“It is easy in the cold light of day, when the adrenalin has died down,” insisted Manchester City manager Mark Hughes of Emmanuel Adebayor’s goal celebration (and face-kicking of former Arsenal teammate Robin Van Persie) on Saturday, ” to talk about what players should and shouldn’t do in that situation.” To which the Guardian’s John Ashdown replies, “it doesn’t take the cold light of day to realise that what players shouldn’t do if ‘that situation’ involves scoring a goal against a former club is charge 90 yards to celebrate in front of your opponents’ supporters.”
Once upon a time it was enough to do the Hulk Hogan thing (You know, where he’d twirl his hand round and cup it to his ear, and everyone would cheer, and you’d pretend to tear apart your little yellow ‘Hulkster’ vest and pump your little pythons and then Mrs Fiver would come in and tell you to switch that rubbish off and get ready for work). It was a subtle, almost jokey gesture – ‘Who’s booing now?’ – which would always lead to extra vitriol next time that player touched the ball. Now it seems ear-cupping just won’t do.
“It was silly to run up in front of the Arsenal fans, but these people have been insulting me all game,” was Adebayor’s excuse, but any player who drinks in the adulation of fans when playing for their team has to accept that those same fans will (usually, though not always) turn once he pulls on the shirt of another club, particularly if his departure was an acrimonious one. That said, those fans losing the run of themselves to the point of a steward being knocked unconscious by, what was in essence, a man sliding on his knees on some grass, are guilty of the biggest over-reaction since the 50ft woman went through puberty. Classless, crass and dense to the point of collapsing in on itself – after a week in the international wilderness, it’s good to have the Premier League back.