Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Blair Generation

With Gordon Brown having tea and a Swiss Roll with the Queen, having finally escorted Tony Blair from the Downing Street premises, let's pay tribute to the longevity of the nicest war-mongering liar there ever was by looking at the fate of his contemporaries in sport's biggest jobs on that "glad confident morning", May 2, 1997.

Mick McCarthy, Republic of Ireland manager
McCarthy had his own Iraq quagmire in Saipan in 2002, when he attempted regime change in the Ireland dressing room by way of a pre-emptive strike on Roy Keane. Like Saddam with the UN resolutions, McCarthy was convinced that Keane was flaunting the authority of his stewardship with his behaviour, in particular in a newspaper interview with The Irish Times.

Unlike Saddam, McCarthy soon discovered that Keane did, in fact, possess weapons of mass destruction, mainly in the shape of his intercontinental ballistic potty-mouth.
Still in office? Removed by mob revolt following the home loss to Switzerland in the Euro qualifiers of October 2002.

Glenn Hoddle, England manager
When Blair was asked in an interview for Vanity Fair to what extent he and George Bush were bonded by a shared strong belief in Christianity, Alistair Campbell (the PM's media attack-dog, or Director of Communications and Strategy as he was also known) made the interception: "Is he on God?" said the hovering Campbell, "We don't do God."

Oh that Glenn Hoddle had the benefit of Campbell's secular life-jacket when his peculiar blend of faith and new-age mumbo jumbo plunged him into the soup in February 1999. While having faith healer Eileen Drewery laying hands on England's finest was considered an acceptable eccentricity, suggesting that disabled people were being punished for sins committed in their past lives proved a quirky foible too far for the FA.

Still in office? Hoddle's managerial assassination was complete when, ironically, his equivalent in the Downing Street dugout added his disapproval to the resulting uproar - Blair stated that it "would be very difficult for him (Hoddle) to stay."

Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager
If there is one figure in public life whose survival skills exceed Blair's, it is Alex Ferguson. Not only has Ferguson survived into pensionable age at the helm of one of the world's biggest football clubs (Tony having only made it to age 54), but he has also bettered him in another sense: being able to survive even his own pre-ordained resignation date.

While many suspected that Blair's decision to announce his departure several months in advance of today's final farewell was forced on him through incessant pressure to do so from his heir apparent, Gordon Brown, Ferguson's pre-announcement of his retirement (to occur at the end of the 2001-02 season) was originally ended to allow the manager to leave in a dignified manner, and presumably with an eighth Premiership title to boot.

However, Ferguson's supposed final season was a disappointing one, the club finishing third in the Premiership (their worst finish since 1991) and it was suspected that his impending departure had affected his authority and ability to exert discipline within the club.

But Fergie had no power-hungry Gordon Brown ready to usurp him in his moment of weakness; he renéged on his original decision, signed a new three-year contract in February 2002, and took his eighth title the following year.

Still in office? You betcha, and this particular premier seems to personify the sentiment once expressed by one of Blair's predecessors, Margaret Thatcher: "I intend to go on, and on, and on".

Ger Loughnane, Clare hurling manager
Like Blair in 1997, in 1995 Ger Loughnane's messianic zeal had achieved the seemingly impossible; winning the All-Ireland with Clare was as great a feat as getting the previously unelectable British Labour Party back into office with a landslide majority.

In 1997, when he steered Clare to another All-Ireland, he was still in the full pomp of his powers, much like Blair was when his hand of history helped push the squabbling parties of the North towards the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

But just as Blair's zealousness and stubborn convictions allowed him to lead his country into an unwinnable war, Loughnane's maddening pursuit of various grievances in the 1998 season marked the point when one of his greatest strengths began to weaken the cause he was supposed to champion.

Still in office? After a prolonged detour on the sporting equivalent of the lecture circuit, Loughnane is currently attempting to to return to high office with Galway.

3 Comments:

Blogger john said...

tommy,

ricky (ex-abn, my brother) sent me the link for the blog. it's great stuff. reads even better from a continent away. so, congratulations.

take care,
john butler

6:58 a.m.  
Blogger Tommy77 said...

Thanks John. Ricky, like some blogosphere matchmaker, sent me your link too, and top reading it is also. It will be appearing in my prestigious blogroll soon.

In the past, many a young lady has echoed your sentiment that I am much better when a continent away.

9:49 a.m.  
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