Worst Excuses in World Football History

Charles Lawley@@charleslawleyContributor IMay 22, 2013

Worst Excuses in World Football History

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    When we all heard that Roberto Mancini had been fired from Manchester City because his approach wasn’t “holistic” enough, our first reaction was “that’s a terrible excuse.”

    Well, for some of us, our first reaction was to find a dictionary and look up what “holistic” meant, but our second reaction was “that’s a terrible excuse.” 

    But is it the worst excuse ever given in football?

    Not by a long shot. There are at least 20 worse examples.

    And here they are...

Blaming It on the Pitch

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    Following the English national team’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008 after a home defeat to Croatia, the quality of pitch was blamed by members of the press, according to The Telegraph.

    Wembley had hosted NFL games prior to the match, leaving the turf in a terrible condition for England’s 3-2 loss.

    The trouble with this excuse is, the Croatian team didn’t hover five feet above the air. They had to play on that pitch, too.

    The “we lost because of the pitch” excuse has recently been recycled by Harry Redknapp, when asked why QPR were so woeful this season.

Blaming It on Bouncy Balls

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    If the word “jabulani” means anything to you, then you’ll know the actual footballs themselves have been made scapegoats for results in the past.

    When his Newcastle United side were held to a draw by non-league Stevenage Borough in the 1998 FA Cup, then-Newcastle United manager and believer that Andy Carroll is worth £35 million, Kenny Dalglish, blamed the result on the balls being “too bouncy” according to The Telegraph.

    Balls being bouncy. An outcome no one could have foreseen.

Blaming It on the Ball Boys

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    Former (for now) Chelsea and Real Madrid (forever) manager, Jose Mourinho, once cited Barcelona’s lack of ball boys as a reason why his Madrid side lost to them.

    Mourinho said after his side’s second leg Supercopa loss at the Nou Camp:

    Real Madrid gave a spectacular performance from the first to the last minute. We came here to play. What I'm about to say is not a criticism, I'm just stating a fact: there were no ball-boys in the second half, which is something typical of small teams when experiencing difficulties.

    If Barcelona are a small team experiencing difficulties, what does that make Portsmouth?

Blaming It on Forgetting

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    What excuse did professional footballer and athlete Rio Ferdinand use for missing a drugs test?

    He simply forgot.

    Convincing, huh?

    Well, the FA weren’t that convinced. They banned him from football for eight months and gave him a £50,000 fine.

    He didn’t forget again.

Blaming It on Computer Games

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    When he was Liverpool keeper, David James once blamed his PlayStation for his letting in three howlers against Newcastle United: "I was getting carried away playing Tekken II and Tomb Raider for hours on end."

    Liverpool's David James? Original PlayStation? Tekken II? Tomb Raider?

    The only way that would be more of a late-'90s excuse is if Chumbawamba had said it.

Blaming It on Card Games

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    Frank Rijkaard isn’t the sort of manager to play his cards close to his chest.

    He revealed the reason his then-Netherlands side had made a disappointing start to Euro 2000: "My players prefer to play cards and have been taking little interest in what is happening elsewhere and that has disappointed me."

    Cards? Don't they have Tekken II?

Blaming It on Your Own Vision

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    "Yabba Dabba Do!"—Fred Flintstone,

    "I pity the fool"—Mr. T

    "I didn't see it."—Arsene Wenger

    The three greatest catchphrases in history.

    Arsenal's Arsene has used the "I didn't see it" excuse that often that those good folks at The Mirror even compiled his top 10 (how very Bleacher Report of them):

    10) Following the altercation between Emmanuel Adebayor and Nicklas Bendtner in the League Cup tie against Spurs, January 2008
    "I did not know anything about it. I didn't see it."

    9) Following a seemingly offside goal from Robin van Persie against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, November 2008
    "I do not want to score offside goals but I didn't see that, frankly."

    8) Following Sol Campbell's foul on Wayne Rooney which led to a penalty against Manchester United, October 2004
    "I think we were a little bit robbed. I didn't think there was any contact at all."

