Peter Corrigan: Banish the managers

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The Independent Football

Just when you thought they had nodded off, the Football Associations of England and Wales jerked into action on Friday when they lined up Cardiff City in their disciplinary sights.

As protocol demands, the FA are taking a back seat while the FAW bring the club before them on a charge related to the crowd violence at Ninian Park during and after their FA Cup victory over Leeds United.

Cardiff will claim that they did everything possible to avoid crowd trouble, but their fans have been causing trouble for so long it will be difficult for the club to dissociate themselves from their followers who were called "rampant thugs" when 11 of them appeared in a Cardiff court on Thursday.

The FA have the benefit of awaiting the verdict of their Welsh counterparts before deciding whether to take action themselves. The FAW have no record of delivering Solomonic judgments at the best of times, never mind under the pressure of a watching world, so the FA might feel it necessary to stiffen the punishment.

But Cardiff come under their jurisdiction only as far as the FA Cup is concerned, so what can they do? Order them to play their next home Cup tie behind closed doors? It might be years before Cardiff get a home tie.

Whatever the FA do, I hope that they do not confine their muscle-flexing to dealing with Cardiff. Recent mis-behaviour has been widespread and has involved clubs of a much higher profile.

As much as the excesses of their fans must be curbed, to use Cardiff and their eccentric chairman, Sam Hammam, as the only target for their disciplinary vengeance would not reflect well on the seriousness of the FA's intentions to stamp out unruliness.

Hammam has already been banned from conducting his perambulations around the pitch, but when you examine these little ego parades they are in no way as inflammatory as managers prowling the patch of earth between their dug-out and the touchline.

They may provide wonderfully dramatic cutaways for the television cameras but they do nothing to generate good order. They scream unintelligible orders at their team, shout at the referee, harangue the nearest linesman and give the fourth official abuse at every opportunity.

Without doubt, they incite the crowds while at the same time damaging their health, if last week's television programme on managerial stress is anything to go by.

Bolton's Sam Allardyce and Dave Bassett of Leicester had their hearts wired up in a recent match, and the needle registering their heartbeats almost took flight.

The question the programme neglected to ask was: why? What did their pulse-pounding presence on the touchline achieve? They can't see anything – at least they claim not to when it is anything controversial – so is it not time for them to be consigned to a place in the directors' box from where they can get a calm overview of play and send down considered advice to be relayed to the team via the training staff?

The FA will waste this opportunity if they decline to apply some strict rulings to all in the wake of the recent troubles.

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