Off the Air

Charlie Collins

Soccer: The beautiful game or maybe not

I watched a lot of sport on television last weekend as, given the inclement weather, I thought I would be better off to keep warm and stay indoors!
There were plenty of options option to me: soccer, golf, rugby, cricket, american football and even darts which meant that there was quite a bit of channel hopping.

The rugby was exciting. Munster popped up with a last minute win in France, Leinster were just pipped by Northampton, Ulster romped home in Italy, while Toulouse got it right second time around against Connacht. All bar Connacht still have a major chance of qualifying through to the latter stages of this year’s Heineken Cup.

In the golf, Sergio Garcia won in Thailand, his first title in in exactly a year; the Aussies hammered the English in cricket while Phil Taylor looked as good as ever in the darts.

Advertisement

Over in the States the pressure is on the quarter backs as the American Football play-offs beckon and there was some brilliant action. However, it was soccer whch seemed to dominate the television coverage on both Saturday and Sunday.
Manchester City and Arsenal played out a nine goal thriller on Saturday lunchtime while Seamus Coleman was on the mark again as Everton hammered Fulham at home. On Sunday, Manchester United recorded a much needed win at Villa Park while Liverpool produced their best performance of the season to hammer a below par Spurs at White Hart Lane.

It was Spurs third home defeat of the season. Had they won them all they would now be sititng proudly on top of the Premier League. However, coming on the back of the recent 6-0 defeat at Man City, club chairman Daniel Levy felt that he had seen enough and on Monday morning he sacked first team coach Andre Villas-Boas after 17 months in charge.

A few weeks ago I wrote about clubs sacking their managers as being the best and first option for owners and chairman and AVB has become the fifth Premiership boss to lose his job and 20th in all divisions.
As a Spurs fan it was painful to watch the City game but the Liverpool game, although they played some super football at times, gave us nothing to cling on to and was one of the club’s worst performances in a long time.

I have been weary of AVB and his team selections and tactics all season. A return of just 15 goals in 16 games is simply not good enough and only for some good defending in the early part of the season and Spurs would be nowhere near as high as seventh in the table. If you take away the City, West Ham and Liverpool games, Spurs have only conceded 7 goals in their other 13 matches.

The news of his sacking came on Monday morning just before the Champions League draw involving City, United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Former Spurs player and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp was in studio at the time and he didn’t miss the oportunity to put the boot in which is not too surprising given that his father Harry was also shown the door by Levy before AVB.

Overall, Harry did an excellent job. He got Spurs into the Champions League and led them to high finishes in the league although he took his eye off the ball near the end when is seemed that the England job beckoned.

Advertisement

Jamie also told us all that AVB’s first season results were with someone else’s team and that the loss of star players, most notably Modric and Bale, found him out.

To be fair, Redknapp didn’t stop there and pointed the finger firmly in the direction of the club’s Director of Football Franco Baldini who, it is claimed, bought the majority of the new players into the club this season. Redknapp said that he had bought badly. Football is a beautiful game but as we all know it has a nasty edge to it too.

Villas-Boas got a raw deal when Chelsea sacked him after less than a season – player power was to blame – but Redknapp summed it up perfectly on this occasion when he said that he found it hard to figure out what Spurs were trying to do tactically this season and, for that, the manager has to take responsibility.
It’s funny because, had Spurs won at the weekend, they would have been just five points behind league leaders and their great rivals Arsenal at the top of the table and no doubt his job would have then be safe for another while at least. Perhaps is can also be a cruel game.

It also seems that it can be a game riddled with dishonesty as well. There’s been recent allegations of match fixing in England and this week Italy where former Ranmgers, AC Milan and Italy midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has come under the microscope. As a player he was renowned for his competitive spirit and it’s important to mention that he’s strongly denied any involvement in match fixing. Indeed, he went as far to say that if found guilty he woud kill himself.

Closer to home both Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan and his Derry City counterpart Roddy Collins have been busy. Danny Ventre is on his way to the Brandywell from the Sligo Showgrounds while Horgan has re-signed a number of players, as well as bringing Packie Mailey back to the club.
There’s no doubting that new managers bring with them a positive attitude and desire and with more signings expected, Horgan will be hoping to get the balance right at Finn Park.

Good to talk

It would appear to me that the Donegal County Board and local media need to sit down for a bit of a chat with regard to how they plan to work together going forward.
The Board were right to invite the media to attend their annual meeting last Sunday and to maintain the right to call for an item to go in camera when necessary.

However, not only were the media told that the meeting could go in camera but that they (County Board) also had the right to do so retrospectively.
After discussisng things over the media decided to decline the invitation, saying that they felt they couldn’t operate in such a manner. While the County Board were within their right to invite the media to attend the meeting, the media were also within their right to decline the invitation – which they did.

I can’t for the life of me understand though why they would put in place such restrictions at Convention, a meeting which is unlikely to grab major headlines the way it is structured. Most of the reports from outgoing officers were already in the public domain, as were the names of the nominees and the motions which had been tabled by clubs.

Both these parties need one another and as someone who worked in the media for over twenty years I can safely say that the media are very supportive of the GAA.

Of course there will always be issues and divided opinion as to how they should be reported but the media have a job of work to do and they need to be alowed to do it without constraints. They’ve been taught to treat each case on its merits and challenge those who have done wrong.

Perhaps the new PRO Ed Byrne can make it his first priority to calm these troubled waters. As Ed knows very well, it’s good to talk!