Card-waving row blown out of proportion

Roberto Mancini... under fire for waving imaginary cards.-AP

Is there really any manager in the country who does not demand immediate action when he feels his team or one of his players has been unfairly treated? It is just that Mancini does it with his hands instead of hurling a tirade of barely comprehensible abuse from the touchline.

Roberto Mancini is a manager under fire.

Not for poor results, boring football, or frittering away Manchester City's millions on players not up to the job. But for waving imaginary cards, an action seemingly all at odds with the English game's sense of fair play.

He did it in the Carling Cup against Liverpool when Glen Johnson came within a whisker of chopping Joleon Lescott in two with a truly wild tackle, and again against Wigan in the English Premier League when Maynor Figueroa's blatant handball denied Sergio Aguero a run on goal.

Managers as contrasting in styles as Wolves' gruff Yorkshireman Mick McCarthy and Wigan's suave Spaniard Roberto Martinez have called on the Italian to cut it out.

McCarthy said: “I had it with QPR a while back and took real offence to it. (Assistant manager) Bruno Oliveira did it and I think I said I would break his fingers. Paulo Sousa was in charge and he was really apologetic and he explained that is their culture. But I said: ‘You are in our league and our culture. Don't do it and we will get on'.

“Roberto is in this country now. When they come here they have to understand that, just as when I go anywhere else, I have to understand their culture.”

But does Mancini really have to curb his behaviour in this instance?

Is there really any manager in the country who does not demand immediate action when he feels his team or one of his players has been unfairly treated?

It is just that Mancini does it with his hands instead of hurling a tirade of barely comprehensible abuse from the touchline.

Indeed, it could be argued he does it in a far more appropriate and dignified manner than those managers who jump and up and down on the touchline, growing apoplectic with rage and effing and blinding like certifiable lunatics.

Is waving an imaginary card really worse than players screaming insults at the referee when within spitting distance of the man in black or managers squaring up to him face to face at the final whistle?

It is time we got our priorities right.

If the authorities need to identify things to be eradicated from the game, petty issues like waving imaginary cards should not be the focus.

It is blatant cheating like diving, crazy tackles which can ruin careers and the clear intimidation of referees by hordes of players which warrant attention.

These things really harm clubs, their fans and the game as a whole.

The rest just pales into insignificance. ************************

One can understand the reluctance of the Football Associations of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to embrace the British Olympic team due to concerns over their separate status, but to stoke fears of a backlash against players who do turn out for Team GB is beyond the pale.

Scottish FA chief Stewart Regan this week warned about potential recriminations from the Scotland supporters, a statement in itself that is almost tantamount to incitement.

The SFA have been happy enough for Hampden Park to be one of the venues for Olympic football, so for Regan to suggest that the likes of Steven Fletcher and Scott Brown would be pilloried for taking part is unfair to the players.

The SFA should follow the example of Wales and Northern Ireland who have made it clear they will not be involved with Team GB, but will not take it out on any player who does wish to be part of the Olympics.

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