By Stewart Weir
Tensions were high ahead of the Manchester United–Liverpool clash for reasons that are known to everyone.
But no one saw what came before a ball was kicked, namely Luis Suárez refusing to shake the hand of Patrice Evra, the victim of the Uruguayan’s “lost in translation” jibe that earned him an eight-match FA ban and public ridicule in abundance.
Suárez wasn’t alone in being on the receiving end of people’s ire. His team manager, Kenny Dalglish, had painted himself into a corner on his stance, seen by the vast majority of football folk as constantly defending the indefensible.
So when Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreeves decided to tackle Dalglish on the matter of Suárez, the Scot was at his prickly best.
Dalglish claimed not to have seen the non-handshake, hadn’t been told about the non-handshake, and not to be aware of trouble in the tunnel. He fell short of denying he’d been at the game.
Dalglish was rattled, probably because (as we found out later) Suárez hadn’t followed his promise to shake the hand of the wronged and innocent. But again, because he couldn’t blame his player, so Dalglish turned on Shreeves and Sky.
“See when we had the FA Cup tie, right, because there wasn’t a 24-hour news channel in the buildup to the game [ITV were the broadcasters] nothing like this happened,” said the Liverpool boss.
Which is probably true, and would have carried more clout had it not been for the fact that Dalglish never mentioned such things when his wee lassie was employed there …
If Dalglish had thought his day was done on Saturday evening, then Match of the Day whipped up the firestorm further by broadcasting the Shreeves interview.
However, you could tell by Alan Hansen’s comments that there was about to be a complete turnaround on Liverpool’s stance on this entire affair.
Dalglish probably dined on humble pie for Sunday lunch, because by the afternoon he, Liverpool’s executive management, and Suárez were issuing full-scale apologies.
It must have been humbling, even humiliating for Dalglish, who had to make his retreat after fighting the stupid Suárez’s corner yet again live to the nation.
He was wrong. And when the story appeared in the USA’s national newspapers, Liverpool’s owners were quick to tell him how wrong he had been.
The statement of apology was contrite and more than sufficient to draw a line under this entire messy, sorry affair once and for all.
But just what bearing this will have on Dalglish’s standing as the current Liverpool manager remains to be seen. Put it this way: it might take more than a League Cup to get his paymasters back onside again.
What everyone knew was a possibility became a reality with Rangers taking the first steps to administration.
For Rangers fans the world over, this was there Kennedy moment. And we are not talking Andy or Stewart here. They will remember exactly where they were, when and how they heard the news.
And thinking about it, there are certain similarities and conspiracies around Rangers being cut down, just as there was with Kennedy.
Was the visible culprit just some patsy who been set up? And was there some Teflon Don in the background who’d escaped untouched?
Time will tell – or maybe not.
There wasn’t another story in town today, either, with Rangers dominating the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
But there were some little nuggets to be found. If the trust of the Gers supporters had been taken for granted, then they found themselves in good company.
England fans were less that chuffed to find out that after just eight games, the FA announced a change to the England home kit.
Debuted against Bulgaria in September 2010, it was most recently worn for the Euro 2012 qualifiers in a friendly match against Sweden at Wembley in November, a rip-off given that a kit costs £90, and as much as £70 for a child replica strip.
At least league clubs tend to keep their home kit for two seasons, which might amount to 60 or 70 matches.
Or, if you have come into close contact with some individuals, one machine wash …
Rangers, you’ve guessed it, are still making the news. So, if you looked hard enough, was Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan.
It appears as if he has left some of his counterparts south of the border somewhat bemused as to why he feels It necessary to comment of matters of an English nature – namely, advising mediation between Liverpool and Manchester United to avoid further issues in the future.
Twitter is a great communication tool, when used properly. But say too much, and you leave yourself wide open.
Like when Mr Regan was quick to tell the world what a great start David Goodwillie had made to his Blackburn Rovers career with a goal in the League Cup. Needless to say, there haven’t been too many Goodwillie tweets since.
He isn’t the first bod within the SFA to have people question his tweets. A few weeks ago a communications expert within Hampden ended up issuing a painful (some would say grovelling) apology – on Twitter (in six takes) – after overstepping the mark with his “personal” thoughts on Motherwell FC.
Maybe he has realised that you don’t have personal thoughts when you are employed by a governing body, and have to be seen towing the party line.
All of which makes me wonder how administrators can pass judgment on what players can and cannot say on Twitter or through other social media networks when they can’t get it quite right themselves …
It was the day when the two men at the heart of the biggest story in the nation gave their take on what could possible divide Scotland.
Not Alex Salmond and David Cameron (now confirmed supporters of Rangers), but Paul Clark and David Whitehouse, the administrators now in charge of the Ibrox club.
Thursday’s news conference was their first announcement on what was happening, and on what might happen at Rangers. But in the end they threw up more questions than answers. Like where was the £24.4 million from Ticketus?
And, at the death, “Is Craig Whyte taking this club for a ride?” – or words to that effect. Like an administrator is going to answer that. Stupid boy …
The day finished with questions on Scotland Tonight, STV’s late-evening topical debate and news forum. Can you tell I’ve written marketing bumph?
Rona Dougall was this time joined by Sir Michael Kelly, former Celtic director, and Matt McGlone, Celtic fan, voice, talking head, and a long-time critic of the Parkhead regime Kelly was part of.
So instead of debating Celtic and whether they needed Rangers, we ended having an argument over sins of the past and the 1994 Coup in Paradise.
Celtic fan against Celtic fan, arguing about Celtic.
Maybe not as the programme was billed in the TV Times. Sometimes, don’t you just wish the night closed with Late Call …
And we’ll end with, shock horror, Rangers.
Saturday’s game is a sell-out. The Rangers loyal will turn out in force to see their side against Kilmarnock – many it has to be said, just in case they disappear next week.
And they are taking their kids as well, just so they can see the mighty Gers in their current, possibly final state. That’s what real support is about.
Pity they couldn’t have done the same for the cup-tie against Dundee United a couple of weeks ago. But then, it was on the telly and the HMRC didn’t exist …
– Tweet Stewart Weir with thoughts and comments, @sweirz
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