The Football League Paper - - CHRIS DUNLAVY -

EVER since the days of He-Man, She-Ra and ques­tion­able food ad­di­tives, I’ve had an ir­ri­tat­ing friend. I’ll call him ‘Pete’ and he is the kind who needs his ego stroked like Blofeld’s cat and, for want of a bet­ter phrase, needs to feel the love.

When we were young, he’d refuse to come out to play, chang­ing his mind only af­ter you’d begged for half an hour.

Or you’d trawl the streets drum­ming up num­bers for a game of foot­ball, only for ‘Pete’ to say he didn’t fancy it, leav­ing you with nine peo­ple and a ru­ined game. Of course, once you’d ex­plained, re­peat­edly, just how much his tal­ents were re­quired, he’d lace up his boots.

This be­hav­iour con­tin­ued into adult­hood. Nights out were fre­quently thrown into tur­moil at the 11th hour by a bomb­shell text. Some­times ‘Pete’ would be skint. Some­times he’d feel tired. Some­times you didn’t get an ex­pla­na­tion at all.

Ex­cept he wasn’t, of course. We all knew full well that when we texted, beg­ging him to come, say­ing how it wouldn’t be the same with­out his wit and per­son­al­ity, ‘Pete’ would be there in his over­sized Ben Sher­man and shiny shoes.

We’ve all got a friend like that. And Mid­dles­brough, it seems, have a man­ager too. Ai­tor Karanka’s 48-hour hissy fit was petu­lant and im­ma­ture.

What­ever you think of the play­ers – and to un­der­mine a man­ager in the midst of a pro­mo­tion bat­tle was un­pro­fes­sional in the ex­treme – no­body in a se­nior po­si­tion should re­spond to an ar­gu­ment by storm­ing out in a fit of pique.

Karanka him­self said he never wanted to leave. By def­i­ni­tion, then, the whole episode was a ma­nip­u­la­tive cha­rade, de­signed to bring chair­man Steve Gib­son beg­ging and force a show of ap­pre­ci­a­tion from fans.

And if this is how he re­acts to pro­mo­tion pres­sures, what will hap­pen when the salaries, egos and scru­tiny ramp up in the top flight?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.