Saturday, 23 August 2008

The Garry Cook interview

Today's papers are all full of a big interview Garry Cook did yesterday: it's in The Times, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Independent.

It's very wide ranging and makes fascinating reading. I'd suggest reading at least two of the above accounts, because they don't all pick up on the same points.

The main thing to come out is the news that Thaksin is planning to step down from the Board so that we meet the 'fit and proper person' test. I think Cook is right that the test is no great moral arbiter, but a hoop to jump through, a technicality: and so a solution like this is the best way forward. The fact that Cook claims to be working with Richard Scudamore and Sir Dave Richards on the matter assures that a solution will be found.

Part of such a solution would have to be outside investment, something Cook is confident of attaining. He claims to have had "Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on the phone", and to have just met "the second richest man in China", who The Indy claims to be Zhang Jindong, who is interested in investing. Thaksin 'has a lot of rich friends', apparently, who could all put money in.

One of the main targets for this money would be to buy a superstar. "We have talked about the need to sign a superstar, a global franchise entity. We went after Ronaldinho and we nearly got him. We told Mark not to come here if he thought we didn't need a superstar". This is because "Richard Dunne doesn't roll of the tongue in Beijing". This makes rather difficult reading for someone who thinks managers should control transfer policy. We can only hope that whichever superstar Cook tries for next time will get, at the least, tacit approval from Hughes. Because if Hughes tried to turn down a move for Beckham or Ronaldo or Figo I don't know how it would play out in the boardroom.

Another worrying note is Cook's implicit criticism of Corluka and Ireland, and his admission that the club tried to sell them. (I had always hoped that Cook was 'on Hughes' side' on these issues, against the shadowy Thai influence. Standard nativism really, and obviously not true when thought about). Cook said of the deals: "Mark has seen the players that over a long period of time, well, we could probably do better [than Ireland and Corluka]. Mark said he would like to bring a couple of players in for those positions but, when we went out to find these better players and then they didn't come, we were left holding the baby." Now, this may well be true, but it does not fit with the story that this was done entirely behind Hughes' back. And Hughes' comments when Corluka stayed seemed quite positive.

There's so much more I could write about it for hours. Do have a look at a few of the versions of the interview. I don't mind him running City, but I do hope he never gets his hands on the Premier League.

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