x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Tottenham coach Joe Jordan wrong to rile Gennaro Gattuso

Joe Jordan, Tottenham's assistant manager, has been made out as the innocent party after he was headbutted by Gennaro Gattuso in Milan. Don't make me laugh.

AC Milan’s Gennaro Gattuso strikes out at Joe Jordan, Tottenham Hotspur’s first-team coach, on Tuesday night.
AC Milan’s Gennaro Gattuso strikes out at Joe Jordan, Tottenham Hotspur’s first-team coach, on Tuesday night.

I could not believe what I was seeing as Gennaro Gattuso squared up to Joe Jordan in Milan on Tuesday. The AC Milan captain was raging throughout the game and had already had one altercation with Tottenham Hotspur's first-team coach.

After it, he butted Jordan. Gattuso was out of order - and that is why he apologised, but the reaction intrigued me. Jordan was cast as the innocent in it all, the wise old coach who did nothing wrong. I am not having it.

Gattuso said that Jordan was trying to wind him up from the sideline throughout the game. It all sounds a bit pantomime Italian. Jordan played in Milan and will have known what to say to upset him.

That's Jordan; he comes loudly to life whenever the referee makes a bad decision or there is a fracas on the pitch. No disrespect, but Jordan's had his time and whatever happens on the pitch is between the players and it is up to them to sort it out.

And if they don't sort it out then that's why we have officials, five of them in Champions League games.

Jordan may have had a reputation for being a hard man in Britain, but do you think that would have bothered Gattuso?

Jordan's style was formed when he played in the 1970s and 80s. He might have been called "Jaws" then and looked the part with two front teeth missing as he played up front for big clubs such as Leeds United and Manchester United, but those days are over.

It made me laugh to see British television analysts like my old manager Graeme Souness saying that if the pair were left alone in a room, then Jordan would sort him out. Nonsense.

Souness is from the same outmoded stock as Jordan. Look at the facts.

Gattuso is an ultra fit 33-year-old athlete who can more than look after himself. Jordan is 60 this year and wears glasses. It would not even be fair to let them fight.

Jordan is an old school ranter. I worked with him at Portsmouth, where he was Harry Redknapp's henchman. If Redknapp wanted to deliver bad news, then he got Jordan to do it. He took him to Tottenham for the same reason.

Redknapp asked Jordan to tell me to play in a reserve game one day. I was 35 and was trying to get my fitness back. I was training well. Playing in a reserve game with the kids would not have helped me one bit. We had a slanging match but I stood up to him. We never exchanged words again after that day.

Football has moved on. Do you see Mike Phelan, the Manchester United assistant manager, losing his temper on the touchline? Do you even know the name of Barcelona or Real Madrid's assistant manager? No, because they do their job properly, keeping a low profile as they work effectively with players.

They do not stand snarling on the line. But, then again, if Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, wants to bawl someone out, he is more than capable of doing it himself, in private.

I have seen players lose it before, most famously my teammate Eric Cantona when he did his kung-fu kick at Crystal Palace in 1995. I had only joined United weeks earlier and could not quite believe what I was seeing.

There had been a few other incidents in my first weeks at United. Roy Keane and Gary Pallister had a set-to on a midseason break. They would not speak for years after.

But Cantona topped it all when he jumped into the crowd to attack a man in a bad leather jacket who had been giving him abuse.

I caught it out the corner of my eye and thought, "What on earth is going on here?" I was supposed to be gelling with my new partner up front, but there was little chance of that as he was sent off and then started fighting with a fan, and was subsequently banned for eight months.

I was in two minds about whether he had done the right thing. Everyone is different and reacts in different ways when provoked. We have all had abuse from the crowd and sometimes have to ignore it. Cantona didn't and his only regret is that he didn't hit his tormentor harder. The man had the shock of his life.

Maybe it would have been better if Cantona would have arranged to meet him outside after the game, well away from the cameras. Cantona would have done to him what Gattuso would have done to Jordan.

But Cantona was acting on impulse and there was no way that anyone could reason with him, a bit like Gattuso.