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Harry & The Press Gang

Let’s start with The Sun newspaper and its frankly staggering front page headline announcing Roy Hodgson’s appointment as the new England manager: ‘BWING ON THE EUWOS! (We’ll see you in Ukwaine against Fwance)’.

I find this kind of thing really disappointing and feel the paper has let itself down in a big way. I can count no less than four typos in that headline. That’s just a cursory glance, there might be more, and I encourage any English professors to write in and point them out. The copy editor has to have a long, hard look in the mirror and think about his performance. It’s one thing making those kinds of schoolboy errors in the middle of an article on page 28 but on the front page it’s frankly unforgivable.

Still, I’m sure he’ll bounce back and put in a decent shift next time round. The FA have said they won’t be making an official complaint to the Press Complaints Commission but they did condemn the cover as ‘unacceptable.’ It’s great to see them take such an active interest in spelling but really I reckon they should be more focused on preparing for a major tournament. Still, good to know they care.

Roy Hodgson left West Brom to join England, Pep Guardiola left Barcelona to join his wife on a hammock in the garden and Harry Redknapp left a trail of journalists livid that he wasn’t given the charge of the national team. It’s hard to know where Harry went wrong or why he was overlooked.

I really sympathise with the man and have been in many a similar situation myself. A string of bad performances stretching over several months have led to a number of my own deals falling through. Sadly a lot of the top brass in the game are as short-sighted as Arsene Wenger in a post-match interview. Only joking Arsey, let’s grab a bite soon! Café Rouge again? I’ve got vouchers.

The most upsetting aspect of the whole England situation is the way the press is already opting to belittle Hodgson at every opportunity. I know how it feels to be undermined by the media. I recall a spell at Brighton in the late ‘80s when The Argus pointed out that my shots-to-goals ratio for the season was 0.006. But that is what the press does in this country.

They build you up then knock you down using whatever underhand tactics they can think of – in my case a series of statistics and facts. That said I have the utmost respect for all the national newspapers and I’d certainly be interested in writing for any one of them if the money was right i.e. there was some money.

On the flipside, I know what it’s like to have the full weight of the media behind you. When I was part of The Crazy Gang with Wimbledon at the start of my career, the nation’s favourite newspaper backed me to the hilt. This was during the period when their spelling and punctuation was second to none and it truly gave me the confidence I needed.

You feel infallible when something amazingly positive is written about you in one of the papers. And I quote, ‘Donna, 22, from Edgware, reckons Smith put in a solid shift.’ Clarissa has always wanted to keep me grounded and was furious when I framed that page and put it up on the wall of our bedroom.

It is a remarkable fact that the media can shape public opinion to such a great extent. The papers are so disappointed Redknapp didn’t get the England job that the news of Fernando Torres’ return to form has been buried. I’m going to put the record straight right here, right now. It’s been exactly the same for me. Form is temporary, class is permanent.

Even Take That know you’ve got to have a little patience. I know only too well what it’s like to struggle over a number of years and I’m sure, just like Nando, I’ll have a resurgence in form any day now. All it can take is one goal to get a striker back in the right place mentally and I’m sure I’ll be the same once I get that elusive first save under my belt.

Redknapp gets on so well with the media that it’s hard to believe he didn’t get the gig. I myself know quite what a charmer he can be if he senses a degree of influence. Just last week my blog about diving was picked up by the Guardian as one of their ‘favourite things this week’.

What should arrive on our doorstep the very next day? Only a magnificent fruit basket courtesy of ‘your old pal, Harry xxx’. And yes, his handwriting really is as bad as he made out in court! With a charm offensive like that, I have only heard one rumour that makes any sense regarding the reason for his not getting the job.

Apparently there was genuine concern among the powers that be that allowing the manager to drive a Land Rover into every press conference would prove logistically difficult and worryingly expensive. Like I say, it’s only a rumour but it’s the only reason that makes any sense.

Follow me on twitter, @simon9smithpro

In a professional career spanning almost two decades, Simon Smith has played for over sixty-seven clubs. The ultimate utility player, as his pace has diminished Simon has managed to reinvent himself time and again, from poacher to holding midfielder, centre-back to goalkeeper. 

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