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Sunday 17 November 2019

John Giles: Roberto Martinez's appearance on Sky Sports was a new level of stupidity

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Roberto Martinez appeared on Monday Night Football alongside Jamie Carragher
Roberto Martinez appeared on Monday Night Football alongside Jamie Carragher

John Giles

After a build-up promising epic encounters and an extravaganza of football, the opening weekend was a damp-squib. Unfortunately the most notable action happened in front of microphones and in television studios

From Jose Mourinho's bizarre attack on his own staff to Roberto Martinez's excruciating appearance as Jamie Carragher's guest on Sky, I saw a new level of stupidity when all I wanted to see was a decent game.

I would love if Martinez could explain exactly what it was he was hoping to achieve by engaging in analysis about his own players. Not even when they were doing something right but when they were conceding a goal. Imagine how they viewed that?

All Martinez managed to do was to show himself up. He barely answered a question and how could he? If he was honest about his own players' faults, it would be a crazy thing to do so why bother? What did he gain?

A lot of people will tell me that this is the 'modern game' and that I'm just an old pro hankering after days gone by but common sense is still common sense unless the world has really gone mad.

It made zero sense for Martinez to expose himself to Carragher, an honest ex-pro who is very good on defence and was trying to do his job.

After viewing his own team's weakness, Martinez was then asked to comment on Arsenal and Arsene Wenger's defensive struggles. It has been fashionable for some time for managers to appear on television talking about other teams and presumably, this is also part of the 'modern game'. But is it right? How can it be?

From where I'm sitting, Martinez has plenty to learn about the game and plenty of work to do with Everton to improve on a very patchy run last season.

So much that is wrong about football is explained as part of the 'modern game' and that we should simply put up with it and move on.

But just this weekend, Mourinho lacerated some of his own staff publicly and was completely wrong both factually and from the point of view of internal stability at Chelsea. He also told us that his team played well and should have beaten Swansea. His team did not play well and did not deserve three points.

Brendan Rodgers appeared in front of the cameras after Philippe Coutinho, a fitful and inconsistent presence for most of the game against Stoke, produced one great moment and won the game.

According to Rodgers, his team played well and deserved to win. By any reasonable view, they didn't play well and they didn't deserve to win.

They try to tell us black is white and it is an insult to our intelligence. Every time they do it, they are cheapening the game.

It was ironic and very satisfying that the man least likely to emerge as a headline grabber for the wrong reasons delivered the best-prepared team for opening day.

Manuel Pellegrini is the manager everyone believed would be working somewhere else this season and for most of his time in England has resisted the urge to become embroiled in the worst excesses of the 'modern game'.

It's just one game but Manchester City gave me the fix I was looking for in the form of David Silva's wonderful skills and looked by far the most balanced team on show of the title contenders.

I don't know whether Manchester City have their eye on Pepe Guardiola. I assume any club would be interested if he was available but Pellegrini is the clear and present threat to Mourinho's hopes of back-to-back titles.

Manchester United looked as lob-sided as they did last season but to be fair to van Gaal, he made no great claims about his players after the game. In five or six games we'll see what Manchester United look like.

Like many others, I pointed out that Arsene Wenger still has not addressed his defensive weaknesses and it wasn't long before we saw the ridiculous high line he insists on playing causing big problems for Petr Cech against West Ham. So nothing much has changed there.

All in all, Chelsea were the disappointment of the weekend, both on and off the pitch and it is clear that Mourinho has a lot of work to - with his players and himself.


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