Anorak

Anorak | No Laughing Matter

No Laughing Matter

by | 16th, April 2004

‘THE pressure of being a football manager or a football player can do funny things to people.

‘And the Premier League title goes to…’

While the Mail hears the mother of Manchester United goalkeeper Tom Howard relate how her son’s Tourette’s Syndrome has got worse because of the stress at Old Trafford, we are much more concerned for the health Gerard Houllier.

It is not the physical state of the Liverpool boss that has us worried, despite his history of heart problems, but his mental well-being.

The Mirror publishes a back-page picture of Houllier in conversation with fellow Frenchman Arsene Wenger, in which he is quoted as suggesting that not only will he still be in charge at Anfield next season but his Liverpool team will win the Premiership title.

This will come as something of a surprise to most observers who have seen few signs of progress at Anfield in the past few years, not least the Liverpool fans themselves who had to sit through their team’s 1-0 home defeat to Charlton at the weekend.

Even the Mirror can’t keep a straight face at the suggestion.

The facts are that Liverpool have lost 10 league games already this season – 10 more than Arsenal – and are 29 points behind the champions-elect.

By contrast, they are only 17 points above the relegation zone, which would surely suggest that they have more chance of going down next season than they do of winning the title.

Houllier can at least dream, which is a lot more than the poor cricketers of Zimbabwe can do as the game in the strife-torn country descends into anarchy.

The Times reports that the Zimbabwe Cricket Union is to terminate the contracts of 13 white players who aired their grievances in a statement on Wednesday…and to sue them for breach of contract.

The group of 13 said they were unable to tolerate any more the “racial and ethnic discrimination in the selection of the national team” and called for the replacement of selectors who did not have the requisite cricket experience.

The ZCU responded by replacing not the two selectors to whom the group were referring – Max Ebrahim and Stephen Mangongo, but the three who were properly qualified.

To add to the air of farce, one of the replacements, Mpumelelo Mbangwa, only became aware of his new job when he read about it on the Internet and promptly declined it.

One of the rebels tells the Times that the issue goes across racial lines and some of the black players picked to play against Sri Lanka in the first of two one-day internationals next week do not want to play.

Meanwhile, the ICC sits by and does nothing, despite the prospect of farce next week as Zimbabwe puts out a team comprising in the words of one rebel’s father “a bunch of schoolboys”.

Let’s hope England can now take the brave course of action and refuse to go on tour – and dare the craven body that governs the world game to sue them.’



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