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DiMatteo Pulls A “Hughes”
Roberto DiMatteo is flat-out wrong for defending Thomas in much the same way Mark Hughes was wrong. This kind of blind defending of the players on the part of managers does neither the players and managers nor the game itself any good. Following the match, DiMatteo spoke with the BBC and said:
[...] I’m not disappointed in my player. Thomas went to shake hands, Wilshere refused and Thomas reacted. [...]
Let me get this straight… because Wilshire wouldn’t shake his hand after a really nasty elbow to the face, Thomas is justified in slapping him in the face? Is that really what DiMatteo is saying with a straight face?
Wilshire took an elbow and was then kicked out at by Thomas. Then when Thomas realized the ref might be watching he goes and offers his hand to Wilshire. I don’t blame Wilshire for not accepting a insincere handshake being offered merely for the sake of the referee. It’s insulting.
Then Thomas gets so upset when Wilshire doesn’t want to go on with this charade that he slaps him in the face!?!?! And DiMatteo is not disappointed with his player?? Give me a break… just like Hughes “believes” there was no malice in what Adebayor did to van Persie.
Wenger has also defended his players, but not for violent conduct. He has defended Eduardo for diving but if an Arsenal player were to slap or kick a player unprovoked then that player’s actions should be criticized. Was Vieira involved in scraps? Of course. But not unprovoked.
I would respect a manager far more if they came out in a situation like this and said, “My player was wrong. I told him that he was wrong and that type of behavior is not the proper way to represent this football club and shows disrespect to the supporters. He has realized and admitted his mistake to me and apologized.”
In that situation both the player and manager would be seen in a much better light, rather than what Hughes or DiMatteo have done, which is to defend the indefensible and make themselves look like tools in the process.
Let’s be honest, footballers are allowed to get away with things on the pitch that regular people cannot in real, everyday life. If I were to slap someone in the face, I could be arrested and face misdemeanor charges. If I incited a riot in an especially volatile neighborhood, I would be facing criminal charges.
Of course, in turn, footballers get away with things off the pitch as well. One need only look at Steven Gerrard’s defense strategy in his trial this past summer. He said he hit the DJ because he thought he was going to hit him.
In that case, anyone can legally and justifiably hit anyone and then claim they thought they were going to be hit. For society, that is a recipe for anarchy. But for Steven Gerrard, it is a recipe for acquittal.
This kind of bullet-proof protection afforded footballers both on and off the pitch only feeds into their psychological complexes and irrational behaviors. We treat them differently so why shouldn’t they think they are above the rules normal people are forced to live by? They have football to protect them.
Does anyone think Adebayor would have run 5 blocks to taunt 2,000 Arsenal supporters on the street? Hell no, because, if he was lucky, he’d only be spending the next six months in the hospital.
But the prevailing football culture allows them to do these things and most of the time get away with them, which makes these kinds of reactions from the managers, when they don’t get away with them, just that much more ridiculous.