Saturday, March 24, 2007


The Butcher Bitchfest

Deary me, what a couple of wet whingers we have here.

First Terry Butcher desperately attempting to exculpate himself after a pretty miserable season down under, by making the usual, knee-jerk, patronising British comments about the standard of the league, betraying a complete ignorance of football's history in this country as he does so:

"Football [in Australia] is only two years' old and in its infancy."

Gosh, that previous 120 years or so of competitive football here was an illusion, then?

"They cannot get to the standards of other leagues unless they go abroad for the best coaches and the best players. There are a lot of things they can improve on. I would say some games would be League One and sometimes below that."

I wonder how long it is since Mr. Butcher actually watched a League One game. Or League Two or Conference, come to that.

It's the usual putdown we've come to expect from the more ignorant British fans. Only in this case, it's been made by someone who should have known better.

Now, on to Cockerill.

He is generally a diligent, decent journalist and a capable commentator (if sadly prone to clich├ęs, particularly in moments of excitement). But I have noticed in the past as well that if you assail his parochialism, you cut him on the quick...and you can expect a vehement response.

There have been few more vehement responses than his piece linked above. In fact, I would suggest that it crossed the line into unprofessional.

Not only is there the same tawdry, hackneyed, and largely inaccurate long-ball stereotype which was attached to Butcher throughout his period in charge (largely by pundits far more ignorant than Cockerill), not only is there an unmistakable sense of gloating (for all Craig Foster's attacks, he has never expressed any overt personal glee), but Butcher is criticized for - horror of horrors - complaining about Australian coffee!

Mike, for heaven's sake, stick to what you know.

Incidentally, it is a little strange that Cockerill neglects to elaborate on his comment about stories of Butcher's behaviour being "legion". You would think that he could have shared one or two of them with us.

[devil's advocate]
Is Butcher really that wrong though? The 2yr remark is half-baked, but I see no problem with the League One remark. I think it's about on the money. The argument is for a British audience so it gives them an idea of the league, fair, no?
I'd also think that in his time at Motherwell Butcher would have regularly been scouting League One. Given Motherwell's better players struggle to make the grade in England's Championship he'd have his eye on some talent in England's lower leagues.
[/devil's advocate]

Butcher took a few swipes, which we all saw coming, and which no doubt have been a tad emphasised by the British press, but Cockerill's response was WAY over the top. Just a sign of what he wanted to do for a while, for whatever reason...
I'm an Englishman living in the states and i've embraced the MLS, my point is that I think we have to wait for the Aussie league to be going for at least 10 years before anyone makes a judgement, the MLS is attracting all sorts of coaches and players now.
The A league will also do that, you Aussie's have a great international team and probably a few of them will return home in the next few season's, From what i've seen on TV the league also seems to be attracting punters because there are a fair few in the stadium's!
I've enjoyed watching all the footie so far that has been shown.
Good luck.

When I read this story this morning in the SMH I did have a bit of a giggle. One cannot resist the obvious metaphors here for the style of play that the various pundits on TWG and elsewhere advocate:

The Fozzie Double Macchiato: Short, strong, with plenty of crema and a dash of milk - ie a short passing game with plenty of quality and a little bit of showmanship.

The Butcher Filter Coffee in a large mug please: Quick, strong, instant, often bitter and quite long, wakes you up a bit but tastes terrible once it goes cold - no explanation required!
I think Sydney have looked a different team under Culina. Living up to their potential.
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