Enough. Get rid of pre-match handshake fiasco
Why, oh why, is such a big thing being made about the non-handshakes between Messrs Ferdinand, Terry and Cole? In my opinion, it’s beyond a joke. The Press coverage has been over the top, to say the least. First of all, let me say I don’t see – and have never seen – the point of the pre-match handshake. It’s all for the FA and the politically correct brigade.
On numerous occasions over the last few seasons, I have shaken many a player’s hand before the game. And for what reason? Oh yeah, fair play. I’m not old fashioned but what was wrong with playing the game and then shaking hands with your opponents and wishing them all the best for the rest of the season?
The game was done, tackles, fouls and goals had been and gone and it was two knackered men wishing each other well. Anton Ferdinand doesn’t agree with whatever was said to him in the past and it’s been his choice to blank John Terry and also Ashley Cole, for sticking up for Terry. This is Ferdinand’s choice and nobody else’s business.
Does anybody honestly think that Terry or Cole were bothered and does anybody think that Ferdinand lost any sleep over whether to shake their hands or not? I would give a definitive NO. All three are professional players who go out on the pitch to win and any circus created by the media put an unnecessary spotlight on the opening few minutes’ pointless handshake. The sooner the matter is closed the better.
By all accounts, the three players concerned went on to give positive performances. That’s professionalism. I have a few good friends in football who I will talk to a couple of times a week during the season and have a night out and a few drinks with them from time to time. But if they are my opponent come Saturday at 3pm, everything changes. There will be no phonecall from me or to me during the week leading up to the game.
There is no acknowledgement of each other in the tunnel before the game. At the end of the day, my and their sole aim for the 90 minutes is to stop the other’s team from succeeding. For me and them for 90 minutes, friendship doesn’t exist. That’s the nature of the beast.
When the game is over, I will be the first one over to my mate, embrace him, wish him all the best and tell him I will call him but, for those 90 minutes, he wants me to fail and, likewise, me to him. On one occasion a few years ago, one of the opposing players left an elbow on me and I was out for some type of payback.
Just a few minutes later, I saw who I thought was the culprit and the ball was falling at a good height to win the ball but also for me to be able to “leave a little”, to get my own back. It worked perfectly. I never meant to hurt him, which I didn’t, but I left him in a heap. The only problem, though, was that it wasn’t the culprit. It was, in fact, a mate of mine.
I went over to make sure he was OK. He took one look at me and told me to “go fuck myself” and I, in return, called him “a twat”. That was that but, come the end of the game, we were first over to each other with a laugh and a few more comments … and then back to the good old ways the following week with a phone call.
What I’m saying is: forget the handshakes until after the game and leave the pre-match niceties to other people because, I’m sure if you asked other players, they will tell you that they respect their fellow professionals and we don’t need a handshake to show that.
On to the weekend’s games now and I must say that I was impressed with Stoke City’s performance in their 1-1 draw against Manchester City, the champions. OK, Stoke had a bit of luck but, to get anything from the big clubs, you need some good fortune. I liked the way that Charlie Adam and Steven Nzonzi fitted into the midfield and, as ever, Stoke’s defence was very resilient. A couple of saves from Asmir Begovic and a last-minute Ryan Shawcross clearance embodied what Stoke are all about.
Manchester United left it late and could even afford to miss a penalty against Wigan before eventually running riot and winning 4-0. I’m very interested in seeing how Nick Powell does this season after his move from Crewe. It was a very accomplished finish from one so young and it will be fascinating to see if he will figure more for United over the course of the season. Or will he be sent out to a top Championship club for game-time on loan?
Southampton look like they could be in trouble. People will argue that they have played some of the big guns already but winning and losing are a habit and, when you’re losing, it’s a hard habit to break. They look like they can score but, more importantly, look like they will concede more.
Liverpool got a 1-1 draw at Sunderland when, in all fairness, I think that they should have gone back to Anfield with all three points. It’s all change at Liverpool and my one concern for them would be if, for whatever reason, Luis Suarez was missing from the team – who could they then call on? I can’t see anybody there who could step up to the plate.
It’s been another week with a few goals and it makes it all that more exciting if you’re scoring them not conceding them. Good luck to all the British teams in European action this week. I’m particularly looking forward to the Real Madrid versus Man City game in the Champions League tomorrow night. Now that should be something.