Alexis Sanchez was the subject of some rough treatment a few weeks back against Newcastle at the Emirates. It certainly wasn't the first game either. Opposition managers are frightened of his talent and his ability to make something out of nothing. So whenever he received the ball he soon ended up on the deck after yet another kick or trip.
So on more than one occasion our new foreign import jumped up and waved an imaginary card towards the referee. Asking for the official to act. Now while he is a talented player, he has to realise that this is the Premier League and we don't condone that behaviour over here......
[Vinyl scratch] Now tell me how many times you have read a variation of that last paragraph over the years? I'd venture to say, quite a few times right? I find our reaction to things like this all very interesting. If waving imaginary cards had never been publicly condoned by the former player, pundit types over and over again would we really care? I mean honestly someone explain the offence to me. Why does this action offend people so much?
If you are Chelsea and you rotationally foul Arsenal at Stamford Bridge to stop us from playing then it is viewed as professional and delving into the dark arts to win for your club. You have to say that with a knowing nod and cheeky smile. Can I go against the grain here and just point out that this is cheating. Rotational fouling to prevent another side from you know, playing football is not in the rule book. It should not be celebrated and accepted.
Why do people subconsciously accept this, over aggressive tackles, shirt pulling and so on but get offended when a player who has been on the receiving end of three successive fouls decides to tell the referee to do his job and referee the game by the rule book? What is the betting that if Frank Lampard for example approached the referee and said something along the lines of 'For Fakk sake ref, you gonna book him or what? that's the third fakking time in a row I've been kicked like', what is the betting that 90% of anti imaginary card wavers would be totally fine with it. It is essentially the same thing, one using fakk, the other using physical actions. Maybe the latter is not confident enough to explain to the referee his grievances, so this simple and to the point gesture tells the 'protector of the game' what he should be doing.
It's all about perceptions and what we've allowed to sink into our consciousness. This subject goes far beyond sport but I don't want to veer too much off topic. Sheep mentality is a big problem in football, people are too lazy to think for themselves, far easier to jump on a bandwagon without taking the time to consider an alternative view point.
It's quite fascinating watching former players, pundits fall into the trap. A few examples such as Paul Scholes still not knowing how to tackle followed by a cheeky chuckle and little nudge. Oh how they laughed. It was considered ok for Paul Scholes to recklessly hurt an opponent because well, he just wasn't very good at it which was somehow endearing.
How about the classic, 'I'd rather have my face smashed in than spat on'
Now come come. Really? You'd rather have bones in your face broken than have to wipe some saliva away? It is apparently that disrespectful. Listen, someone gobbing in my face would unquestionably make me loose my stool and I cannot say with any certainty that I wouldn't be involved in some form of fisticuffs which ironically could lead me towards having the worst of both worlds, but the idea that it's worse than having your face broken is insane. I can't remember who said this now, maybe Mark Bright or someone and it was soon repeated by someone I was talking to a short while after.
Unfortunately lazy opinions such as these are not always harmless. It wasn't too long ago when the saying 'Arsenal do not like it up em' became a fully acceptable line to use in the game. Whether it be pundits, journalists or managers. I am almost certain that this way of thinking affected referees also during the time.
I don't think it is a coincidence that we suffered with more broken bones than any other team in the league. I also don't find it a coincidence that the opposition were allowed more fouls per yellow card compared to us.
That is what can happen when narratives are formed and spread. You can test it out for yourself if you wish. Just find someone who supports another team and who have very little knowledge about the game and then ask him/her questions about Arsenal. You are more than likely going to get some diluted analysis from Robbie Savage, if that is at all possible.
Wouldn't it be nice if people took a little more time to think for themselves?
So Alexis, the next time you get a kicking without any action being done about it, please be sure to alert the officials whichever way you feel comfortable. I'll try not to take offence.