Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Brendan Rodgers shows Super League principles - but in a good way

It seems very rich (!) that Super League evil man Florentino Perez should question the attention span of  supporters when he himself has presided over 12 managers in his 18 combined years as the head of Real Madrid.   

Sometimes, as with Vicento Del Bosque in 1999, a Champions League isn't enough. If the league doesn't come with it, you're out on your ear, pal. So it was no surprise that the popular Super League was erected by the insatiable appetite of Perez, only to be withered away so soon by the passion-killing youths he so caringly reached out to, as they fanny-farted all over his sordid intentions, screaming their lack of consent and blowing their rape alarms.        

Why does a 74 year old billionaire care about 'saving' European football anyway? He's just bored, isn't he? Bored of all those league titles and Champions League wins. Bored of being the president of one of the most famous clubs in the world. None of it is enough. Retirement doesn't seem much cop to him either. Is he just trying to stay alive by killing the game? Or was it actually world-wide attention he was after?

Perez hasn't apologised for the grenade he threw, but then he probably doesn't think he has to, and maybe he doesn't. The owners of the six implicated Prem clubs have said sorry, or at least got their minions to do it, and though apologies were never going to have much impact there was, in contrast to the political world that Perez comes from, at least a show of contrition.

Further down the food chain, there are examples of leadership and accountability in football that embarrass, or should embarrass governments. Leicester City manager Brendan Rogers, seemingly a ready-made politician if ever there was one in the Prem, dropped three of his players for attending a house party that broke Covid restrictions. The game in question was at West Ham, enjoying their best season for 35 years and just below Leicester in the table with both battling for a top four spot and Champions League qualification (now back on the agenda). West Ham won 3-2 and City could certainly have done with the creativity and threat of James Maddison, who has scored eight goals and set up five in 26 matches this season from midfield; but as Rodgers said, "they have to be punished or they don't learn". 

Maddison, in some areas, shows an ample capacity not to learn. Sent off for diving against Brighton & Hove Albion in 2018, he publically apologised to Leicester fans, tweeting that he'd "learn from it". Fast forward four months, and Maddison falls over a non-challenge from Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who mouths "I didn't touch you, Mads" but is himself sent off. MOTD pundit Danny Murphy referred to the apparent contrition after Brighton and the pledge to learn and said "He hasn't". 

This season though, Maddison drew praise from Gary Lineker, of course, and indeed some primary school teachers for setting an example with a "virtual celebration" when scoring for City. Explaining his air high-fives, he said "It's probably what we should all be doing at the moment". And yet, in light of the party a few weeks after (and examining his other celebrations that include directly addressing tv cameras, and running imaginary lines to signpost his name on his shirt), one could easily conclude that it was actually just a bit of attention-seeking.

Rodgers could have said Maddison's partying (and hiding-when-busted) was being 'dealt with internally' blah, blah', or even kept it quiet (if that were possible) or perhaps, as some other leaders have done during lockdown, defended him for breaking clear guidance, maybe going as far to praise him; after all what self-respecting 24 year old wouldn't endanger lives by attending a party of approx 20 people. Our rules are there to be broken!         

Instead Rodgers showed true, responsible leadership, as did Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta in March, dropping captain and star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for again being late to a team meeting before the North London derby. Again, that could have been kept quiet, but while Aubameyang's removal could have resulted in huge pressure and ill-will on the man in charge, there are principles being shown by those underneath the moneymen (with their 39th games and Project Big Pictures and Super Leagues) that demonstrate an integrity and humanity lacking in those who are playing an entirely different game above them.      

The Arsenal Megamix comin' at ya!

Of course you can't extricate yourself entirely, and I've dabbled, skimmed the surface, ok, dived in a bit, but not long enough to g...