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Are you John Gorman?

By Paul Bretherton, Issue 55, winter 2002

In what I hope will become a regular column, (no doubt dubbed "Manager Watch" by our imaginative Ed!), I'll be looking over the course of the season, and making observations on the behaviour of opposition Premiership Managers and the away bench in general, who arrive at Anfield to pit themselves against Gerard, Phil & Co. The vantage point from my seat in the Paddock gives me ample opportunities to watch these fascinating creatures at work, in their natural habitat. Whether it be the nonsense spouted at fourth officials by O'Leary, Ferguson and co, or just the plain weirdness that is Tottenham's assistant 'coach', I'll be watching, listening, and reporting back for you the readers and awarding the winner of the 'Nark Arses of the year' prize to the winners (Pity Fat Head's signing on these days, he'd have nailed it by August hands down!)

West Ham United

Glen 'who' Roeder making his Premiership managerial debut at Anfield. A nice chap, but one who seemed totally overawed by the position he's now been given. Seems to possess as much tactical insight as me (not very much) but with not half the charisma (oooh stoppit !) When Di Canio scored and ran over to 'high five' with Glen, the poor guy seemed bewildered at what to do and how to react. His face seemed to be saying, "Wow, Paolo Di Canio touched me…and I got to slap his arse in return, wow, I just love this soccer Management!" (Will probably be sacked before the season's out, and replaced by Joe Royle…probably.)

Opta Nark rating: 3/10

Aston Villa

It was time for that guitar strumming, semi quiff-wearing manager, to roll into town next. As usual, he sported his club blazer, accessorised with a three-quarter-length rain mac for good measure. Very stylish John. He always gives the impression, on TV, and in the dug out, that he'd sooner be somewhere else though…..like playing his aforementioned guitar to adoring thousands at rock venues, and shouting lines on stage like " I can't hear you Glasgow, Englaaaaand!" He also strangely wanders around like some wannabe philosopher. With three fingers supporting his chin, and his other hand behind his back, he struts the touchline, like Plato would have done….if Plato had got into soccer management that is.

Opta Nark rating: 5/10

Spurs

God himself (hallelujah,… hallelujah hallejuah) with his sidekick Eyegore. There's no doubting that Hoddle has a 'tactical insight' into the modern game, but what of John Gorman? If there was ever somebody riding this Premier League gravy train, then this guy's one of them. He must be black and blue from pinching himself, amazed that he's not been found out yet. Lord, he even got to the position of England No.2, on Glen's coat tails, and that is a truly frightening thing. Maybe he has got the necessary coaching badges, to justifiably wave two fingers in my direction, and maybe my views on him have been clouded ever since the first time I spotted him on a video chronicling Swindon Town's early nineties promotion to the top flight. I'll describe it for you. Hoddle has just had his say to the team, prior to a crunch Easter fixture and asked Gorman to give a final talk whilst he popped outside…maybe for a pee or a prayer, I don't know which. Anyway, Gorman's talk went something along the lines of: "Right lads, forget the talk and the chat, let's have a pre-match sing together, okay boys?" (Eh???, a pre match sing?… puts our huddle to shame) and so he began. "Hail, hail, the Town are here, what the hell do we care, what the hell do we care" etc etc etc . Anybody not singing loud enough was given a slap around the head, and a wagging fist shoved in their face. I don't know what was funnier, picturing club chairman up and down the country, mentally scratching his name from all future job possibilities, bar Everton of course, or Celtic fans foaming at the mouth, having their song hijacked by Swindon Town, SWINDON TOWN indeed! Come this September's game he'd not changed one bit. He watched Hoddle closely, and mimicked every single move he made. Whether it was the shouts, the strange hand gestures, the leaps into the air, he was a constant mirror image of his boss, but to be fair to him this time, he didn't sing. The man is a complete fraud. One helluva moustache though.

Opta Nark rating:3/10

Leeds United

David O'Leary with the Les Battersby soundalike as his No 2. Sensible, rational and balanced points of view of the game O'Leary sprouts, but only so long as they win of course. It's maybe a bit harsh to criticise the man in view of what happened that day and his touching reaction to his friendship with Gerard, but what the hell, he's having it! With Ferguson on his way to collecting a GM Bus pass, and learning the craft that is crown green bowling, Dublin's biggest whinge is attempting to oust him as the playground bully. He constantly berated the officials throughout the game, and made a lot of disturbing punching movements with his hands, aided and abetted by his trusted lieutenant, Les. When Bowyer ballooned that chance late on, he made a leap for the touchline, only to see the ball fly high over the bar. He scuffed his knees on the floor, and held his head in his hands. When he looked up, a few people pointed out, myself included, that his trousers were in a state of disrepair, and of course, that the score was still one each. He responded by blowing kisses back to us. One of my strangest moments of football viewing it was.

