Walcott’s Naïveté Exposed By Berbatov And Fergie?

By now everyone must have read Theo Walcott’s apology for a ‘dive’ against Leeds. The reaction that I’ve read has been mixed. Some people just needed an excuse for Arsenal bashing, others including yours truly thought it was a silly thing to say, but there were also those who found this act praiseworthy.

I can understand all three opinions. The first one is asinine and doesn’t deserve any consideration. For the third one, it’s not difficult to see why someone might think Walcott did the right thing and should be appreciated. Hardly anyone likes cheats in football so when a player comes out and says sorry, it can be seen as a positive step.

My problem was that it was an unnecessary statement that will just complicate matters in the future (that’s assuming the FA won’t take any action right now). It could be argued that Walcott was unhappy with what he did and had to get it off his chest. Some might even say that it could help him in future penalty decisions but I have my doubts.

While watching live I thought there was contact and a penalty should have been awarded. The defender did touch Theo and this can be seen in the image below.

I’m guessing the Theo felt the touch and went down even though the contact wasn’t strong enough to knock him off balance. And in his opinion that was a dive so the youngster apologized for it. In some ways that’s even more commendable as we have seen many blatant ‘zero contact’ dives but that’s beside the point.

I have heard some players say if there is a slight touch go down and it can work both ways. It was one of those things.

That line from his apology confirmed my hunch that there was contact but if the ref had given the spot-kick it would have been what is called a ‘soft penalty’.

Over time, people will not remember the details or the fact that there was contact but just that ‘it was a dive by Walcott’.  Worse still, they might, based on the line I quoted above, think that many Arsenal players go down softly. This could work against Arsenal who don’t get many legitimate penalties as it is.

I’m all for honesty but many issues in professional football are grey areas. Under the guise of tackling plenty of thugs go out to deliberately kick the Arsenal players. It’s not a surprise. Most recently, Sagna has been at the receiving end of some deliberate and extremely dangerous assaults, leave alone tackles.

Rio Ferdinand jumped for a header but left his leg extended to ensure that he kicked the opponent. His excuse was simple – eyes on the ball. Everyone bought it. Those who do watch football closely knew it had nothing to do with ‘eyes on the ball’. When players jump up they don’t have to have their foot extended in that manner. Some goalkeepers do it to make sure strikers don’t come and challenge for a ball they’re trying to catch but hardly any outfield player does it. They all know the opponent is going to go for the ball and is going to come from the front. Extending the leg in that manner is a sure shot way of hurting the opponent.

You can get away with it if the referee is in your pocket or is an idiot. Most pundits won’t give it too much thought either, especially if you are an England international.

Similarly, contact in the penalty box is probably a ref’s worst nightmare. We’ve seen players grappling on set-pieces without being punished, we’ve seen the likes of Gary Neville upend strikers without conceding a penalty, and we’ve see others like Rooney, Bale, and Gerard win penalties even when it was just the wind that knocked them over.

Undoubtedly, a share of the blame must fall on the football administrators for not putting in better rules and stricter retrospective punishments but that is a separate discussion.

For now let’s just look at this video of the penalty won by Berbatov against Liverpool hours after the Walcott apology. Listen to the commentary in the first 10-12 seconds and then the highlights and commentary from 34 seconds onwards.

There is contact but Berbatov makes a meal of it. I don’t like it but that’s how the game is played these days. Ideally this should not happen. But in an ideal world there would be peace, everyone would have food and shelter, and happiness would be easier to find than stress, pain, or suffering. Clearly, we don’t live in the ideal world.

The commentator summed it up accurately,

In the 21st century, the modern footballer has said, “why should I stay on my feet?”

The post match reaction was not surprising at all. Dalglish called the decision ‘a joke’. Fergie defended his striker,

It was a penalty. Dimitar says he was definitely clipped. The replay shows he slightly touched him but the momentum is enough to bring the player down.

There is no reason for him to go down anyway. He is not that kind of player.

The last line was quite funny, but the ones before it imply that it’s alright to go down when you’re ‘slightly touched’.

The Bulgarian’s response was quite predictable as well.

Of course it was a penalty. There was enough contact for me to lose my balance and people know I do not go to ground easily.

United got the result they needed. Both sets of fans will have contrasting views but it won’t matter in the long run.

We have two similar events involving high profile teams on consecutive days. One guy wins a penalty and, along with his manager, defends his actions. The other comes out and labels himself a diver even when no one else was calling him that.

Coming from the land of Gandhi, I understand Theo’s sentiment, but this isn’t a freedom struggle. This is modern football. To me, this incidence highlights the naïveté displayed by Theo.

