I am not alone in finding it difficult to feel sympathy for Ryan Shawcross, or for any defender who feels it necessary to slow down their opponents by clutching a handful of jersey as they go by. Some would argue he got what he deserved – that is, a head (and hair) full of Marouane Fellani. In fact, I think it’s a growing issue in top-flight football, as defenders are getting away with clutching and grabbing more often than not, but that’s a rant for another day – maybe tomorrow. But what happened between the Everton mid-fielder and Stoke defender took it to another level, one that can’t be tolerated in football.
Look, Fellani’s actions are inexcusable. Not because I’m losing sleep over whether Shawcross has a welt on his noggin or not, but because what this tells me about Fellani. It doesn’t matter that I think he got what was coming to him.
First, what does that say about Marouane’s dedication to his team? As the Premier League know-it-alls deliberated and came to a conclusion that the Belgian would be slapped with a three match ban, I was rather disappointed. For me it should have been a bit harsher, but that’s beside the point. The fact is that Fellani is an incredibly important part of this Everton starting XI, and is a big reason for their early season success. Without him and there is no way in hell they would be in the position they’re in. So now they have three matches to play without their best player at a crucial time in the year.
As you know, this year’s version of the Premier League has a log-jam in the battle for 2013/14 Champions League spots. Everton is amongst a group who have a serious shot at one of the prized positions. We all know their past of doing well at the start of the year and the propensity to fizzle in the latter stages of the campaign, so it is all the more important they get some separation early in the year, if only to give a bit of cushion. A top-four spot seemed very possible, but with some pretty big teams nipping on their heels, and given a stretch of matches without their best player, I worry about their form now and in the near future. Fellani’s loss will be felt big time.
Any player who puts his own needs ahead of his team mates must be considered selfish – agree? I mean, the very nature of team sports is for each player to serve a role to the best of his (or her) ability for the betterment of the squad as a collective. Any self-serving action must therefore be seen as detrimental to the team’s efforts. Assuming you agree, then there is no way around the fact that Fellani’s actions were a) selfish and self-serving, and b) damaging to his team. With the exception of a carefully contructed “yo’ mamma” joke or a kick to the groin, the Everton mid’s actions were unnecessary.
So for that reason, because of what he means to this club, I must say that it leaves my pint 3/4 empty.
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