Opta Nark Rating: 9/10

Manchester United

I'll quote from the Oxford English If I may; The Devil; Satan. 2. One of the fallen angels in Milton's Paradise Lost. Beelzebub (Martin Edwards) was next to Satan in power. 3. An evil spirit; a demon. Nuff said people. Well, they're not called the Red Devils for nothing y'know. In all seriousness, I've never seen a United bench quieter than in this season's fixture. Even Fergie couldn't motivate them from down there in the 2nd half, not that he made much effort really, they were being well beaten and he knew it. A pity really, we wanted to see him leaving kicking and screaming down the tunnel on his last visit, jabbing his finger at the referee's chest, and showing him his watch. Still, we can all wait to reacquaint ourselves at Hampden in May can't we? (oooh puhleaseeeeeee!)

Opta Nark Rating: 4/10 ! unbelievable but true!

Sunderland

PG Tips meets the Wolf Man. Nooo, not some 30's horror film featuring Lon Chaney, but our very own Peter Reid. He bawled, he moaned, he spat chewy, he told Tommo to f**k off,… twice in fact (over the crazy sending off as I recall). 'Inchy' Heath was very animated too, but he was a lot harder to spot, even though he was wearing his four-inch platform trainers. And even harder to understand. Most dogs in fact would struggle to understand his high pitched tones. The two of them were accompanied by a very old, angry looking man, whose every rant and rave, truly belonged to a bygone era of football coaching. I can't remember his name, but you could have plucked him out of any British Legion back room (playing dominoes I suspect), stuck him in a trackie, sat him on the bench, and told him to wave his arms around and shout a lot (hmmm, definitely a domino player) Nobody would have batted an eyelid as to whether he should be there or not. And I would just LOVE to see him on Chelsea's training pitch, because the man was a pure ego bruiser. "Ehhhh, Zooolaaa, drop to the floor….. NOW !…. twenty f*********g press ups …then put the nets up" The Sunderland players didn't take too much notice of him really, who is he by the way? Definite contenders for 'Angriest Bench Narks of the year' award this season.

Opta Nark Rating:10/10

Middlesbrough

Steve McClaren was extremely quiet, just like his mentor was a few weeks previously. He's also developing some fantastic ruddy cheeks, just like Alex. Is that something else he's picked up from his time at Old Trafford I wonder? Oh, and no Viv Anderson or Gordon McQueen anymore, no wonder they've been struggling. Where did they go? Were they poached by a UEFA technical panel 'think tank'? Answers on a postcard please.

Opta Nark Rating:0/10

Fulham

Sat in the Main Stand for this one, and let my seat up for a mate's girlfriend. He said she was autograph hunting, they were more likely snogging each other in truth. At least it kept them warm, something which I would have killed for. Can't remember too much about this one as I was just trying to concentrate on not ending up like Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining. It was the only time since being in the infants that I've sat on my hands for such a long period of time. I honestly expected that I would be featuring in the next series of 999 and Michael Buerk's voice was spinning in my head thereafter. "It was an ordinary Premier League fixture at Anfield in December. He had drank numerous pints of beer before the game, and as any doctor will tell you, this can be a lethal combination, if mixed with over exposure to the freezing elements. He was also, foolishly, wearing highly inappropriate clothing for the time of year. Paul Bretherton, incidentally, is played by an actor". Boy, was I glad when that final whistle sounded, and I limped on my frostbitten stumps back to the car. As for any observations of the opposition, I was reliably informed by said friend that Tigana made a lot of Gallic hand and facial gestures throughout the game, as he chewed nervously on a large toothpick, just like Columbo, in fact, but without the brown overcoat. Brrrrrrrrr!

Opta Nark Rating:1/10 apparently

Arsenal

Arsene Wenger yet again was wearing that sensible jacket complete with sensible hood. When you discover that he designed the club's new training facilities, from the dimensions of the sauna's through to the canteen cutlery, it's obvious that he also has a say on his own jacket specifications. Probably on the advice of his mother. After all, what mother wants her son stood on a touchline in all conditions, exposed to the elements, without a good waterproof hood for protection I ask you? He's no different to the rest of us you know! The only problem is that it tends to blinker his viewpoint……on almost everything. Like a poor disciplinary record for instance. ry pulling it back a little bit, Arsene and smell the roses occasionally please. When Lauren justifiably received the first yellow, he was up, wagging his finger and shaking his head at the linesman, admittedly in a quite 'right on' manner. but it was still pretty laughable.
I've seen some people intimidating the officials over the years, and at times to be honest, I've been grateful that I've not been running the line. But when Van Bronkhurst walked, watching Wenger being restrained by Pat Rice was one of the best comedy sketches I've seen in a long time. A bespectacled dwarf with a bowl hair cut, throwing his arms around a poker faced grey haired man, twice his size and wearing a hood, was worth the admission money alone. (Well the football was crap wasn't it, and it gave me a laugh in an otherwise depressing day). Regarding the sending off incident, the Arsenal physio leapt to the cameraman next to the tunnel, demanding to see a replay of the incident, and surprise, surprise, the fourth official did absolutely nothing about this, apart from view it himself. The physio bawled at the linesman "He slipped, he just f***ing slipped, look at it!!,…that's f***ing outrageous linesman... OUTRAGEOUS" and finished by kicking the sponge bucket…all over Pat Rice. Ooooooh get him indeed! (blame it on the panto season)

Opta Nark Rating:9/10