In the future he can try staying on his feet. I have no problems with that. But releasing a public statement even when the focus is not on him just highlights a lack of ‘professional intelligence’!

The thugs will not stop their assaults on Gunners, players will dive, they will commit professional fouls, and everyone will argue a ‘gray’ decision their way. It’s the referee’s job to get the calls right and Theo hasn’t done himself or Arsenal any favours.

While on the subject I’d also like to share this video of the Berbatov incident. I don’t agree with the analysis at all but the effort is worth appreciating. The dramatic effect from the music, quotes from various sources etc. make it an extremely serious or absolutely hilarious video depending on your point of view.


24 Responses to Walcott’s Naïveté Exposed By Berbatov And Fergie?

  1. manu says:

    Of course ferdinand, berbatov are cheats, well coached by red nose.

  2. gretskieboy says:

    Theo’s just gotta say what he needs to, he’s a young lad and yes possibly niaeve. Good for being honest though can’t have enough of that! he does seem like a realy nice guy so I hope the reaction doesn’t sour his take on life.
    Probably will allow people to re-enforce their pre-exicting feelings about theo and arsenal. Some people think arsenal are a bunch of divers and dirty cheats. I will never forget the witch hunt following DuDu’s celtic game. Football (and probably sport in general) is a dividing media. we all support a single club, we may try to rise above this at times but the divided tribal nature is at the heart of football/sport.
    good post as normal Cheers

    P.S. Let us not forget football is a GAME, enjoy it

  3. HexyDre says:

    Hahaha! The second video (with the dramatic music) is hilarious.
    Walcott should have shut his trap about his going doing against Leeds; simple lad, I find his honesty refreshing though.

  4. arvind says:

    time for a call into the managers office for a little “talk”. Naievete, immaturity, etc…. TW should not have said anything… this will hurt Arsenal in the long run im afraid….

  5. Femi Jacobs says:

    Last time a player jumped up and handballed just like fabrigas did and there was no penalty awarded. Until we play football like scrabble, things will not improve as desired

  6. faiz says:

    I am so sick of arsenal players being nice it is often mistaken for weakness.dont get me wrong I am happy that we are fair but I see no reason for us to pick up players that are on the ground, pat defenders on the back because they made a good tackles against us etc. it is a competition after all. I get so frustrated when the joke and smile with opponents DURING the game.The idea of a competition is to beat the opponent and comforting them is not helping.Does anyone remember P.Viera smiling at R.Keane?

  7. aravindvr says:

    Ok we need to appreciate his honesty, but Walcott could harm Arsenal if he keeps yelling out like that.
    The refs in the future would give a second thought before judging the fouls against us.This could affect an already mistreated Arenal team with ManU and Chelskis paid-refs like Howard Webb around.

  8. Am says:

    Berbatov has always been a cheat, just like the rest of there squad,

    Ours was actually a penelty, as when your running at that speed the slightest touch (or pull of the arm) will bring you down.

    Plus the ref knew he had the one before wrong when a player was offside after his teammate had been fouled in the box. (penelty given, then recinded)?

    As for Berbatov – What goes around comes around.

  9. goonercen says:

    i wonder whether the absence of a english speaking mature leader in the dressing room is contributing to theo’s lack of savvy? undoutedly he has no 1 to look up to in these situations and this clearly shows!

  10. Ryan says:

    so because someone else in a different game cheats that means we should?

    really when fans are unhappy that a player owns up to cheating it makes them as pathetic as the cheaters themself. where do we draw the line? either no cheating is acceptable and walcott qas right to own up and apologise or he might as well try 10 dives a game just because others do. no cheating is ever acceptable and we will never have any moral high ground when it happens to us if we condone it

    the attitude of some people is disgraceful and sets a shocking example to kids it really is shameful

  11. Ryan says:

    also this talk about it having a bad effect on the team are nonsense. refs already know players dive all the time and weve had players booked for it many times so you actually think refs will now think differently? everyone knew pires was a diver he still got decisions.

    and if it did hurt us against all the odds then that would be our punishment for cheating. seriously how anyone can think theo was wrong to own up to a mistake has absolutely no concept of setting a good example to kids and it only encourages more players to dive when people say nothing.

    grow a pair and have some morals.

  12. Gunner91 says:

    We need another Tony Adams badly. These things should be left to the manager and the fact that Walcott issued this under Wengers guidance is as well disturbing. Whats going on? Nobody even accused him of diving and he goes and issues a bloody apology?!!I know what Fergie/Redknapp and George Graham would think of this what the hell does Arsene think?

