By Tony Attwood
From what I saw, (and as with the commentary about Swansea supporters, people in the ground can only report what they saw), the Red Star fans were what away fans should be. Very positive, very noisy, no fighting among themselves, no flares. They didn’t exceed their ticket allocation in the number of people who turned up, and by and large none of them were attacked by a player of the team they supported.
Which is a trifle different from what happened at Estadio D Afonso Henriques in Guimarães, the home of Vitoria SC in Portugal where that old turnip Patrice Evra was sent off before the game for kicking a Marseille supporter before the match. At least Cantona, as I recall, waited until after he had been sent off and managed to kick a supporter of the opposition. As far as I know Evra kicked one of his club’s own fans. During the warmup.
And so he was sent off before the game started – thus creating a debate. Since the game had not started could another player be put on in his place? Which led to the discussion: if a player is injured in the warm up does the substitute count as one of the three that the club is allowed to use, or is he part of the starting XI. Interesting stuff this football lark.
Yes it’s tricky stuff following the rules, especially when there are people like Cantona and Evra around – although it is in passing a little curious that they both had connections with Manchester United.
Anyway, the debate didn’t get that far largely because it was conducted while we were trying to cross Seven Sisters Road to get to Finsbury Park for a train that was soon to leave. For some reason I have never understood, whenever Blacksheep and I want to board that train, so do a lot of other people.
But back with the fighting, the Cantona incident apparently “changed football forever” according to the media who love events that change the world forever. But I am not too sure it did, unless it set up a situation in which every 20 years we have a Cantona memorial kick.
There will be lots of moral outrage, although I suspect no calls for Manchester United to be shut down on the grounds that they keep producing players who kick supporters. But it was ever thus. Anyway as the media tell me, it “will come under fierce scrutiny in the coming days.” Fierce scrutiny no less. I wonder what that actually means.
Meanwhile back on planet Earth, only one of the four teams that we listed yesterday as having won all their games in the Europa thus far continued so to do – Lazio. Zenit went through in a game played against Rosenborg for whom… Nic Bendtner, yes Nic Bendtner, scored a penalty. And the mass marauders of Cologne actually won a game – 5-2 beating BATE Borisov to help us go through.
|2||Red Star Belgrade||4||1||2||1||2||2||0||5|
One more point should do it, two draws or a single win in the last two would certainly do it. Because of this maybe Mr Wenger will decide to use the kiddies in the last two games. Oh, actually…
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Arsène Wenger said that he has enjoyed having two separate squads to play in the League and the cup games, and we should not lose the site of the lack of experience this team had, combined with the fact that we had a very mix and match squad out there.
Of course they are dismissed in the press for lacking creative inspiration, and of course we might hope for more from Giroud and Jack but the essence of the team was players without experience or indeed without recent experience.
Macey was getting what I think was his first start, Nelson still a novice although we’ve now heard so much about him, Debuchy playing out of position and who has hardly played in two years, Elneny who only started playing as a centre back in the summer, Holding – £3m from Bolton, Maitland-Niles, Willock… and a beach that apart from Cech and Eddie, most people had hardly seen play.
And one burk in the media called it a “tortured” display. How silly. This was young players getting used to playing in a big arena with a crowd present, against a team of full on professionals with nothing to lose. And let us not forget that that attempt by Jack which did come so close to a goal.
To dismiss this game as laboured and tortured is ludicrous – it was a game of youngsters and returnees against a hardened team, and they came through it ok. Of course we all want to see free flowing high scoring games. But if the price of getting there is having games like this when the kids and returnees are given a chance, I’ll still do the 170 mile round trip each time and pay to go in. Unlike those journalists who sneer after actually being paid to be there.
- Arsenal II – Red Star Belgrade : 0-0
- Jose Mourinho in court on Friday, Lacazette leaving.
- Chair of PSG accused of wholesale corruption – but it is not reported in the British media