Misquoted Mendi: Sorry For “Booze Culture” Southgate Stick

EXCITED anti-Southgate retro-vigilantes had a field day when Gaizka Mendieta unexpectedly handed them a stick to beat the bogey man with.
Now he is asking everyone to sheepishly turn in their weapons after being left red faced by a ‘lost in translation’ blunder back home.


Mendi, who is the latest in a very long line of Boro icons in exile and whose abilities became magnified by not playing (see Tony McMahon), seemed to have had a pop at the departed dug-out scapegoat in the Spanish press about Boro’s “booze culture.”
Now, most Boro fans should have a default position of extreme scepticism about tabloid shockers. especially ones that have been translated from the foreign language press (El Ravanelli Misquota) and ripped from the original context making any kind of reasoned judgement difficult.
And most should know too that whatever else Mendieta is – Yarm Cricket Club groundsman, Velvet Underground fan club chairman, laid back English country gentleman of leisure, Strickland and Holt gold card holder – he is not a bitter gutter press kiss-and-tell merchant. He is philosophical about what happened at Boro.
But, hey, don’t let that get in the way of a bout of renewed hostilities over the Ex.
“Boro is awash with booze the second the whistle goes,” they screamed in vindication. “See! Totally unprofessional. No wonder Boro were rubbish. Southgate lost control of the drunken rabble.” For a second there I thought we were back in the Black Bull with Robbo’s inner circle.
Alas, the will have to screw the top back on the bottle. Mendieta has now emphatically denied making the comments and has unreservedly apologised for inadvertently causing a storm in a beer glass.
He says he did the interview with Spanish paper El Mundo where it was filleted, marinated in Iberian stereotypes of the English game then picked up, chopped up and reheated by the English press.
Mendieta said: “I want to apologise for what has been written, supposedly in my name. I never said that and I am upset that the Spanish journalist has twisted it to sound like I did. It’s very annoying.”
The shock horror story claimed that Mendi witnessed a drinking culture at first hand immediately after games – which in itself should have set off alarm bells because he was so infrequently even in the changies under Southgate.
It also flies in the face of what was being said about the exits of Lee Cattermole and Jonathan Woodgate, who let’s be honest, liked to unwind with a post-match pint or two.
People like to believe all players are on the pop all the time. They aren’t. Some of the younger ones like to go out with their mates on a Saturday night now and then and let their hair down a bit, – who doesn’t? – but very few are stupid enough to jeopardise a potentially lucrative career by routine extended boozing and most of the swear down taxi driver tittle-tattle is malicious nonsense magnified as it is passed on third hand by those who would like to appear ‘in the know.’
As for beer flowing in the changies… I am usually down the tunnel area after the game and far from being party central it is all focussed, professional and very dull: stretching, warm-downs, pasta-based light meals and isotonic drinks to replace energy and fluids… and there is not a can of Stella or Mars Bar in sight
And now Mendieta has cleared it all up anyway and retracted every word. He said: “It’s not what I said at all. What I told the reporter was that I heard from team-mates and others that this was the sort of thing that had happened in the past.
“But I certainly never saw it when I was at Middlesbrough. Things like that didn’t happen when I was at Middlesbrough. I never saw any sign of a drinking culture there. Everything was always very professional under both Steve McClaren and Gareth Southgate.”
So that should put the lid on that. Bit it won’t because months and years down the line whenever people are glancing through the Southgate crime sheet or marshalling their ‘facts’ in an argument “booze culture” and “treatment of Mendi” will be set in stone.
Now, Mendieta did have a case to be angry at Boro. Trying to sell him off to second division Spanish clubs behind his back was shoddy and undiplomatic while not giving him a squad number was insulting and unforgivable (and arguably just short of grounds for ‘constructive dismissal’). But being kept on gardening leave on £30k a week for 18 months is hardly incarceration in a gulag.
He was a brilliant professional, always first into training, superb with the kids and was never a bit of bother behind the scenes in any way. And yes, there was a long, frosty diplomatic Mexican stand off behind the scenes – but let us not create a myth about him being a massive, irreplaceable talent frozen out in a nose/spite situation.
He was not a Juninho being kept in the naughty corner despite offering a vast array of irresistable options to the team. The reason he wasn’t a fixture in the team and the reason the club tried to move him on was that his legs had gone. And whatever people might say now as their political position has co-opted Mendi as a potential weapon that was the consensus among the crowd at the time. He was a boo-boy target in waiting. He used to get slated mercilessly or luaghed at every time he was even on the bench.
His lack of pace was repeatedly exposed on his rare appearances after his injury and despite some sparkling early displays (in Europe and notably as the main man in a five man midfield that demolished Manchester United) it was clear he was no longer up to it on a regular basis. Nice guy, did a great job for the club. But please, don’t make him a political martyr or a weapon to beat a boss who has gone.
******
GUTTED. My “Hand of Frog” headline suggestion was rejected for the story about Thierry Henry’s last gasp larceny against Sean St Ledger
*******
THERE is a cracking piece in the news pages of the Gazette today in which Gordon Strachan reveals his X-Factor obsession, his dismay at Jedward’s twin evil advance at the expense of Lucie and his angry living room invective aimed at Simon Cowell on the box.
Quality lifestyle journalism.