    7) Following the infamous Pizzagate incident after the same game, October 2004
    "I don't know about food throwing. I did not see if something was thrown – you'll have to ask someone else, because I don't know."

    6) Following the alleged spitting incident involving Cesc Fabregas at the end of the FA Cup tie against Hull, March 2009
    "I know nothing about that at all. I'm sorry, I can't speak about something I haven't seen."

    5) Following Emmanuel Eboue's sending off for two yellow cards against Tottenham, February 2009
    "The first yellow card was very harsh. I didn't see the second one."

    4) Following Sol Campbell's serious foul on Eric Djemba-Djemba of Manchester United in the Community Shield, August 2003
    "I didn't see Sol's challenge."

    3) Following an incident against West Ham when Dennis Bergkamp appeared to strike Lee Bowyer in the face, January 2003
    "It did not look intentional. Dennis caught him with the elbow but the player ran into him."

    2) Following claims that Ashley Cole pushed Nicolas Anelka during a match against Manchester City, February 2004
    "I didn't see that Ashley pushed him in the face. If the replays show it, then it's the referee's problem."

    1) Following newspaper photos depicting Arsenal captain William Gallas smoking a cigarette in a nightclub, October 2008
    "I didn't see the picture."

    Perhaps he needs a better optician?

Blaming It on Noisy Frogs

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    Ukraine blamed their 4-0 thrashing at the fans of Spain in the 2006 World Cup not on a poor defensive display, but on frogs keeping them up at night.

    Defender Vladislav Vashchuk claimed: "Because of the frogs' croaking we hardly got a wink of sleep. We all agreed that we would take some sticks and go and hunt them."

    And for that reason alone, staying up all night killing frogs is on no team's preseason training schedule.

Blaming It on Icy Balls

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    When Liverpool goalkeepers aren’t blaming blunders on PlayStation games, they’re blaming it on ice on the ball.

    Sander Westerveld explained a howler on a Boxing Day game against Middlesbrough:

    The Riverside [Middlesbrough's ground] pitch had a lot of ice on it. My feet and gloves were soaking and it was unbelievably cold. It doesn't seem that Middlesbrough have undersoil heating, which is a pity because sometimes the ball had ice stuck to it.

    We’re not sure what he expected on a December night in North East England.

    Scorching heatwave?

Blaming It on the Cheerleaders

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    They may be one game away from the promised land of the Premier League, but in 2011, when results weren’t going Crystal Palace’s way, fingers of blame were pointed.

    Fans even pointed said fingers at girls who couldn't point back (because they had pompoms)—the club's cheerleading team, The Crystals.

    One fan said at the time:

    When they come out waving their pom-poms I just hang my head. They put everyone off the game – you see the players eyeing them up when they should be focusing on the game. The sooner they go the better.

    In time, however, the Palace fans learned to (2-4-6-8, who do we) appreciate the cheerleaders.

Blaming It on Attempted Murder

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    Sir Alex Ferguson may be calling time on his illustrious footballing career, but let’s hope he can still provide us with some thoroughly entertaining excuses in his retirement.

    Earlier this season, Sir Alex tried to instigate FA disciplinary action against Swansea City’s Ashley Williams. His excuse?

    Because his kicking a ball at Robin van Persie’s head could have killed him, according to Fergie:

    It was the most dangerous thing I’ve seen on a football field for many, many years. Robin could have been killed. Williams should be banned for a long time because Robin’s very lucky to be alive… The FA has got to look into it, irrespective of Williams having a yellow card. It was absolutely deliberate, absolutely no question. The whistle has gone, the game has stopped and he’s done that right in front of the referee a foot from the player. It was the most horrendous act I’ve seen in a long, long time. It was a disgraceful act by the player. He could have broken his neck.

    Taking a ball to the head is dangerous. That’s why FIFA don’t allow any player to touch footballs with their heads.

Blaming It on Your Wife's Pills

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    What sort of professional athlete just takes any pills, without inquiring what it is he or she is putting in their mouth?

