There was a bit of fuss last weekend about Robin van Persie’s celebration after scoring against former club Arsenal. Some (Arsenal fans) felt Van Persie’s celebration to be a little over the top, or lacking respect to his former employers. Celebrating a goal in an important game can now be regarded as disrespectful, a sad reflection on the extent to which the concept of ‘muted celebrations’ has been allowed to corrupt football culture.
Van Persie severed ties with Arsenal when he agreed to join the club they’ve been trying to compete with for the past decade. That was that, done. He has, understandably, received a fair amount of stick for it from Arsenal fans. But, as a result, he is under no obligation to show humility towards Arsenal or to take the abuse from their fans with stoic indifference.
Goals are the fun bit in football – if they’re not to be celebrated properly then we might as well all go home. In any case, Van Persie knows United fans want to see him revelling in the opportunity to play for them and put one over his former employers. This is the kind of harmless villainy that makes the game more fun. If Arsenal want to humiliate Van Persie, they need to beat Manchester United. And win a trophy.
Arsenal fans have previous here. After their relentless goading of Emmanuel Adebayor they were horrified when he rushed to celebrate in front of them at the Etihad. Personally, I think this is one of the great celebrations of our time.
A Manchester City steward was knocked unconscious by an object thrown by furious Arsenal fans who rushed forward to vent their anger at the City striker. Amazingly, Adebayor was blamed for causing this incident – as if a running knee slide excuses fans of all responsibility for their own behaviour. Maybe I’m not up to speed with our criminal justice system, but if I threw a missile at someone’s head and knocked them out, I’m not sure I’d be acquitted on the grounds that I was provoked by a running knee slide. Worth bearing in mind though, it could get you out of a tight spot one day.
Now, I’m not saying every goal by a returning player should be celebrated with Adebayor’s zeal (although it would certainly liven things up a bit). But, the only players with a genuine excuse for toning it down are long-term servants that leave on amicable terms, of which there are very few. Scott Sinclair take note – your ‘career’ at Chelsea does not qualify under these terms.
Sinclair is responsible for the nadir of muted celebrations when scoring a penalty for Swansea against Chelsea, the club he represented a whopping eight times in four seasons. You might have thought he’d want to let them know he’s doing just fine now, thank you very much, but instead he opted for the lamest of the lame. As the ball hit the net, Sinclair bowed his head, kept his hands by his side, and wore an expression that said, ‘Stand back, teammates – do not jump on me – I’m being respectful.’ No! This was a total lack of respect for Swansea and their fans – the club that bought him and reignited his career. No one even remembers Sinclair played for Chelsea – not even Chelsea fans.
Enough is enough. This video should be mandatory viewing for all English footballers. It features Roma keeper, Morgan De Sanctis, following his side’s recent victory at Udinese. De Sanctis is a former Udinese player. Take note, Sinclair. Take note, everyone.