rooneyLike many others, Early Doors was pleasantly surprised to learn on Thursday afternoon that Wayne Rooney had successfully lopped one game off his Euro 2012 ban, enabling him to put in an anonymous performance as England suffer acute disappointment when losing in their final group game against Ukraine.
Not surprised that the ban was reduced as such - after all, a three-game suspension for giving someone a little kick up the bum was always disproportionate in a tournament that lasts a maximum of six games, and realistically three or four - but surprised because the English don't exactly have an impressive track record when dealing with the likes of FIFA and UEFA.
Usually a sense of entitlement washes over Football Association representatives when travelling to Switzerland, a state of mind that most other countries find understandably irritating.
ED is reminded of that farcical and failed attempt to secure the 2018 World Cup, when David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham were parachuted in like some kind of celebrity SWAT team to press the flesh and sweet-talk the likes of the delightful Jack Warner, only to be left stunned when FIFA's own league of 'gentlemen' promptly reneged on promises to vote for England and left them looking decidedly embarrassed.
Indeed, Cameron in particular appears to have found a cause celebre in the national game. When weighing in on the ludicrous poppy debate he rapidly put himself in the same mad camp as the EDL and the Daily Mail. Not exactly Tony Blair doing headers with Kevin Keegan, was it?
Thankfully Cameron steered well clear of Thursday's hearing - ED has heard there are some rather serious financial problems to be sorted out at present - and instead the FA struck the perfect tone.
Humility was the watchword, as Rooney acted suitably contrite and Fabio Capello even took the blame for the striker's dismissal himself.
As Friday's Guardian reports: "The England manager was instrumental in convincing the governing body of European football to reduce Rooney's ban - for kicking the Montenegro defender Miodrag Dzudovic in a qualifier in October - from three matches to two.
"Capello told a three-man panel at Uefa headquarters in Nyon that he should have substituted Rooney at half-time in Podgorica as, in the England manager's opinion and contrary to what was said in public at the time, the Manchester United forward was distracted by the arrest of his father and uncle 24 hours before the game as part of an investigation into betting irregularities. Both men vigorously deny any involvement.
"Though the hearing was held in private, sources in Nyon revealed that Capello said he realised Rooney was not in the right frame of mind during the 2-2 draw and should have withdrawn the striker. Instead, the 26-year-old was dismissed, for violent conduct in the 74th minute, and faced missing England's three group matches next summer until UEFA granted him a reprieve."
Rooney even agreed to undertake some community work to seal the deal and clearly - aside from that brief confusion over whether his suspended ban could be invoked by a sending off for Manchester United - this was a triumph for the FA, and particularly Club England big cheese Adrian Bevington. Wasn't it?
Well, not according to some. One particularly mean-spirited tweet from Henry Winter in the aftermath of the decision read: "Great news for Capello, #eng & #Rooney. Not great news for the English game/grass-roots. FA has just undermined its own Fair Play campaign."
Meanwhile, an indignant and increasingly irritating Kenny Dalglish also took umbrage at the FA's decision to try and reduce the ban of its best player, well, only after he attempted to prove he is Rafa Benitez 2.0 by getting out his projector at his press conference to demonstrate that Luis Suarez is hard done by by referees. All that was missing was a garbled Spanish pronunciation of 'fachts'.
"I find it a wee bit strange really," Dalglish said. "The FA are supposed to be setting an example for things yet they appeal against Wayne Rooney's three-match ban.
"I don't think that's a good example to set to anybody. If they can justify diluting Wayne's then everyone who appeal for a similar sending off in the Premier League can expect their ban reduced.
"Somebody more intelligent than me can draw up something that will be helpful, but we need to help each other to understand where we're coming from. All we want is some clarity. If they sat down with people in football they would have a better understanding and we'd have a better understanding of them."
Quite aside from the fact that the FA and UEFA operate entirely different disciplinary procedures - a situation later explained by the FA via a statement that, while patient in its delivery, was surely undercut by huge frustration - ED was left wondering what exactly the FA was supposed to do.
How would the press have greeted a decision to make a martyr of Rooney and sacrifice him, and possibly a tournament England have worked towards for two years, in order to make some point about discipline that would have been forgotten the next day?
Were those in control at Club England really expected to just stand aside and take the hit when there was a chance of reducing the ban of England's best player?
Capello and Bevington aren't responsible for the FA's disciplinary procedures, they have to protect the best interests of the national team and on Thursday they fulfilled that role perfectly.
There are many good reasons to have a pop at the FA, God knows ED has done so over the years, but this is not one of them.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It's disappointing for English football but London teams are showing the northern teams the way. For me, United is the biggest disappoint because they are the biggest club in Manchester. City have spent the money trying to compete with them and it's not worked this year. Talking about teams going out of Europe, I can't remember the last time we didn't qualify out of the group." - Jack Wilshere gets a bit chippy after Arsenal's success in reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League.
FOREIGN VIEW: "It's true that Madrid are in good shape. They are a bit better but that does not mean anything. The Clasicos have nothing to do with statistics and anything can happen." - It is not often that Barcelona find themselves to be the underdogs, but midfielder Xavi believes they have a tough task in front of them when heading to Real Madrid's Bernabeu on Saturday for the latest Clasico.
COMING UP: We will have previews of all the big games in England and across Europe on site today so keep an eye out for those. At 9am we reveal the result of our Goal of the Week poll, while Jim White and Paul Parker both file their latest columns ahead of the weekend.