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. Justin Mottershead says:

    Cheers mate, every now and again I try to be a little objective- only now and again though!

    • Chudi says:

      You’re a better man than me Justin I’ll tell you that!

      RVP is left footed, if he never heard the whistle why did he just snatch at it with his right foot? Could have got closer and had a go with his left as someone said before.

      And having had Fletch sent off by the same ref after Cesc dived in the 09 semi final then laughed at by Gooners who claimed ‘If we’re not going to Rome then neither is he’ I find it very hard to feel any sympathy for them!

      • Justin Mottershead says:

        You may well be right mate but for me dishing out bookings in those situations is entering pantomime season.

        I’ve seen Chicharito do it this season, go through, get given offside but finish anyway, as all good strikers do.

        My concern is not the fact that Arsenal are out but more to do with a fear that the consistently poor standard of refereeing may cost United this season. Again.

  2. The Major says:

    “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.”

    He did reject Barca’s plea for a stonewall penalty in the first half. And Kolscieny could quite easily gone. Good decision on that one, but many refs would have shown him a second yellow.

  3. Flashman71 says:

    As a lifelong gooner and season ticket holder for 35yrs (living a mile from the ground) I would like to compliment you on a grounded and reasoned article. I think your analysis is spot on and despite the fact that like the majority of us who follow our clubs with “rose tinted spectacles” (I am not a great fan of your club, but do hold a grudging respect for you, what you have self- acheived and what you are as a football club self-made as it were, as opposed to the likes of the sheik-fuelled blues in the other half of your city or the Chelski Russian Mafia!) I think there comes a point in games when these things happen, when you just have hold up and say that was “fucking wrong or out of order”. For example, I wanted you to lose against the scousers obviously because of the league situation – as I am sure you reciprocate when we play anybody.

    However, watching the Carragher challenge, the chump should have walked and been banned for a number of games (I think it’s actually not so malicious with good old Jamie, more that he isn’t actually that good and very slow). Now Utd my way well have still lost, but as you – but you will have your own thoughts on this!) say with reference to last night, the game would have changed and that hindsight is irrelevant. The point is, that these mistaken appalling decisions are starting to really affect every bloody game. As I am sure you will agree and your fellow Utd supporters, you can take losing when you have played badly, but it cripples you when it has been affected by dreadful refereeing decisions.

    I am now a supporter of match technology to address this, and don’t give a shit about the main argument proposed against it, namely, that it stops the flow of the game. The game is stopped contiunously on the whole for fouls etc anyway, it doesn’t seem to effect rugby league etc. And to those who pull out the old cliche “It evens itself out over the course of a season” what a load of bollocks, this line is illogical, when you are talking like this about luck or chance, rather than science, then how can it be otherwise?

    This line of reasoning holds no credence and is certainly not based on fact or analysis but on mere opinion. Anyway, very succinct, rational and enjoyable article, hope we do you saturday (we are due a result at your place at some point – but can’t see you losing three on the trot), just hope your man has one eye on Marseilles. And to all those Utd fans who reply saying Arsenal would have lost anyway, of course we probably would have, but you never fucking know – also as you will all appreciate Barca for all the good football don’t alf fancy themselves and their fans are a bunch of posing tossers you will agree surely (I do think the UEFA are anti-english teams in this competitions, and though not a conspiracy theorist do get the feeling that the cards are often stacked against English clubs in an underhand and subtle way, so fair play for you lot managing to get to finals and win them in the past 10 yrs overcoming these certain hurdles that I am alluding to (when I was at our final against Barca as well many other big champs league games versus the Milans, Munichs, Madrids etc, always got the feeling that the mainland european big boys get the rub of the green and the competition is designed for them) apart from the football etc.

    Hopefully Arsenal might win the sodding thing before I head to the great spirit in the sky, I am doubtful at the moment!

    • Justin Mottershead says:

      I totally agree with you about utilising technology, to me it seems ridiculous that we don’t.

      There’s an argument that controversy is good for football, but this is total nonsense as what would surely be best for fotball would be if it was the actual football we were talking about after the game.

      It beggars belief that during my lifetime, we’ve seen the passback rule become implemented, hair-brained schemes such as ‘golden’ and ‘silver’ goal, yet the powers that be are still afraid to give technology a go.

      Like everyone who commented, I’m a football fan who likes to watch and enjoy the game, I’m sick to death of discussing what the referee got wrong almost every week.

      Even if decisions go in United’s favour, I’m left trying to defend a result we got and claim that it wasn’t down to the ref.

      We’re now at the point where fans look to see who the ref is before they look to see which players have been picked for the starting XI.

