Part of the problem with a twenty-four hour rolling news culture is that the need for instantaneous news, justice and retribution becomes like a drug. The story of Garry Cook’s email account has already buzzed around the world and it seems that most people have already made up their minds before Manchester City Football Club has even had the chance to finalise its investigation into what has been going on with regard to some insulting emails that were sent – whether accidentally or deliberately, whether by Cook himself or by someone that had hacked his email account – to Dr Anthonia Onuoha, the mother and agent of Nedum Onuoha, a Manchester City squad player, mocking Dr Onuoha’s battle with cancer.
There are – and of this there can be no little doubt – a number of different strands to this story, none of which make a great deal of sense. If the email was sent almost a year ago, why has it taken until now for it to become public? There appears to be no debate over the fact that this particular email was sent from Cook’s email account, but if someone was out to discredit him – and, as the Chief Executive of a Premier League football club, there can be little question that there would be plenty of people that could seek to do this – who, specifically would want to and, perhaps even more intriguingly, why? Various names have been mentioned by various people but, perhaps unsurprisingly, there is little concrete do go on at present.
It is easy, perhaps too easy, to view everything through the black and white lens of the media at this stage. Cook is a character that is easy to dislike, and the headline which reads “Man City Chief Garry Cook In Vile E-mail Storm Over Nedum Onuoha’s Stricken Mum” (which was The Sun’s somewhat overwrought website headline this morning) is one that will have pushed a lot of buttons for a lot of people today. Similarly – yet conversely – it is easy for those that would wish to seek a conspiracy theory to jump on the notion that the newspaper concerned may have some sort of vendetta against Manchester City or Cook himself. This sort of theory has become more and more prevalent amongst the supporters of Premier League clubs in recent years and it could be considered a development of what used to be called the “bunker mentality” stretched to its natural, paranoid conclusion. The truth may or may not turn out to be somewhere between these two extremes.
This truth, for now, falls between all available stools. We don’t know what happened – it really is that simple. For all of the guessing that has been going on over the course of the last twenty-four hours or so, from those that would seek to demonise Cook as well as those that would seek to defend him to the ends of the earth, there are no definitive answers yet on what happened regarding this email, who sent it, and what their motives might have been, or, if it was Cook, why he chose to try lie his may out of this particular corner. The good news for those that would seek the truth on this story is that emails are pretty easy to track, in terms of where they were sent from geographically and which machine from which they originated. The bad news for those that would like to know the answer to the questions raised by this immediately is that it may not be possible to get instant answers to the questions that the story has raised.
Manchester City are this evening reported to be “holding top-level talks to consider Garry Cook’s position”, and they are right to do so. The first thing to establish is whether Cook is telling the truth, and this shouldn’t be difficult. If he is exonerated, then the club should launch a new investigation into how the Chief Executive of their club’s email account was compromised. Cook is obviously privy to highly sensitive information regarding the club’s affairs and such a breach of security should be a major concerned. If, on the other hand, Cook’s original explanation cannot be corroborated and it is established that The Sun’s original story on the subject is true, then he must resign – not only for what he said, but also for having lied to his superiors at the club and, by proxy, to it supporters.
It may not be much help to anyone but those that enjoy the speculation and tittle-tattle that such stories tend to bring about, for now those looking in from the outside will just have to place their faith in those conducting the investigation within the club to be honest and fair to all in their internal investigation and that, should the finger of blame eventually end up be found to be internally pointing at Cook, there is no attempt to cover this up. Manchester City’s owners have, just perhaps, got the sort of team that their financial largesse over the last couple of years, for better or for worse, was always likely to leave them with. The press are bearing their teeth at the moment, but it is the stability of the club that should be Sheikh Mansour’s sole concern at the moment. Regardless of whether he was telling the truth in this case or not, the matter of whether Garry Cook is the right man for his position is one that Mansour will tonight be considering very carefully indeed.
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