    Kolo Toure, apparently.

    The Manchester City central defender cited taking his wife’s diet pills as the reason he failed a drugs test and received a six-month ban.

    He didn’t bother mentioning why someone whose job it is to have regular physical exercise would need sleeping pills, however.

Blaming It on Lack of Ambition

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    When Wayne Rooney handed in a transfer request to leave Manchester United in October 2010, he cited his reason as the club’s lack of ambition.

    Funnily enough, Rooney’s concerns about United’s ambitions evaporated when they offered him a £250,000-a-week contract according to The Sun.

    And he was never to hand in another transfer request again, and they all lived happily ever after…

Blaming It on Friday

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    In the most dramatic finish to a football league season the other side of “Agueroooooo,” Arsenal went to Liverpool on the final day knowing they had to win by two goals to win the league.

    If they didn’t, Liverpool would be the 1989 English Champions.

    In one of those “you couldn’t write it (but you probably could)” moments, Arsenal won 2-0, with the second goal coming deep in injury time.

    Liverpool defender Alan Hansen said they lost the game because it was played on a Friday and not a Saturday.

    Arsenal managed to keep a clean sheet on a Friday, Al. Why couldn’t you?

Blaming It on the Crowd Making Noise

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    Sutton United striker Adrian Bradnam once blamed missing an open goal on the crowd making too much noise.

    Perhaps Bradnam implying he would play better in a quiet stadium was his way of hinting at a transfer to Arsenal.

Blaming It on Your Wealth

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    Remember Mario Balotelli? He used to play for Manchester City. He was pretty quiet. You might have missed him.

    When Balotelli was involved in a car crash early in his time in England, he was found to be carrying £5,000 in cash on him. So the police asked why.

    His response: “Because I am rich.”

    OK, maybe that's a great excuse.

Blaming It on Your Reputation

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    When playing for Newcastle United, football's answer to "who's that violent guy who is always sounding off on Twitter?", Joey Barton, blamed getting sent off for an incredibly reckless challenge on Liverpool's Xabi Alonso on his reputation: “I think that was more because of who I was than what I did.”

    Who you are is someone who just did a terrible tackle, Joseph.

Blame It on the Ghost of Nelson

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    In 1996, Blackpool placed the blame on letting a two-goal lead slip in a playoff match against Bradford City to the team’s boardroom being haunted by the ghost of Lord Nelson.

    The boardroom’s wood paneling was apparently made out of wood from Horatio Nelson’s ship, The Foudroyant.

    Stadium manager John Turner said: "It is an old maritime superstition that sailing folk take exception to anything on their ships being touched, which could explain these strange events.”

    A ghost changing the outcome of football matches? That would be the worst horror movie ever.

Blaming It on the Kit

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    Manchester United blamed their kit for effectively making them invisible on a few losses.

    They wore the hideous grey kit for five-and-a-half matches, losing four and drawing one. They only wore the kit for the first half of a match against Southampton on April 13, 1996.

    United went in at half time 3-0 down, and Ferguson traded the "hairdryer" treatment for the "fashion stylist" treatment, ordering the players to change into their blue-and-white alternative away kit.

    And it made all the difference…they lost 3-1.

    With Sir Alex Ferguson stating: "The players don't like the grey strip. They find it difficult to pick each other out. We had to change the strip."

    If you ever had to wear that fashion atrocity out in public, you would hope it made you invisible.

Blaming It on Not Having Matthew Upson or Sylvain Distin

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    We’re not making this up: What does Rafael Benitez blame for never winning the Premier League with Liverpool?

    Not signing Matthew Upson or Sylvain Distin.


    The two players we had identified were Sylvain Distin, then with Portsmouth, and West Ham’s Matthew Upson, both boasting abundant Premier League experience. Signing one of those two, plus the tall, powerful, intelligent Jovetic, would have given Liverpool the squad we needed to build on the previous year’s title challenge, when we had run Manchester United so close.

    Liverpool were one Matthew Upson away from winning the league. Fact.