The Cook, The Thief, The Right Back and His Mother

By Ric Turner, Tue 06 September 2011 17:27

The Cook, The Thief, The Right Back and His Mother

Life is rarely dull as a Manchester City fan, certainly since Garry (“That’s two Rs, goddamnit!”) Cook took over as CEO in 2008. To say he is prone to the odd bout of foot-in-mouth syndrome would be something of understatement; Cook doesn’t so much shoot himself in the foot as blow it clean off with a pump-action assault rifle.

His previous gaffes are, of course, legendary. My own personal favourite is his comment about Thaksin Shinwatra (described by Amnesty International as a “human rights abuser of the worst kind”): “Is he a nice guy? Yes. Is he a great guy to play golf with? Yes. Does he have plenty of money to run a football club? Yes. I really care only about those three things”.

The latest furore surrounding Cook involves an email he allegedly sent to Nedum Onuoha’s mother, albeit unwittingly. The comments were certainly insensitive and inappropriate (assuming, of course, that Cook did actually send the email), but the press response has been predictably sensationalist.

The Sun, the last great bastion of morality in this country, described the email as “sickening” and “vile”. Presumably they draw the line at hacking into the mobile phone of a murdered teenage girl.

Ian Wright, meanwhile, demanded that City sack the perpetrator. I’d have to check the statutes, but I suspect Wright’s position as a Sun columnist doesn’t carry the requisite jurisdiction. He compared City unfavourably to neighbours United, trotting out the tired cliché that “you can’t buy class”. The same class exuded by Messrs Giggs and Rooney, presumably.

Dr Onuoha, meanwhile, described receiving the email as “the worst day of my life, even worse than being diagnosed with cancer”. So much so that it took her a full eleven months to recover from the shock, in order to grant an exclusive interview to a tabloid newspaper. In entirely unrelated news, her son Nedum has recently appointed Cook’s arch nemesis Kia Joorabchian as an agent, whilst City refused to subsidise a last minute move to Everton.

It appeared to me that Cook was jokingly chiding Marwood, rather than being overly spiteful or malicious towards Dr Onuoha, and unintentionally hit reply rather than forward. It was a fairly stupid mistake to make, but he won’t be the last person to be guilty of sending an inappropriate email to the wrong recipient. One can only imagine the blind panic on Cook’s face as he realised the magnitude of his mistake, and the subsequent phone call to the chairman. “Hi Khaldoon, it’s Garry here. You know how you mentioned keeping a low profile from now on? Well, you’re not going to believe this but…”.

Of course, all this assumes that Cook was responsible for sending the email, which is unproven thus far. It is not impossible that Cook’s email account was breached, but it seems unlikely. What sort of hacker would go to the effort of accessing the emails of a major company’s CEO, and then… sending a relatively innocuous email. It would be a fairly lame prank, when the scope for disruption would’ve been huge.

The key issue, therefore, is whether or not Cook has lied about the hacking, rather than the content of the email per se. There are clearly sinister forces involved (namely Joorabchian and certain factions of the press), and one hopes that the club don’t allow them to set the agenda. It would be remiss to ignore the good work that he has carried out, but if Cook has misled the board his prospects of survival look slim. It’s like our very own Watergate, just on a slightly more farcical scale. As I say, never a dull moment…