Farewell then, Garry Cook, whose resignation from his job came after a investigation carried out by Manchester City’s owners revealed that “there is foundation to Dr Onuoha’s allegations”, or, in other words, that not only did Cook send an email mocking the condition of Dr Anthonia Onuoha, the mother of and agent to one of the club’s squad players, Nedum Onuoha, but also that he lied in public about having sent this email. His disrespect, it could be argued, wasn’t just aimed at Dr Onuoha last year, but was also at his employers and at the supporters of the club itself. Considering the findings of the club’s internal investigation, resignation was his only option. What may now remain to be seen will be the question of how long Cook has to lay low before another club gives him an opportunity.
Considerable embarrassment has been caused to Manchester City Football Club by the allegations made, all the more so because they were centred around its Chief Executive. Cook has had a reputation within the game for someone with a loose mouth for some time – consider, for example, his idea of having a “central entity” of fourteen elite clubs with no promotion and relegation in the Premier League. The Times picked up on this in 2008, and one quotation taken from this article says a lot about the modern culture of the Premier League as well, perhaps, as about Cook himself. The phrase “no disrespect” has come to take on the very modern meaning of, “Look, I’m going to say something quite disrespectful about you now, but I don’t want you to be offended by it”. In 2008, Cook said, “We’re getting into a situation where there are maybe ten clubs. Do Saudi Arabians want to buy – and no disrespect to these clubs – Stoke City or Derby County?” There was plenty of disrespect implied in that comment, Mr Cook.
This wasn’t the only gaffe that Cook managed during his time with Manchester City. “Is he a nice guy? Yes. Is he a great guy to play golf with? Yes. Has he got the finances to run a club? Yes… Whether he’s guilty of something over there, I can’t worry too much about… Morally, I feel comfortable in this environment”, were his thoughts on the club’s take-over by Thaksin Shinawatra. Perhaps the reason why Cook seemed to hang on having made comments such as this is because they were reasonably accurate reflection of the moral barometer of the Premier League. Cook later said that felt “dreadful” about this paean to the disgraced former Thai leader, but, as a measure of the extent to which Cook had the potential to place his foot firmly in his own mouth, it’s a fairly good indicator.
Many supporters of the club have already made their mind up over whose fault this story is, and the majority view – although this is anecdotal – seems to place the responsibility at the door of Dr Onuoha, a certain Iranian-born players’ representative, The Sun newspaper and in particular the journalist that broke the story, Shaun Custis. There is something faintly queasy about the fact that it took this story almost a year to be released into the public domain, certainly, but until a concrete link can be proved any comment on that would be pure supposition. In any case, the ultimate responsibility for it still lays with Cook for having been involved in such an exchange of emails in the first place. Also, we will never know what might have happened had Cook merely admitted immediately that he did this and that he apologised for having done it – even if we were to consider the original email exchange to be neither here nor there, that he was dishonest in his original statement on the subject made his position at the club untenable.
Perhaps most significantly of all, though, the actions of the owners of Manchester City Football Club should be congratulated for the efficiency with which they have acted. The last few days are likely to have been somewhat embarrassing for them, and it might have been easy for them to attempt to sweep any of the findings from their investigation that they didn’t like the look of under the carpet, or to pass unnecessary comment with regard to the matter. As things have turned out, though, they have been efficient and honest in dealing with the matter, and Manchester City supporters can at least rest easy in the knowledge that their club has the financial clout to be able to hire from the top table of experience when it comes to the idiosyncratic business in which they deal.
This is, perhaps, the most important thing to take from this story. Whatever good Garry Cook did for Manchester City and no matter to what extent the supporters of the club to identify with him, no-one is irreplaceable and the club’s owners can probably be trusted to make the right decision over will follow in his footsteps. As such, the last few days have seen those running the club make the most of a bad situation, and it is now time for a fresh start at The City of Manchester Stadium. It always felt at least possible that Garry Cook’s carelessness would come back to haunting him, and he has paid the ultimate price for his profligacy in the form of his job. Manchester City, meanwhile, have the opportunity of a clean slate, with all the potential benefits that can some with such a new beginning.
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