Bailey: biased or just loyal?

2012-02-10 09:34

Rob Houwing’s ‘Tops on the Telly’ column

Perhaps you need to be a fan of traditional arch-rivals like Manchester City, Liverpool or Arsenal to really get your back up about Gary Bailey so often seeing things through “Red Devil eyes” on SuperSport’s soccer coverage.

Considering that “my” team is Newcastle - the real United, I always protest - I seldom get too hot under the collar about Bailey’s Old Trafford leanings, given that the black-and-whites seldom have a significant say in the title race.

Mind you, I’m sure even Gary might have taken pretty gamely on the chin the champions’ 3-0 humbling at the hands of the unexpectedly high-riding Toon not too long ago!

Be that as it may, the former Manchester United and England goalkeeper, now 53, has come under fire again of late for allegedly stepping over the mark in his “enthusiasm” for all things red.

There have certainly been some tweets flying around this week in the wake of the latest edition of Monday Night Football (anchored by Neil Andrews on SS3), where the weekend Premiership drama was discussed by the fairly customary trio, also comprising Shaun Bartlett.

Of course United came from 0-3 down to scrap out a 3-3 result at Chelsea - Bartlett reckoned it might just be a key point gained in title terms - and were helped by two penalties (one glaringly soft, I did think) awarded by Howard Webb.

Subsequent to the latest “MNF”, Twitter has been abuzz with such indignant statements as “United-heavy panel”, or “Oh look, Gary and Shaun both think MU will win the league, #biased” and “MNF is a great show but should get a more neutral panel”.

Certainly there are times when I’ve had reason to think Bailey can cross the line of impartiality, but a good part of me also quite enjoys his stubborn affiliation to a side he represented almost 300 times in just under a decade until the early part of the “Fergie era”.

What you see, after all, is pretty much what you get ... a staunch one-club man, at least as far as the English part of his career between the sticks was concerned.

He has a natural loyalty which I suspect may also come through when someone like Victor Matfield gets cracking in earnest with his new SuperSport rugby analyst job and could find it hard to hide his affection toward the Bulls.

Gary did once explain (or at least try to) his philosophy on a SuperSport website Q ‘n A with enthusiasts: “I try not to be biased, and generally say good things about Man Utd because they have been so incredibly successful.”

Still, I have a suggestion for Andrews and MNF to appease Manchester City fans, in what looks increasingly like a two-horse race to the line over the next three months or so: why not occasionally invite into the studio an unashamed but knowledgeable “City man” like Vincent Barnes, better known as a cricket coach, it is true, but also once a pro footballer in his younger days in Cape Town?

Any other blue-half-of-Manchester personalities you can think of to act as potential “balancers to Bailey”?

Rob’s Awesome Foursome

1. Sevens World Series rugby
Las Vegas, Saturday and Sunday 02:00, SS1 & CSN

The Blitzbokke are blowing hot and cold, so retention of their “Vegas” title from last year would be a timely achievement – they could only manage to win the Plate competition at Wellington last weekend, so fell a place in the rankings to fourth. Losing the services of nuggety, experienced Paul Delport for the US mission is a blow, but with a bit of luck the squad will rally. Note that Cup final actually falls in the early hours of Monday morning for South African TV-watching purposes ... around 00:25. Consider it a good, bleary-eyed mini-trial run for the similarly time-unfriendly Proteas’ Test series in New Zealand! 

2. Manchester United v Liverpool, English Premiership soccer
Manchester, Saturday 14:45, SS3, SHD3 & Maximo

For once the usual Lancashire derby-like hype around this fixture may be eclipsed a tad by the pre-game “encounter” – well, it is anticipated there will be a cursory handshake – between racial-slur guilty party Luis Suarez and United’s victim of it, Patrice Evra. Maybe the desperately cold snap in the UK will ease the crackling heat of the occasion to some extent, but I wouldn’t count on it! The Red Devils will target all three points at Old Trafford, no doubt, and I fancy they will just about sneak them from a tight contest despite ‘Pool looking fairly tight at the back at present. My tip? 1-0.     

3. Bulls v Cheetahs, Super Rugby warm-up
Polokwane, Saturday 17:00, SS2 & CSN

Fairly cock-a-hoop about their successful raid on Newlands last weekend – albeit against a very second-string Stormers XV – the Cheetahs now face an appetising encounter with the Bulls at Peter Mokaba Stadium, just a fortnight from the extended “silly season” ending and the real deal mercifully getting underway. Both franchises have named decent starting line-ups, so competitive juices should flow to good extent. I fancy the Bulls, for all the talk about the mass shedding of legends, are going to be surprise packages in Super Rugby this year, so let’s see if there’s early evidence of that in the friendly meeting ...

