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The Antagonist - Roy Hodgson brings sanity to the Premier League

Published: 24 Sep 2010 - 07:10:08

Managers behaving badly is, by no means, new to the Premier League, but is increasingly becoming the norm rather than the exception.

One of the main priorities for leaders in any field of human endeavour, whether it be in industry, the military or the sporting sphere, should be to set an example to their charges in terms of the attitudes and standards they expect from them.

Strange then that many top bosses do not seem to consider this a necessary character trait and, instead, regularly act like spoilt toddlers who are denied the plaything they desire.

Over the past couple of weeks there have been numerous examples of managers throwing their toys out of the pram when things haven’t quite gone their way.

David Moyes, the Everton supremo, was wild eyed and apoplectic whilst tailgating the officials at the end of the Manchester United game because he felt that the referee should have allowed a bit more time for his player to have a shot on goal.

Never mind that time was actually up. You would have thought that he would have been ecstatic about his team nicking a point from a seemingly hopeless cause.

Last Sunday, against Liverpool , Britain's undisputed best club manager, but perhaps one of the guiltiest in terms of bellyaching, Sir Alex Ferguson, trailed an assistant referee up and down the line protesting against a penalty that, even from the point of view of the most one-eyed Manchester United supporter was nailed on.

Alex Mcleish, the Birmingham boss, leapt from his seat to harangue the ref about a foul he thought he saw committed by West Brom's Olsen just before he netted and, on Wednesday night, Carlo Ancelotti was waving imaginary yellow cards at the referee during his team's League Cup match against Newcastle in a vain attempt to get an opposition player booked.

Perhaps the highest profile incident involved the king of the grumblers, Arsene 'Whinger' Wenger, who was fined £8000 and banished to the stands for one game for insulting the fourth official during a lengthy rant about the length of injury time that led to Arsenal conceding an equaliser and subsequently squandering two priceless points against Sunderland.

As far as disincentives are concerned, this was hardly a draconian penalty for such disgraceful behaviour. It amounted to a seat in the directors' box and a fine that probably amounts to half a day's pay for the Frenchman. Most average Arsenal supporters would probably happily give up half a day’s pay for such an advantageous viewing position!

Of course, we continually hear about the unbearable pressure these characters are under and how one poor refereeing decision can cost them their jobs and millions of pounds in revenue, blah! blah! blah!

Granted, there are big bucks and enormous stakes involved in the game these days, but this cannot be offered as an excuse for the type of boorish behaviour regularly exhibited by top football managers which sets a dreadful example to the players and supporters and filters down to the lower echelons of the football pyramid.

As a direct result, we have probably all witnessed the pathetic antics of the archetypal mini minor football manager, often with his initials etched onto his belly-bulging tracksuit top, who stalks up and down the touchline, fag in hand, swearing at the referee and, even more inexcusably, at his own pre-pubescent charges, as he lives out his ultimate football fantasy.

Most of our top managers are, basically, reasonably intelligent people. Arsene Wenger cultivates this image 99% of the time but, in the moments he really needs to demonstrate that he is finally out of nappies, he regularly lets himself down and, metaphorically, ‘fills his pants’.

It is easy to be calm and reasoned when all is going well. The challenge is to retain that demeanour when all around you is going 'Pete Tong'.

Of all the top managers, Roy Hodgson is probably the closest to achieving that aim. He is a decent, measured man who finds himself in the cauldron that is an underachieving Liverpool team. This is indeed a difficult and stressful place to be but, so far, he has dealt with it with dignity and common sense. He doesn't often feel the need to blame other people for his predicament but gets on with the job in a quietly philosophical manner.

He seems to realise that, as Mick Jagger once said, "You can’t always get what you want".

It is probably a vain hope to expect his fellow managers to arrive at that same conclusion.

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the antagonist
Love him or loathe him you cannot ignore the Antagonist. His Friday blog tackles the big issues in our game today in an abrasive, often controversial style. He goes where others fear to tread. From wages to wags, diving to drugs - no subject is "off limits", no individual beyond reproach. Miss him at your peril!

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