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Stephen Quinn's jokey comments could be misrepresented

Stephen Quinn's jokey comments could be misrepresented

SPORTSFILE

Stephen Quinn's jokey comments could be misrepresented

AN EMOTIONAL Phil Neville last night slammed former team-mate Ryan Giggs - labelling the Manchester United legend "a bully" and added that the club's current assistant manager took delight in degrading his younger team-mates.

In a wide-ranging interview which will cause further damage to Giggs' reputation, the former Manchester United player and current coach revealed how Giggs would demand that his fellow youngsters among Fergie's fledglings of the early '90s divulge intimate secrets about their personal lives.

"He (pointing at Giggs) was a bully," declared Neville. "Because he was the oldest one and he used to make us do stupid things in the dressing-room. You'd have to stand there and tell everyone who your girlfriend was and what you do to your girlfriend."

Sitting opposite Neville, Giggs hit back: "You didn't last very long, did you? It was more character building" before appearing to point the finger of blame at the more experienced players in the dressing-room, revealing that he too had "gone through it".

With their disappointing start to the season, the revelations look set to rock the back-room team at Old Trafford and add even greater pressure on manager Louis van Gaal.

*****

Of course, Neville didn't slam, lash or hit out at Giggs last week but, framed in a different context, the quotes above - which are perfectly accurate - can be spun in a very different way, as could Giggs' response.

charming

Had Neville said the exact same words in a one-on-one interview accompanied by a glum-faced picture, Giggs' charming interest in "what you do to your girlfriend" would have been writ large throughout the media world.

Instead, it was taken in the context which it was meant of the SoccerEx conference in Manchester, where Neville, Giggs and Nicky Butt reminisced about their success at the club, threw in a few mandatory Alex Ferguson scare stories and spoke about their hopes for the future.

How those people permanently on the edge of outrage must rue such a missed opportunity.

It's difficult for players to do or say anything remotely funny without it being caught under the horrendous umbrella of 'banter' but Giggs, Butt and Neville spoke relatively openly and dodged the bullet that nobody decided to put a slightly different slant on it.

Had Jack Grealish or Stephen Quinn read the story, they must have wondered why they weren't so lucky.

Last week, Grealish revealed that Quinn had called him a "fake Paddy" which, in the stream of insults that normally flows on a football pitch - or almost every other pitch for that matter - ranks somewhere between slagging the colour of somebody's hair or making reference to their mother. In other words, if you're going to be offended by that, you're probably in the wrong profession.

Grealish, thankfully, didn't seem in the least bit offended, apparently saying it with a grin, before adding "football banter can be like that and I'm not a kid anymore so there's no problem with Stephen".

The fact that the story made its way from the back pages to the front page of one national newspaper managed to turn a mild insult in the middle of a tempestuous game in front of several thousand fans into something that has seen both players come in for criticism when neither really did anything wrong.

Grealish should probably have stuck to the idea that what happens on the pitch, stays on the pitch and, given the amount of attention which such an innocuous story got, it seems unlikely that he'll make the mistake of opening his mouth and speaking with anything other than banal clichés ever again.

Quinn, who was justifiably proud and emotional to have made his first competitive start for Ireland a few years after both of his parents died, should have had better things to be worried about than feeling the need to apologise for something he had nothing to be sorry about.

"I actually didn't know Jack was available for Ireland but he ended up on the wrong end of one of my tackles," said Quinn. "I'll have to apologise to him when I see him next. That was it," before adding with a smile, "I might kick him again anyway."

Given the week that was in it, Quinn was perhaps lucky not to wake up to headlines outlining his plans to take retribution on Grealish by "kicking him again" at which point he would have had to apologise for the nature of his original apology.

Players and managers across all sports aren't immune from using the media to further their own agendas against opposition, referees or even their own players but, at some point, they will come to the conclusion that it's better for them not to say anything at all.

After the week he has had, Grealish, whether he ends up playing for Ireland or England, is likely to have learned that lesson the hard way.

Tweets of the week

MONDAY

Joey Barton (@Joey7Barton)

Amazing how many experts on this twitter these days. How some of you lot haven't managed to play or manage at highest level is beyond me..

- For a regular tweeter, the midfielder still seems pretty surprised at how it all works.

TUESDAY

Florent Malouda (@realflorentm)

Just saw another story linking me with a championship club. I don't know any Lee Clark. Must be ice bucket challenge collateral damage ..

- The former Chelsea man not exactly happy to be linked with a move to Birmingham.

WEDNESDAY

Sean St Ledger

(@Seanstledger12)

Me and @lukeysteele1 just found out they have a half time break in the cinemas here in Athens! #reload on the nachos!

- A month into the season, the 29-year-old Irish international seems to be enjoying being a free agent.

THURSDAY

Cillian Sheridan

(@Cillian Sheridan)

The judge giving out her verdicts, then sipping some ice tea like she's Kermit

- As usual, the APOEL Nicosia man has his own take on the world's events - this time with the judge in the Oscar Pistorious trial.

FRIDAY

Peter McGlynn (@Peter3McGlynn)

I am ashamed of myself after tonights red. Sorry to everyone involved with Drogheda. Lads were unbelievable tonight though.

- The Drogheda defender becomes one of those rare sights in football - someone who takes responsibility for his own actions.

SATURDAY

Mario Balotelli

(@Finallymario)

Come on LIVERPOOL!!!!!!! come on guys.

With 9,000 retweets and the same number of favourites the striker produced his most meaningful contribution to the Liverpool cause a few hours too early.

SUNDAY

Raheem Sterling (@Sterling31)

Time to bounce back starts now!!!!

Liverpool youngster will hope his rallying cry has more effect than his team-mate (see above)

The question nobody asked

It's been a long time since Manchester United weren't in the Champions League and, as shown by the teams who were in that season's competition, the football landscape has changed utterly.

For a start, there were only 16 teams who qualified for the competition's group stages back in 1995/96, which finished with two of this season's competitors, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus, contesting the final.

Those two, as well as Porto, Ajax and Real Madrid are the five teams in the competition in 1995/96 who will also get their campaign under way this week.

Few teams illustrate the difference quite like England's representatives, Blackburn Rovers, while Glasgow Rangers have also fallen a long way since. The other teams involved were Panathinaikos, Nantes, Aalborg, Spartak Moscow, Legia Warsaw, Rosenborg, Steaua Bucharest, Ferencváros and Grasshopper.

Bet you should have done

Aston Villa to beat Liverpool, 12/1

Given that Aston Villa had won and drawn at Anfield in the last two seasons, the odds of victory on Saturday were exceedingly generous.

Anybody who took the bet would have cheered Gabby Agbonlahor's early strike and although there was some Liverpool pressure, it rarely produced the sort of threat to make anyone fear they wouldn't be a winner.

Indo Sport