4. Ivory Coast v Zambia, Africa Cup of Nations soccer final
Libreville, Sunday 21:00, SABC1, SS4, SHD2 & Maximo

I believe I am not the only one who has battled to get the adrenaline going during the latest edition of Africa’s premier soccer showpiece. Matches have generally not been well supported, meaning there’s been all the atmosphere of a dentist’s waiting room at times, and being staged in a pair of relative backwater nations obviously hasn’t helped – I suspect that inadvertently South Africa’s cause in hosting the next one has been boosted! It’s a shame that we don’t get the dream Ivory Coast v Ghana final now, either ... but hats off to Zambia nevertheless for going all the way. Being vaguely southern African, the underdogs probably get my quiet support on Sunday night.


  • Cyrus - 2012-02-10 12:17

    Well in general most football fans, journos and commentators in South Africa are never neutral whenever an english team is involved. I get sometimes sick in my stomach how we support English teams with such patriotism in the Uefa CL. I understand the fans but please Journos and commentators please be neutral. When ever an English team plays against a non english team the commentators is quite clear of who they rooting for.

  • Peter - 2012-02-10 13:00

    Give Bailey a break. Of course he's biased. He got to play for the greatest club in the world and who wouldn't be. He does however also often see the other side.

      louis.wainwright - 2012-02-10 13:47

      Bailey never played for Liverpool, did he?

      Thomas - 2012-02-10 16:00

      The other side of what and he never played for the Gunners This is what the game is about of the field - chirp and counter chirp its all part of the fun and the game

  • Ashley - 2012-02-10 13:02

    bailey - MAN UTD HOUWING - BULLS whats the difference

  • kenneth.endres2 - 2012-02-11 09:10

    So you are a Newcastle fan so what have you won in the last 10 years zilch nothing.When united loose Gary has always commented well done to winning side.Besides its nice to have a bit of needle between presenters.Rob you said soft penalty what about the other two tackles in first half which Webb did not give.If i remember correctly after Man C win at Old T he had nothing but but admirration for the way MC played.Louis you suck man

  • Vic - 2012-02-11 12:56

    Of course, one can fully understand Bailey's enthusiasm, bias & extra interest, in regard to ManU. One could & WOULD NOT expect anything less, from him. He certainly does give credit to & favourable comment to other teams, you must simply listen with an open mind + ears being open ALL the time & NOT selectively.! One can't really put Liverpool & Arsenal up on the same level as ManU, altho', of course they are great teams & everybody is entitled to support whoever & whichever teams/players they wish to.!! If one needs to bring a Cricket Coach into the studio to talk about football & as a ManC supporter, even if Vinnie did play a bit in his day, many years ago, it's a rather poor state of affairs, isn't it.?! Are there NO former knowledgeable players, who just may be ManC supporters, around the place.??? Sad, hey.?!! All due respect to Vinnie Barnes.!

  • Charlie - 2012-02-12 08:38

    When Southampton were in the top flight just a few years ago, Terry Paine was never subjected to any criticism when he showed his clear affinity for his old, much-loved club. Is the citicism being shown because it is about Man Utd or Gary Bailey? I would suggest that Bailey is just as entitled to be positive about Man Utd as anybody who may claim to be unbiased. Honest loyalty is a trait to be admired not admonished. Oh yes, I should mention that I am a dyed-in-the-wool Liverpool fan

  • Sharmilen - 2012-02-13 09:49

    Well said least there are still some objective people out there. As for you Rob, a 3-0 win will get your team nowhere in the greater scheme of things. This is not about Gary's about Man Utd. Anyone see Naas Botha slating the Bulls or as they were known years ago.........Noord Transvaal. He always gave comments fairly. So Rob focus your attention on more important things like.......sorting out the name of your teams stadium.............St James Park or Sports Arena??? You lot are confused. How many lines do we need to write down Newcastle's achievements since becoming a football team? Start winning "trophies" not just "games" then start talking!!!

  • Fidel - 2012-02-13 17:01

    Don't worry, Barcelona always take the smug off their faces. What an enjoyable picture it is when they have to come up with all sorts of excuses. The EPL is the best league in the world, blah blah blah, then comes AC Milan, Bayern, Inter or Chelsea.

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