Most sporting fans would begin from the stance that nothing in football ever surprises us. The English Premier League is a fast-moving, multi-faceted, soap opera that dominates the world of sport like no other and controversies – some inadvertent, some deliberate – continuously come with the territory.
Overnight it was announced that West Ham striker Andy Carroll has had his appeal against the red card he received in his club’s 2-0 victory over Swansea at the weekend turned down. According to three-man FA panel looking at the case, West Ham failed to prove that referee Howard Webb had made an ‘obvious error’ in dismissing Carroll from the pitch.
Carroll himself, not long returned to action after a long spell out with injury, is plainly upset by this outcome – as witness, his subsequent tweet of ‘disgraceful’, for which I suspect he will be hauled up by the authorities again.
I’m bound to say that I have some sympathy with him.
As it happens, last Sunday morning, having heard about the incident, I made a point of watching BBC’s Match of the Day out of idle curiosity, simply to form my own opinion.
To this impartial observer, it seemed that the initial clash between Carroll and Swansea’s Chico Flores was a classic example of ‘six of one and half a dozen of the other’ between striker and defender.
Marginally, initially it looked as if Carroll was more victim than aggressor as Flores climbed all over him – not that he was complaining. It was the type of ‘coming together’ that is seen in every Premiership game and had probably occurred between the same two combatants on several occasions during Saturday’s game.
However, the detail of what happened next is crucial.
As the ‘engagement’ ended, Carroll swung round as if to rid himself of Flores’ attentions.
In doing so, it seemed to me, as his trailing arm followed his turn – either deliberately or without caring whether or not it ‘caught’ his opponent – Carroll did make contact with Flores and the latter fell to the floor.
Here’s my point.
If I had been left in sole charge of the conduct of the FA’s appeal, I would have firstly, reduced Carroll’s punishment from a red card to a yellow.
Secondly, I would have banned Chico Flores for a minimum eight matches for his outrageous play-acting and prolonged rolling around on the grass.
See what you think of the incident here – CARROLL/FLORES CLASH
[Apologies in advance for the fact that this video footage – the best I have been able to find on the internet – has to be searched for halfway down the home page of the website concerned and sadly does not extent to cover Flores’ Derek Jacobi-style hammy performance on the ground after the incident].