Scott Ollerenshaw: Enough is enough, Shebby Singh!

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Shebby Singh – Love him or loathe him what cannot be disputed is his opinionated approach to analyzing football games via his punditry role divides opinion. Shebby, who has graced our screens for nearly two decades is a producer’s dream because his ruthless attacks on players and coaches alike riles fans up and most importantly create discussions in the bars and living rooms around the region during high profile games. The fact that I am even writing this article is a win to the producer at Fox Sports, so kudos to him.

Watching the EPL, personally, I have always been uncomfortable with an individual who had a decent career in Malaysia sitting 20 meters behind the centre-back, playing as a sweeper and barking instructions, launching scathing attacks on world class players & coaches who are plying their trade in one of the world’s best leagues. How can you critique players and coaches so aggressively when you were not good enough yourself to play at that level? I note that Astro SuperSports now have a policy whereby only individuals who have played at that EPL level are qualified to be pundits on their live EPL games and on reflection I commend them for bringing integrity to their product.

Photo Credit: YouTube
Photo Credit: YouTube

But I digress, back to Shebby. His savage and brutal attack on Darren Lok after the Malaysia vs Myanmar AFF Game on Saturday night was one of the most disgraceful acts that I have seen during my time in football. To single out a young kid in such a ruthless manner is cruel and unwarranted. He did not mention any of the other 3 strikers’ performance, he did not mention any other players’ performance, his sole objective was to slaughter a young kid playing in only his 4th international match. And let me add, Lok was brought on with 20 minutes to go against Myanmar and the best chance created during the last 20 minutes was Lok getting in behind on the left hand side and crossing to Safee Sali who unfortunately could not make the right connection and the chance was lost.

Before I go any further let me give full disclosure and transparency in stating that I manage Darren Lok. I was involved in scouting him, going through the process of his passport application and communicating with JDT during his trial period with them and the  subsequent passport process. Thankfully, Darren will have a good support system from both myself and the football family at JDT, including TMJ. I have no doubt he will be back in 2017 ready for a successful first full season in Malaysian football. Shebby’s attack on Darren is also an attack on JDT because to question Lok’s ability is also questioning the judgement of the JDT coaching staff who selected Darren based on him impressing them in training. For the record, Darren Lok is one of the most well-mannered respectful young man that I have ever come across. He is working hard to integrate himself into the Malaysian culture, including learning Bahasa Malaysia, and he did not deserve to be singled out in such a ruthless agenda driven manner.
 
Photo Credit: Asiana.my
Photo Credit: Asiana.my

Shebby asked on what basis was Darren Lok chosen to represent Malaysia in the AFF Suzuki Cup. While not privy to the National Team selection process under Dato’ Ong Kim Swee, I would imagine Lok was selected based on his performance during the 3-week training camp and his Man of the Match performance vs Papua New Guinea prior to the final squad selection. Shebby asked: “Who does Darren Lok think he is to come from low level football in England and play for our national team?”. Darren’s former team is Eastbourne Borough, who play in the Conference South National League which is essentially the 5th Division of English Football behind the Premier League, Championship, Division 1 and Division 2. I ask the rhetorical question, how many of our Malaysian players would be selected for Conference Level in England if they go on trial?

To be fair, let’s commend Shebby for his 18-year career at Malaysian club level, which started at Johor and finished with Perak. Let’s also congratulate him for the fantastic service he gave the Malaysian National team for 9 years between 1982–1991. At the same time, let me ask what has Shebby given back to Malaysian football since retirement. Sitting in a nice air-conditioned studio, waxing lyrical & slaughtering QUALIFIED coaches like Datuk K. Rajagobal, Dollah Salleh or Dato’ Ong Kim Swee to name a few – all of whom spent years in the hot sun getting their coaching badges – on how they have got it so wrong and if he were coach this is what he would do ‘blah blah blah…’. Well guess what Shebby? You are not qualified to be a coach because you don’t have your badges. You have made a career with your BIG mouth, not unlike your career as a player.
 
Photo Credit: Daily Express
Photo Credit: Daily Express

Let’s talk about Shebby’s embarrassing 2-year stint at Blackburn Rovers as their Global Advisor.  He got the ball rolling at his first press conference by claiming Blackburn’s longest serving player Morten Gamst Pedersen was a ‘Pensioner’ and he could no longer be counted on for high-level performances. Things deteriorated after that and Blackburn became a circus. The list goes on and on:

–  Shebby’s appointment of rookie manager Henning Berg was a disaster
– The signing of unknown Portuguese players including a massive agent who didn’t last till Christmas
– Exorbitant wages on over the hill players which saw the club lose $2 million pounds a month.
– Fighting and just surviving relegation.

Clearly out his depth, the circus was closed as Shebby’s time at Blackburn came to an end in early 2014.
 
His next port of call was JDT, the most professionally well run club in the region. But it did not take long for Tunku Mahkota to see through Shebby’s all talk no substance style and Shebby was ancient history at JDT by 2015.
 
Photo Credit: JDT
Photo Credit: JDT

Shebby’s role at JDT was then essentially given to my close friend Alistair Edwards. I also have a close relationship with JDT through mixed heritage players. Again important to be transparent. So let’s create a chain here – Shebby out at JDT, Alistair Comes in, I work closely with Alistair in football related matters, Darren Lok is managed by me – is there an agenda here? You be the judge! 

 Since then Shebby has gone back to his comfort zone doing punditry for Fox Sports. As I mentioned earlier, from a producer’s perspective, he is good at it and good luck to him for forging out a successful punditry career. I’m saying that he doesn’t fool me or most of the football public with his tirades. Almost anyone with a football background can talk a good game and blind the naïve with quintessential nonsense but hey, I don’t begrudge anyone’s success. But I do take issue with what I believe to be an agenda driven tirade against an innocent young man. And when I feel someone under my tutelage has been unfairly treated, I come out fighting and defend my corner and I make no apologies for that.
Photo Credit: Asiana.my
Photo Credit: Asiana.my

Don’t get me wrong, nobody is above criticism – Darren Lok included. You have issues with his performance then critique him in a constructive manner. But to single out just 1 player from a squad of 23 is simply slaughter done in a malicious cruel manner born out of vindictiveness & spitefulness.

I know Shebby believes he is the chosen one for football in the region. Delusion can attack anyone at any given time. Delusion affected me a few years back when I actually thought I was handsome. Thankfully clarity came back and I realized I had a face only for radio ☺

For too long now Shebby has had a free rein to attack whoever he see’s fit and I for one have had enough. I repeat, Saturday night’s tirade against Darren Lok was simply wrong and needs to be highlighted.

Shame on you Shebby.

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of FourthOfficial.com