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29 thoughts on “Misquoted Mendi: Sorry For “Booze Culture” Southgate Stick

  1. Even with both legs amputated Mendi would have been faster than Arca.
    We will likely not hear about the real truth behind Mendi’s exclusion by Southgate until the revamped history of the club that comes out every other year around Christmas covers the last few years – about 2020 at a guess.
    And I suspect it will sound very similar to the departures of Hasselbaink, Queudrue, Woodgate, Viduka, Yakubu, Boateng, Schwarzer – issues Southgate had with senior former teammates once he got into management.

  2. I suspect the only issue Southgate had with any of his senior former team mates was their effect on the club’s wage bill, which he was tasked with reducing.
    Hasselbaink, Viduka, Boateng and Schwarzer were all reported as wanting two-year contracts. Of the four only Schwarzer would have been worth considering. Quedrue said he wanted a change of scenery and wouldn’t renew his contract. Yakubu was just following the money and Woodgate had baggage. Nothing at all to do with any vendetta by Southgate.

  3. Jiffy
    Are you seriously saying that Southgate got rid of all his best, most experienced players to PROTECT his position?
    Strange logic.

  4. Well said AV, there was nothing sinister about the way Mendi was frozen out – he simply wasn’t good enough and we couldn’t move him on.
    He was always a very frustrating player, he had the knack of missing seemingly easy chances or making the wrong decision at vital moments (might fit in with our current team quite well), but overall he did well for the club and was part of our ‘golden era’.
    He does sound like a good bloke so I was surprised about the original article and pleased to see his apology.

  5. AV
    I have tried the legs had gone following injury and good in a five man midfield arguments many times. All that seems to happen is that the matter goes quiet until the next opportunity arises to reinvent Mendi as a latter day amalgam of John the Baptist, Zidane and Vieira though John the Baptist was good with his head.
    **AV writes: You don’t need to be good with your head if someone puts it on a plate for you.

  6. ● ● ● ▬
    I’ve either got the flu or the thought of the game on Saturday is making me ill. For the greater good I would do a pact with him upstairs and be struck down with Bird/Swine/Spanish/Normal flu and miss the game on Saturday if it guaranteed three points. What I need is a call to arms, a rallying cry to gird my loins and fight off infection and the threat from the East Midlands.
    So I was delighted that GS2 has taken on board the theme of the last couple of weeks. I can now give a sneak preview of GS2’s final instructions to the players. At five to three on Saturday afternoon, just as we are taking our seats (hopefully) the wee fella will give it both barrels with:
    “Even though large tracts of Europe had and many old and famous Clubs have fallen or may fall into the grip of Nottingham Forest and all the odious apparatus of East Midland rule, we shall not flag or fail.
    “We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in Teesside, we shall fight on the Pitch and training ground, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air (Marcus Bent), we shall defend our Goal, whatever the cost may be (drop Jones), we shall fight in the Penalty area (Pogatetz), we shall fight on the halfway line (Pogatetz), we shall fight in the fields and near the corner flag (Pogatetz), we shall fight in the gap behind the full back (Pogatetz); we shall never surrender.
    “And even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this team or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the Tees, armed and guarded by the Ayresome Angels, would carry on the struggle, until, in Gibbo’s good time, the Premier League, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
    Victory on the 21st
    **AV writes: There is an interview with Paul Daniels in tomorrow’s Gazette where he throws his weight behind the Victory on the 21st Campaign
    Victory on the 21st
    **AV writes: Hey, I do the pithy throwaway lines at the end. But I like that idea; not a lot, but I like it.

