The Lead

The Football Association tends to be all things to all people, if ‘all things’ in this case invariably means everything inept, evil, or corrupt. It didn’t take long after the release of the Hillsborough Report, for example, for the FA’s odious involvement in awarding Sheffield Wednesday a safety certificate to take centre stage in the media, over and above calls for South Yorkshire Police officials to resign. The FA after all is the enemy the football press knows.

How often does the FA take the rap? Let me count the ways:

If England fail under an otherwise stellar foreign manager, it’s the FA’s fault for not hiring an Englishman. If the manager quits over his refusal to abide by their team-selection policy, it’s the FA’s political fumble. If England fail under an otherwise terrible English manager, it’s the FA’s fault for succumbing to populist opinion in hiring him. If the England players aren’t up to the same technical standards of Spain, it’s because the FA have failed to take a leadership role revamping the player development pathways. The FA’s attempt to revamp player development pathways with the Elite Player Performance Plan will bankrupt smaller clubs and entrench the Premier League’s power.

Wait, there’s more! The greed of the Premier League is a direct result of the FA’s decision to blindly cede power to the first division teams in 1992. The financial chaos in the lower leagues is a direct result of the FA failing to follow through on their fit-and-proper persons rules for potential owners. It was wrong of the FA to participate in FIFA’s corrupt kibuki play in England’s bid for the 2018, but it smacked of neocolonialism when they brought to light revelations of graft and extortion among other association reps.

“Blame the FA” works in almost every situation imaginable (I haven’t even got into the various racism charges it’s had to deal with in the last year), which is why John Terry er, blamed the FA’s investigation into accusations he racially abused Anton Ferdinand on October 23 2011 during Chelsea’s away match at Loftus Road against QPR for his decision to retire from the English national team.

The way he did so in particular was impossibly shrewd, through the use of one, effective word: “untenable.” Devoid of detail, it faintly implies a kind of harassment, as if the FA’s investigation was something more than pro forma, something…sinister.

While some columnists had the decency to call Terry on his astonishing bullshit, others like Martin Samuel trot out the old “the FA doesn’t follow the strictures of common law!” argument, forgetting that while the FA has different rules concerning evidence and guilt, it also cannot sentence players to prison terms but can award game suspensions and fines. Moreover, Samuel makes the curious claim the FA ‘forced’ Terry out when they were as blindsided by his retirement announcer as the rest of us.

In the end, these details won’t matter. Public opinion, even among Terry’s foes, will side against the faceless, inscrutable Football Association. They bungled it badly, as usual. Meanwhile the notion of personal responsibility, particularly for one’s behaviour in the heat of a football match, fades quietly into the background along with League Two scores and the Scottish Cup. Far easier to stick it to the man.

Canada

Toronto FC v LA Galaxy – Match Recap

Montreal Impact’s playoff hopes take a hit after Sporting KC draw.

Vancouver Whitecaps v Colorado Rapids – Match Recap

England

Roberto Di Matteo confident Ashley Cole will sign a new deal with Chelsea.

Newcastle’s Nile Ranger arrested for criminal damage.

Mario and Roberto – Their new bust up after draw with Arsenal

‘Shaking hands was a must’ – Patrice Evra 

Steven Gerrard urges patience after Manchester United loss.

Andre Villas-Boas confirms Brad Friedel is still his number one.

Roberto Mancini urges Manchester City to improve.

Terry’s international retirement criticized by FA’s general secretary Alex Horne.

Alan Pardew set to decide on penalty takers after Cisse’s miss on Sunday.

West Ham’s Mark Noble signed to a new deal.

Brendan Rodgers vows to ban vile chanting between Manchester United and Liverpool fans.

Italy

Pressure on Allegri once again after Milan suffers its third loss in four games.

Franco Baldini set to reject Tottenham’s technical director job.

Allegri has Berlusconi and Galliani’s backing.

Serie A Round-Up

Spain

Real Madrid v Rayo Vellecano rescheduled for during the day due to ‘sabotage’.

Messi denies having a  problem with David Villa.

La Liga Round-up

Germany

Bayern Munich’s Jupp Heynckes confirms he will continue to rotate his squad.

Hamburg end Borussia Dortmund’s 31-game unbeaten streak.

Bundesliga Round-Up

Bits and bobs

The highs and lows of John Terry’s career.

Atletico Madrid’s centreback Diego Godin scores a beauty.

Today’s tabloid rumors…they’re some good ones.

The worst tackle ever…two foot slide

John Terry to the rescue…protects David Luiz from the Stoke City hooligans.

Thanks to Michael Tomasone for compiling today’s links.