Tony Gillan: David Moyes’ comments were embarrassing, stupid and still more unwanted publicity for Sunderland

Sunderland manager David Moyes has again been in the spotlight this week for all the wrong reasons.
Sunderland manager David Moyes has again been in the spotlight this week for all the wrong reasons.

What in the name of Gilley Law, Grindon and God was going through the head of David Moyes after Sunderland’s game with Burnley?

First there was his up-the-cream-bun-and-jam answer to the question of why Didier Ndong was demoted to the bench.

This was apparently because he: “Thought the game might suit more Britishness in the middle of the pitch.”

This reminded us of what Les Dawson would say to the audience while presenting Blankety Blank: “It might be rubbish – but it’s British.”

Since Moyes took over at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland have signed the Gabonese Ndong, as well as a South African, Nigerian, Portuguese, Senegalese, Costa Rican and an Irishman. This made the comment even more bizarre (Moyes’, not Les Dawson’s).

Regrettably, we now know that this was not the most outlandish sentence to leave his lips on March 18.

There is no need to regurgitate what he said to the BBC reporter Vicki Sparks following a wholly unremarkable post-match interview. Everyone knows.

It was crass, embarrassing, stupid and still more unwanted publicity for SAFC: on the heels of the decision to sack dozens of pittance earners, while giving a Manhattan jolly to a lot of uninterested, millionaire non-achievers.

But just how bad was Moyes’ caught-on-camera lack of judgement?

To start the bandwagon rolling there was Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP. She was appointed as Shadow Minister for Sport last year; making the front bench after 16 whole weeks in parliament.

She needs to make a mark and a burst of outrage usually works.

Dr Allin-Khan tweeted: “This is disgraceful. David Moyes cannot get away with these sexist threats – the FA must take action immediately.”

However, it should be considered that Moyes, speaking after a bad result during a dreadful season, was making a joke.

When someone is joking they are saying something that they don’t really mean. That’s why it’s a joke. In this case a spectacularly ill-advised and unfunny joke; but a joke nonetheless.

Does Dr Allin-Khan really think that Moyes was genuinely making a “threat”? And the “sexist” jibe makes it sound as though threatening a man would somehow be less of an issue. Surely that isn’t what she meant.

Miss Sparks’ gender is at the heart of the issue. I suspect if Moyes had threatened to stick one on Alan Green, then there would be no shortage of either sniggering or volunteers to hold the coats.

Further righteous indignation was provided by those feminista champions, the national tabloids – and Gary Lineker found what Moyes said “inexcusable;” even though no excuse was proffered.

Some people struggle to find an excuse for Lineker, a supposed ambassador for football, for selling junk food for the last 20 years in order to make money that he doesn’t need. Still, who among us is perfect?

The FA seem to be taking the situation seriously and might take some sort of punitive action against Sunderland’s manager.

This indirectly drags the oafish boss of Manchester United into the discussion.

José Mourinho’s attempt on Saturday to publicly bully and humiliate another BBC reporter, Connor McNamara, for asking an entirely reasonable question was barely referred to.

But José is expected to behave like a lout and obliges almost every week, so nothing is done. Unlike Moyes, when Mourinho bullies a woman he isn’t joking, as Eva Caneiro can testify (indeed she did).

Moyes has at least apologised for what he said and does appear to be justly remorseful.

Conversely, the world is still waiting for Mourinho to say sorry to Dr Caneiro (she claimed he called her a “daughter of a whore”), as are a string of other recipients of his nasty and unfounded statements over the years.

None of this exonerates David Moyes. But it does seem that rational opinion has been the main victim of his unacceptable, awful “quip.”

Committed detractors of the man have a number of grievances to level at him. His obtuse remark to Vicki Sparks is least among them.