Shut Up And Dribble

Game 2

Bohemians 2-2 Dundalk

Game 3

Dundalk 3-0 Finn Harps

Three games into a new season and it’s been pretty close to perfect so far. A deserved draw on opening night, unlucky not to pick up all three points in Dalymount in game two and, albeit with the poorest performance of the three games, a comfortable three points against Finn Harps in game three.

Some stand out performances from the one and only Steven Bradley, a first clean sheet of the season, getting Brian Gartland back on the field, things look pretty good so far. If we can keep injuries at bay and expectations in check we might have a very good year.

What Friday night and Monday night also provided was a very welcome distraction from everything else going on in Ukraine at the moment. A lot, if not most people, enjoy sports for the escapism.

For 90 minutes being able to shout and scream at players and referees and not let the thoughts of the outside world bleed through, to not think about problems foreign or domestic, to completely switch off.

While it was more than likely relatively easy for most of us to put thoughts of war and invasion out of our minds in Oriel last night it was a little more difficult while watching the Carabao Cup final on Sunday.

You might think football and sport should be separate from politics, you might think that it’s not fair for football players and football managers to have to answer for the actions of Governments and Dictators and for the most part I think you’re right.

It can be very difficult for sports people who have a microphone thrown in their face by the media or are hounded on Social Media to not weigh in on subjects they may not be experts on.

I spoke before about how I feel that it’s unfair to expect a football player to take into account the politics of the owner of the football club he or she is going to sign for and be paid a lot of money by.

Fans too. If you have been a fan of a club for your whole life and they are taken over by a, how do I put this, questionable regime or individual, I have no idea how hard it would be to turn your back on them.

The strength of will that would take I don’t think I possess.

However when Thomas Tuchel has to answer questions about the horrors of war and about Roman Abramovich and his response is to say “I’m not a politician you have to stop asking me these questions”, unfortunately that just won’t cut it.

He is not a politician but he sure knows how to dodge a question.

We know you’re not responsible for what is happening, we know you don’t condone it, we know the very, very last thing you want right now is to answer questions about this but, unfortunately, Tommy, bubby, you’re the face of Roman Abramovich’s club.

While you might not have been expecting this outcome you had to know that sometime someone would start asking questions or maybe you assumed if someone did come asking questions about him they wouldn’t be around long enough to publish the answers.

The water is very murky when it comes to virtuous sports people. Some people stand for justice in certain quarters while blatantly ignoring wrong doings in others. Some cases of this are so astoundingly hypocritical it’s hard to comprehend. Not just looking at Pep Guardiola here by the way but he’s a spectacular example.

It’s hard to know what the correct response is when politics bleed into sports. You shouldn’t just shut up and dribble but why would we expect sports people to get, often extremely complex and delicate, political situations spot on?

The very least we should expect from people is honesty. Tuchel should be well versed in ignoring questions about his owners after being in Paris and I would suggest Eddie Howe asks him for his notes because it’s only a matter of time before people start asking him questions and he has to shut up and dribble.

Before leaving for Oriel on Monday night the news was on. There were shockingly sad scenes of thousands of people fleeing Ukraine. When I got home, the news was filled with the same stories.

If you are lucky enough, as I was, to travel to and from a football match and not have to worry about your safety or the safety of your family please count your blessings.

If you are the manager of a football club who now has to come face to face with the consequences of willfully ignoring the past, current or future deeds of your employer, please do not ignore the questions.

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