The search for a new CEO is now well under way, but the unsavoury nature of this situation lingers over all involved parties.
The resignation of Garry Cook appears to have been met with adulation from many outside the club, but having experienced first-hand the work which has been accomplished during his tenure I am sad to see him go and can only hope that his successor will adhere to the prominant ‘fans first’ policy. For the match-goer, Cook was the perfect CEO; from simple things such as ensuring we no longer had to queue in the rain for tickets and making time for supporters club meetings, to keeping prices within the grasp of the working man – the first ever Champions League tie at The Etihad Stadium is only £25, for example.
The admittedly harmless (yet seemingly endless) gaffes kept bringing Cook into the limelight, but it was the deceitful nature of denying he sent the e-mail which cost him his job. The offending e-mail was obviously in ill-taste but it is arguable that an apology would have sufficed. The real enigma is not whether Dr Onuoha would’ve accepted it, but ADUG. Nevertheless, Cook is gone, leaving a positive legacy and infrastructure inside the club to build upon, but a public persona irrecoverably damaged.
For a self-professed dyed in the wool blue such as Nedum Onuoha it must have been painful to see his professional future elsewhere, but a fair share of the blame lies firmly at his doorstep. Perhaps it is due to the fact he has progressed from ball-boy, to fan, to first team player to ‘for sale’ which has led to his decisions towards the club he loved for so long becoming erratic and harmful.
Impressive form in the second half of the 08/09 season saw Onuoha earn a new 5 year contract, worth £38k per week, but the arrivals of Joleon Lescott and Kolo Toure during the summer transfer window saw him start just 4 games until Hughes’ exit on 19th December.
After Mancini witnessed City concede 6 goals in 2 games at the end of Mark Hughes’ management reign – in which Nedum performed particularly poorly – the defender was limited to just 3 cup and 6 league games in the final 4 months of the season, culminating in the infamous Soccer AM interview.
“I almost feel like I was taking a backseat to a lot of the action. With Mark Hughes I didn’t play initially, but I had a feeling that I was going to be playing more and then he lost his job and the new manager came in and I don’t know, I just don’t think he liked me to be honest”.
Publicly stating that the manager doesn’t like you is obviously unprofessional, even quite bizarre conduct from the intelligent – 3 As at A Level – defender; but it didn’t end there. The attack on Mancini continued, regarding Joleon Lescott not making the England World Cup 2010 23 man squad.
“I feel for Joleon Lescott to be honest. I think the way that he was handled towards the end of the season in terms of injury by sort of management and stuff has almost cost him a place
I think it was the week or two weeks before the season ended the manager came out and said he’s going to be unavailable for the final two games and that wasn’t the case because at the time I think he was coming back into training.
I was surprised in the final week of the season how he wasn’t involved. I think with someone like, for example, Harry Redknapp throughout the season he’s pushing all his players to try and get into the England squad.
You look at Tom Huddlestone for example; he’s without doubt now guaranteed to be making the 30-man England squads from now until the end of his career.”
Incidentally – 2 substitute caps and 1 starting cap – Tom Huddlestone did not go to South Africa and has not been picked for his country since.
Finally, he ended with a defence of Stephen Ireland regarding his imminent sale to Aston Villa.
“I heard that and I was a bit surprised to be honest because he’s one of the hardest working players I’ve ever played with. And he’s probably the best player I’ve ever played with as well”.
Whatever Onuoha’s intentions regarding this interview, it only served to alienate him further from the squad, resulting in a season-long loan to Sunderland in August 2010.
In October 2010, two months after Nedum moved to Sunderland, the offending email was sent to Dr Anthonia Onuoha, on which she claims was “the worst day of my life, even worse than being diagnosed with cancer”.
11 months later the e-mail and subsequent interview was given to The Sun’s sports journalist Shaun Custis – following up his piece ‘Arsenal have sensationally told Manchester City: Give us Carlos Tevez and you can have Samir Nasri’ – kick-starting the latest Cook controversy.
The timing of the article, four days after City refused to subsidise Onuoha’s wages for a deadline day loan move to Everton, certainly raises eyebrows, as does the involvement of Kia Joorabchian, the publication chosen and the journalist.
In August 2010 City reported Dr Onuoha to the FA regarding her hiring of Joorabchian – an unregistered agent – to find her son a new club. Joorabchian’s bad blood with the club runs deep from his involvement in Carlos Tevez’s affairs, his relationship with Cook becoming particularly strained.
After the story broke, Joorabchian released a statement:
“Contrary to reports in some of the newspapers this morning, I do not act for or represent the footballer Nedum Onuoha of Manchester City. I have not met the player or spoken to him at any time.”
Somewhat at odds with his speaking to BBC Sport on 18th August regarding Everton, QPR and Blackburn moving for the defender.
Nobody can come out of this episode with their head held high. With Nedum rejoining the first team squad for training, but doubtful to ever play for the club competitively again combined with Joorabchian’s influence over the club still lingering (guess who’s now representing de Jong), a final resolution is unlikely until the new year at the earliest.