The Insider calls for a little perspective when it comes to Adebayor's 'kid-at-a-wedding' celebration.
Last Updated: 15/09/09 3:36pm
A weekend which saw Emmanuel Adebayor scale impressive peaks before slumping in less dignified troughs had sub-editors across the land lazily content in the knowledge 'Beauty and the Beast' headlines sort of work, but it is a third species, the football supporter, that deserves as much scrutiny as the Manchester City striker.
That Adebayor's raking stamp on former team-mate Robin van Persie merits sanctions from the Football Association is without question but it is his celebration, in front of the travelling Arsenal throngs, that has stolen as many column inches.
Having spent much of last season cocooned in a hate-hate (with Wenger no better than comme ci, comme ca) relationship with supporters at the Emirates, the giant Togolese left North London over the summer under a cloud layered thick with self-indulgence, but perhaps also a little self-preservation. Those of a red and white persuasion had long since grown exasperated by their languid front-man, who once a raging bull had like Robert De Niro's Jake LaMotta become bloated with the inflated sense of ill-justice that often afflicts a dethroned champion.
It was clear a parting of ways would suit both parties but this is football and as such, no split could be anything but acrimonious to Hollywood proportions. This was Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the divorce courts. Although one suspects Adebayor and Arsenal will not remarry.
The African's trademark half-moon smile, too often a scowl at the back end of his Arsenal days, was conspicuous by its absence at Eastlands, as a pumped-up Adebayor bid to prove his decision to swap red for blue was motivated not by green but by City's potential. So far this season he has proved to be talisman not mercenary; as a series of match-winning displays, four out of four to date, have made a mockery of those who said City are 'all fur coat no knickers'.
When Shaun Wright-Phillips' bespoke delivery for Adebayor concluded with City taking a 3-1 lead it was a case of emotion taking over the body. Listen carefully and you can make out Mark Hughes' resigned groan amid the pandemonium as Adebayor ran 120 yards before skidding on his knees in front of the Arsenal supporters.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the big man's celebration was his willingness to sprint the length of the field. No Arsenal supporter had ever seen him track back to his own half and yet, here he was, giving it the Hulk Hogans to a cacophony of boos and flying burgers. It would appear shock caused the collective dropping of instruments to hand, as one unfortunate City steward was knocked unconscious.
For some Adebayor's behaviour was tantamount to starting a riot and there have been calls for all manner of bans to be meted out in his direction. It was, for sure, idiotic on his part and Hughes' plea on his behalf that it was little more than over enthusiasm smacks of self-interest. But that should not shroud a greater evil prevalent within our national game, which allows supporters to be snarling perpetrators of abuse that would be deemed wholly unacceptable, obscene even, dished out in any direction other than that of a professional footballer.
Too many football supporters feel that the price of a ticket allows carte blanche when it comes to behaviour. It's been a while since I went to the theatre, or the cinema, and felt the right to call a performer a 'proper James Blunt' because their enunciation wasn't quite pitch perfect. Most Jim Carrey films make me feel a little nauseous but I've never felt the need to riot in the Odeon. Although, the last time I went the 15 minutes of adverts, not trailers, beforehand had me stifling the desire to put my foot through the screen.
The hypocrisy and juvenile indignation smeared all over the faces of those Arsenal supporters that surged forward when confronted by Adebayor was nothing short of laughable. The same socially retarded Danny Dyer-worshipping bed wetters who invariably had spent the previous 80 minutes dishing out the type of abuse that would have Bernard Manning saying 'that's a bit much', were now drowning in incandescent rage at the sight of a footballer celebrating scoring a goal. Quick, bring out the firing squad.
This isn't a lament penned by someone who reads the Guardian (tend to leave it in the car) rather than programme at the match, but just one who accepts a cocky striker celebrating in front of me is as part of football's rich tapestry as the pies. Sammy Nelson was pulling his shorts down in front of opposition fans nigh on 40 years ago and if a pasty seventies arse isn't enough to start a riot I'm pretty sure Adebayor's kid-at-a-wedding-skid isn't either. Go to the game, dog the opposition/referee/your own team/husband/wife/boss/therapist to your heart's content, within reason, but just do it with a little perspective.
Is it not human nature, forgetting the holier than thou 'he's a professional on £4million a-week' line, to feel the need to rub it in a bit when you've scored a goal? Adebayor was quick to apologise for his behaviour at the final whistle, albeit while remaining tight-lipped about booting van Persie, and for me, that should be the end of the matter.
The match officials rightly booked him for his indiscretion, so why prise open the can of worms left ajar by Eduardo's respective ban for 'simulation'. By using video evidence to judge an incident the naked eye saw perfectly well and dealt with accordingly is to further undermine our match officials.
After all, is it not a case that supporters forgo the right to be offended when they spend 90 minutes being offensive?