Why RVP Was Right To Celebrate His Man United Goal vs. Arsenal
When did it come to this? When did it become such a sin to score against one of you old teams? The sight of players either walking away as if their beloved childhood pet had just ran under the wheels of the number 10 bus or even more sicking, holding up an apologetic hand towards their ex-fans in forgiveness is becoming an all too common occurrence. It drives me mad.
Not celebrating a goal degrades the ultimate joy of football. It’s the whole purpose of the game. And why do these players do it? Out of respect? Respect? If they truly respected their old clubs they would refuse to play against them, just in case they happen to find themselves in a goalscoring position.
What about the respect for their current employers and their fans? Wouldn’t they want to see you fully committed to them and let them share your momentous occasion with them too? Of course they would.
Look at some recent examples. Scott Sinclair was almost in the process of writing a letter of apology to every single Chelsea fan inside the Liberty Stadium whilst his teammates and the Swansea support were transported into delirium by his strike. I almost half expected him to come out in the second half wearing a black armband, “out of respect”.
There was also the Robbie Keane incident. After rocketing his current, albeit temporary, team into the lead over the club who set him on his way to stardom, he somberly trudged his away back to the halfway line without so much as a raised arm to salute the Villa fans. It was probably the finest goal he had scored in years and he decided to honour the occasion by . . . well, he didn’t honour it all, did he?
Of course, there are times when it is entirely acceptable to look solemn after putting one past an ex-employer but those instances are few and far between. Occasions such as the epic back-heeled goal scored by Denis Law that consigned his beloved Manchester United to the old second division. Naturally, THAT was an appropriate response to what had just happened. The consequences were far more extreme than merely taking three points from them.
When did it come to this? When did it become such a sin to score against one of you old teams?
I remember the day when playing against one of your old teams was an extra motivation to score. It wasn’t just a feeling consigned to just ex-players either. Players scoring against their hometown team was something that always happened and they seemed to take great delight in twisting the knife. Whenever a Sunderland born player came to play against them at Roker Park, I always expected them to score against us because of their desire to show how well they were doing in their post-Sunderland days.
A prime example is ex-Grimsby and Charlton striker, Clive Mendonca. Sunderland born and bred but also the player who scored a hattrick against them in a Wembley play-off to deny them promotion top the Premier League. Okay, so his mother got all the windows smashed on her house because of his goalscoring feat but that’s besides the point. The fact is he always seemed extra motivated to score against us.
There’ll still be those saying it’s good sportsmanship not to wheel away in jubilation but I couldn’t agree less. It’s exactly the same with the unwritten rule about putting the ball out of play when an opposing player is lying on the floor injured. Haven’t we cottoned on to the fact that this “rule” is taken advantage of on many occasions so as to prevent their opponents taking advantage of a counter attack? That’s what the referee is there for and it should be solely down to him as to when play is stopped. You only have to listen to the groans by the fans of the team in possession to know what the fans think of it.
I don’t want anyone to misconstrue my point. I’m not asking for players to run the length of the pitch and middle-finger the fans that once payed their wages, Adebayor style. It’s not about trying to wind anyone up, it’s just a matter of being professional and showing loyalty to your own support. To celebrate a goal with your fans is to show solidarity and say “That was for you lot!”. That’s respect, loyalty and fan appreciation all rolled in to one and it beats the risk of upsetting a few old friends any day.
I’ve been asked how I’d react if I ever saved a penalty against one of my old clubs and I can honestly say I would treat in the same way as any other. Sure, I’d show my respect, if that’s what you want to call it, before and after the game but for ninety minutes I want to win. In a way, I’d probably want to win more against them than most other clubs. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.