Date: 9th March 2011 at 1:39am
Written by:
Robin Van Persie sent off against Barcelona

"Have a bit of that, you Gunner git!"

Arsenal’s loss to Barcelona seemed almost inevitable the moment Lionel Messi opened the scoring at the end of the first half.

Sergio Busquets own goal equaliser gave the Gunners a small glimmer of hope, after all as it stood they were now actually going through to the quarter finals of the Champion’s League, the only problem being that, there were still over 30 minutes of football to play, which when your facing Barcelona at the Nou Camp can be an eternity.

Robin Van Persie’s sending off poured sand on any fire Arsenal were hoping to ignite and from then on it was literally a passing masterclass in the Total Football mould of the 1970’s Dutch teams, with the average spectator being forgiven for not having a clue just what position each Barcelona player was meant to be playing, such was the magnitude of their attacking interplay.

The problem was that regardless of whether Van Persie’s sending off was arguably a moot point as it’s highly unlikely an eleven man Arsenal would have been able to cope with such a rampant Barca- he should not have been sent off and the game should have been played out evenly- at least in terms of the amount of personnel.

Van Persie’s second yellow card for shooting when through on goal, despite the referee blowing for offside was one of the most ridiculous decisions I’ve seen since, erm, Sunday. What makes the referees decision even worse is the fact that he’s considered one of Europe’s best, but for some reason seemed totally bereft of any common sense.

Anyone who’s been to the Nou Camp will tell you the noise and the atmosphere, particularly on a Champion’s League night can be deafening and this is surely something that cannot have escaped Massimo Busacca. Although you’d expect the players to hear the whistle, when a striker goes through on goal, he’s always likely to have a shot, even if he thinks he’s heard a whistle, or isn’t sure.

It was in the earlier rounds that Barcelona’s Mauel Pinto- the Catalans reserve goalkeeper, tricked Copenhagen’s Cesar Santin into believing he was offside by whistling to the striker as he went through on goal.

I’m not claiming striker’s have a god-given right to ignore the whistle, but there’s got to be a level of common sense prevailing when it comes to the situation the forward was in at the time of the ‘offence.’

Many will argue that the game was beyond Arsenal anyway- despite the score being in their favour- so what does it matter? Well let me ask you this if Teddy Sheringham had been sent off for an innocuous challenge in the 88th minute in the Nou Camp in 1999, wouldn’t many have still claimed that with Bayern Munich ribbons already on the trophy, the game was over? Or if that prime example of cheating pond life Steven Gerrard had been dismissed at half time in Istanbul, would that have also been irrelevant?

I don’t think Arsenal would have won had Van Persie stayed on the pitch, but the fact is we’ll never know. Later on when Niklas Bendnter went through on goal, and duly fluffed his chance, there may have been one or two Gooners wondering whether Van Persie would have buried that opportunity.

I sympathised with the striker and his club for two reasons. Chelsea and Liverpool away.

After both games, my social networks were alive with Red after Red, screaming, ranting, threatening and despairing at the ineptitude of the referees and how they’d robbed us.

While I thought both losses were due to more than just poor officials, I could more than understand the feeling of outrage that many felt. If United had gone down to ten men in the same manner against any team, then I shudder to think how I’d feel, I doubt I’d be able to publish it on here, as there’s not much internet access in Strangeways, where I’d arguably be locked up for attempting to attack the ref. Oh and I know it’s now called HMP Manchester, my mates all write to me from there regularly.

The fact is far too often this season it’s been referees that have been the centre of attention and while I’ve got no great love for Arsenal or Robin Van Persie, I couldn’t help but feeling a little sympathy with him after the game and agreed with his summation that it’s a “joke” and as one man once sang “that joke isn’t funny anymore.

Why not follow Redflagflyinghigh on twitter, to see what else we’re banging on about  @RFFH


22 responses to “Why I Wasn’t Laughing At Robin Van Persie’s Sending Off”

  1. PTangYangKipperBang says:

    Whilst I applaud your objectivity I wouldn’t shout too much. Your lot get more favourable decisions than anybody. Bloody well hope you don’t get any on sunday.

  2. Loki says:

    What a well rounded and honest look at the situation made all the more relevant since it’s coming from a Manc, At the end of the day all the banter, rivalry and jeering aside (i.e not too fond of the caption bellow the pic you cheeky sod) we are all just fans of football and we can ALL agree that Refs decisions are becoming more and more critical in the world of football and even their so called “best” can’t hack it!