  13. metalhead says:

    “But releasing a public statement even when the focus is not on him just highlights a lack of ‘professional intelligence’!”.

    That was nicely summed up.

    I don’t think Theo is dumb, but when something like this happens you have to question his intelligence. I mean look at Wilshere he is younger, but the way he carries himself in the media is so impressive.
    I hope he learns from this.

  14. Claver says:

    I actually think it’s a good thing that Theo spoke according to his conscience. What I think is bad is that it shows that Theo has still not learned that how football is played on the pitch differs from the fantasy described by commentators.

    Berbatov was correct to go down regardless of the size of the contact. Walcott was incorrect to call it a dive.

    However, Walcott played a public relations blinder. Most people will think of Walcott as naive, but frankly quite honest. Whereas most people will have their suspicions of the Red Devils confirmed.

    On the pitch, Walcott must learn to maximise on mminimal contact. This will help him to stay injury free and the team to win. This is not cheating, it is fair according to the rules. He isn’t playing rugby where you only stop upon maximal contact.

  15. Manav says:

    “But releasing a public statement even when the focus is not on him just highlights a lack of ‘professional intelligence’!”

    That’s exactly where he has erred. Being a professional footballer in the world’s toughest league demands a lot from a player. Handling such an issue in an efficient manner is definitely a part of that. I wonder what the media & PR management @ Arsenal thought before publicizing Theo’s statements. What were they trying to prove? Is Arsene consulted before such things are made public? As it is we hardly get our fair share of legitimate penalties. As for the Glaswegian Growler, I don’t give a fuck about what he says. I gave up on understanding his statements or his highly pronounced Scottish accent a long, long time back.
    I think Walcott needs to understand, realize that he could’ve done better by leaving it behind on the pitch and not bring it to the studio. This certainly doesn’t project him as a saint. All it does is add fuel to the ‘Arsenal players go down very softly’ fire lit by anti-Gooners.

  16. Oscar says:

    All of you criticizing Fabregas get the fuck out of here. He is the captain to speak for the team and on many issues. I was also kind of upset when I read the storey about Denilson in the press but after seeing the video there is nothing in it. It was another way to say you don’t make this kind of mistake when the game is 0:0. It is all about choice of words for Fab. As a captain you have to give interview in calm and heat situations and that exactly what the boy did. Look, I am not sure whether Fab. was angry but I will be upset too if Arsenal 2nd team cannot beat Champ team team or loosing 1 nil at home. Fuck off Fab haters.

  17. Miranda says:

    I think Walcott’s confession was babyish and self-indulgent. OK, when you’re five and at Sunday school in leafy Berkshire, confess to stealing another kid’s pencil and you’ll get a pat on the head and a gold star. But this is football, a nasty world, where 90 percent of what goes on is motivated by tribal rivalry and hatred. Any excuse to attack another club will be exploited to the hilt – ‘cheating, cheating Arsenal’, etc. On Five Live at the weekend there were calls for Walcott to be banned for bringing the game into disrepute. It’s inconceivable that the refs won’t be unconsciously influenced by the knowledge that Walcott has admitted to trying to get a penalty unfairly.

    Of course it should work the other way; he should be seen as more honest than Gerrard, Rooney and co. But he won’t be, and nor will any other Arsenal player. That’s how things are in football; it’s not a nice, rational world, and Walcott should have taken this into account. By behaving like a little middle-class kid who who needs to unburden his child’s tender conscience, he has made things difficult for his team-mates and Wenger.

    • Metalhead says:

      Self-Indulgence or maybe “attention seeker” is what flashed across my mind as well, initially. I’ve come across a lot of people who sub-consciously end up doing things that are directed towards seeking attention. But I’m ready to give him the benefit of doubt.

  18. shotta-gunna says:

    Desi – I agree with you on this 100%. There is no upside for Walcott and Arsenal. He is simply enhancing his public image and has nothing to do with the cut and thrust of football. It simply gives the inept/corrupt refs the excuse to not award Arsenal a justifiable penalty by reprising Walcott’s say “I dived”. B.S.

  19. [...] Walcott’s Naïveté Exposed By Berbatov And Fergie? By now everyone must have read Theo Walcott’s apology for a ‘dive’ against Leeds. The reaction that I’ve read [...] [...]

  20. KP says:

    Videos not available. Was looking forward to it after a good read. :)

    • desigunner says:

      Search in youtube or other video sites. You might not get these videos but there are other similar ones. Those might not go just as well with the content of the post but it might give you an idea.

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