  7. AV, I think Mendy was one of the greats. Remembering Cardiff etc. And a nice chap, too. A bit like Juninho in many ways, too. And I always wondered why he faded away. Perhaps you are right about the legs…
    In my earlier post I dreamed about a new right sided midfielder. Where is Yeates? Why has it not worked for him, AV? Your personal opinion highly appreciated.
    Up the Boro?
    **AV writes: I am surprised he has not featured more under GS2 who values honest workrate and energy (although it needs to be harnessed to discipline and he can wander off a bit). That said, when he was brought in I never really saw him as anything other than a useful squad player.

  8. **AV writes: I am surprised he has not featured more under GS2 who values honest workrate and energy (although it needs to be harnessed to discipline and he can wander off a bit). That said, when he was brought in I never really saw him as anything other than a useful squad player. ”
    Or a right footed left winger! He needs one of those big elastic bands from its a knockout to keep pulling him back to right wing.
    Carrying on the Jeux Sans Frontieres theme, Folan and Bent can be a couple of those big dopey guys who wander around aimlessly with no control. Come to think of it, I thought I recognised the shooting skills.
    **AV writes: Hoyte on the ball…. man in outsize football boots balanced precariously on greasy pole while people throw wet sponges at him?

  9. These super fit sportsman can probably take a drink better than any blogger!
    Maybe they should take a leaf out of The Flying Pig’s book and have a bucket full of G&T’s before a game and end up top scorer!

  10. AV – perhaps a little bit of reflected glory for you…The “Hand of Frog” was used a headline in the Irish press…and they certainly were entitled to use it!

  11. 1. Northampton!! Have they got any other players in their squad who have recently scored goals against top German opposition in the UEFA Cup? It’s a really good job we are awash with so many skilful attacking midfielders and goalscorers in OUR squad who have scored so recently at that level, so that we can afford to part with one.
    2. AV, let’s have some inside knowledge here. We keep hearing about our players being so very unfortunately misinterpreted or taken out of context in interviews with the Press. I stress that I am not accusing Mendieta here, but I make a general point.
    If you were being objective what would your answers be to the following:
    a. how many interviews have you conducted with players over the years,
    b. how many times have you been accused of misinterpreting the replies given, or taking them out of context and,
    c. what would the answers be if given by Uncle Eric and Phil Tallentire and, finally,
    d. don’t you usually either record the interviews (good old Dictaphone?) or get out the shorthand notepad and, if challenged, could you produce them to show that you were accurate despite allegations to the contrary?
    I would be prepared to bet that your figures would cast you in a much better light than those from the Press abroad who seem to “get it wrong” so often when interviewing our players and ex-players.
    On the other hand would an investigative journalist perhaps ask the foreign journo about his tape or his notes? And would it then be interesting to confront the player with the evidence, if it was against him? Or to have a transcript interpreted and printed in the event of continued denials?
    Sometimes genuine mistakes or misunderstandings will occur. Of course a cynic might suggest players sometimes REALLY DID say what the reporter has put in his story (though I make it clear again I don’t say that in Mendi’s case) but the player, in light of the storm caused, then goes on to deny it over here.
    It really would be too much to believe, that ALL the reporters abroad are wicked liars or fools, and ALL the Boro players are innocently misquoted. And why is always Boro players? Boronoia would have hit new heights to believe that the FOREIGN Press, many of whom must hardly know we exist, are out to get us.
    What do you think, dear contributors and AV?
    **AV writes: Generally you only get accused of “taking it out of context” when the person who said it later gets some stick over the quotes.
    Sometimes players say daft things you know could easily be taken out of context and you subtley reshape them to avoid them looking provocative or too contentious because there is no point falling out with someone by dropping them in for the sake of a comma when you know fine well that wasn’t what they meant.
    Those things are most likely to be taken out of context not by the local press – who know the background and nuances and have a relationship with the players and the club they need to preserve – but by the more remote nationals who don’t look too hard for context or mitigation, by the parastical cutandpastebot websites and by TV and radio networks just looking for an easy sensationalist headline.
    In this case I don’t think the problem is at the ‘foreign end’. If you read the original (even in bablefish) the contentious booze comment is right at the end and is in truth a harmless response to a very general question about the differences in the culture of the game when he got to England and the answer is equally generalised and playing to the prejudices of the local audience.
    It is not specifically aimed at Southgate. In fact, you could read it and assume he was talking about when he first arrived, which would put it under McClaren.
    The problem has arisen by a careless rewriting by the English press that has taken out the juicy line without giving it cultural context and out of the willingness of the habitual knockers to latch onto any opportunity to lay into the club. It always amzes me that the average Boro fan will denounce the tabloids as pernicious lie machines deliberately seeking to undermine the town, the club and our very essence – but will then cite them as gospel when a scrap of ill researched gossip strikes a chord with their own prejudices.

