I really want us all as Arsenal supporters to move to the positive with the whole Eduardo incident. But it’s so fucking hard to be positive when so many people are being such shit heels about the whole incident. First off, there’s the Rooney Test which I honestly think should be applied to anything anyone does in English Football. Second, can we please, for the love of all that’s holy, stop with the hand wringing about Gallas and Wenger’s reaction? And finally, let’s not “put this behind us” but rather use this incident as we go forward.
To the first, the Rooney Test is a way to make sure you’re staying rational in a football argument. So, would Arsenal supporters be complaining this loudly if someone had broken Rooney’s leg? Not really, but I would like to think that we’d all be pointing to the incident as an illustration of football gone mad and calling for the same rules changes. I can only speak for myself, but I know I would. After all, I’ve been complaining about overly physical play now for years. But now imagine for a second if a Croatian defender had leveled the same tackle on Wayne Rooney during the Euro 2008 qualifier. The Croat in question is a really nice guy too, 3 kids, hard worker, good disciplinary record, etc. but he’s “just late” in the challenge and Rooney’s year is over, England are out of Euro 2008, Man U are down a key player, and Rooney may never play football again. Can’t you just see all the Birmingham supporters and Birmingham players leaping to defend a Croatian player? Can’t you see Steve Bruce saying “I don’t think it was really even a yellow card”? Or how about the Man U supporters calling for a calm reaction? No, of course you can’t see that! If it happens to Wayne Rooney, it’s just different. So, the Rooney Test is a valuable tool in understanding other people’s reaction to the incident: they are probably being provincial and almost certainly there’s a little racism and xenophobia at work.
But let’s take the analogy one step further. Could you see the match ending without some form of in game retaliation? Do you think for a second that Frank Lampard would have a calm post-match interview where he eruditely explained to all of Britain that he has forgiven the defender in question? Or how about when England are handed a harsh penalty at the end of the match and are kicked out of Euro 2008? Can’t you just see John Terry slowly and calmly walking over to the referee, while telling all the other players to stand down, so that he could have a private word with referee? You know, so that JT could better understand the decision — not dispute it. Fuck no. Wenger and Gallas play with the same level of passion that JT and Lamps play with: sometimes this translates into poor decisions and poor choice of words. But when the player apologizes or the manager takes back his words, that should be the end of it. We can all shake our heads and say “yeah, that was a rash thing to say [do] but given the circumstances I understand.” See, that doesn’t mean it’s OK to do. I’m still saying the FA needs to deal with on field petulance. But deal with it and maybe we’ll see less of it in the future. Because no one should see what happened at the Carling Cup finals of the last two years and think to themselves that “well, Gallas’ display was poor thus it’s OK for Chelsea to be cunts!” No, right now, more than ever, football need less cunts, not more.
And how do we move forward? First, you send an email to Eduardo. The club is collecting well wishes and will post them to his hospital room. As someone who suffered a horrendous injury and long hospital stay followed by a long recovery I can’t stress enough how important it is to get anything from the outside world, much less how uplifting it is to get well wishes. So, do it. And that means especially you Birmingham supporters. Put down the defenses for a moment and send a note to Eduardo. It’s what Taylor did. Second, Arsenal is a club. So let’s start acting like it. We need to support each other at this time too. When you see a fellow supporter lash out at someone try a little understanding first and if that doesn’t work, just let them be; we all heal at our own pace. Finally, we can support the squad that’s left on their goal of winning the season for Eduardo. I don’t mean “lay down reason” and support the squad at all costs, but if there was ever a time to try to rally around the few players we have left — now would be it. So, let’s all try to stay upbeat and positive in the coming months because the team needs us.
Oh yeah, one more thing, can we all stop saying “Eduardo broke his leg”? Whenever I see a press report about the incident it’s always put in that way. The correct phrase is “Taylor broke Eduardo’s leg.” I really think this is a case where semantics matter.