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An Ugly Week For English Football

There is no sport quite like football. At its best it has the ability to do a lot of great things. The way football pulled together and backed the Hillsborough Justice Campaign was a glaring of example of that. Football brings joy to millions of people around the globe and can be a way of escaping reality for 90 minutes at least.

This week however, the most popular sport in the world has reared its ugly head.

Southampton Football Club have relieved manager, Nigel Adkins of his duties with immediate effect and replaced him with an unknown entity in Mauricio Pochettino.

This is the same Adkins that has led the Saints to back to back promotions from League One to the Premier League and is currently sitting three points clear of the relegation zone.

Considering that Southampton had only managed five points from their opening 11 fixtures, their form has picked up somewhat with the impressive comeback to steal a 2-2 draw at Chelsea the latest result in a run of fixtures that has seen the St. Mary’s outfit climb to 15th in the Premier League.

Realistically, what exactly was chairman, Nicola Cortese expecting from Adkins this season? The £12m capture of Gaston Ramirez was the only big money signing of the season and even the most optimistic of Saints followers would not have expected too much more than was currently being achieved.

Adkins can consider himself extremely hard done by and it is no wonder that there is a shortage of top English managers with short-sighted chairmen making such trigger happy decisions.

His sacking put the icing on top of a foul tasting cake, after Loic Remy opted to join QPR over Newcastle United.

QPR currently sit at the foot of the table and have a tough job on their hands to beat the drop. Granted, Newcastle are not having the best of seasons but have made it to the final 32 of the Europa League after a superb fifth placed finish last season.

The player himself is not at fault, if reports are to be believed the R’s have offered the French international between £80-110k a week. This is a wage that the Magpies were never going to compete with and rightly so.

It is completely wrong that a club like QPR can pay wages so far outside of their means and rely on the backing of one man in Tony Fernandes.

Remy insists that he has not signed for the Loftus Road club because of the money offered. He has to say that and it doesn’t wash.

Newcastle United are a very well supported club and their fans appreciate a goal scorer a lot more than most (understandable after Shearer) and success with the North East club was there for Remy to take.

As stated earlier, the player is not to blame. Taking wages out of the equation there is only one winner between Newcastle and QPR but he has chosen the better financial package and who can blame him.

The problem is the system. A club with self-sufficient revenue streams as minimal as QPR should not be allowed to offer the astronomical wages being reported and football is in danger of spiralling out of control unless a change is made.

Whether the Financial Fair Play Rules are the answer or not is another debate, but it would certainly be a step in the right direction towards putting a stop to such situations.

To top it all off, the issue of diving has arisen again this week after Liverpool striker Luis Suarez admitted he ‘created a dive’ to win a penalty against Stoke earlier in the season.

For anyone who remembers the incident, it did not require an admission from the Uruguayan to see that he had cheated. He is not alone, Gareth Bale and Santi Cazorla are some of the other high profile names that have made the headlines for diving this season.

With Suarez however, it is the latest of a long list of incidents that are turning English football against him, a list that would take a separate article to complete.

Perhaps the most unbelievable part of this on-going Suarez saga, is that it took an admission from the forward for Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers to publicly criticise him.

In the aftermath to the incident, Rodgers refused to place any blame on his star man and went as far as defending him. It didn’t take a football genius to realise that Suarez had dived and the fact that he has now admitted he cheated makes a mockery of his manager’s backing.

Let’s now hope for a few weeks of entertaining football for the right reasons to remind us all why we love ‘the beautiful game.’

Gary Maiden @GaryMaidenEFC