In 1996, Harry Redknapp, the then West Ham manager, was famously accused of nepotism by an uninformed fan when it came to keeping Frank Lampard, his nephew, and allowing Scott Canham, a promising youngster at the time, to leave. Redknapp argued Lampard being his nephew only made him hold him back more, and prophetically predicted that Lampard would ‘go right to the very top’ and that there would be no comparison between what Lampard achieves in football and what Scott Canham achieves in football . Time would prove Redknapp’s words were correct.
I often face a similar hold-him-back nepotism phobia when Cheick Diabate has had an impressive week. He may not be a relative or a friend, but he feels like one. I’m careful not to appear a Diabiast, not to be accused of Diabiasm, so I end up judging him more meticulously than your average Jomo. With 11 goals in his last 10 games, the lofty Malian has been in irresistible form which has meant it was only a matter of when, not if, he would become the player of the week, but I’ve given him the cold shoulder every week.
The culmination of his rich run-in form came in an entertaining season-closing Coupe de France final on Friday evening against Evian, and he simply could not be ignored any longer. Diabate was at his languorous best, his perpetual motion sniffing a scent of fear in the Evian defence, and he would capitalise in the first half by showing good composure to round the goalkeeper and squeeze the ball past the recovering defender to give Bordeaux the lead. Despite missing a penalty early in the second half to double the lead, he would make amends late in the game with a stabbed 89th minute winner to make it 3-2, just as the momentum seemed to be with Evian after an equaliser by Brice Dja Djedje. Thanks to that goal, Bordeaux will be in next season’s Europa League,