Alpay should take his medicine
By Steve Luckings
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Are Aston Villa right to give controversial Turkish defender Alpay compassionate leave in the wake of the storm he has created for his antics against England in their crucial Euro 2004 qualifier?
The former Fenerbahce star endeared himself even more to English supporters by goading England captain David Beckham after he fluffed his penalty in last Saturday's Euro 2004 qualifier, and poked him in the cheek as the two made their way down the tunnel at half time.
Alpay's actions have made him a target of hate back in England with effigies of him being hung in Birmingham and with Saturday's game against city rivals Brum, Villans boss David O'Leary has decided to grant the stopper compassionate leave to stop the player being a flame that lights the blue touch paper.
Alpay gave his version of events in Istanbul on Wednesday claiming England captain Beckham head-butted and spat at him which prompted the unsavoury incidents and so if this is the case should the defender be left out of the game on Saturday against Villa's fiercest rivals?
If he claims to be the victim in the whole Beckham affair then he should bite the bullet and put himself in the firing line.
To be honest on current form, no manager with brain cells would have Alpay in their backline in such a crucial game but the fact that the Turk has yet again tried to portray himself as the victim riles and I think O'Leary should have named him in the squad for the clash.
Beckham was clearly seen head-butting Alpay after being taunted about his penalty miss and so I can understand his actions in wanting to get a response from Beckham, and in my opinion - although unsavoury to some - this kind of practice is common place in football but Alpay cannot hide behind Turkey's fanatical fans every time he wants to get under someone's skin.
He should be doing it week-in and week-out.
There have been many legendary wind-up merchants over the years, Vinnie Jones, Dennis Wise, Robbie Savage and Ian Wright to name a few, who were, or still are, detested by opposing fans but still went into difficult games with the same attitude to disrupt the opposition and draw a reaction out of the players they were up against.
I understand that there are security fears over the game at St Andrews, especially after last season's unwanted intrusion by Blues fans on the pitch to let Villa keeper Peter Enckleman know exactly how much they rated him, and with Joey Gudjohnsson and Dion Dublin seeing red, the latter for head-butting the king of irritants Savage, but there are still three points to be played for.
Regardless of whether you consider Alpay as one of your best players or not, if he is fit, he should be in the squad to give O'Leary the option of whether he plays or not and if he thinks he was unpopular in England for his antics before, he should know that supporters will load up more ammunition to fire at him if he does not have the testicular fortitude to stand in the firing line.