by the protocols’ and ‘he got the balance wrong…between supporting his players in public and calling them out’.

He literally said what they did was wrong. He has punished them by sending them home from international duty. He will likely not select them in his next squad. He will talk with them privately. But he also predicted the backlash they would face and opted not to pile on. Anyone can see that’s just good management.

What would Southgate gain from ‘calling them out’ in a press conference to journalists baying for such quotes? Are we really in a position where we need a 20-year-old and an 18-year-old to be chastised for everyone to see instead of spoken to discreetly?

Seemingly so. ‘Here, he needed to be harsh. The softer approach was not a good look,’ reads the final paragraph. Stone the sods next time, Gareth.


Silence treatment
The following headlines are all prominent on the Daily Mirror website:

‘Phil Foden releases statement as he breaks silence after England shame’

‘Icelandic model breaks silence on Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood saga as footage leaked’

‘Man Utd break silence on Mason Greenwood and admit the club is disappointed’

‘Mason Greenwood apologises for “huge mistake” as he breaks silence over England saga’

Four different authors, too. Great minds and all that.


Recommended reading of the day
David Squires on .


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Maradona, Keane and others sent home in international disgrace

Foden and Greenwood are … The post Maradona, Keane and others sent home in international disgrace appeared first on Football365.

Maradona, Keane and others sent home in international disgrace

England’s Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood were from national-team duty on Monday, following in the disgraced footsteps of Roy Keane and the like…


Diego Maradona
The news that Maradona had failed a drugs test was shocking yet not in the least bit surprising. The Argentina genius had plenty of form for dabbling in substances he shouldn’t have and rumours abounded before the World Cup in 1994 that FIFA were willing to look the other way so as not to deprive their showpiece of one of its leading stars.

Not so, it would seem. After scoring in a 4-0 win over Greece in Argentina’s opening game and celebrating in such a manner which must have only heightened suspicions, Maradona next took on Nigeria. Argentina won 2-1 but Maradona hand-in-hand with a medic who had been tasked with taking his sample.

Four days later, the party was over. “Both analyses of the urine sample have proved positive,” said whiter-than-white Sepp Blatter. “The player Diego Maradona of the Argentinian national team has therefore violated the conditions of the doping control regulations, in the match Argentina versus Nigeria.”

Maradona later put the positive test down to an energy drink but he was bang to rights. “Maradona must have taken a cocktail of drugs because the five identified substances are not found in one medicine,” said Michel d’Hooghe, a doctor and a member of FIFA’s executive committee.

“They have retired me from soccer. I don’t think I want another revenge, my soul is broken,” said Maradona as he prepared to fly home. On a plane, though with that amount of ephedrine in his system, perhaps the aircraft was an unnecessary touch.


Steffan Effenberg
The Germany midfielder was also told to pack his bags in 1994 after flipping the bird to 64,000 fans inside the sweltering Cotton Bowl in Dallas, where the defending World champions were labouring to a 3-2 win over South Korea.

For coach Berti Vogts, der Stinkefinger “was the last straw” where Effenberg was concerned. “I will not allow a player to make an obscene gesture like that to the crowd. As far as I am concerned Effenberg is over as an international player. He has done too much in recent years.”

Effenberg was never likely to take his punishment lying down, even if he seemed conflicted by his own behaviour. “The way the coach reacted was ridiculous,” he said in response to Vogts. “I have talked to some of the players and they don’t understand why I have to go. I overreacted. I don’t regret it. But when I look back I am sorry. But it was 50 degrees celsius. I was playing for Germany at the World Cup for a place in the second round.”

Thomas Helmer was presumably one of the team-mates Effenberg consulted. ‘The team was surprised,” said Helmer. “It has been hit by all this and we are sorry. The feeling was that he should have been allowed to stay. All the players said he was wrong to do what he did. But there are different views about the severity of the penalty.”

The Germany team weren’t far behind Effenberg in returning home. Vogts side were beaten by Bulgaria in the quarter-finals and Effenberg had to wait four years for another cap – he only earned two more – while sitting out the Euro ’96 triumph.


Nicolas Anelka
The France striker enjoyed even greater support from his team-mates than Effenburg received. The entire squad was willing to shut itself on a bus in an effort to embarrass Raymond Domenech, which they certainly achieved. The sight of the beleaguered coach reading out a statement from his dissenting players, like a hostage reciting his lines to camera, was perhaps the most pathetic episode of a series of national disgraces. But justice was to find the players eventually, with Anelka being served his first.

The centre-forward was booted out of the squad after for reportedly telling Domenech to “go f**k yourself, you son of a whore” after the coach had dared to criticise Anelka during half-time of the second group game against Mexico, which France would go on to lose.

The decision did not go down well with Anelka’s team-mates. While the rest of the squad refused to train, or even get off the bus to explain why, Domenech did their dirty work for them.

The coach read the players’ statement: “We regret the incident at half-time of the France v Mexico match, but we regret even more the divulging of an event which was only the squad’s business and was part and parcel of the life of a top-level team.

“The FFF did not at any point try to protect the squad. It took a decision based solely on facts reported by the press, without consulting the players.”

For his part in the shambles, Anelka received an 18-match ban from the FFF, a sanction he considered to have “no relevance whatsoever” because he had no intention of returning to the international scene.

“These people are clowns,” he said. “I’m dying with laughter.”


Roy Keane
Did he jump or was he pushed? To this day, there remains some mystery over exactly how the 2002 World Cup campaign was brought to a stunning and premature end for Keane. Some say the Republic of Ireland captain stormed out; Keane himself claims he was ambushed in a team meeting by Mick McCarthy who had grown tired of his skipper’s moaning about, among many things, training pitches and training kit. One thing, though, is for certain: ‘Stick it up yer bollocks’ remains an unrivalled classic of its genre.

And there was plenty more where that came from. Niall Quinn, one of the few players present that day willing to recall the horror of that Saipan meeting room, described the furious precision of Keane as “the most surgical slaughtering anyone has ever got”.

“You’re a f**king w*nker. I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager and I don’t rate you as a person. You’re a f**king w*nker and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. I’ve got no respect for you. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country. You can stick it up your bollocks.”

And with that, Keane was off to the airport and home to walk the back legs off poor Triggs.


Nikola Kalinic
The former Blackburn striker was from Croatia’s World Cup squad in 2018 – but he probably wasn’t all that arsed.

Kalinic, by then a 10-year veteran for his national team, was to serve as Mario Mandzukic’s back-up in Zlatko Dalic’s squad. But when he was instructed to replace the leading man while Croatia led 2-0 against Nigeria in their opening game, according to Dalic, Kalinic didn’t fancy it.

“During the Nigeria encounter, Kalinic was warming up and was supposed to come on in the second half. However, he then stated that he wasn’t ready to come on due to a back issue. The same thing happened during the Brazil friendly in England, as well as before the practice session on Sunday.

“I have calmly accepted that, and since I need my players fit and ready to play, I have made this decision.”

The decision was to send Kalinic packing and Croatia, who went on to reach the final, managed just fine without the striker. At least he had the good grace to refuse a silver medal when it was inexplicably offered to him: “Thanks for the medal, but I did not play in Russia.”

Ian Watson


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