One of the least edifying spectacles in modern football is that of managers attempting to deflect criticism for a defeat by making spurious attacks on the opponents who beat them.
I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of this phenomenon, having watched our own otherwise distinguished coach, a certain Mr Arsène Wenger, pull the very same trick on numerous occasions.
But even Arsène’s excuses (which have ranged from the opposition being too tackly to having the wrong sort of leaves on the line) have seldom been as crass as those trotted out by the Ginger Whinger following our last couple of meetings with his team.
Remember when we played Villa at their place back in December? We won 2-1 and the Villans’ thuggish fullback, Alan Hutton, was sent off. According to Alex McLeish he was “conned” by van Persie.
How was he conned? Well, the first of the ex-Spud’s two yellow cards came after he squared up to our captain after fouling him. The booking was totally correct. Being fouled by an opponent does not constitute “conning” him, nor does standing your ground when he shoves his snarling, bestial face into yours.
The second booking could have been a straight red. In fact a better manager than McLeish would have spotted that his pit bull had lost his head and would have pulled him off. But I guess it’s too much to expect one pit bull to find fault with the slavering aggression of another.
Now we move forward in time to last Sunday.
Of course McLeish must have been gutted at throwing away a 2-0 lead in the FA Cup – but why not take the defeat like a man?
It’s not as if Arsenal did not deserve to win. We had been the better team in the first half despite conceding two goals. And in the second half we stepped up a gear and completely dominated.
But instead of praising his own team for making a game of it and complimenting Arsenal on a hard fought win, the Taggart look-alike made not one, not two, but THREE ridiculous claims of injustice.
Claim Number One: Theo’s ingenious goal (Arsenal’s second) was handball.
According to McPitbull, the spectacular score in which Walcott played an out-of-this-world one-two off the hapless Hutton to put us level in the match should have been disallowed. Quite apart from the fact that, from every angle I have seen, the ball appeared to strike Theo on the chest or ribs, Hutton blasted the ball at him from about a yard away. Theo’s reactions would have had to be faster than Concorde to have avoided the ball.
Claim Number Two: Darren Bent’s foul for our second penalty was “harsh”.
Sorry Alex. Bent’s was a typical forward’s challenge. He almost certainly did catch Koscielny before the ball, but even if (as has been claimed) he got a tiny touch on the ball first, he had overcommitted himself and failed to move the ball any significant distance, so Kozzer would have been able to continue with the move if he hadn’t been brought down. Penalty, any day of the week.
Claim Number Three: Robin van Persie should be punished by the FA for an “elbow” on Carlos Cuellar.
The trouble is GrumpyGingerJock, the replays show that Robin was watching the ball all the way and that his arm movement was entirely for balance and body readjustment. Maybe there was a shade of trying to hold off the inevitable clattering challenge that Robin must have known was coming, but he can hardly have expected Cuellar’s head to be lunging in at waist level. Robin was on the ground and Cuellar’s head was at midriff height. It really was a case of head to elbow and not the other way round, as the FA seem to have recognised when confirming yesterday that they would not be taking any action against our Captain. Perhaps they should consider censuring McWhinger instead.
So, three spurious claims.
The last of them was a particularly vindictive one, aimed at trying to harm a great player in a way that can bring no benefit to Aston Villa.
The actions of a man?
Or the actions of a frothing latex puppet with a giant hand shoved up his jacksey?
I think we all know the answer: Alex McLeish, you are, indeed, a Muppet. And you probably use Preparation H.
The serious point in all this is that the sort of garbage that McMuppet comes out with gives fuel to the more sensational elements in the media who prefer nothing more than to focus on a “scandal” rather than on a great game of football.
And where Arsenal is concerned, they will latch onto anything negative if it means they don’t have to write about how well our team did to pull themselves round from a 0-2 deficit to force their way into the Fifth Round of the Cup.
Stirring fight backs don’t fit their preconceived agenda of Arsenal as a team in terminal decline. It’s just one more reason why we owe it to the world to win something this year.