Sunday’s back pages should have been filled with pictures of Manchester City’s Emmanuel Adebayor for all the right reasons, after he put in a great shift for his new team and capped it off with a goal. City fans will forget they battered Arsenal last season yet still finished 10th in the league, and will claim Saturday’s result means they are one step closer to a top four finish. But that is what all the talk following their game should have been about – will they displace Arsenal and get in to the Champions League? Instead, all the discussions is revolving around that nasty piece of work Adebayor.
Immediately prior to kick-off, Adebayor was walking around in Arsenal’s half of the pitch, clearly keen to wind up his former club. I don’t see a lot wrong in that. Whilst he was kissing Arsenal’s badge not long ago and did promise to pay back the Arsenal fans with trophies at the start of the summer just gone, you can understand why some players may feel like they have a point to prove. Clearly Adebayor is one of them.
After scoring his goal he galloped 90 yards to slide to his knees in front of the Arsenal away support. This of course provoked an angry reaction. Whilst you can’t ever condone behaviour from fans which lead to one steward being knocked unconscious (I do hope it was the one who was particularly rough with our players in keeping them away from us after derby day three years ago, the day before we won the league and they wanted to celebrate with us!), you do have to understand why it happened and acknowledge that any group of supporters would have done exactly the same.
The whole episode just seems a bit desperate and unnecessary on Adebayor’s part though. He wasn’t playing against City’s hated rivals, he was playing against a team whose badge he was kissing a few months ago. To be so keen to prove a point against them is just a bit sad. Had he ran to the City fans behind the goal, showing the Arsenal fans he didn’t give a shit about them and was far more interested in the supporter’s of his new team, that would have had a far better impact. As it is, he’s shown himself as a player who still has hangups over his former club and will now likely face punishment for it.
Comparisons have been made between his celebration against his former club with Gary Neville’s celebration against Liverpool in 2006. It was claimed that Neville sprinted from one end of the pitch to the other to shove his badge in the away fans’ faces and that he rightly was fined £5000. Of course anyone who has watched a United game or two knows that Neville is never sent up for corners or freekicks from outside the box. In the seventeen years he has been playing Premiership football for us, he has scored just seven goals. Clearly his place for attacking set pieces is on the half-way line in anticipation for a counter-attack from the opposition, not in the box.
What is also forgotten is that the week before this match, Robbie Fowler scored against United for City and went straight to the United fans, holding up his five digits to represent the five European Cups of Liverpool. Our travelling support were of course incensed by Fowler’s deliberate attempts to wind them up. There was no media frenzy or FA condemnation or fine for him though.
Regardless, Neville did what he did, he didn’t regret it, and he became an over night complete legend for our fans, for sticking it to our rivals and making them go bonkers. I’m sure Liverpool fans enjoyed Fowler’s wind up almost as much. Tit for tat between two hate-filled rivals.
However, with Adebayor’s celebration he ran the full length of the pitch, far more concerned with Arsenal supporters than with City’s, showing a lack of respect for his former team mates as much as anyone else. Adebayor scoring against us and doing that would rightly be loved by City fans, but against Arsenal? It’s totally classless.
Still, the biggest event today was not his goal celebration but his savage kick out at Robin van Persie. Whilst RvP is no stranger to nasty challenges, even he wouldn’t be able to compete with Adebayor’s dangerous kick. An inch to the side and that would have been RvP’s eye gone and his career over. To do this to any player would be fucking horrible but a former team-mate? You have to wonder what the fuck was going through his head. Replays show there is no question of intent, with Adebayor clearly choosing to plant his studs in van Persie’s face.
What should have been a great day for City, Adebayor in particular, has been turned totally sour by their top-scorer. The fact that City could now travel to Old Trafford without Adebayor, as well as the injured Carlos Tevez and Robinho, adds insult to injury.
“Our governance team will take a good look at both of the incidents that have been highlighted and will come to the media with the answers early next week,” said FA chief executive, Ian Watmore.
I imagine the FA will be in a hurry to react because a volatile player who is awaiting punishment is not someone they would be wanting to send in to a derby clash. Adebayor showed clearly his emotional immaturity against his former club so who knows how he would behave in his first Manchester derby, with their rabid fans singing about Munich and ours responding by mocking their decades without a trophy.
Given that Adebayor is scoring for fun this season, I for one will be happy to see him missing for the game. Whilst the celebration was a bit daft, it’s his kicking of van Persie that will land him in the shit, and I won’t be complaining. This year’s derby has the potential to be a cracking match but Adebayor may just have swung it much more in our favour. Cheers!