Any regular match goer knows that it does not take a lot to excite the modern day football fan. Think of those at Millwall’s New Den, or the Toon Army or that man with the bell at Portsmouth. Emmanuel Adebayor was this week charged with improper conduct for provoking Arsenal fans following his goal celebration on Saturday. It begs the question, why do we expect professional players to show no emotion?
Adebayor provoked genuine fury from Gunners fans and anyone who ever went to Highbury will testify that it is the most animated Arsenal fans have been for years. Surely the Manchester City striker was simply playing the role of pantomime villain, player scores against his old club and rubs their face in it is a story as old as time. Fans cannot have it both ways, if they boo and hurl abuse at a player, expect him to respond. One of the best images in recent times and quite similar to what Adebayor did was this from everyone’s favourite Mancunian.
There are other examples, ranging from Robbie Fowler pretending to snort cocaine, Gazza playing the flute to infuriate Celtic fans or even Graeme Souness reinforcing his hard man image by planting a Galatasaray flag in the middle of the pitch following a fiery clash with rivals Fenerbahce.
There are times when players have obviously gone too far. Jamie Carragher throwing a coin at Arsenal fans springs to mind. Indeed just last season Didier Drogba did the same thing to Burnley fans. It is a pity no-one did this when Leeds were playing, they could have done with every penny they could have got. Even on these occasions when the player was in the wrong, the role played by the fans was overlooked.
The standard bearer in player-fan participation is and shall always be Eric Cantona’s kung fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan who had the temerity to mouth off at him.
King Eric was always know for his eccentricities yet this kind of attack was unprecedented and condemned by just about everybody in and out of the game. (Arsene Wenger did not see it). The majority of players today are so anodyne that the closest we are likely to see a repeat is if Tim Cahill misjudges a left hook to the corner flag.
In all seriousness the Cantona attack was wrong but beyond that example, the game in this country is in danger of going sterile if spontaneity and passion is continuously frowned upon. The rule that forbids the removal of a shirt following a goal makes no sense and denies us great moments like Robbie Fowler revealing a T-shirt supporting the plight of the Merseyside dockers. In a time when the game is further than ever from its working class roots, players appearing like the rest of us is something that we are crying out for.
Amid all the hoopla over Adebayor’s antics (he does deserve a ban for his awful challenge on Robin van Persie) the actual result of the game almost went by unnoticed. Manchester City were excellent for the majority of the game and thoroughly deserved their 4-2 success. They do however face a far more difficult test this weekend against their red neighbours. The odds are a City victory will have them championed as dead certainties for the top 4 at least whilst a defeat will heap pressure on Mark Hughes. Manchester United finally realised that the season has already started when defeating Tottenham on Saturday. It was the sort of performance that was reminiscent of United in the pomp. The team of the mid-to-late 1990s who relished being a goal down with 10 men. The 3-1 victory should also make the Chelsea know that not everything will go their way this year.
Speaking of Chelsea it was announced this week that Peter Kenyon has left his role as Chief Executive. It is unlikely that many will be shedding a tear if this is the last we see of Kenyon. His bright ideas include trying to persuade the lower league clubs to go semi professional and his assertion that the Premier League winners would come from a group of one. Brian Clough he wasn’t. He must take part if the blame for the culture of hate that has surrounded Chelsea in the last few years. Many started to warm to the Blues under Guus Hiddink’s stewardship last year and this will probably continue now Kenyon has left. Besides, we have got City to hate now.
A Different Week
Michael Owen’s move reminiscent of The Boss – July 10
The City Circus – July 17
Beckham – End of an American dream? – July 24
Trouble at the Toon – July 31
Chester’s plight reflective of modern ways – August 7
What will happen – August 14
Joleon Lescott and the ugly side of a modern professional player – August 21
Defoe is Jermain man – August 28
Deadline day disappoints – September 4
Mixed fortunes for home nations, mixed treatment for English clubs? – September 11
Did Adebayor go too far or did we overreact? – September 18