  12. Why did the Gazette not report the intial (now miss) story/quotes from Mendi? I guess in hindsight you were probably correct in not running it – but you didn’t know that did you?
    They should of definitely of went with “Hand of Frog” headline! I’m hoping what goes around come back around and France suffer but football isn’t that kind or honest.
    Paul Daniels interview…… the magician and Doncaster Rovers fan?
    **AV writes: We didn’t go with the quotes as reported in the tabloids on the morning because we wanted to check them against the original first. We are old fashioned like that. Simply repeating these things unchecked is how mountains are made out of molehills and how the tabloids get to set sensationalist agendas.

  13. BBC quote the Daily Mirror as saying:
    ‘Chelsea are willing to sign Middlesbrough winger Adam Johnson for £4m and loan him back to the Teesside outfit.’
    Come on AV, use your Trinity Tower contacts or did the story come from MFC or even the Gazette? Now what were you saying about cut and paste journos and bloggers?
    The rumour mill is revving up ready for January but that is all it is, or is it?
    We have debated before that a loan back may be a likely solution to Johnno’s stalled contract situation.
    **AV writes: The Chelsea link started in the Echo after a manager of another nearby club hinted that they may be interested in Jonno but that they may not get him as a bigger club were sniffing. I think naming Chelsea was a bit of 2+2ing. Where the idea of a loan back got bolted on I don’t know.

  14. ● ● ● ▬
    Giant Elastic bands, Justin Hoyte, Greasy Pole. All three are laughable in modern day football but couple these with Flavio Briatore’s multi ball TOSS and we have yet another winner.
    Did some one mention a Dictaphone? Excuse me whilst I shoehorn in my favourite joke. AV walks into Dixons and asks the sales man ‘I need a Dictaphone’. The salesman replies ‘No problem, here’s Mike Ashley’s’ number’
    Thank you, thank you and goodnight
    Victory on the 21st

  15. Mendi is a nice bloke and I still think we should have tried him in a midfield five when we were struggling for experience and final product at the other end of the pitch.
    His legs may have gone a bit but his skill was still there and the five in midfield would have sorted that. Dont you remember some of his great performances in the reserves. I cant believe he was never tried! We will never know if he could have played through balls , split defences, got forward and had a shot or two.
    One thing is for sure the golden era he was part of is OVER!

  16. Cheers AV for a helpful response. What do the punters out in blogland feel when they see yet another “I was misquoted” plea by players?

  17. AV
    If even a dimbo like me has mentioned a loan back for Johnno would the low life known as agents have missed the opportunity?
    Or even someone who has a liking for hours of darkness?
    **AV writes: But why would Chelsea pay money in January then loan him back when they could simply agree a pre-contract and get him on a free in the summer? It doesn’t make any sense. Any kind of auction between clubs that drives the price up only has a logic if they want to take him in January.

