Against Wigan on Saturday, just before half time, Hugo Rodallega fouled Nemanja Vidic, which lead to Sir Alex Ferguson angrily talking to the fourth official. Howard Webb gave the player a talking to but that was that.
At 3-0, Ben Foster came to collect a ball and Rodallega slid in on our keeper’s legs. The MOTD team reckon he tried to pull out before colliding with our player. Vidic was clearly angered by this incident and continued talking to the referee as Rodallega was shown a yellow card.
From the grainy video replay, it is clear that Nemanja Vidic flicked a hand at Hugo Rodallega moments later, not believing a yellow card was justice enough. The Wigan striker held his face, rolling around just inside the box whilst his team-mates played on around him. When Rodallega clocked that play hadn’t been stopped he shot up, miraculously cured of his agony, and charged at Vidic, throwing an elbow in Webb’s direction on the way. The ref put his hands under both Rodallega’s arms and carried him away.
What Vidic did was stupid really. Whilst Hugo was clearly feigning any sort of pain, you can’t raise your hand in the direction of another player’s face, regardless of how much they’ve pissed you off. Well, Vidic can and will if he chooses, I won’t be the one to tell him otherwise, but it puts us in a dodgy situation. If Terry had flicked someone in the face and got away with it, I’d be pissed off. It wasn’t violent but it was cynical and nasty. Had the linesman seen it and thought it worthy of a straight red, we’d have a defensive nightmare on our hands.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one on edge when the papers reported that Webb would be watching footage of the incident to judge whether Vidic should be awarded a belated red card.
Fortunately, Webb advised FA disciplinary chiefs that he had not seen the incident and reported that with the pictures not totally distinct, he could not say that it would have been an automatic red card offence. Phew. What probably swung it in our favour was the reaction of Rodallega. If Vidic was to be awarded a straight red for flicking his hand at an opponent then Rodallega would have deserved a second yellow for charging at Vidic and throwing an elbow in Webb’s direction.
So, now we get to face Arsenal with Vidic in the team but which of our other defenders will be available is unknown. There’s still five days to go so plenty of time for another defender to book their spot on the treatment table!