So, Shaun Newton… busted. The biggest surprise of the whole story to me wasn’t that he’d been caught having taken the old Bolivian Marching Powder, rather that he was playing at West Ham when he was. Most Wolves fans will tell you that he spent much of his time at Molineux as if under the influence of a very heavy dose of mogadon. That he was in a Premier League club’s squad having spent a few seasons singularly failing to be Wolves’ long-term replacement for Steve Bull was something of a shock, I can tell you.
I’m struggling to see how a seven month ban is proportionate, especially when compared with the recently-retired Zinedine Zidane’s three-match ban for head-butting someone for insulting his mother in the World Cup final. Zidane is, of course, an icon. A role-model to millions. To see him commit such an act of violence on a football pitch was shocking. He’ll spend three days (yes, that’s three days) doing community service, because his international career is over. Newton, according to tabloid rumour, isn’t even much of a role-model within his own family at the moment. If the authorities (and, presumably, the clubs) really wanted do something about recreational drug use in football, presumably they’d be better advised to not pay their young players thousands of pounds a week for a couple of days work, and then leave them to their own devices for the rest of the time. This, though, is the paradox of the harsh sentencing of drug offenders. It tackles those unfortunate enough to get caught, without actually tackling the problem itself. Just like in wider society, funnily enough.
It’s difficult to see how cocaine could be regarded as a performance-enhancing drug in any case, of course. If football required players to talk too much, sweat profusely, gurn and grind their teeth, then I can see how it would be performance-enhancing (and it would also explain something about Paul Gascoigne’s problems – how did they not spot that earlier?), but I can see no real benefit to him disappearing for the whole of the half-time break with a rolled up twenty pound note. Steroids are a different matter, but coke? Pull the other one.
In other news, Spurs will pull off the transfer coup of the summer if they can prise Damien Duff away from another season on the bench for Chelsea. It’s a sign of how far they’ve come in such a short period of time that they can be seriously linked with a player of his calibre. They’re the favourites to get Pavel Nedved in the great Juventus fire-sale, too. Meanwhile, Quinton Fortune has got got to suffer the indignity of playing a trial match for Bolton against Burnley at the weekend (this amuses me for a reason that I can’t quite put my finger on), and, finally, Liverpool are set to pay £6m for Jermaine Pennant from Birmingham City. Hopefully they’ll take more care of him than they did of the “Spice Boys” in the 1990s.
Finally, because I can’t leave a post on here without a link, I’d recommend that you all take a look at this blog about the MLS in America. It’s rather good. The owner of it, for reasons that I haven’t fully fathomed yet, also supports Ipswich Town. It takes different strokes to move the world.