  18. SmogontheTyne: 
– –. — — -.. !
    No Comment: V Good!
    AV: Your reply to Forever Dormo at 11.02 today, “It always amzes me that the average Boro fan will denounce the tabloids as pernicious lie machines deliberately seeking to undermine the town, the club and our very essence – but will then cite them as gospel when a scrap of ill researched gossip strikes a chord with their own prejudices.”
    Following up on a couple of one of FD’s points at 11:02 today:
    a) Did you get Mr Average’s interview on voice recorder?
    b) If you didn’t actually interview (our own poster) Mr Average, was it a scientific and statistically representative sample of Boro fans you’ve drawn your conclusion from? Or, was it the inevitably skewed distribution of posters on Untypical Boro? (Skewed on the basis of their motivation to participate in opinion exchange in this forum. They may be skewed in other ways of course!).
    Forever Dormo: Your testimonial to AV –
    “I would be prepared to bet that your figures would cast you in a much better light than those from the Press abroad who seem to “get it wrong” so often when interviewing our players and ex-players.”
    Would you care to revisit that?
    [AV & FD: Really, you don’t have to respond to this piece of trite crap. I only posted it to demonstrate how easy it is for someone who is minded to it, to choose to misinterpret, selectively interpret, take literally, otherwise filter or spin and subsequently mislead from an original well-intended and “innocent” observation.
    Strike me down should I ever stoop so low! Ahem!
    I think it also demonstrates a serious point – just how difficult it is to communicate accurately, unambiguously and objectively!
    THAT, it appears however, is what the tabloids don’t even try to do! They thrive on ambiguity, difference of opinion and the peoples’ disparate susceptibilities and proclivities, and, as you so rightly point out, their prejudices.
    AV: I guess, by your implied “definition”, that makes me an average Boro fan and if so, I’m pleased that we’re all managing to amaze you!]

  19. AV
    I take your point but who knows what takes place in dark rooms. Maybe I was just looking to get something out of what increasingly looks like the certainty of him leaving.
    There again the story must have had some basis but who knows what is true.

  20. AV, In response to Ian Gill post on the Johnson rumour you wrote: “why would Chelsea pay money in January then loan him back when they could simply agree a pre-contract and get him on a free in the summer? It doesn’t make any sense”
    You maybe forgetting that although Chelsea will be allowed to make transfers in January whilst their appeal against a two window ban is heard, they will almost certainly be banned from dealing in the summer and possibly next January. So it would make sense for Chelsea to make a few ‘extra’ signings for the future.
    **AV writes: But he would be a free agent in the summer so presumably no transfer embargo would apply. Besides, he could just sign a pre-contract in January and still play out his last six months at Boro. There would be no need for a fee or a loan back arrangement. It just doesn’t ring true.

  21. An illuminating piece on Dave Kitson in The Northern Echo today in which the striker acknowledges that there’s much more to life than football. He doesn’t do flash cars (I wonder what he makes of Andrew Taylor’s exclusive ‘Platinum Players’ website) and can’t watch football on telly.
    It sounds unlikely that he will be here in February; he has a family to think about and moving further north doesn’t seem to be on the agenda. Let’s hope he bangs them in in the next six weeks and goes down in ‘lore as a kind of ginger Marco Branca.
    **AV writes: Or indeed, a ginger Uwe Fuchs.

  22. Richard at 8.47pm yesterday, and the testimonial to AV that you quoted – the difficulties in interpreting newspaper articles and interviews are added to by the fact that you can’t always tell from the written word that the tongue was poking gently into the cheek.
    I still think, while there will always be exceptions, footballers as a species tend to have more difficulties articulating their views than other sportsmen (compared, say, to the average cricketer or rugby union player).
    They get “misquoted” at a rate of knots! And Boro players seem (from this Boro-obsessed neck of the woods anyway) to suffer from the difficulty more than the average footballer.
    At least we can be top of the “I was taken out of context/misquoted/misunderstood” league. AND it’s not something we can blame Keith Lamb for!
    Football on the 21st! Victory? Let’s hope so against a team with a good away record. Is anyone else here nervous?

  23. Oh Mendi
    You Went And You Spoke Without Thinking,
    And They Blew You Away,
    Oh Mendi…
    You talked About Mars Bars and Drinking
    And Now You Must Pay
    Oh Mendi…

  24. My feeling is that the Lita-Kitson partnership is going to define our season.
    If it comes off and we get the goals we need in the run then we are back in the mix but then faced with a series of dilemnas in January.
    What do we do about Johnno? What money do we have available? How will the squad be shape up? Can we keep our better players? Lets get to the stage where it is a problem. I suspect a tough low scoring draw but hope for a win, any win however scrappy.
    Now back to the loan issue.
    There may be some sense in a loan. We may agree a price based on a loan back, a club may prefer to have the player signed up now and part with some cash. If a club knows they are losing there African players for a spell they may buy, play then loan.
    On balance I agree with the views that it is unlikely but not as unlikely as Johnno being a contracted Boro player next season.

  25. You can’t actually agree a pre-contract with a player in the same country as yourself, so it would make sense for Chelsea to do what has been suggested.
    As for today’s game, I don’t know where to start. Dreadful.

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