Thursday, 3 September 2009

Dunne's departing shot

Dunne made some comments today in a press conference while on international duty for the Republic which left me feeling uneasy:

He said that it had not been his choice to leave and that he had been forced out:

"They signed the players and that was it. I wasn't given the opportunity to stay and fight for my place. That's what was annoying. I was told I had to go and that's the frustrating part about it.

"They told me they had accepted an offer so I said 'OK, but what if I want to stay and fight for my place?' They said 'it's funny, we need the money'."

These did not make particularly comfortable reading. As I wrote yesterday, Richard Dunne was MCFC's greatest servant of the modern era, a man who would run through fire for the club, who saved us from relegation under both Kevin Keegan and Stuart Pearce. Nine seasons, three as captain, over three hundred games, four Player of the Season trophies - it all adds up. So these accusations - that he was forced out against his will - were rather worrying. But they are nothing compared to what Dunne is quoted as saying in Friday's Daily Mail:

'The manager is very quiet, he does his own thing and I spoke with him a few times through the summer about what was going on. He was of the opinion that City needed two players for every position and that was the way the squad was going to work.

'The last time I spoke to him was in Africa after I had found out some other stuff. I said, "Where do I lie in the whole thing?" and he said they were trying to sign players and I would be part of his squad and I could fight for my place. He said I was still the captain and even last week he said to me he would rather I stayed but he was told we needed to get money in. I don't think it was his decision.

'They told me they have a certain amount of money they have to recoup each season to make things look better on the books. I could understand if I was being sold for £200m, it might make sense, but it was a bit strange really.

'It just needed people to be honest with me. I was getting phone calls from people saying Garry Cook was trying to sell me behind my back, two months after me going to him and saying if he has any problems to come and deal with me. I'm disappointed with people who say one thing and then do the other.'

There's quite a bit more than just this there - and there may be even more in other newspapers - so do read all of it. But these accusations, if true, are genuinely upsetting. Few City fans will quibble with Mark Hughes' footballing decision to replace Dunne with a quicker, classier, more astute alternative. I certainly do not. But to treat Dunne in such a way having made that decision; to deny him the right to fight for his place at City - and to do it all behind his back - is an insult to Dunne's service to Manchester City. Moreover, it is a failure of command from Cook, given how much emphasis the new regime places on acting with respect for the traditions of the football club.

Selling Richard Dunne was always going to be difficult. But it could have been done with dignity and grace. By this account, it was not. This leaves an unpleasant taste. And it betrays a quite unappealing side to our Chief Executive.


Steven McInerney said...

I felt a bit queasy reading it, but then I remembered Dunne was apparently the man behind the revolt at the end of last season which led to the 8-1 defeat against Boro. He's no angel himself and his behaviour at the end of last season was highly questionable, if true. The fact that he said Garry Cook felt awkward around him could have even been an indicator that Dunne was definitely involved in the alleged revolt last year.

How much of this fabricated we'll never know I guess, but I think this is a case of both parties acting childishly. I believe Dunne didn't get on with Cook and Hughes as they upset the cartel and didn't pander to him, and I also believe that the feelings were probably reciprocated.

Shame, but it'll blow over...

Steven McInerney said...

ps - 'Sell me behind my back'...I think you can read far too much into that. It could quite easily be a case of clubs being in contact with City about Dunne's availability, and them saying that he may be available at the right price. They don't have to get Dunne's permission to say that. They own his contract just as much as he owns it. I think then he found out that the club weren't exactly fending off interest and his pride was hurt, and he's been slightly misleading with his wording. I think he slightly dressed up the whole 'they were selling me behind my back' scenario .

At the end of the day they couldn't have forced him to move anywhere, and they sure as hell wouldn't have put him in the reserves to rot away if he stayed as it would have been a highly immoral move and it would have created more unwanted unrest at the club, so they would have had to let him battle for his position, whether they liked it or not.

I also highly doubt that the club said 'It's funny, but we need the money' - if they were allegedly that quiet around him do you really think they would have been so informal in their approach to the situation and said something so flippant? They could have easily said, 'Yes, you could stay, but the money is good and we've accepted the offer and we do need to recoup some of what we've spent back as well....' - or something along those lines, being relatively polite. Now I can quite easily imagine Dunne's pride being hurt by the whole situation and he's heard these words differently, seeing as he went from the top dog to just another player within a heart beat, and I can understand him possibly being highly bitter, so I really think this has been exaggerated on his side, and he probably believes its all true as well.

N Rowland said...

It is unsettling, but hopefully just a case of too many short quotes taken out of context. Could have much different meanings, if you hear the entire statement. As we know, there are three sides to every story - his version, their version, and the truth.

Chas said...

Dunne wanted to stay and the club wanted him to move on. It's always going to be difficult to get a 100% harmonious parting under these circumstances. But give Hughes credit for keeping Dunne as the captain, even though he knew he was on the way out. That showed respect.

Tombola said...

I've found Mr Cook an entirely loathsome character throughout his time at City (particularly the interview he did a year or so ago talking about Thaksin being a top man to play golf with) and this does absolutely nothing to convince me otherwise.