The Joe Royle Column

ALLOW me to stray slightly from the usual this week but I'm quite exasperated at some of the things that go on in this country these days.One of the things that gets me is political correctness gone mad.

ALLOW me to stray slightly from the usual this week but I'm quite exasperated at some of the things that go on in this country these days.

One of the things that gets me is political correctness gone mad.

I'm referring in the main to Robert Kilroy-Silk being suspended for airing his views in a newspaper column, but it goes further than that.

You can't have freedom of speech qualified. You either have it or you don't. At the moment we only have it if it is politically correct.


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Just as in my business, people are allowed their opinions.

I have no great sympathy for letters pages, phone-ins, fanzines or website opinions, but I accept that people have their views – most of which I find quite daft, but you have to listen to them.

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We are too quick to jump behind this shield of political correctness.

For example, I saw this week about a lady in Wolverhampton who was told she could be prosecuted because her little terrier bit a burglar and for me that is another example of the law gone wrong.

It is getting to the stage where we are following America where you can sue anyone for anything.

But I feel that if you enter someone's house illegally then you forfeit any rights you had.

We have spoken before about Tony Martin and while I don't agree with shooting people, if they were not there they could not be shot at.

It is the same here, if they were not burgling her house they would not have been bitten.

Whatever happened to common sense? I would welcome the views from the minister of common sense on this if we had such a person.

Equally, the fuss about Robert Kilroy-Silk needs to be put in perspective.

I can't say I'm a great fan of his programme which I have only seen occasionally, I find it contrived, but if we have people who we want to voice an opinion on shows he should be allowed to do so.

I certainly would not describe all Arabs as mutilators and terrorists. My youngest son's best friend is Iraqi and his mother, a doctor, is the most charming woman you could meet and I count them as dear friends.

It seems the timing of his article, which caused offence, was what he got wrong. Apparently he made the same comments prior to the war without reaction and if he had said the same sort of thing on September 12 a couple of years ago he would have been hailed a patriot. He also made the mistake of generalising.

But due to 'political correctness' he finds himself suspended which I find rather strange.

I'm no fan of political correctness. It builds walls rather than breaks down barriers.

Some of the daft things we have seen and heard in this country, which are down to political correctness are ludicrous and people are just about fed up with it.

I saw in a poll that the vast majority of people back Kilroy-Silk and I would have to agree with them.

Having worked for the BBC abroad I have come to feel and know the respect the rest of the world has for the BBC but at times they are too aware of political correctness and I would call for him to be reinstated.

NOW back to the foot-ball. I will be totally amazed if Gordon Strachan turns up in Yorkshire in the summer as some cynics are suggesting.

Gordon has always been a bit zany and a very likeable lad. He was a terrific player and has shown to be a very capable manager at Coventry and now Southampton.

The decision to take a break once his contract at Southampton expired at the end of the season was taken some time ago and I can't fault him for it at all.

Having had two breaks from football myself when I left Everton and then Manchester City I know how you can feel the benefit of it.

We are not all Alex Ferguson, who goes on and on where success can keep you fresh.

Gordon has obviously been under pressure for a while in this job, first at Coventry and then keeping Southampton in the Premiership and it takes its toll so good luck to him.

People talk about pressure but in our business I always feel we need to be careful when we use that word as it is a tremendously well-paid profession and the majority of the male population in this country would love to be involved in it but when you have 20,000-30,000 people every week who are dependent on the results and the performances of your team, then there is pressure.

I'm sure Gordon Strachan will be back. I'm sure the enthusiasm he has as a manager, and certainly had as a player will bring him back to the game.

I felt an awful lot better when I came back after a break and I'm sure Gordon will do too.

TALKING of managers, let me send my very best to Gary McAllister and his wife. Gary resigned as Coventry City manager due to his wife's illness and he wants to devote his time to her and rightly so.

The great and funny Bill Shankly once said 'people say football is a matter of life and death – that is not so – it is more important than that'.

It was a great line but Bill was so wrong it is untrue.

There are things more important than football and Gary McAllister's decision shows that.

I'M a great fan of Trevor Brooking but I was not sure exactly what his mandate was at the FA.

If it is primarily a coaching job, or an organiser of coaching, then I'm sure Trevor would be the first to say he was not qualified for that.

But some of the holes and mess the FA has got itself into in recent years might have been avoided with someone who is as good a politician and is as wise and intelligent as Trevor.

I can fully understand the LMA's objections and concerns and perhaps a bit more consultation and thought by the FA with the LMA and the PFA would have avoided this situation.

Hopefully the FA will learn from this.

The issue was raised by Sam Allardyce with his LMA hat on and like many others he has taken time and spent money on getting badges so good luck to him.

Sam is entitled to his opinion and as we have said at the top of this column he has earned his right of free speech.

Having said that taking lots of coaching qualifications doesn't necessarily prepare you to be a good manager. It does show that someone has taken the time and effort to do the courses, which must help. I'm all for the structure. My intention when I took the Oldham job at 32 was to do the next step of the course after doing the preliminary but I was too exhausted after the season. These days it is spread over a longer period and done in a much more professional, friendly way.

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