Originally published by Football Speak on November 5th 2010.
Manchester United’s second goal on Saturday continues to cause great debate amongst football fans, pundits and even managers alike.
Just minutes after the Premier League game, Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp was brought out by the various broadcasting companies to do interviews and answer questions, with Nani’s goal the obvious talking point. Redknapp called the goal a “farce” and said that referee Mark Clattenburg had “had a nightmare”. The FA recently came out and stated that Redknapp would not be charged, although he would be warned on his future conduct.
First of all, the Nani goal was quite clearly going to create controversy. Many people were at fault (Clattenburg for poor communication; the assistant referee for waving his flag at an inexplicable time; Gomes for not clearing the ball when he had the chance and therefore not taking the advantage that Clattenburg had given him; Nani for possible gamesmanship; and Rio Ferdinand, who should not have been anywhere near the referee and his assistant during their discussion). However, dragging a manager out of the dressing room and questioning them on an incident, minutes after it has occurred, is quite ridiculous. It’s been said before and undoubtedly will be said again, but that needs to change.
It won’t change, though, because the broadcasting companies control what goes on. If they want an interview with managers or players straight after the game, then the FA will create a rule which says this must happen. They will also force interviewees to say the correct things, i.e. not impeding on their precious improper conduct law. Many managers have gone against this law (notably David Moyes in November 2008, Steve Bruce in February of this year and Sir Alex Ferguson on many occasions throughout his twenty-four-year reign as Manchester United manager).
These four, highly esteemed managers were all punished for their actions. Moyes received a £5,000 fine after Alan Whiley refused Everton a penalty in late 2008. Bruce didn’t agree with Andre Marriner’s decision to send Michael Turner off earlier this year and the former United skipper was later fined £2,500. Most famously, Ferguson was fined £20,000, and given a touchline ban, after he questioned Whiley’s fitness after his side drew with Sunderland in 2009 while, in 2008, he was given a two-match touchline ban, as well as a £10,000 fine, for confronting referee Mike Dean after a game against Hull City.
Redknapp, though, managed to escape chastisement. The former-West Ham and Portsmouth manager threatened to stop talking to the media “if they [The FA] want to make an issue of what I [Redknapp] said”. The fact that the FA have not punished Redknapp may also have something to do with the fact that he is a possible candidate for the England job when Fabio Capello leaves his post in two years time.
The FA clearly like their big-money broadcasting deals that they have at the moment, but they don’t want managers to ‘bring the game into disrepute’. If managers are coming out that soon after a game, though, they cannot be expected to stay calm and collected and say something which is OK with the FA.
The fact that Redknapp hasn’t been charged is not the problem. When those involved in football give interviews they need to have opinions. Although Clattenburg didn’t make a particular mistake on Saturday, Redknapp was right to say that Clattenburg “has made a mess of it”. But if the FA has a rule and forces managers to oblige by it, then they have to stick to their guns with Redknapp. The problem isn’t that Redknapp should have been fined; the problem is that no one should be punished for having an opinion.