Sport

Long Road Back for Carragher

Source: Chris Chambers (Twitter)
Will Jamie Carragher be able to return to football punditry after spitting at a fan?

By Reece Chambers

Jamie Carragher has been suspended by Sky for the remainder of the football season. The Sky analyst was caught up in an altercation with a Manchester United fan in which he was filmed spitting towards the fan’s car.

Following Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford, Jamie Carragher was ‘goaded three or four times’ by United fans on his car journey home. However, the spitting incident that followed the game was completely out of order from the ex-Liverpool defender.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this incident is why Carragher did what he did. The levels of provocation he would have endured in the last 20 years in the public eye have been immense. Therefore, to react in the way he did to a Manchester United fan saying ‘2-1 lad’ is bizarre.

As a player, the Liverpool-born defender made no secret of his disliking for close rivals Manchester United. His passion for the Reds shone on the pitch with hard-hitting tackles but it was nothing more than a competitive rivalry between Carragher and the red half of Manchester.

Consequently, some light-hearted banter stating the score-line should not have received the reaction it did. Within the comfort of his own car, Carragher could have quite easily ignored the United fan, turned up the radio or refused to enter dialogue with the fan. As it were, Carragher was naïve and irrational in his actions. As he says in his own words to BBC Sport, this incident has left an almighty ‘stain on his character.’

Nevertheless, it would appear that Sky are keen to keep Carragher as an analyst and pundit. By suspending him for the remainder of the season, Sky may hope that the media storm that followed the incident will have died down. Introducing him back into the public eye won’t be an easy task, but it is one that Sky look like doing in the future.

But why keep him on?

The actions are indefensible. Carragher was left with nowhere to hide following the incident. Clear footage showed him aim spit towards the Manchester United fan’s car – which contained a 14-year-old girl between Carragher and the driver.

But what many football fans forget is that everyone is human. Indeed, Carragher may enjoy the riches that come with being at the top of the football ladder, but that doesn’t mean he is perfect.

Just like any of us, he is likely to have lapses of concentration. The provocation of public figures in sport is unrivalled in any phase of life but Carragher will have to pay the consequences for losing control.

Suspension for the remainder of the season isn’t the consequences that will stick with Carragher. It will be the damage to his character. By all accounts, he is normally a polite and courteous man whose spoken of very highly by his counterparts.

With that in mind, this incident gives Carragher a long road to come back from, but one that is not impossible.

Though this incident leaves little credit in Carragher’s name, we should at least appreciate the way he handled the situation after the altercation.

The way in which he has fronted up to the press is somewhat admirable. Interviews with national broadcasters BBC, ITV and, his employer, Sky were handled with perfectly.

Reiterating ‘all I can do is apologise’ needs little explaining. Carragher knows he was in the wrong and shows genuine remorse in his actions. Even through a television, it is clear to see that he is genuinely sorry for the ‘moment of madness’ we have all been witness to.

Even the Manchester United fan who was involved in the altercation with Carragher told The Mirror he found the ex-Liverpool player “very genuine… I don’t want him to lose his job.”

For now, Carragher is suspended from duties at Sky and any other TV appearance looks unlikely. His role will be reviewed by Sky before the beginning of next season.

The spitting incident was indeed a moment of madness for Carragher and he is clearly paying severe consequences at this stage. If he were to return to TV with Sky, he would surely bring back his expert knowledge of the game and entertaining partnership with Gary Neville on Monday Night Football.

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