herald

Saturday 24 September 2016

Limitless hype needs heroes and bad guys

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal
Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal

Andy Carroll has not played much football over the last three years but he scored a hat-trick at the weekend and for some, that was enough to make him a potential hero for England.

The only word I can use to describe that sort of nonsense is hysteria.

The race to be first to comment, first to make a point, even if it's a stupid point, has become all important. The rush to say something has infected sport with hysteria.

Carroll was rapidly replaced by a villain, Louis van Gaal, as the focus of headline writers but the words underneath sensational banners carried the ring of credibility. A story like that doesn't need embroidery but more about that later.

Carroll got himself a nice hat-trick and fair play to the lad. He's had a tough time through injury and I'm always happy to see somebody find their way back to form after suffering for a while.

But the idea that Carroll should be propelled into the running for England for Euro 2016 is absolutely crazy and terribly unfair to players like Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, who have been knocking the lights out since the season started and must look at the headlines and wonder.

Candidate

The same people suggesting that is a worthy candidate for England at this late stage will be questioning Wayne Rooney's credentials tomorrow.

I've actually seen that already and I couldn't believe it. Carroll can have three or four underwhelming seasons and a single hat-trick is enough to get him on the plane.

Rooney with half his bag of tricks would be in my squad before Carroll every time if it came to a choice.

The coverage of sport has always been a bit over the top. Let's face it, it is only football but we invest enormous resources and energy in describing it and trying to interpret it for football fans.

Now, though, over the top doesn't come close.

I've watched Louis van Gaal make a mess of Manchester United in two seasons. I still don't know what he wants to do with his players and they don't really know what he wants them to do.

Against Spurs, they were like schoolboys chasing after the ball and I won't even try to explain what was in van Gaal's head when he stuck Ashley Young up front.

It is no surprise that his players kicked off in the dressing room after the game. I have sympathy for them. If a manager cannot explain what he wants, there is something wrong with the manager.

But van Gaal is still the boss at Old Trafford despite an extraordinary campaign to unseat him. These calls are his to make. Someone should tell Jose Mourinho that.

I believe Ed Woodward is paralysed and dithering and there is a good chance that van Gaal will somehow make it to the starting line for next season.

I wouldn't agree with that in any way. I think Manchester United should make a change and probably should have done it before Christmas.

Mourinho is a clever lad and adept at using the hysteria which follows every major incident for his own agenda.

He has used it to heap pressure on van Gaal when he had it in his power to kill all the speculation.

The moment to do that was when the sister of the President of Inter Milan told the world that Mourinho wasn't coming back to the San Siro because he was on his way to Manchester.

I noticed he finally admitted this week that there was no pre-contract deal take over at Old Trafford. The time to do that was straight after Bedy Moratti made her unwise remarks.

If he didn't have an agenda, he would have killed it but he left it hang and some would say encouraged journalists to speculate about van Gaal when they already had more than enough material to do that.

Van Gaal was under ferocious pressure and Mourinho had an obligation to his colleague to make a definitive statement.

But he didn't. He has a very short memory.

Just six months ago, Mourinho was hollow-eyed with stress because of his situation at Stamford Bridge.

He knows better than anything else what van Gaal is going through but he did nothing to kill the hype.

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