Martin O’Neill isn’t shy of a moan, we all know that. This weekend’s diatribe is aimed at everyone’s favourite man; John Terry, meaning that O’Neill is already very late to an already oversubscribed party.
Yet it’s not the target of his outburst which has goaded a reaction out of me, but rather the nature of it, and the predictable reaction of the wider footballing public.
Apparently, Terry should be publicly apologising to Milner for jeopardising both his and England’s World Cup chances. You see, dear readers, everything goes out of the window in a World Cup year (or a European Championship year) when an England player is involved.
Sure, the tackle was bad, and you won’t find me defending it too vehemently, but let me make one thing perfectly clear. John Terry is a Chelsea footballer, and club comes before country, every single time. No exceptions.
It’s not even a question of who pays their wages. It’s more that for the vast majority of the year, the player represents his club side, and whilst donning those particular colours, should be doing everything within their power to ensure a victory for their team – even if that comes at the expense of a fellow international compatriot.
So when Henry Winter has the audacity to claim that Fabio Capello should be dressing down his former captain for merely carrying out club duties, it evokes a certain reaction.
I’m sure you’ll have noticed, maybe even first hand, the number of fans who’ll tell you today that Terry is a disgrace once again, and was being selfish in not putting his country first. Some of them are probably Manchester United fans.
Ask them how they felt when ITV news, amongst others, questioned whether rushing Wayne Rooney back for a Champions League tie would cost England their World Cup chances. You might find their hypocritical opinions subside a little.
If the year was 2009, or 2011, or any odd-numbered year, such accusations wouldn’t exist because there’s no international summer tournament. If such a tackle happens to a player who isn’t going to the World Cup, or who isn’t English, the headlines would read something completely different.
Unfortunately, in a country where the lowest footballing denominator often seems to represent the majority as far as football fans go, England rules above all. I’m sorry (I’m actually not), but you’re wrong.
A final thought for you – if John Terry is the victim of a tackle which inflicts serious injury over the coming weeks, what will say you then?
I think I already know the answer.