During last Saturday’s match against Arsenal, Southampton’s David Prutton shoved referee Alan Wiley after being sent off. Prutton’s offense, recalling a similar act of buffoonery by Paolo DiC anio some years ago, was deemed deserving of an 11 match ban. Former Coventry/Southampton manager Gordon Strachan tries to put things in perspective in today’s Guardian, along with considering the shitstorm surrounding Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho.
What David did wasn’t the most pleasant sight and you can’t have anyone touching the referee, but we need to keep things in perspective. I know from working with him at Southampton that he’s one of the most intelligent, caring footballers around and I made a point of phoning him on Tuesday.
I had heard from people at Southampton that David was really down on himself, which I can understand. I just outlined to him all the things he hasn’t done. He’s never done drugs, been to prison for drink-driving, punched anyone or stamped on anyone, or all those horrible things.
I wanted him to be clear that what happened doesn’t make him a bad person. A lot worse goes on in football, and I think his suspension was too much: six games would have been enough.
The fact that David made those challenges didn’t really surprise me because he has a habit of lunging into tackles and he was sent off once while I was at Southampton. Like any habit, he’s found that hard to break. But just as an alcoholic will wake up one morning in a gutter and say enough is enough, that will happen with David now.
The first and last thing he remembers about the whole incident on Saturday is his tackle on Robert Pires. He told me he knew he had his hands on someone, but it could have been anybody: a player, manager, even a policeman.
If he had done that to a player it would have been insignificant. I thought the referee Alan Wiley did well: Alcock would probably have rolled over half a dozen times in the same situation. I still think he should have been done for diving.
Maybe he can use his time off to sort out his answerphone. He had some stupid message with him rapping over the sound track of Oliver. I left a message saying I would never call the phone again, and he called me back.
Going back to Mourinho, it was a disgrace that he was sent from the touchline last Sunday: the fourth official concerned should be banned for stupidity.
Fans call you all sorts of names, they call your wife names, sometimes they even spit at you. Some of the stick you get is horrific. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that you can go “shush”.
I have turned round and told fans to shut it. One guy at Leicester was giving me all sorts of abuse and I said to him: “You are behaving like a backside. There are kids round you.” A week later the guy wrote to me to apologise and we’ve stayed in touch.