Tuesday 17 March ~
Sheffield Utd are to receive £20 million in compensation from West Ham over the Carlos Tevez saga. But that is not the end of the matter – West Ham are the subject of another Premier League inquiry into the false evidence they submitted about the contracts signed by Tevez and Javier Mascherano. And it seems that they're to be sued by a group of Sheffield Utd players and the club's then manager, the perennially disgruntled Neil Warnock. The latter has erupted all over the papers in the past two days explaining why he is still angry about the Premier League's failure to punish West Ham with a points deduction at the time.
Warnock may well be fuming but he is also clearly having a good time, as is demonstrated by his comments about Premier League Richard Scudamore: "He is an absolute disgrace. I’d love to get him in a room on my own for an hour, no holds barred." Neil would be confident of quickly wrapping up any such confrontation – and would complain ceaselessly about dirty tricks if he lost.
As anyone who follows Championship football will know, Warnock believes that he is victimised on a regular basis. Almost every setback for his current team Crystal Palace is put down to officials' mistakes – he even asked a couple of players to confirm his suspicions about an assistant referee during a recent defeat to Watford: "'I sent the subs out to keep an eye on the offside situation because we were not happy with that first goal." In their manager's eyes, had they not been hampered by human error, Palace would already have sealed promotion back to the Premier League. Indeed, Neil believes he should never have left: "As far as I’m concerned, I should still be a Premier League manager. I have relegation on my CV when it should not be there."
Warnock's record in 2006-07, however, scarcely inspires confidence that he would have continued to keep United up. They were in trouble on the last day of that season because they had won just two of their last 11 games; a previously robust and energetic team, and their feisty manager, had appeared to crumble under mounting pressure. Their collapse was complete on the final day when they needed a draw at home to Wigan but lost 2-1. Many viewers watching that match will have indulged in Schandenfreude at the expense of a whiny figure in the home dugout.
Nonetheless, even the legions of Warnock detractors would conceded that the Wigan match ought not to have been decisive. West Ham should have had points deducted several months earlier when it emerged that they had lied about the terms under which the two Argentines had signed the previous August. West Ham have admitted their guilt in settling with Sheffield Utd out of court.
But the Premier League administrators who failed to take action against West Ham, whether through incompetence or cowardice, continue to escape censure – and there are no expectations that heads will roll as a consequence of the new enquiry. Richard Scudamore and his colleagues may yet meet up with Sheffield Utd directors on a professional basis given that the club are currently in the Championship play-off zone – although more encounters with Neil Warnock seem set to be put off for at least another year. Meanwhile, Carlos Tevez is still the subject of third party ownership, a circumstance that will apparently change at the end of this season, three years too late.