I’ve always seen West Bromwich Albion as a well run club, but with the shenanigans that have gone on in the past couple of weeks, I’ve changed my mind. After the well documented Peter Odemwingie saga, we can now add to that the spitting incident of Goran Popov and it is plain to see that Steve Clarke has lost the dressing room.
It is no coincidence that Clarke has been behind the scenes for so long at West Ham, Chelsea and Liverpool. Although West Brom got off to a flying start in the Premier League this year, they have now won only two of their last 14 games.
I have nothing against Clarke, and I’m sure he is very good at what he does – hence the teams he has worked for. I just don’t think he has enough presence about him to be the number one.
The players are loose and out of control. However, just because Clarke doesn’t have the necessary presence, it does not condone Popvov spitting at Kyle Walker.
He has lost any respect he once had with players and managers coming out against him. When Glen Johnson was asked whether he should get a longer ban, he replied, “Definitely. Some people get a red card for trying to make a genuine tackle. Then you see something like that which is disgusting.”
I remember a few other incidents of spitting: Frank Rijkaard at Rudi Voller in a World Cup match, Patrick Vieira at Neil Ruddock, and the vile El Hadji Diouf, who has done it twice – once at a Celtic fan, and once against a player. What happened to these players? They received a ban and a worthless fine, and then continued to earn enormous amounts of money from the game.
If you spat at someone in the workplace in any other business apart from football, you would be fired, no two ways about it. However, footballers, of course, are immune from social norms, working ethics and, it seems, the law.
It is okay for Joey Barton to stub a cigar in a colleague’s eye; it is okay for Ashley Cole to shoot a youth player with a gun; and it is a laugh to see pictures of Liam Ridgewell wiping his arse with £20 notes – they are footballers – and we love them!
My advice to footballers is this: you are in a privileged position, and you earn lots of money, so don’t talk, stop dogging, shooting people, spitting, wiping your arse in public, use an ashtray, and do what you are paid to do – chase a ball around and try to head or kick it into a net between two sticks.