Rino Gattuso is a lucky man. Lucky to stay on the field despite persistent fouling against Tottenham. Lucky not to receive a straight red for pushing Peter Crouch in the chest. Lucky not to receive the same punishment for two touchline bust-ups with Joe Jordan. And lucky that the Spurs Coach didn't take up his offer of a dust-up behind the bike sheds afterwards to settle their differences.
Had that happened, the Milan captain would have discovered why Jordan earned the fearsome reputation – and the nickname Lo Squalo – while plying his trade in Italy in the 1980s.
Gattuso, who had a spell at Glasgow Rangers when Joe was assistant manager to Liam Brady at Celtic, should have known whom he was tangling with. Yet he still persisted in his suicide mission.
His disgraceful attempts to fire up his apathetic teammates backfired disastrously at San Siro. Not only did the Serie A leaders lose at home to a team only fourth in the Premier League, they were out-thought, out-gunned – and probably knocked out of the Champions League. And Gattuso, already the recipient of a yellow card on the night, is out of the last 16 return at White Hart Lane.
Shame that, because he could have learned a little more about the man he head-butted and – surprisingly – lived to tell the tale. Jordan, in a superb career that puts Gattuso to shame, was a star attacker with Leeds, Manchester United and Milan. The only Scot to score in three successive World Cups, he was a fearsome sight in full flow as many flattened defenders will testify.
As Harry Redknapp wryly remarked: "Gattuso obviously hadn't done his homework. He could have picked a fight with someone other than Joe." Graeme Souness, another hard man on the field, emphasised that point on TV by saying: "Gattuso is well past his best. I just wish he would spend five minutes in a room on his own with Joe."
Even conceding 30 years, I know who my money would have been on had the Spurs Coach lifted his fists in reply! Those who saw the game on Sky or watched the clips replayed on You Tube will have been amazed at Jordan's restraint. That's why I say Gattuso was a lucky man.
Even luckier was teammate Mathieu Flamini. He should have got his marching orders for an excruciating tackle that got Vedran Corluka stretchered off. That's when Gattuso started losing it, demanding that the Spurs defender should be hauled off the pitch so the game could restart even though it was clear the Croatian was badly hurt.
Neither Flamini nor Gattuso did the reputation of the Italian game any good with their antics. Let's hope their weak, after-match apologies don't save them from further punishment.
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