It was disappointing to see Cesc Fabregas apparently making the ‘give him a card’ gesture to Mark Clattenburg on Sunday.
Only four minutes into the game against the Mancunian lottery winners Boyata was beaten to the ball by Chamakh, who would have been clean through on goal, but the young central defender lunged in recklessley and brought down our Number 29. It was as bang-on a red card as you’ll ever see for denying a goal scoring opportunity.
I have no doubt that Mark Clattenburg made up his mind immediately to show Boyata a red card. So, in the seconds before the red was produced, to see our captain shaking his hand at the ref in what seemed a card-wielding gesture was a real shame.
As an offence it’s not in the same category as studs-up tackles or flying elbows, but it’s still one of those things you don’t like to see in the game because it shows a lack of respect for the referee. And yes, I know that we in the stands can spend many a happy half hour disrespecting referees, but for the players it’s different.
Some years ago the FA’s refereeing panel deemed the ‘give him a card’ gesture to be an unsporting action that could merit a yellow card at the discretion of the ref.
So… if Cesc had been booked for that gesture – as he might well have been – he would have been off before half time after receiving what would have been a second yellow for a foul on De Jong and who knows how the game might have gone then?
This has certainly been a complaint made by many Citeh supporters and, even if you leave aside the ‘what ifs’ (like, if he had picked up a yellow for the card gesture he might have been more careful about not incurring a second yellow and so would not have fouled De Jong) they may have a point.
Having looked back on the incident I think Fabregas was lucky that Clattenburg had his back to him when he made the gesture.
“So what?” you might reasonably ask. We deservedly won the game, Cesc didn’t get sent off and worrying about things that didn’t happen is a sure step on the road to madness.
Well, the reason I raise it is that it’s not the first time that our captain has shown what opposition supporters would describe as a ‘nasty side’ to his character.
His rap sheet is not long, but it does have some highlights:
- Throwing pizza at the purple-faced Gorbalian in the dressing room at Old Toilet.
- Telling Mark Hughes to shut the f**k up and asking him what he’s ever won.
- Throttling Tim Cahill at Goodison Park (and earning a red card for his trouble).
- Allegedly spitting at Michael Ballack during a European game (denied by Fabregas and, later, by the German FA who said Cesc had merely been shouting insults. Spitting vitriol, as opposed to spitting, er, spit).
And most heinous of all…
- Wearing a puffer jacket onto the pitch at the end of a home game against Hull.
Of the above, I happen to approve of the pizza-throwing, Cahill-throttling, Ballack-barracking and Phil Brown-baiting (all actions that show our Number 4 has bottle and passion).
But I’m less impressed by a player in his early 20s insulting a manager with an outstanding playing record like Mark Hughes. That’s just disrespectful and. To his credit, Cesc later apologized to Hughes for that one.
Making the card-waving gesture in Sunday’s game is a similar sort of offence – not terrible, just unworthy of our captain.
One of the best things about supporting Arsenal is that we know we have the classiest team, manager, supporters and club in Britain.
Compare Arsenal’s honourable and private dealings in the transfer market with those of our rivals.
Compare Arsene Wenger’s intelligence and restraint with the frothing fury of Ferguson or the crass stupidity of Allardyce.
Compare the way we play the beautiful game with the gridiron approach of Chelsea and Man City.
Compare Cesc’s dignified handling of Barcelona’s pursuit this summer with the money-grabbing, media-spinning tawdriness of Wazza Rooney’s campaign for a bigger payday.
So it’s disappointing when anyone associated with Arsenal (especially our captain) occasionally behaves in a less classy way.
I don’t want to go overboard about this but, as he enters what could turn out to be a very significant period of his Arsenal career, I would like Cesc to remember who he is and what he represents. He does not need to resort to unsporting behaviour – he has all the power and eloquence he’ll ever need packed into those two wonderful feet and that one amazing brain.