Garry Birtles: Time for footballers to focus on the game
IT is time for some players to remember what they are and focus on just playing football.
Ever increasing numbers of Premier League players seem to be more concerned with the celebrity status; with their public profile, than they are about actually making sure they are focused on doing their job on the pitch.
Ashley Cole's Twitter outburst was truly remarkable. He has to be punished for it. And by that I do not mean a meagre slap on the wrist and a game or two sat on the sidelines. I mean properly punished. Players cannot be allowed to have that much disrespect for the authorities, to be allowed to voice such profane views in the public arena and expect to get away with it.
You could pick apart the John Terry situation for hours. The allegation that Cole changed his evidence in the Terry racism case is clear. And you can make your own minds up about why he might have done that.
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But what did he hope to achieve by responding in the manner that he did? Does he think that he is untouchable? Did he believe that he would only get a minor telling off for that and everything would be okay?
I'm sorry, but no. This has to be stamped out. The FA must come down hard on him now. And, in the meantime, I wish more players would care less about their social media profile and more about doing what they are paid to do on the pitch.
Although, to be fair, England manager Roy Hodgson was hardly setting the best example of how to handle yourself in public this week, was he?
It is great that he was happy to interact with fans on the tube; that he was willing not just to take public transport, but to also have a chat with his fellow passengers.
But come on… 20 years ago, perhaps even ten, you could have got away with sharing the fact that Rio Ferdinand does not have an England future with the man on the street.
In the modern age, you just can't do it. Not in an era where everyone has a video camera right at their finger tips, ready to go in seconds, in the form of their mobile phone.
To be fair, Hodgson will probably realise that he has dropped a massive clanger himself.
He does not strike me as being an idiot. But I hope this is a very big lesson learned.