Chris Lakey: It’s going to take Jamie Carragher a while to forget ‘spit-gate’
- Credit: PA
Many years ago, when the world was black and white. I spat at someone.
I have never told anyone this before. I was on the school bus home and I spat out of the little window at the top. What I spat hit a fellow pupil. He wasn't happy.
When we next met, he thought better of meting out violence, instead preferring to give snivelling little me a withering look that sent my blood cold and ensured our paths would never cross again.
Years later I still see him on occasion, and I steer clear, not for fear that he'd change his mind over the violence bit, but through embarrassment. How could I have done such a thing?
I was a reasonably well behaved little brat: I couldn't (still can't) fight my way out of a paper bag and I chattered far too much, but I was hardly Borstal material.
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I am not trying to be over-dramatic here, but the memory of that incident immediately returned this week when video emerged of Jamie Carragher spitting at the car of a Manchester United fan who had been taunting him after the victory over Liverpool.
The goosebumps appeared, the guilt returned. I genuinely felt uneasy again, that someone would find out what I'd done.
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Carragher, of course, will have this feeling, but multiplied many times, given his status as a Sky Sports TV pundit and a playing legend with Liverpool and England. The world has seen his foul behaviour on video, as well as the obligatory apologetic appearance on Sky Sports TV.
A couple of things bothered many people about the video: the fact the driver appeared to be filming the goading of Carragher on his phone; that his 14-year-old daughter was hit by flying spit. That he believed he was entitled to provoke Carragher in the first place. This wasn't friendly banter, this was an intentional casting out of bait with the intention of getting a reaction, and using social media to ensure everyone saw the prize - the Carragher spit.
But there is something else that troubled me: Carragher explained afterwards that said he 'lost his rag'. It doesn't look like it to me. He looks very calm and very calculated. He didn't even look angry, either before or after the spit.
So the crux: should he be sacked?
Sky Sports TV hold the key to that one: they've suspended him until the end of the season when, perhaps, this might die down.
But media companies aren't always noted for taking a high moral stance.
Joey Barton has a couple of convictions for violence, once having used a team-mate's eye as an ashtray - and he's doing very nicely working in the media.
One-time money launderer Micky Thomas is a radio analyst for Manchester United matches (apparently his favourite after-dinner joke is, 'Roy Keane's on 50 grand a week. So was I till the police found my printing machine').
Morals can be loose in football and while Carragher's actions were vile in the extreme, they were not violent or, essentially, dangerous. They were disgusting. Does that merit ostracisation? I'd be happy not to see him on my screen again, but there will be many who believe he deserves a second chance after a one-off aberration, and perhaps he does.
Take away the cynicism for a minute: Carragher is contrite, he has apologised to the family involved. On the face of it, he is genuine. And we cannot assume otherwise.
Footballers, despite not always wanting the responsibility, really are role models. Public figures are not supposed to react: they put on a false grin and accept intrusion as a hazard of the job, because they are role models. But sometimes it unravels.
Two men, two idiots, who should have known better.
The driver will be forgotten very soon. Carragher won't. He now has to hope he gets a second chance. Does he deserve it or should someone take a stand?
Whatever happens next, Carragher's moment of madness will stay with him forever. Trust me on that one.
If England fail to win the World Cup, blame Jose Mourinho.
A sweeping statement I know, and not entirely accurate nor what I believe. But I do think the Manchester United manager is doing England's chance of advancement in Russia this summer no good at all.
His treatment of Marcus Rashford is awful.
Rashford is one of this country's genuinely exciting young talents in a squad which is fairly short of such stuff.
Yet, after he scored two goals against Liverpool coming in from the left, Mourinho moved him to the right flank to accommodate Alexis Sanchez for the Champions League tie against Sevilla in midweek. Result? The out-of-form Sanchez remains hideously off the pace, and Rashford was robbed of the chance to do his best work from his best position.
Rashford's a young lad, just 20, and in the formative stages of his football development. What he experiences at club level will influence how good he becomes, but if he is treated with disdain at Old Trafford, it will affect his form for England.
Mourinho is the manager, he sees Rashford at work every day, he knows his capabilities. I get that. But surely there is little argument that he is in danger of jeopardising the young man's career because Rashford's quality is there for all to see.
Instead of playing his best, in-form players, Mourinho is relying on reputations.
Would you play Sanchez ahead of Rashford? Not at the moment, surely.
Gareth Southgate must be tearing his hair out, but while Mourinho is in charge at Old Trafford, don't expect any favours.
If England fans are worried (this one is) then Manchester United supporters should be doubly so. Mourinho has so much talent available he could almost send them out on the pitch with the simple 'go out and do what you do best' instructions.
Instead, he stifles them. Their performances in both legs against Sevilla were appalling. I switched off before the end because I knew what was coming. Plus, I was bored. And Manchester United supporters are not used to being bored by their team.