We're top of the Fair Play League too!
Football supporters by their nature are partisan so, if we are all honest, objectivity in all things relating to our own team is difficult for any of us to ever truly accomplish. Some do give it a try though. Others like Dick over at VitalBolton don`t bother to make any attempt at all, but at least his hysterically one-sided uninformed rants have been so easy to mock that it has provided a few days entertainment for those that have bothered to offer opinions over there. The bottom line is that football supporters are going to stick up for their side more often than not - that`s what supporters do.
Journalists take a different stance. While some might find it difficult to completely hide their allegiances most struggle with the task of creating a story whether one exists or not. It`s on that basis that the professional journalist maxim that 'dog bites man' isn`t a story but 'man bites dog' is, directs the approach many will apply to make an event newsworthy. They know when they are bending a story.
Arsene Wenger found it hard to conceal his weariness at the pious hypocrisy of some in football over the Gallas challenge which the referee with a clear uninterrupted view saw only as a 50-50 challenge. The problem with 50-50 challenges is that unless both players arrive at precisely the same time there is an equal chance that one will come off worse than the other. This time it was the unfortunate Mark Davies who fortunately doesn`t appear to have sustained significant damage. Robin van Persie's generous offer of some surplus horse placenta he had in his freezer wasn't needed. Coyle at least had the decency to admit he over reacted to the tackle yesterday agreeing that it was simply mistimed.
The story only existed at all because an Arsenal player, top of the current fair play league, fouled a Bolton player, 2nd bottom in the fair play league - and there lies our 'man bites dog' story. Bolton, by definition one of the leagues dirtiest sides, kicking as they did repeatedly over the 2 games Arsenal, currently the leagues fairest, is a 'dog bites man' tale. There`s no story there - it`s what dogs are expected to do.
In a season which has had more than its fair share of hysterical excess Wenger tried to introduce some rationalisation when commenting on the event in his press conference today:
"I do not want to develop any paranoia," the Arsenal manager said. "But there was too much made about this incident.
"It was a mistimed challenge but without any intention to harm the player.
"What is more funny is that, when we get kicked, some people say before the game 'we know how to play Arsenal, we have to kick them' and nobody in the whole country is upset by that.
"I am always absolutely amazed that people get away with it. When we get kicked and lose the game, the question I get from the press is 'oh, you did not fancy that'. But nobody is upset or shocked by it. When we are kicked they find that it is absolutely all right.
"I said after the Bolton game if Gallas has injured the player, we are sorry. We will have a look at the tackle and if it is malicious we will come out and make a statement. We looked at it carefully and we saw that it was just a mistimed tackle. That is why we didn't see why such a story should flare up and make a national issue if the intention of the player was completely right.
"If you ask anywhere in the world, do Arsenal play fair football? You will get the same answer in every single country. That is what we try to achieve. Look at the Fair Play League - Arsenal are top. That is the best answer you can give."
We'll never remove tribal passions from football, we'd lose something important if we could, but some sense of proportion at times wouldn`t do any harm.
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