Byline: IAN WOOLDRIDGE
ONLY an unrelenting misanthrope would fail to wish Paul Gascoigne well as he sets out on yet another new chapter in his turbulent life.
Now 30, injury and front-page prone, it will surely be the end of him if it all goes wrong at Middlesbrough.
That would be distressing.
All too often the angels who brushed him with utter genius have been beaten off by dubious friends and the demon drink and thus, only in fleeting bursts, have we witnessed his dazzling talent.
I thought I would never write well of Gazza again after watching and hearing him dreadfully abuse a London barman who, under orders, politely refused him yet another double Drambuie at four o'clock in the afternoon.
But that is too harsh a judg-ment by a fellow sinner and why I hope his life in football will now end on a high note.
No-one is looking for contrition, though a few apologies here and there might be welcome. What he needs are solid friends and hopefully he has found a staunch one in his new manager, Bryan Robson.
'Gazza has now got his serious head on and, when he's got it on, he is the best,' said Rob-son. A tentative endorsement, perhaps, but one which can help transform a recidivist pain-in-the-ass into a prodigal.
Sportsmen, like politicians and journalists, have been going off the rails for years, though never more publicly than now when media scrutiny, as Newcastle United have discovered, is so intense that indiscretions can have dire consequences. …