The subject this week, more saint than cleric on Irish turf, is Jack Charlton, who has seen his halo muddied by an unprecedented taste of his uncensored tongue in an account of Irish football during nearly nine years of his stewardship.
John Giles quickly pointed out that no one was exactly unaware of his penchant for forthright opinion. But studs are clearly showing in some lacerating swipes from Charlton that give new meaning to the Italia '90 catchphrase 'Give it a lash, Jack'.
Interviewed in The Team That Jack Built by the London- based Dubliner Paul Rowan, Charlton's principal targets include the former Irish captain Frank Stapleton, Liam Brady and the former youth team boss Liam Tuohy, who was once a Newcastle player and briefly national manager. The latter quit after Charlton rode roughshod over his half- time team talk during a match against England, and reduced players to tears.
'Liam (Tuohy) made a bloody big mistake. He could have been on the inside.
Now he's on the outside. With everything that I've achieved the one thing that gives me pleasure is that I stuffed it up his arse.' Charlton goes on to accuse Tuohy of behaving like 'a little shit-house' to him.
Stapleton, the former Manchester United player, is painted as a moaner.
'Frank is critical of everybody. You can never do anything right for Frank.
Instead of thanking me for stretching out his career, he f*****g always burns his boats. When we were in Rome Frank wasn't part of the set-up, he knew I wasn't going to play him.'
Charlton said that Rowan was 'totally out of line' in using certain quotes, claiming he did not realise all his comments were on tape, a point Rowan disputes. But he was typically unflinching over his remarks about Tuohy: 'Whatever I said about Liam I meant.'
Rowan claims the Irish manager actually repeated some salty remarks because the tape was not running when he uttered them first.
Charlton subsequently got his agent to try and block the use of some material in the book. He said the rumpus was 'insignificant' and not the resigning matter some Irish media tried to make it out.
Steve Staunton of Aston Villa got in an early tackle on his boss's behalf.
'Jack's a great manager to play for and our success has shown his tactics work. I have always found him fair and easy to play for.'
Just so long as you play by the rules, as the captain Andy Townsend reminds us in his own forthcoming biography. When Townsend joined the squad, Tony Cascarino marked his card: 'I'm serious Andy, don't mess about with it (the ball). If you're in any danger just lump it forward.'
The Team That Jack Built by Paul Rowan. Mainstream Publications ( pounds 12.99).
Andy's Game - The Inside Story of the World Cup by Andy Townsend with Paul Kimmage. Stanley Paul ( pounds 8.99).Reuse content