Recently football seems to have lost its head. Its leading figureheads are behaving with all the roguish charm of back street brawlers or spoilt prima donnas who love to make a complete spectacle of themselves. Perhaps it might have something to do with the time of the year or maybe their bank balances are suffering from a distinct lack of cash.
These days footballers are paid such appallingly excessive amounts of money that you begin to wonder if the game should be played in the Stock Exchange rather than a football pitch. Now football has fallen into the horribly greedy hands of Russian billionaires who show little or no interest in the game, Saudi Arabian spivs who would much rather be somewhere else and an American family firm who used to get their kicks from baseball or American football.
Meanwhile on the domestic front Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney have smeared their filthy finger prints all over the game. In a Champions League game against Bayern Munich, Tevez brought both the employment law and human rights sharply into focus. Now these are the kind of delicate social issues that football tends to take in its stride. But Tevez may just have played his last game for Manchester City and across town Old Trafford that highly respected Scotsman Sir Alex Ferguson may just be giggling up his sleeve.
The story is as laughable as it is ever so slightly distressing. City boss Roberto Mancini orders Tevez to strip off his track-suit. limber up on the touchline and sprint on eagerly as a second half substitution. Now there may have been a misunderstanding in translation but Tevez folded his arms defiantly, crossed his legs resentfully and just refused to play. Perhaps Carlos had got out of the bed on the wrong side. It does seem highly unlikely.
The truth is that if a doctor had been called out to an emergency or a firemen summoned to a burning home then you can be sure there would have been few moments of hesitation or even the slightest protest. City were struggling to live with the celebrated Bayern Munich and here was an obviously world class player clearly striking for better working conditions and a sizeable pay increase. Or perhaps Tevez was just considering Trade Union status. Maybe a two month old season had finally caught up with him.
Many of us know that footballers are hugely rewarded sportsmen who should just knuckle down, roll up their sleeves and just get on the business of entertaining their devoted supporters. Tevez fulfils all of these requirements and more.The reality is that this was an act of childish sulkiness and bone headed rebellion of the silliest order.
It remains to be seen whether Roberto Mancini reacts with appropriate intelliigence then he will either send Tevez packing back to the Argentine pampas or fine him severely for inexplicable disobedience. When Tevez was smuggled into England several seasons ago West Ham must have thought all their Christmases had arrived at once.
Tevez was a stocky,thickly built striker with dazzling pace, a muscular build that a body builder would have envied for ever and the lightning speed of a whippet. Tevez, under controversial circumstances, rescued a sinking, relegation haunted West Ham side single handledly and single mindedly.
At Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson snatched Tevez from muddling mediocrity at West Ham. Tevez was a vitally essential part of Manchester United’s unstoppable Premier League title winning side. He scurried, sprinted and hustled for the ball with all the power and conviction of an Olympic 100m runner.
But dust ups, dissent and disagreements with Ferguson brought Tevez’s brief United career to an ugly standstill. Undoubtedly Carlos Tevez is one of international football’s most technically educated strikers in the game but after spitting out his dummy once too often the Argentine exhibitionist seems to have committed one sin too many.
In England’s final European Championship qualifier against Montenegro Wayne Rooney performed with all the tact and diplomacy that English football has come to expect. Or almost certainly not. Rooney, on one of his familiar warpaths, wildly and idiotically lashed out at a Montenegro player. Discipline and self restraint were never Rooney’s stronger points but nobody will ever quite know what possessed one of English football’s very few talents to behave like an irritable donkey.
The blunt reality is that Rooney may have to attend a number of anger management classes or simply open up to a counsellor to tackle the inner demons. Because football may find it very hard to tolerate the outbursts and tantrums of this obviously brilliant English striker. On an ordinary Friday evening in Montenegro Wayne Rooney was sent off on a football pitch and once again the nation sighed in disgust and desperation.
So here are two very vivid examples of two strikers who find it almost impossible to give proper expression to their gifts. Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney may just have to make a special appointment to find out exactly why a simple game can somehow turn into a mental battleground. Perhaps one day football will offer both Tevez and Rooney complete therapy. There can be no harm in hoping.