  3. brianc says:

    i agree with above, as a united fan i hope we get NO favourable decisions so we cant beat da goons fair n square as usuaul :), but then they’ll jus blame the pitch r sumtin else like ” its not fair they wouldnt give us the ball 2 ball with” 🙁 🙂 U N I T E D!!!!

  4. Massimo is a pillock says:

    This has to go down as the most sensible rational and fair thing any Manchester United fan has ever said.

    Having Messi in your side is basically like having a one man advantage already. Then they’ve got the crowd as the 13th man so the ref made it 14 men for them (and eventually 10 for us)

    It was harder for Arsenal to get a decision in that game than it was for them to get the ball, yet we were still winning the tie at 11 v 11.

    You could argue we were lucky not to concede, but Liverpool had that sort of luck for their entire Champions League campaign.

    The ref was a complete joke, not just for that one decision but for most of the game. One Barca player grabbed Van Persie firmly round his throat (clearly a dangerous thing to do) yet even that didn’t result in a card for them. Not one booking for Barca in the entire 90 minutes.

    Time for that ref to be sacked and for new guidance saying no bookings for shots, unless the offside is clear cut.

  5. Massimo is a pillock says:

    PTangYangKipperBang – Man U only get all the decisions at home. Away from Old Trafford they get treated the same as everyone else for the most part.

  6. Gooner Panther says:

    As an Arsenal fan I really applaud your ojectivity. I might not agree with the assesmment of who would or would not have won, but I completely agree it is pointless debating that now as we’ll never know. Nice to see some objectivity that I really wasn’t expecting. Kudos. And all the best for Saturday, and lets hope football rules the day. Not reffing decisions, gamesmanship or anything else.

  7. Nicky says:

    Chelsea had 5 penalty appeals turned down against Barcalona… Barcelona should have had a penalty against Arsenal and did score a good goal at the emirates that was not counted …

    Why did Van Persie shoot fron so far away if he never heard the whistle?..Surely he could have got a bit nearer?..

  8. anibal says:

    fair article!! the worst part was that he got sent off when arsenal actually had a chance!! not a big one, but they had a chance. he killed arsenal. hoping your lot or madrid win it. i would like and english team to win it, just not spurs or chelsea which just leaves your team. anyways, HOPE we can beat you this saturday.

  9. David Watts says:

    Decisions pretty much even themselves out over the course of the season, but they are highlighted by the profile of the match and in particular when it is a knock out comp.

    As a United fan I think we have had the rough end of the stick in a couple of big games recently, but had things in our favour in some of the lesser games when we could have conceeded penalties and had players sent off.

    Refs have a bloody tough job with the pace of the modern game, they are not bias and no-one ever highlights their good decisions. They do make mistakes though, same as players do. The major thing about Referreeing decisions is this…You cannot alter them and you cannot influence them…They are completely out of your control.

    What you can do is control the controlable..In United’s case here are a few that would make any decision on a Carragher Yellow or sending off futile

    1) Don’t miss a Penalty when 2-1 up Vs Fulham
    2) Don’t waste chance after chance Vs Everton and defend badly to let in 2 easy goals
    3) Don’t cruise to 2-0 up Vs West Brom, take the foot off the gas and conceed twice, including a dropped ball in front of the striker.
    4) Don’t get sent off Vs Chelsea so you miss a crucial game Vs Liverpool…(Would Suarez have walked through Vidic in the box for Goal 1)
    5) Don’t head the ball towards your own goal when defending
    6) Palm saves around the post, not straight to Kuyt….

    Etc etc

    OK, so everyone makes mistakes, but the best Man United teams of teh past years would NOT have thrown points away at Fulham, Everton and home to West Brom – FACT. That was 100% under the control of the players and NOT the refs…Control that situation and we are 6 points better off and 1 hand on our 19th Trophy…

    Blaming Refs pretty much always masks the real problems within a side. Face facts, Liverpool highlighted deficiencies in the United team, in particular a Central Midfield that needs an injection of altheltisism, drive and class. I love Scholsey,technically the best English player for decades, but he is 36, in a 2 man central midfield playing against quality players 10 years younger with Carrick at his side – Not a 27 year old Roy Keane bossing it.

    Central Midfield is the most important area on the pitch and at the moment it is Uniteds weak link…You watch how all other problems iron themselves with a dominant CM…if it costs 50m to get 2 players in, so be it.

  10. chatsworth says:

    Totally agree with you, there have been some shocking decisions in the last week or so, it really is time for something to be done, but what?

    @PTangYangKipperBang we’ll take the decisions on Saturday.