The Michael Wood Column

Wednesday 30 January, 2002

Everyone loses as Beni walks away from Valley Parade

For some it will be Benito Carbone reverting to type. The temperamental Italian finally showing his true colours and leaving City in the lurch following his refusal to take a place on the bench for Tuesday night's 1-0 defeat by Preston.

For others Beni will have been justified in walking out of Valley Parade within two hours of kick off after being told that he would be sub to a defender who had a few decent games up front. Certainly there are few other than Nicky Law who would have thought that Andy Tod represented a better striking solution than Benito Carbone.

Whatever the justification for Beni's walking out the effect on the team was clear. City were insipid in a game that was easily winnable. Carbone's departure had obviously effected the players, although for what reason is unsure. Did they play bad because of the upset of seeing Carbone go, was it some parting shot that the striker made on his way out of the door or was the little Italian so popular that a wound to him was felt by the team.

Whatever it does seem that Beni had blotted a perfect copybook at City where he has been a model pro. The solution for Beni was to cool his heals on the bench for an hour and then burst back onto the scene. By walking away Beni seems everything that they have told us he is and more. He seems uncommitted, he seems to not give a damn and what's more, he seems small and petty.

Benito Carbone is not manager of Bradford City, just like when Stuart McCall and Jim Jefferies were at loggerheads, McCall was not the manager. Nicky Law is and he has the right to pick the team as he sees fit and like Jim Jefferies he lives and dies by that selection. If Nicky Law, who watched Carbone trudge around a Middlesborough reserve game lifelessly last week before deciding not stick with the team that scored two in eight minutes at Barnsley, decides that Beni is not worth a place in the starting line up that decision must be respected by the player.

Carbone will probably be hell bent on getting out of Valley Parade now and perhaps that is best. In so many ways he represents what we tried to be. If we are to get back to the Premiership then we will do it the same way we got there. By building a team and making the right buys. Beni is a superb player and yes he can take defences in this division apart on his own but as his walk out proves, too much store is put in a player like that. We need to spread the danger in the forward line (Peter Beagrie, Lee Mills, Robbie Blake and Jamie Lawrence), not isolate it to a simple approach be it the skills of Carbone of Tuesday night's long humps to Tod and Ward.

Carbone will face a two-week fine, which gives Nicky Law an unexpected £80,000 to play with. My advice would be to add it to the bid for Breckin and Burt. Should Carbone go soon then that with the money raised for Robbie Blake should be used to bring in more players of the Burt/Breckin mould: Young, talented, eager to get on.

City need a reboot. Jim Jefferies made it his mission to take on the squad and bring down the age separating wheat from chaff but the Scot failed in that. There is still too much overpaid chaff at City. Carbone is not wheat and on his day he is worth every single penny of his £40,000 a week, but driving away from Valley Parade before kick off he is worthless, especially as he leaves his team mates only five points off the relegation zone.

One would have thought that City could do with a player like Carbone in that situation, but this morning, the morning after Beni walked away from Valley Parade, the phrase "A player like Carbone" has the same ring for City fans as it does in many other areas of football, and that sort of player we can do without.

If Benito Carbone can be brought back to the fold then all the better, but he will be forever tarnished at the one club in football that thought he was something other than they said he was. Benito Carbone the troublesome Italian? You betcha.

Follow Up

Carbone sorry

Three days after the Preston game Benito Carbone apologised. This is how BfB covered the Italian's apology.

Beni chimes sorry, but hits a bum note

Benito Carbone has apologised for his walk out of Valley Parade saying the he was frustrated at not being able to help the fans he loves while on the bench. Said Carbone "I went crazy because I wanted to do something for the team and I didn't feel I could do that as substitute. Now I just want to say that I'm sorry to everybody. What I did was wrong but it was only one mistake and I have learned from it. Of course it is wrong for a player not to sit on the bench. I'm paying for that because the club have fined me and I accept that. I'm not a villain. I love this club, the fans and the players and they love me. We are a big family unit."

Carbone's words, while welcome, will be viewed with distrust by City fans. If Carbone had wanted to help City playing the second 45 minutes of a game that was very winnable would have be a very good place to start. Preston were poor in that 1-0 win and had City had a single Carbone spark the game and points could have been won. City are too good to go down, but throwing points away is a very good way to change that situation. If on the final table City are points off safety, points and safety that Carbone could have won on Tuesday, then his apology will ring hollow.

Similarly his apology came with conditions. "Andy Tod is a fantastic person and we can go anywhere together but for me he's still a defender and when I saw the manager leave out one striker, Juanjo, and put another two as subs while playing Tody, a centre-half, up front - that is what frustrated me." The Bradford City job has been advertised twice during Benito Carbone's stay at Valley Parade, neither time has he applied. Had he got the job then he would be able to decide who plays where, he did not and so it is not his place to dictate where Nicky Law plays Andy Tod, a fact that Carbone acknowledges in his apology.

Carbone finished by stating his wish to take over as City captain one day. "I would love to be captain of this club. I like the responsibility of such a big job and think it would make me stronger. Stuart McCall is a big player and a big captain and I don't want to take it from his hands. But if the chance came I would love it." Carbone has tainted his time at City. He is still a great player to have and a good chap, but now he will never again viewed as the perfect professional who had found the right club as secretly we all hoped he would be.

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