For the first time in my time doing this, I gave an Ibrox manager a nickname when he was appointed boss.
Why did I do that? I’d never done it before.
Looking back on it, it now seems prescient.
How did I know that he was going to earn it a thousand times over? Was I just lucky, like Ange?
No, no and a thousand times no.
You can tell with some people, that’s all, and there was plenty of evidence pointing to who he was, is and would be. He has a mouth that runs and runs and which only occasionally seems connected to his brain.
If he, God forbid, was the Celtic boss I would want him to stop talking to the media a while, prior to going on a course in how to handle them. Or psychoanalysis.
Regular readers will know I love movies, and I’ve talked here once or twice about the best courtroom film there is; My Cousin Vinny, a film which is so well devised and written that law schools actually recommend it for students who want to learn legal procedure.
There are too many great moments in that film to go into, as the whole thing is very sharply written, with almost every line and segment teaching a lesson in legal practice.
Let me give you a quick example, and one that might not be obvious on a first viewing. It’s relative, in a sense, so bear with me a little down the road.
In the scene, as he tries to get a good night’s sleep, Vinny is awakened by a train coming through, right past the hotel. It’s 5:30 am.
He goes down to the desk the next day and finds the clerk, and asks him if it comes through at 5:30 every morning. “No, sir, it’s very unusual,” says the clerk. Vinny nods and goes about his day. That night he goes to bed. At 5:30 the train comes roaring past again. Vinny goes downstairs when he gets up and reminds the guy of what he said the day before.
“I know,” the guy tells him. “She’s supposed to come through at ten after four.”
And that is one of Vinny’s lessons; not just to ask questions but to ask the correct questions. Not just questions that elicit a little information, but the ones that give you the full picture. I love that scene because it isn’t, on the surface of it, about legal argument or legal theory or procedure … it’s just a neat little moment that he learns a lesson from, one that is useful in court.
But the scene I want to talk about, and its sort of relative to that, takes place between the two kids who are on trial for their lives.
Unconvinced by Vinny’s first court appearance – where he tries to argue the case when all he’s required to do is say “guilty or not guilty” – they consider dropping him and going with the public defender. His lack of experience is what concerns them most.
And it’s then that one of the kids, Stan, suggests that the real danger with Vinny is not that he might not know when to talk or not, but that he might say completely the wrong things, ask completely the wrong questions and inadvertently prove the prosecution case.
Well, that’s The Mooch to a T. That’s what I think of often when I hear about his latest dumb statement to the press.
This guy blunders around so much that I don’t think any media training would do him the slightest good. It might teach him a little bit of message discipline, but I don’t think it would take, and I think he would still talk utter nonsense. Maybe just not as much of it. I think we’re going to get tons of fun out of this guy.
Yesterday, I wrote that Sutton was going to “cane him like a Singapore housebreaker.” The caning has begun already. I pointed out that Sutton has a newspaper column as well as a television profile. I forgot that Sutton is also a menace on Twitter, and he attacked The Mooch yesterday on all three fronts, and I thought the overall effect was devastating.
On the day Sutton was nominated for a pundits award he rubbed The Mooch’s face in it on Twitter first, and called him a “dictator” trying to strangle free speech. He compared him to Pedro Caixinha and his own hilarious ranting to the media, an example I hadn’t even thought of but which will stick to this guy like the mud that gets on Vinny’s suit in the movie.
Then Sutton used his TV appearance on BT Sport to accuse him of being a “thin-skinned” manager who is “getting his knickers in a twist” over a simple question, which as I pointed out yesterday was actually not that controversial or off-base.
Then the killer moment; “Mick got personal! He started talking about my playing career. I can’t possibly comment on his playing career for obvious reasons. He started talking about comedy acts… the way he left QPR under a cloud was a comedy act. I’d go as far as to say that I’m more popular in West London than Mick Beale is!”
So he mocks The Mooch’s own ability as a footballer, and then attacks him on integrity counts, appealing right over him to the fans of QPR and others who think that he’s pretty much a snake and a dishonest charlatan. And Sutton wasn’t finished yet.
He then unleashed on him using his newspaper column, and it might be the most devastating attack of them all, a masterful pummelling from start to finish, opening up with Sutton suggesting that he’s under stress, then virtually accusing him of cowardice for not coming right out and naming him and then doing something I’ve seen done before; advertising the means by which we can all mock him together, by talking about how he “Googled his playing career.”
If you haven’t already I advise it!
Sutton’s attack continued. Into Beale’s lack of class, his thin-skin, all under pressure, and at a time when his team is still winning. He attacked him for his underhanded behaviour towards the QPR fans and Giovanni Van Bronckhorst. He casually reminded Beale that aside from a newspaper column and a TV show that the initial discussion which sparked this was caused by Sutton’s regular appearances on the radio … and then a reference to his own promotion of our game.
Punches continued to rain down, and then Sutton attacked him for his Ange comments, reminding us all that this isn’t the first time he’s spouted nonsense, and then perhaps most impressively and dangerous for The Mooch, drove a wedge between him and the Ibrox fans on this issue, reminding him that many of them don’t agree with the decision and that virtually none of them would have countenanced him doing it in a game against Celtic … he then suggested that their fans should be worried about his apparent lack of focus.
The overall impact of it is tremendous.
Overnight, we suddenly have every national newspaper carrying stories about The Mooch’s dislike for pundits, his apparent wish that they would cease criticising him, his lack of class, his dismal playing career, his managerial lack of experience, his behaviour towards his predecessor, his general ranting about Ange and on and on … it’s a devastating demolition job on this guy which he brought on himself.
Like his namesake, Scaramucci, he speaks without giving the slightest thought as to what his critics might do in response. He personally opened the door to a highly personal counter-strike when he called the big man a “comedy act” and slagged off his playing career … and I predict that Sutton is not the last pundit who will react angrily to that attack.
He might be stunned at the ferocity of Sutton’s reaction but he shouldn’t be. I was able to confidently predict all this the night before last because it doesn’t take a genius to realise that you cannot, with impunity, attack a pundit who has mastered radio, broadcasting and print journalism and has a huge social media following to boot.
Maybe I’m wrong about him.
Perhaps The Mooch will learn from this. Maybe, like that My Cousin Vinny moment with the train, he will take onboard a lesson, and put himself through some sort of media course. Perhaps his bosses, who must be appalled by the last week, will put him through it themselves, or insist that he go on it. And maybe he’ll pick up some tricks along the way.
But I rather think not. Instead, he will draw his conclusions from those members of the media who will actually find reasons to praise him for the way he’s behaved (and some of them will) as well as the adoring Ibrox fans who will completely ignore that they don’t even agree with the decision he made and thus know exactly where Sutton is coming from.
Not that either of these things will make a difference to big Chris.
This beating hasn’t even started yet, as brutal as it has been, as ruthlessly executed as it was.
This stick will be beating The Mooch for as long as he is at Ibrox.
He better get used to life in Sutton’s crosshairs, because that’s exactly where he has put himself … and all for virtually nothing.