WHAT in the name of God – or Gordon Strachan to use his proper name – is going on with football pundits?
A clause before I get into anything approaching an Alan Hansen rant here: I know these men are generally not the sharpest studs in the boot. I understand they’re ex-professionals, and that means they’ve spent most of their working life in an environment where the bloke with a couple of GSCEs is nicknamed The Professor. And I get that things can be said in the heat of a moment one later regrets.
A heads up for Tony Cascarino: when you’re live on Sky Sports News, as you were this Sunday, best not to describe poor defending as like ‘a holocaust’.
The world is PC mad these days, Tone, and these liberal types will only get upset just because you compare some marking with the extermination of six million Jewish people. Crazy, I know.
Same advice applies to Alan Pardew who, not long ago, remarked how one player had “raped” another. He meant he’d tackled him.
And, of course, who can forget Richard Keys, legs on table, smirk on face, asking Jamie Redknapp about an ex-girlfriend. “Did you smash it?” he queried.
Well... two things there Rich, you lovable old misogynist.
One: that’s an inappropriate question at the best of times – and the best of times is definitely not when the cameras are rolling and the guy you’re asking has a horrified look on his chops. And two: of course he did – it’s Jamie Redknapp. He makes George Clooney look like Joe Merrick’s ugly brother.
I’m digressing. Like Redder’s punditry tends to, actually.
Of course, it’s nothing new for commentators to come out with the sort of moronic language that would make a BBC member blush.
Remember Ron Atkinson putting his casually racist foot in it when he thought the microphones were off?
I do. Because, while I’m one of those sensitive types who finds all the above examples utterly offensive, I also admit to almost starting a Mexican wave when I realised Ron’s inevitable dismissal meant he’d no longer be defecating in our ears with phrases like “he couldn’t have timed that pass better with a ruler”.
Eh, come again, Ron? In fact, don’t. See you later.
And yet as outrageous as these cock-ups are (and I can’t be bothered to debate with any 1940s throwback who says they aren’t), there’s a part of me that can’t help feel sorry for those guys.
There are already calls for Tony Cascarino to be sacked but, really, isn’t rehabilitation better than revenge?
Wouldn’t it be better for someone to simply take him into a room and explain there are certain words which are unpleasant and have no relevance to sport. Like ‘molestation’, for example, or ‘Dave Bassett’.
“Yes, Tony,” they should say, “We want a slap of locker-room analysis, and a tickle of alpha-male cliches. But remember the underbelly of football culture is like the underbelly of a fat bloke - something you wouldn’t want your wife or sister exposed to.”
And then off they could go to talk about games of four halves once more.
Because they’re not bad people. They’re just... ex-footballers. Aren’t they? It’s a minefield for them, Gary... Blimey, am I even allowed to say that?
Never mind. Here’s one thing I’m certain of: Gordon Strachan needs to be brought back sharpish.
The only people he ever offended was the person asking him questions.
“Gordon,” one green reporter collared him, “Can we have a quick word, please?”
“Velocity,” he said, and walked off.
Like I said: God-like.