Men Behaving Badly

The moralistic tone of the nation’s newspapers was hardly surprising. Considering the nature of the behaviour of Ashley Cole during last week’s match between Spurs and Chelsea and Javier Mascherano’s sending off on Sooper Dooper Sunday, there was something supremely inevitable about the press reaction to it all, with calls for sanctions for showing “disrespect” to officials being amongst the insane proposals being put forward by the Fourth Estate. One of the more curious aspects of the episode is the way in which those that are the first to criticise such behaviour are usually the people that build up every match to be the most important thing in the history of sport in the first place. By any rational analysis, there was nothing particularly important about last Sunday’s match between Manchester United and Liverpool. Liverpool are so far behind United, Arsenal and Chelsea that it could hardly be described as a “title decider” in the conventional sense of the phrase. Over the last two decades or so, a poisonous atmosphere has built up around matches between Manchester United and Liverpool, and the press have been wholly compliant in allowing it to build and build to a screeching, screaming crescendo. If you had to pick one match from the entire Premier League calendar that things would eventually blow up in it would have been this one, and this has only...

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