Friday 19th September, 2008

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No confidence in Friends
Images from the rally of support for Prime Minister Patrick Manning by The Friends of Woodford Square. PHOTOS: DILIP SINGH

Blame it on my mood of melancholy this past fortnight but I’ve decided to depart from the usual joie de vivre of this space for today and focus on more serious matters.

In the past couple weeks, apart from mourning the deaths of people close to me, I’ve been disturbed in particular by two events. One was the impotent performance by our Soca Warriors against the USA in Chicago, and the other the circus staged at Woodford Square last Friday.

On the latter, if there’s one thing I hate most is anyone taking me for a jackass, or pissing down my back and telling me that it’s raining. Last Friday I got the distinct impression that this was what was foisted on the national community.

In the first place, who/what is The Friends of Woodford Square, the entity purportedly given permission by the Port-of-Spain Mayor to stage a rally in support of the prime minister.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Opposition Chief Whip’s motion was from inception and intent, futile, mischievous, vexatious and without merit, a matter strictly the business of Parliament, with Mr Manning needing no help from either colleagues of the Lower House, or “friends” of any ilk.

If reports are even marginally true, the gathering in the Square, if anything, was thoughtless, disruptive and disrespectful to the wider community.

Yes, there is a “wider community” beyond the PNM.

These reports included Cepep employees being forced to wear red t-shirts and come to the Square, under the threat of no pay and even dismissal; the disruption of the nation’s public transportation system, causing undue hardship to commuters, especially children; and, worse of all, schoolchildren being deprived of their School Feeding Programme meals, the food given to big, hard back sheep in the Square, with the children getting a muffin and pack of peanuts.

If there’s even the slightest modicum of truth in these allegations, I say shame on The Friends of Woodford Square, and all who contributed to the counter-productive actions of last Friday.

The most curious thing about last Friday is that neither Mayor, acting police commissioner, PNM officials, PTSC bus drivers, Mr Manning or Square denizens know who organised the rally of so-called support.

With this dotish precedent now set, let’s see what happens the next time some fly-by-night, vie-ki-vie entity decides to assemble en masse in Woodford Square to support any issue being debated in our hallowed and sacred chamber of Parliament.

Extracting the root of the problem

About my second gripe, for once I’m forced to disagree with A Jack Warner. Coach Francisco Maturana should have already been back in Colombia comparing the retail price of novocaine, or doing root canals.

Yeah, I am one of the countless arm chair coaches out there, but, for the life of me, I am unable to understand this man’s tactics on the evening of September 10.

Aside from our team being completely off-balance due to its many omissions and additions since the eliminations began, I can’t conceive how playing a 4-5-1 system, with not the strongest quartet in defence, you could leave your most seasoned and experienced defender on the bench the entire game.

Why use the defensive 4-5-1 system in the first place, when you have four points from two games and need an additional three against your most formidable opponent, one you’ve never defeated in ten encounters—facing them in their backyard.

On this outing, the arm chair coach that I am,


Images from the rally of support for Prime Minister Patrick Manning by The Friends of Woodford Square.

...I would have gone for the maxim of attack being the best form of defence, using perhaps a 4-3-3 system, and attacking the US with every nerve and fibre in the first 15 minutes of the game. Donavan, Beasley, Dempsey, Bradley and Ching know only too well T&T’s laid-back tactics and an aggressive opening 15 minutes would have thrown them off their game plan.

I heard Mr Warner disclose on TV this week that after $20.6 million spent on the 2010 World Cup preparations thus far, the Government is yet to invest one red cent to the cause. Again, if this is the truth, it is one to be noted and something done about it immediately.

Surely the sports minister and the Government must realise that there are some sacred things that supercede politics, starting with putting country first. So, for the next few months, forget about A Jack Warner being an opposition politician, and contemplate the bigger picture—the glory and recognition to be achieved by investing generously in the cause—the road to South Africa in 2010.

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