Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The 'imaginary red card' issue

It seems to be the phrase on every journalist's lips at the moment, right along side "in crisis" and "feeling the pressure". Of course you will be aware that all of this is directed at Manchester City.

Mancini is no stranger to controversy as through his career he has proven to be a character whose ability is matched by his passion for the game and his ability to lose his temper. Sometimes that passion spilled over into anger as I'm sure many of you will be aware of some of his history.

Since coming to England just over 2 years ago it has usually been Mancini's arguments with Tevez or his treatment of players that were unwanted in the squad that have brought himself some negative publicity. Now, though, it is his conduct on the touchline that is being called into question. What is funny though is that 2 of his main detractors in recent weeks have been Alex Ferguson and Wayne Rooney. If there were any two people who had no room to comment on anyone's conduct on or off the pitch it would be these 2 reprobates.

So what has Mancini actually done? This all started when Kompany was given a straight red for a tackle on Nani during the FA Cup tie against Manchester United. It is almost universally accepted that it was the wrong decision but despite this, the FA upheld the ban.

Since 'that' tackle there has been a rather large debate on what should be deemed reckless or excessive and endangering other players and we have seen several times in various matches tackles that have been 'worse' than Kompany's that haven't even been met with a free kick, never mind a straight red card.

Manchester City have also had some rather suspect decisions go against them in recent weeks. Gareth Barry's 2 yellow cards against Liverpool in the league is one of those. Barry was sent packing while Charlie Adams and Martin Skrtel kicked lumps out of several players and barely an eyelid was batted. In the same match and only a short time after Barry was sent off, Skrtel brought down Yaya Toure on the box and received a yellow card.

In the Carling Cup tie, again against Liverpool, Glenn Johnson flew into a two footed challenge on Joleon Lescott that again was almost unanimously thought as much worse than Kompany's. Did he get a red card? No.

There have been other instances lately but the latest came against Wigan on Monday when Figueroa deliberately handled the ball on the half way line preventing Sergio Aguero a clean run at the Wigan goal. Once again this was met by cries for a red card from City fans at the game and at home. Several online forums with nothing to do with City have mentioned the exact same incident saying it should have been a red card. But the ref only gave a yellow.

In each of these instances Mancini was seen brandishing an imaginary card of some hue, believed to be red. Now I'm not exactly jumping for joy that he does this, but given the current run of awful refereeing decisions that have gone against City I can fully understand that he is getting really frustrated with injustices and irregularity within the game.

Partly the reason the media have picked it up and ran with it is that Mancini was annoyed that Wayne Rooney seemingly had an influence on Chris Foy sending off Vincent Kompany. Mancini was right in feeling aggrieved, and then expected the same rules to be applied be referees in other games. This hasn't happened though as I have mentioned above.

Rooney took to Twitter on Monday after Figueroa received a yellow : "Was manchini asking for red card????" Firstly, Wayne, he probably was as it was a straight red card offence. Secondly, Mancini should have a capital M. Third, there is no h in Mancini. Fourth, where's the 'a' gone? Get back to school you dopey, douche bag, neanderthal.

Why is Wayne Rooney including himself in the goings on at City anyway? What's it got to do with him? And it's not like he has never tried to influence a ref is it? 

Now Mancini is no saint, he has a fiery temper that burns below the cool exterior and if waving an 'imaginary red card' is the worst thing he does on the touchline then so what?Although it's not acceptable in the English game, is it really any less acceptable as this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Is there are difference between managers doing it on the sidelines and players doing it on the pitch? Mancini thinks so, and I'm inclined to agree with his point that whilst on the touchline he has no influence on the referee what so ever by doing this as the ref can't even see him. However players who run up into the face of a referee can and clearly do sometimes influence the decision making process of officials.

Again, this isn't me defending the card waving, I don't like it, but this has gone way out of proportion because it's Mancini. Would there be the same furor over Alex Ferguson doing it? If the card waving isn't acceptable as it is deemed to be cheating because it is apparently an attempt to influence the referee, what about this?

Oh we all know about Fergie time and his watch tapping antics. Is this not attempting to influence the referee into blowing his whistle earlier than he intends to? That could directly influence the outcome of the game couldn't it? Yet it is spoken of by commentators as some kind of endearing quality, a bit like Schole's tackling. "Oh he still can't tackle can he, gufaw" and "We're now into Fergie time, laugh giggle" are comments that we have heard for nearly 20 years.

How is Alex Ferguson tapping his watch, or screaming and pointing into the face of officials during the game and at half time better or more acceptable than the wave of the hand? It's more intimidating and it's more likely to influence future decision. So why isn't that ever mentioned? Well we all know the answer to that don't we?

Let the media have their say, they don't negatively influence the squad any more than waving an imaginary card on the sideline influences a referee. Although as with referees, a little more consistency wouldn't go amiss.

Twitter: @MikeWalsh1880 or @mcfcDSLeftFoot
Facebook: David Silva's Left Foot



  1. Why does everyone assume that he is waving a red card? If he was waving anything in the first place it could have been anything of any colour! Not that the English media would accept this as it doesn't fall within its remit to cause controversy whenever possible. What everyone seems to forget is that Mancini is Italian...and it is a fact that Italians talk with their hands, each hand sign meaning something different. If anyone had bothered to check it out they would have found that the hand sign being displayed actually means: "I don't agree with you, you are wrong".


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