  4. RobM says:

    Its nice to hear a well balanced view from a neutral. I was gutted, obviously, when RVP got sent off in such a stupid manner. I don’t know what would have happened had he stayed on, and now we never will.

    Every big team, us, you, Barca, the scousers, all appear to get some degree of favouritism at home from the referee at times if we’re all being honest… but that decision last night just beggars belief.

    With the game being as big as it is, the governing bodies need to be looking to improve the ability of the referees to make decisions… that includes technology, the chance to review ‘marginal’ decisions before carrying on with the game and the governing bodies being quick to remove incompetent officials from important matches.

    Respect for the referee is important – but respect is a two way thing; it has to be earned as well as given.

  5. thedubdemon says:

    well said as a united supporter i share your sentiments entirely.. ref was obviously bias right from the start.

    every time an arsnal player got close to winning the ball he blew for a free kick and gave barca the ball back.

    and yet barca players were allowed to climb all over van persie all night and nothin was given.. no wonder arsnal struggled for an outlet.

    complete joke if thats how its going to be we might as well give them the trophy now and all get on with our domestic leagues.

  6. 7masters says:

    What happened to patriotism? Supporting your local rivals against outsiders? Many Gooners Like me where rooting for United in 1999, Bayern Munich where prancing around in arrogant manner and man I think everyone wanted United to Win. Same thing Happened in 2005 Liverpool In Istanbul….AC Milan behaved as game was over.

    Last night similar scenario and it would also have meant if Arsenal went Through the main headache Barcelona would have been Eliminated. But Now I see something weird, Spurs draw Barca then Barca play United in Semis or Chelsea? That is real bad scenario. We need to ignore League rivalry where it belong in the league. The more English clubs succeed the better chances team for others to win it. It now goner resemble La Liga where one team is dominating everything why cause nobody kick them off the Field before playing major games. Arsenal where kicked off the Park by Stoke City and lost many players before Barcelona return….Wake up dudes

    • Chudi says:

      Haha, a very idealic look on football! Never in a million years will you see me supporting Liverpool in their endeavours, foreign opposition or not.
      Football has long since passed that, I’m pretty sure you weren’t cheering on Spurs last night!

      • 7masters says:

        I don’t cheer Spurs but would not be gutted if they won the whole damn things. That why United reaching 5 times win or even more like AC Milan is impossible, Cause selfishness get in the way for success. I know local rivalry can be fierce but against Euro Bully boys it best we are united behind each other. One thing Arsenal would not do is to kick united off the park on Saturday FA Cup then come Wednesday you guys would have many walking wounded.

        It okay if you don’t want to support Liverpool but more wins in Europe also give united platform to win it as well. In terms of size United is huge team but only three Champion league? one was before it use to be called Euro cup does not do any justice to the League.

        Arsenal have never been strong in Europe but if you guys pave the way it then easier and easier.

  7. Goonerholic says:

    I agree the Arsenal let themselves down in the first half by playing in a defensive minded way. But that does not justify what the referee did. Arsenal was beginning to get back in the game in the Second half and they were beginning to attack.

    After the one goal in the second half, they began to believe that they could do it. Van Persie was given the card because he was on the attack and not on the defense. Go back and look at the video and you will see that the card was totally undeserved and anyway knowing that he had given Van Persie a card which Van Persie is entirely to blame for, the referee should have thought twice about giving out the card so fast. In retrospect, that card looked quite suspect.

    It reminds me of the game between Barcelona and Chelsea which was also unfair for Chelsea. Barcelona is definitely a wonderful team. However they are fast gaining the reputation of wining against English teams with undue advantage. They did it in the Champions League Final against Arsenal too. There is more to this than meets the eye. Sergio Busquets should just let sleeping dogs lie. It is remarkable that not one yellow card was given to any Barcelona player and yet they committed many fouls.

    A particular incident comes to mind where Erick Abidal was grabbing Van Persie by the neck. Being a great team does not excuse you from winning with due advantage. Beat teams fair and square and you will not have a tag on your shoulder of progressing in a suspect manner. Who knows what might have happened had Van Persie stayed on anyway? The first leg was won in the last 10 minutes or so and even in that match, Barcelona looked dominant. I am convinced that Barcelona were dominant. However, I am not convinced that they won it fair and square.

    Not one Barcelona player was given a card. Not Abidal for grabbing Van Persie on the neck, not Messi for handling the ball intentionally. Having said that, I feel that it is time for Arsenal to move on. There is the little matter of the FA Cup this weekend and our worthy opponents Manchester United will not have any sympathy left for us on that one.