Mart: It could all go tits up!

MID­DLES­BROUGH v SUN­DER­LAND FA Cup re­play – To­day, 7.45pm

Midweek Sport - - SPORT -

OU’VE got to hand it to the FA – they have got a real knack for turn­ing ev­ery­thing they touch into shit.

Even with their rep­u­ta­tion for cack-hand­ed­ness, mak­ing sure Eng­land will do pre­cisely f*** all at the Eu­ros four months be­fore a ball is kicked is some go­ing.

Be­cause that’s what they’ve done with this lat­est shit­storm – and for what?

The FA are wrapped up in a public war with Fabio Capello over a Chelsea chav who is long past his sell-by date.

What­ever John Terry (be­low) is or isn’t, he’s not a par­tic­u­larly great foot­baller any more.

The ag­ing con­tro­versy mag­net plays in a po­si­tion where Eng­land have an em­bar­rass­ment of riches: Joleon Lescott, Michael Daw­son, Rio Fer­di­nand, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill – and that’s just for starters. So why the fuss? Who gives a fly­ing one whether Terry wraps a bit of plas­tic around his bi­cep in Donetsk come June?

Let’s be hon­est, all he does is win a few head­ers, haul a few peo­ple to the ground, beat his chest and shout. e’s got no pace, he doesn’t score many and last time out in a ma­jor com­pe­ti­tion he wasn’t ex­actly per­form­ing mir­a­cles for team spirit, was he?

Give Tarzan four months at prac­tis­ing head­ers and Terry won’t be missed for a minute.

I’m not here to de­bate the rights and wrongs of the decision to strip Terry of the Eng­land cap­taincy due to his im­pend­ing court date.

I fell asleep think­ing about it af­ter read­ing the mil­lionth moral­is­ing of a tof­fee-nosed tool from a fancy broad­sheet.

But surely the FA should have checked that the man they have so far paid £24mil­lion to be Eng­land man­ager was on­side be­fore they an­nounced Terry was a goner. A bit of an over­sight, no?

In­stead, the suits stum­bled into an is­sue which left Capello out in the cold. And now we have a me­dia witch hunt play­ing out.

Fat peo­ple who write for over­sized news­pa­pers are fall­ing over them­selves to hang the for­eigner. But what about the f***ing FA? How about giv­ing that bunch of bel­lends both bar­rels for once? hey should have per­suaded Fab it was the right move or sacked him on the spot.

In­stead, as per usual, they will be dic­tated to by a load of me­dia salad-dodgers.

And who wins? Not Eng­land or their long-suf­fer­ing fans.

If Capello stays, the me­dia will con­tinue to fire bul­lets – hiss­ing and moan­ing be­cause they haven’t got their way. And if he goes, a new man gets next to no time to turn it around and put the first sil­ver on the side­board since you know when.

Who­ever that man is – Harry Redknapp, Roy Hodg­son, Alanf***ing-pardew – he’ll have a ready-made ex­cuse for fail­ure – and so will Eng­land’s play­ers.

So well done the FA. Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion? F***ing Ar­se­holes more like.

TMARTIN O’NEILL ad­mits he is a huge doom and gloom mer­chant who is al­ready pre­par­ing for Sun­der­land to fall apart – but he’s pray­ing it doesn’t hap­pen tonight.

The Black Cats are cur­rently the form team in the Premier League.

But, de­spite their siz­zling form since he took over from Steve Bruce, boss O’neill is far from up­beat.

He’s even ad­vis­ing Sun­der­land fans not to bet on a vic­tory tonight that would earn them a fifthround clash against Arse­nal.

“I would say keep your money in your pocket. Hon­estly, that ten­ner may buy you some­thing, not a lot of fresh air,” said O’neill. “I think it’s the Ir­ish back­ground thing. Dis­as­ter is just around the corner. It is! It’s lurk­ing and it’s in­cred­i­bly neg­a­tive.

“Do I go home and think I’ve cracked it? No, ab­so­lutely not.”

O’neill is also de­ter­mined to in­ject a dose of re­al­ism into his play­ers.

“You have to keep fo­cused as it is al­most in­evitable you’ll start think­ing you’re a bit bet­ter than you are,” he said.

O’neill will be with­out sev­eral key play­ers tonight through in­jury, in­clud­ing for­mer Boro mid­fielder Lee Cattermole, David Vaughan, Wes Brown, Nicklas Bendt­ner and Ti­tus Bram­ble. He said: “We will do ev­ery­thing we can to win the game, but that won’t au­to­mat­i­cally give us vic­tory.

“Mid­dles­brough didn’t sur­prise me in the first meet­ing. What was sur­pris­ing was how phys­i­cal the game was. I didn’t ex­pect that.

“They didn’t sur­prise me in terms of their abil­ity and their abil­ity to play.

“It was al­ways a dif­fi­cult game and that’s why the tie is very much in the bal­ance.

“I don’t know what their ap­proach might be – I haven’t re­ally both­ered think­ing about that – but they’ll feel they have a re­ally good chance.”

John O’shea will cap­tain the side in the ab­sence of Cattermole.

O’neill said: “John’s whole de­meanour around the place has been very help­ful. I’m de­lighted he’s started to play the way he did for Manch­ester United.

“His will­ing­ness to help the younger lads is very im­por­tant – they can ap­proach him. There are no airs and graces about him.”

Mid­dles­brough boss Tony Mowbray may call up 19-year-old Cur­tis Main as Scott Mcdon­ald and Bart Og­beche are in­jured while Marvin Emnes is un­likely to be fit enough.

Mowbray said: “The time has come for Cur­tis to get onto the pitch.

“We’ve got a few play­ers who have had in­jury is­sues through­out their ca­reers and to keep ask­ing them to play ev­ery three days is dif­fi­cult.

“Men­tally and phys­i­cally it caught up a lit­tle on Satur­day – but it doesn’t get any eas­ier.”

PES­SIMISTIC: O’neill doesn’t like his chances

MAMMA MIA! Fab has been put in a no-win sit­u­a­tion by the

bungling FA

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