Can somebody please tell me why, given what Asmir Begovic did to Maxim Choupo-Moting last week, we are not seeing the kind of reaction that exactly the same foul from, say, David de Gea on Firmino the week before, would have undoubtedly triggered?
I do have a theory, I’ll confess, and it’s not that the incident occurred towards the end of the game. Far from it, in fact, because a penalty, if scored, would have changed the result and salvaged a valuable point that could literally save Begovic’s former employees millions come the end of the season.
No, it’s that nobody cares about Stoke City versus Bournemouth, simple as. Where was the outcry, and where was the piling on of the referee we have come to expect? All of that was focused on Roger East up the road as a Manchester City penalty fitted the publicity bill and drew all the attention away from everything concerning clubs of considerably lower profile, more’s the pity.
Can’t the FA panel, of which I am a proud member, act to level that playing field and be gainfully employed deliberating on such an incident when it is apparently missed by all the officials on the day? I wish.
It has every bit as much potential to affect the way the Premier League table ends up as any dive, after all.
Unfortunately, the cynic in me, as well as the previous guest on Sky Sports’ show The Debate in me, might suggest that, when Begovic saw the studio camera’s red light go on on the Monday following his indiscretion, he was determined that his debut appearance would go down as being all about anything but his previous game.
It’s only natural to feel a bit guilty and, if you were to mix that with the inevitable nerves associated with live TV, it is hard not to feel at times as if you have somehow cornered yourself in. My answer in that situation is, frankly, to put my opinion in terms I would not be ashamed to repeat in front of my mum or my wife and kids, and so I sympathise. Up to a point.
The fact is, in laying into Liverpool as he did that night, whether it was a deliberate attempt at distraction or not, the Bosnian goalkeeper displayed an incredible degree of naivete.
Even though his fellow guests, former player Matthew Upson and broadsheet journo Jonathan Northcroft, were equally scathing at times, Begovic did not appear to grasp the clear difference behind the opinions they were freely expressing.
It’s not up to them to show the same level of respect, and if it’s an unwritten rule Begovic was unaware of, he’s bright enough soon to see the error of his ways and grasp what he’s done to his reputation… very soon.
“That’s the managers dealt with” moderator David Jones said, ending a section devoted to the failings of Koeman, Shakespeare and Bilic.
Only, the onslaught continued, as Jurgen Klopp and his players took their turn to be criticised by Begovic for lacking desire, pride, positioning, effective training routines and, for good measure, being “a bit of a mess” in part two.
Yes, Matthew described Klopp as embarrassing his players, and Northcroft talked of patience waning as legitimate supporter concerns were rejected by the German coach, but those two won’t be facing Liverpool on December 17 at the Vitality Stadium.
I’ll paint a picture for you… the scene is Liverpool’s dressing room. Not many of its occupants need to have seen the programme itself for it to have cropped up as a topic of discussion weeks before.
Lallana tells Lovren yes, he did see the programme, and they agree with Milner that such public disrespect will not stand. Bingo, the opposition is incentivised and the players of Liverpool agree to rectify the damage to their collective egos by ramming it right down Bournemouth’s throats.
Falling back on my own TV survival technique, what I’d have said was that Lovren had simply had a bad day at the office. It happens.
Yes, even if you have to disappoint people by coming over all PC and even if it means you have to sound less intelligent, so be it. You simply have to put the interests of your club and of your teammates first and the interests of yourself second.
It won’t just be Liverpool players who will not have been impressed, and Begovic’s colleagues will not be thanking him for having made them any more vulnerable than they already were, you can be sure of that. Bright boy or not, he’s going to have to learn the hard way.