If there's one thing a football manager needs even more of than good players and a three-quarter length down jacket, it's excuses. And lots of them. Why hold your hands up and take responsibility for a defeat if there's a match official/opponent/weather event that can take the brunt instead?
Or in the case of Stuart Pearce, why not blame your entire team? When backed into a corner after a run of straight defeaats in the U21 European Championships, the now ex-manager Pearce realised he had to come out hard and decided that instead of taking the rap as a 51- year-old man whose job it is to mould a young and pretty green squad of 18-21 year olds into a team, he may as well hang them out to dry instead. It's much easier that way.
"The players haven't delivered," he said, getting it in early. "I'm really disappointed with my team." Always a good line if you're trying to deflect attention. "I honestly don't believe I should be here answering questions on behalf of the players." Very brave. "We've lost games before, but collectively in this tournament we haven't delivered for whatever reason." For 'whatever' reason? Isn't that why you're a manager?
While this appears to be one of the more shameless examples of passing the buck in football, he's not the first and he won't be the last:
Mourinho Blames 'The Others'
Never one to shy away from a conspiracy theory, Mourinho decided it was time to bring out the big guns following Real Madrid's defeat at Real Betis, Mourinho "It's obvious that other teams are controlling the calendar," he whispered. "They are laughing behind my back." Could he have been talking about Barcelona by ant chance?
Wenger Blames The New Stadium
“I personally put our bad start to the season down to the new stadium. We dropped some points that any team will drop when they move to a new stadium. It is linked with the unfamiliarity, as well as the fact that a team that comes to the stadium has no bad memories.” Ah yes, the old 'no bad memories' factor.
Poland Blame Croaking Frogs
After a 4-0 loss to Spain, defender Vladislav Vashchuk tried to deflect blame for some hapless defending on some problems back at the hotel. "Because of the frogs' croaking we hardly got a wink of sleep." Ever heard of ear plugs?
Italy Blame Their Footwear
After drawing 0-0 with Denmark in their opening game of Euro 2004, the Italian players had no doubt what the problem was -Totti blamed his boots: "It was like having your feet on boiling sand." And Christian Panucci blamed his socks: "The thread that these socks were made with is too rough." Who doesn't hate a rough thread.
David James Blames his Playstation
David James didn't pick up the nickname 'Calamity' for nothing - barely a weekend went by without a needless rush from goal or an ill-judged flap at a cross. So why was he making such bad choices? “I was getting carried away playing Tekken II and Tomb Raider for hours on end”. Er, now it makes sense.
Sir Alex Ferguson Blames The Away Strip
You could write a whole (admittedly small and rather repetitive) book on Ferguson's reasons for defeats over the years, but most notable of all was the time he made his team change from their grey away strip at half-time when losing 3-0 at Southampton. “The manager just stormed in and said: “Get that kit off, you’re getting changed," remembers Lee Sharpe. "Those were the first words he said at half-time... we certainly never played in it again.”