Mick McCarthy, the latest Premier manager to be sacked this season following the dismissals of Steve Bruce and Neil Warnock, is a man many Sunderland supporters hold in high esteem.
Managers at one or two clubs in the news may wish to reflect that respect is often earned by appearing straight and decent. McCarthy has shortcomings, but he seems as dependable, honest and fair-minded as they come.
Football looked shabby again over the weekend as Liverpool and Manchester United supporters, having paid very good money for the promise of as appetising an encounter as the Premier serves up, spent at least part of the game glowering at one another as if the match was of no importance or interest.
Their neanderthal behaviour was replicated on the field and on the lips of both managers.
Suarez’s refusal to shake Evra’s hand was a disgrace, especially after he’d promised he would do so; to anyone who witnessed Evra’s mindlessly provocative demeanour at the final whistle, Sir Alex’s claim that Suarez might have caused a riot and should never be allowed to play for Liverpool again was not much better.
Under, shall we say, the guiding hand of the owners, who must have feared the most lasting damage to Liverpool’s reputation, Dalglish apologised for his own blinkered defence of Suarez after the match, and Suarez said sorry for his deplorable refusal to take the opportunity to move on.
Indeed, Dalglish’s conduct throughout this miserable saga – and is there a good reason why the Liverpool supporters phoning 606 were so unable to take on board that it was the FA and not scurrilous newspapers that heard all the evidence and found Suarez guilty as charged? – has helped the process of bringing a grand club into disrepute.
For his part, Sir Alex will not be rushing to apologise or to explain why Suarez, but not Eric Cantona after his attack on a loutish “supporter” at Crystal Palace, deserved to be booted out. SAF is a magnificent manager, but continues to show his boorish side from time to time. Dalglish may yet become a great manager but would do well to sharpen his social skills in the meantime.
Mick McCarthy has his moments of belligerence, but has always seemed to act with integrity.
Though our best chance of seeing him in the Premier League again may be if he leads another club to promotion, his presence at the top level has been refreshing. I am also among the Sunderland supporters who wonder how he might have done with the sort of money that was later made available to Keano and Bruce. Good luck, Mick.
*** Buy that McCarthy book, at the knockdown price, at Salut! Sunderland’s Amazon link.