It was a frantic discussion-inducing moment that will stay pertinent for many weeks to come. Probably until the end of the season, in fact.
Two unremarkable players getting caught up in the middle of an remarkable clash and behaving in a way that necessitates the need for the inevitable media storm that will follow. Manchester United’s Jonny Evans and Newcastle United’s Papiss Cisse decided to take the scorn away from Gus Poyet and Steve Bruce for their attempted touchline scuffle last night, with the pair, who clashed at St. James’ Park tonight, both seeming to spit at one another on the pitch.
Doing the dirty
Now first and foremost let’s get something straight. There isn’t a foul or act of misconduct on the pitch, bar perhaps eye-gouging or literally carrying some sort of weapon in your sock, that can top spitting when it comes to being frowned upon. Ninety percent of players would probably prefer to right a barnstorming tackle from a hulking centre-half than have a pint-sized winger gob in their face; it’s just the way it is.
The stigma attached to the act of hurling your phlegm in the direction of an opposing athlete is self-explanatory. It’s in the same ball-park as refusing to shake hands after a contest or going out of your way to gloat in someone’s face after scoring a goal, just a few rungs up. Put plainly, you don’t do it if you have but a modicum of self-control.
Evans vs Cisse
Upon watching the replays from Evans’ run in with Cisse it’s difficult to discern exactly who is more in the wrong. They both appear to spit at one another, with the Senegalese’s effort perhaps what he would claim to be a reactionary measure as a result of his opponent’s first move.
To the naked eye it certainly looks as though Cisse’s is the more obvious of the two, and as a result he’s likely to be in the direct firing line when and if the damning footage is assessed. Yet though it seems - and it’s difficult to label this anything but speculation so early on - that although Cisse is the one who definitely made a move to spit, he shouldn’t be the only one ostracised.
Evans just as much to blame
No, from where I’m sitting it’s hard to claim that Evans didn’t earn his helping of Cisse’s saliva by doing the exact same, just in a more discrete way. I’m not trying to say it’s okay to fight fire with fire in this instance, you understand, only that the Northern Irishman’s indiscretion must not be ignored if punishment for the incident is forthcoming.
Slow motion footage seems to show Evans spitting dangerously close to Cisse as the 29-year-old rises from the floor. Lips pursed, he stares right at his opponent as he does the deed, and although it may be argued that he was simply undertaking a reflex action - many footballers spit on the pitch - it’s hard not to get the feeling that he could have waited at least another second, or, even better, aimed his spit at another blade of grass, if he was looking to avoid confrontation.
As has been previously alluded to, the furore around such incidents means that the encounter between Evans and Cisse is almost certainly going to be retrospectively looked into and examined. There can be little reasonable doubt that the latter played his part in the unsavoury back and forth, but the former, though somewhat more discreetly, was just as much to blame.
Manchester United fans, do you think Evans spat at Cisse? Let us know in the comments box below...