Chris Lakey: Mourinho payout is proof football has lost its marbles
- Credit: PA
Does the name Jeff Fairburn ring a bell? Or perhaps Philip Clarke?
They don't get mentioned on the sports pages but Fairburn was the man from housebuilders Persimmon who refused to discuss his £75m bonus with a BBC reporter. Clarke left his job as Tescos chief executive with £10m after shares slumped. We won't go near Stormy Daniels....
Why the sudden interest in news on the sports pages (actually, we are genuinely avid news followers)? It can only be because of Jose Mourinho, who is set to walk away from Manchester United following his dismissal this week with anything between £18m and £24m, depending on your news outlet of choice.
The failings at Old Trafford are exemplified perfectly by the fact that earlier this year Mourinho signed a new contract which tied him to the club until 2020.
Now they are paying a heavy price.
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If you want to know how mad football is, then ask Chelsea: they paid Mourinho and his backroom team £8.3m after sacking them in three years ago – having already paid out more than £23m for doing the same thing in 2007.
The 'get rich quick by not being good at enough at your job' thing is a great scam. As Yosser Hughes said in the brilliant Boys From the Black Stuff in the 80s, 'Gizza job. I can do that'.
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Looks how these chaps have benefited...
Luiz Felipe Scolari (Chelsea, 2009): £13.6m
Fabio Capello (Russia, 2015): £13.4m
Rafael Benitez (Real Madrid, 2015): £4.5m
Roy Hodgson (Liverpool, January 2011): £7.3m
Roberto Mancini (Manchester City, May 2013): £7m
Arsene Wenger (Arsenal, May 2018): £11m
Even Sam Allardyce has racked up £15m over the years for not doing his job properly. As if....
I understand football is a crazy world, and that it is the nature of the beast, but these figures truly are obscene. The description is used often. But it is only when you actually sit and look at the numbers, and take them in, and realise how much they are to Joe Bloggs, that it becomes clear the game is out of control.
I watched a TV programme on people in Sunderland who are living, basically, without a penny because of universal credit, one of the most scandalous systems of welfare this country has ever contrived. Imagine you are one of those poor people and you read that Mourinho will have that much money handed to him after being sacked. And there's you with, maybe, a quid in your pocket if you are very lucky.
How one earth have we come to the point where three Manchester United players – Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, all of whom have been under-performing at much the same rate as Mourinho – cost Manchester United a total of £1m a week to employ? Again. £1m a week. Look at it and digest that figure. And then try and explain why football is not obscene.
Manchester United are not the only club spending ridiculous amounts of money and it is not something that happens throughout the game. You only have to run your finger down from the top of the Premier League table and you soon find clubs spending considerably less.
They will argue that they have a valuable product to sell, that players' careers don't last the usual working lifetime, that performers are under immense pressure. And that us football fans are part of the problem because we demand what they supply.
But football is the working man's game, it has its roots in industry and labour. Yet its fat cat mentality suits the boardroom more than it does the mucky changing room. While we point the finger at the leaders of industry we sometimes forget that football, at the very top end, is just as distasteful.
Manchester United are among the clubs proving that.
Football club press conferences are usually pretty much run of the mill affairs.
You ask your questions about the next game, possibly the last game, maybe a few about particular players; an injury update, and inquiries about any current issues.
Actually it is probably more than that, but you get the general idea.
Then comes along a major story which needs comment: Jose Mourinho's sacking by Manchester United obviously needed reaction from other managers this week, particularly Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino given he is among the favourites to take over.
Pochettino said his bit and that should have been that, but a couple of days later, hosting another press conference, he was asked the same question, although this time the Spurs press officer intervened and said 'enough is enough'.
Cameras were turned off as press officer and reporter debated the matter for two minutes.
The press officer has a point. So does the questioner. They are both right and both wrong.
The problem is, there are certain people in the media who need to gnaw at a story daily at the behest of their employers. Sometimes they have to ask inane questions: what's your favourite colour? Where do you stand on Brexit? What's your worst Christmas gift? It's because we – particularly certain TV companies – have dumbed down.
The question had been asked of Pochettino and answered and, after all, this was a press conference to talk about Tottenham's game against Everton tomorrow.
However, the media questioner has every right to point out that Mourinho's sacking – and speculation over his replacement – was the biggest story in town and he therefore felt he had the right to ask.
The other thing of course is that press officers cannot dictate the questions. Otherwise we might as well all go home.
The day a press officer bans certain questions is a bad day.
The day press conferences don't include crappy questions is a good day.
Just got to find the middle ground....