Bit over the top? Yeah, maybe, but the spirit is entirely correct- Eduardo clearly dived, but his dive was no different than a thousand other dives before and likely to be the same as another 20 dives still to come in this year’s competition. There’s zero precedent for suspending a player over this, and so far as I know there’s not even a relevant rule which allows for suspension over what’s a simple yellow card offense if detected. This whole “case” is a tower of hypocrisy built on a foundation of xenophobia and media hysteria, three things which each pose as much or more of a danger to football than a single dive in a single game which had absolutely no effect whatsoever on the final result. A rational and intelligent governing body would use this incident as a chance to retrain referees, or hire additional assistants simply to track and watch for potential dives, or bring in video review and rules changes for retroactive punishment; UEFA instead appears to have decided that there’s no need to improve things for the future when a bit of ad hoc mob justice will do nicely for the moment.
Frankly, I think they have a lot more to be embarrassed about right now than Eduardo does.
I’m not in a spot where I can watch the Arsenal-Celtic game at the moment, but I’m reading two MBMs to keep up. So far both have bewailed an apparently totally egregious Eduardo dive for a penalty, and now following a second goal Eboue has been booked for excessive celebration for pulling his shirt off. Simultaneously, a Celtic player is booked for a reckless challenge, and another had previously been pulled off at the half due to being a potential danger over anger at the dive. There’s still 30+ minutes left in this. Are Arsenal TRYING to start a bench-clearer? Why are you diving and behaving in an unsportsmanlike fashion in a home game when you’re already 2, 3 or 4 up in the tie?
Ok, now I’ve seen the play, and it’s as bad as described. Eduardo does not have a history of this so there’s no point in going over the top on him, but the fact of the matter is he cheated, at home, 2-0 up in the tie, against a vastly inferior side. That is, simply, horseshit; but it’s the kind of horseshit you have to expect from professionals these days. What really bothers me is that he’s going to get away with it: with the lack of video replay and/or officials who have the ability to discern and the balls to card for diving, cheating essentially pays in football at the moment. Indeed you could make a solid case that it’s tacitly encouraged by the manifest refusal to get serious about enforcing rules and penalties regarding it. At the moment the only real regulation is the assurance that other professionals will cheat in exactly the same way, so the next time Wayne Rooney or Robbie Keane or Steve Gerrard suddenly takes flight against Arsenal, here’s a play to keep in mind before anyone begins moaning about the tragedy of it all.
Can you imagine if United or Chelsea had done something like this in the beatings they administered to Arsenal last season? We’d have never heard the end of it among the cries for Drogba or Ronaldo to be deported. Eddie will get away with less criticism because he seems like such a nice guy, but the fact that even such a generally gentlemanly player as him thought this was a smart thing to do that he could get away with- correctly so- says it all, really. Frankly, until a manager pulls his team off the pitch in response to this type of thing nothing will change I suspect.
With the exception of Le Grove, all of the blogs I’ve read today have essentially dismissed the idea that Arsene has blamed the fans for forcing Adebayor out. Here’s the actual quotes, taken from the link Goonerblog cites in dismissing the proposition:
“We have lost a great player and we wish him well….He’s done extremely well for the club. I don’t believe that last season he got enough support. That was playing a part in my mind and in his mind, certainly, as well. I believe he wanted to do well but he didn’t find the confidence he had the season before. There was a little resentment you could feel through last summer….Believe me, he’s a great player and he’ll show that again at Manchester City….Big clubs lose big players. Milan have lost Kaka and Milan will go on. Arsenal have always lost players and continued at the top level.”
Here’s additional actual quotes from yesterday, from Football365:
“We’re not on the verge of signing anybody but I’m able to spend the money if we find the right players….We’re not in a hurry because we have a big squad. We’ll see in pre-season if we need to make any additions….If we need to add something we will. Chamakh is one of the players we’ve followed and if we need to go for a striker he’s a possibility. We’re keeping an eye on him….We have Rosicky and Eduardo back so we’ve lost a big striker but have gained two offensive players who were absent last season. We also have Nicklas Bendtner, Andrey Arshavin, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott who can play striker. We have top players we can use as strikers.”
Again, these are the actual quotes only, shorn of editorial slanting or speculations as to meaning. Judge for yourselves. If these quotes are somehow completely made up, no doubt the denial or the libel suit is imminent, and we can ignore these once it’s filed. For my money I think it’s abundantly clear what Wenger thinks of the fans, and it’s been that clear for years now even if it only boiled over last season. Personally under most circumstances, that doesn’t bother me; I can’t imagine that, say, Tom Coughlin gave a tin shit about Giants fans the year he won the super bowl, but given that he brought home the biggest trophy in the land it was really an immaterial consideration to almost anyone. Likewise, Wenger’s attitude towards others wouldn’t be a consideration if he were still winning things. But he’s not. In the same way as a marriage with fundamental issues works fine in flush times and hits the rocks in a recession, so the basic issues between Wenger and a lot of the fans are being exposed now that the club have been an also-ran for several years.
Now, I don’t think Wenger “needs to go” over this; and even if I did it wouldn’t matter because he’s not going to regardless of events, not this year or next or 5 years from now or 10, if he decides to stay that long. It’s been established that Wenger is the club and the club is Wenger right now. But when Wenger gives quotes one game into the preseason which can easily be read as blaming fans for Adebayor’s personal behavior, and when he again suggests that he won’t buy because injury-prone players returning or changing position is the answer, he sets himself up for a re-run of last year’s intense acrimony between fans and players and fans and fans. This, I think, is deliberate and his way of asserting control over the club. He’s not a stupid man, and must be fully aware of the many alternate ways to convey similar points in less abrasive fashion- “circumstances resulted in a breakdown between player and fanbase, and it was best for both that this move happen”, or “while you will understand if I don’t reveal my specific intentions, I’m always on the lookout to improve the squad where I think it needs it”. That he chose a route apart form these means something; and if next season gets off to a rocky start, and if none of the “undisclosed” Adebayor fee is spent, expect both the return of especially angry fan responses and the manager responding in kind. Last year’s issues weren’t buried in the offseason, just cooled for a while.
On a side note, take a look at the players listed in the attacking players quote. Rosicky hasn’t played a real game in 18 months, has suffered from leg injuries and may never be the same player he was; Walcott has rarely played as a striker in the Premier League and is injury prone; Eduardo was rushed back too soon last year, injured himself again and never got on track, hasn’t played a full season since 06-07, and it’s still unclear both what he is in the Premier League and what he is after his leg injury. And this doesn’t even take into account he chances that RVP may return to his own habit of frequent injuries. All three of these players may yet come good in major roles; but on some level it’s simply unfair to ask them given their current situations to carry the load of a club which is probably more desperate now than in many years to win something. I’m very much in favor of bringing someone else in, if only to forestall the possibility of the team being devastated by a plague of injuries again, leaving the few healthy attackers to run themselves ragged playing every game.
For what it’s worth, I think this coming year is probably Arsenal’s best chance to win the league since the Invincibles were dismantled, which I’ll go into more once it’s time for a serious preseason preview. But it’s going to require a lot of luck, and a lot of things to go right.