City Chief Executive Garry Cook: Liar Who Should Be SackedBy: Thad | December 21st, 2009
Usually I aim for balance, taking everything into consideration, avoiding over-statement. But this time I’m going to adopt the more typical norms of blogging, and take a bold stand that is intended to get a rise (out of someone).
Hypothesis: Garry Cook is a fundamentally dishonest person who is bad for football and an embarrassment to Manchester City Football Club.
Evidence: the news conference Monday to introduce Roberto Mancini. Cook began with a prepared statement and a refusal to take questions. The statement was self-serving in numerous respects, as Cook tried to play the victim of the over-zealous media. Journos present immediately seized on Cook’s claim City was not on track to reach the agreed target of 70 points under Hughes, pointing out that with victories in two upcoming matches in which City will be heavily favored, the club would have exactly 35 points from 19. But the most notable part of the statement was the declaration the decision to hire Mancini had only been taken after the Spurs game last week.
After some testy exchanges between Cook and the journalists, Mancini took the microphone to answer questions. Mancini was asked when he first was contacted about the City job. He revealed that he had a meeting with Khaldoon al-Mubarak some two weeks ago. The obvious contradiction between this news and Cook’s statement forced Cook to issue a partial retraction, though he held to the tenuous claim that meeting a prominent unemployed manager and discussing the City job “in general terms” wasn’t really part of a recruitment, courting process.
Just before this Guus Hiddink’s agent told Sky Sports that Cook had contacted him at the start of January about Hiddink’s potential interest in the City job.
It’s distressing to think that City is being run by someone who thinks they can flat out lie to the public and not be called out. This is one gaffe too many for Cook, the last prominent remaining link to the discredited Thaksin regime. Some will say that Cook should not be made the scapegoat for a questionable sacking orchestrated by the owners. That would be a reasonable point if Cook were not himself such an impediment to the club’s reputation.
Now my hope is that Cook will crawl back to Nike and take his corporate lingo with him as soon as possible. But if he hangs around, ironically the best thing that could happen for the club would be for Mancini to succeed, and succeed big time. In the really stable English clubs, the manager is by far the most influential person at the club. Ferguson is bigger than everyone else at United (owners included) combined, Wenger is bigger than anyone at Arsenal, even O’Neill and Moyes are more important figures than anyone else at their respective clubs.
If Mancini is successful, perhaps he will accumulate enough clout to be seen as the effective voice of the club, and Garry Cook will become an increasingly ignored figure. That’s likely much too optimistic, as Cook strikes me as the kind of “executive” who thinks if they are not sacking a manager every year or two they are not doing their job. But I’m leaving open the possibility that Mancini has what it takes to truly lead this club. The fact that his first act was essentially to cut a knife through the charade of Cook gives hope that he is going to be his own man and not a plaything of the higher ups.
Mancini doesn’t have much time to lose though. Speculation among informed City fans is rife that Mancini himself is on a short leash and that what City really would like to do is bring in Jose Mourinho in the summer. That speculation presumes a level of cynicism and Machiavellianism on behalf of City’s leadership that is staggering to contemplate, but after the events of the past week it’s not a scenario that one can completely rule out.