I used to think that PR was the guy from Dallas with the big hat. In recent times I’ve come to learn that its an important part of running a football club, especially when that football club is as big as Manchester United.
Recently we had the incident at our neighbours City where Mancini and Balotelli squared up and jostled during training. In his press conference Mancini bemoaned that the press were making an awfully big deal out of what was a minor incident. Not really. If that had been Manchester United then it would have been the lead news story on every TV news program as well as front and back page pictures in all the papers. If you don’t believe me then cast your mind back to when Sir Alex infamously crossed a stray boot for David Beckham to glance in with his head in an impromptu bit of dressing room training. I think Sky even ,had its own 24 hour Beckham gash channel for a while and I’m not talking Victoria there, to keep us updated. “Whats the latest John?” “Well we can report that the plaster is still in place but that its starting to scab. Join us after the weather when we’ll be discussing whether olbas oil can help with the healing process…”.
The reason I mention this is because the enemy we all love to hate, Liverpool, come rolling into Old Trafford at the weekend on the back of another PR disaster involving Luis Suarez.
Lets just clear up a couple of things here before we begin to deal with the fallout from Sunday’s events at Mansfield. Firstly a lot of people commented on what they thought was a strange/great gesture from my hometown club to dedicate the empty seats to the 96 Hillsborough victims. Those seats would have always been empty. Mansfield keep applying to the council to have their capacity increased for big games but the council always refuse them the safety certificate. So somebody at Mansfield decided that it would make for very good PR if those seats that would have been empty anyway were used in a positive way. I agree with them.
Secondly, if you think that Luis Suarez should have ‘owned up’ to his handball for the winning goal then may I recommend that you visit the real world sometime. You may even like it. I wouldn’t expect a player from United to own up to it, or in fact any club. Especially when you consider that in every game players from all sides routinely appeal for corners or throw ins when they know the ball has come off of them last. The sportsmanship that people talk of went out of football a long time ago, I’m not sure if it ever genuinely existed to be honest. If you can bend the rules in any way you can to gain an advantage then that is what you do.
No, for me, where Liverpool really came unstuck on Sunday was having won the battle they then failed to win the peace. The players and management at Mansfield spoke so well after the game and earned enormous praise for the way they failed to criticise Suarez for the handball. It is the officials job to spot and punish infringements. What did Liverpool do though when given the opportunity to discuss the incident? Try and make out that Suarez was the victim! So to just clarify that for you. A guy who cheated, deliberately and won the game with that bit of cheating is actually the victim. And why is he the victim? Well because he has a history of cheating so people are saying he’s a cheat when in fact all he did was cheat. You got that? Only in Liverpool hey!
It seems that Liverpool have learnt nothing from the incident involving Suarez and Evra when the former was found guilty of racially abusing the United captain. I’m half expecting Liverpool to warm up at Old Trafford this weekend in giant Kenny Everett style hands with a number 16 on them and singing ‘brotherly, brotherly, brotherly love’ in support of their supposedly wronged star. What somebody at Liverpool should have done is shoved football’s version of David Brent, or Brent Rodgers as I’ve took to calling him, in front of the camera’s and said “what a great gesture that was from Mansfield today and that’s why we’ll bring a full strength team down here in the summer for a friendly”. Thus leaving everyone talking not so much about what a dirty little cheat their centre forward is but what a fantastic gesture from Liverpool. Instead they’ve attempted to portray themselves as victims again and alienated the rest of the footballing community. I’m not saying we always get things right at United but by god we never get it as wrong as they do. They’ve turned it into an art form.
The Being Liverpool documentary, the Suarez t-shirts, the eventual forced apology from the American owners, the pursuit and threats dished out to a Liverpool fan by their own Director of Communications and now this. Pure comedy gold. All around the world people are talking about how little Mansfield were robbed by those cheating millionaires from Liverpool. It certainly says something when I have neutrals messaging me saying ‘I hope United absolutely stuff them this week’. My enemies enemy hey?
If there is one really good thing to come out of all of this then it should be the clearing up of the so called Hillsborough chanting from United fans. I expect the chorus of ‘Its never your fault, its never your fault. Always the victim. Its never your fault’ to ring as loud as ever around Old Trafford but that nobody can be in any doubt that it isn’t with reference to Hillsborough. Its to do with the fact that every single thing that happens with your club the first response is to say its not us, please feel sorry for us. Well this week everybody will be united in hoping that you are the victims of a 5-0 hammering and no, they won’t feel sorry for you.