I understand that playing on the edge of anger can make you really sharp but if you have no self-control switch fitted as standard - cf Wayne Rooney, Joey Barton et al then you are going to get in trouble sooner or later.
Rooney's Saturday outburst into a camera on live TV at lunchtime was worthy of discipline.
I was a reasonable footballer (in fact aged 13/14 I was very good and with coaching may have got much better) but heeded family advice not to pursue it as a career. I didn't thereafter play regularly enough to keep up.
I was fiercely competitive and put myself about. I was booked and sent off. But never for abusing a referee. I was one of those weird players who didn't appeal for every decision. I did once get a bit cross when a linesman told one of my colleagues 'He's not appealing for it' as evidence that the throw-in couldn't be in my favour. The linesman was wrong but I didn't complain, that's all. They do notice and interpret it against you.
I did accept the fact that I had a choice. When Paul Robinson and Lee Dixon on Match of the Day 2 last night said that at the end of the day (they really said that) it was boys being boys even if it was multi-millionnaires on a stadium pitch they said, in effect, that this would not stop. Then they offered the suggestion that three or four sendings off per game would soon change things.
Clearly the 'Respect' campaign has been a load of offal. If anything respect has got less likely. A bad foul sees confrontation and harrassment of refs for a red. A coming-together sees everyone piling in, inevitably.
Just watch the way blokes of a certain age and hair style pile in to a barney in a pub and take sides. You are seeing human nature in all its fallen ugliness. Those pictures of the guys following the police van of the alleged Swindon murderer were not wanting to wait for the decision of a court. Lynch mobs self-generate.
If they are serious about fixing football then they may end up editing out ordinary blokes. Let's see what happens if we say:
- Anyone running more than 20 metres to join in an on-pitch brawl will be sent off.
- Anyone joining in a conversation with a referee that one player is already having will be sent off.
- Anyone approaching an assistant referee for any reason will be booked.
- Anyone joining in a brawl and not facing a player of his own team will be sent off.
Football is at a hinge-point.