Monday 14 September ~
Developing selective vision is an important skill for any football manager. Indeed, the Manager of the Month award should be accompanied by a secondary honour given to the best attempt to downplay a player's transgression. There would no shortage of candidates from every round of matches given that players are routinely described as having "arrived a bit late", or variations on that theme, when nearly cleaving an opponent in two. Mark Hughes would be a shoo-in for September, however, for describing Emmanuel Adebayor as "emotional" after the player's highly controversial performance in Man City's 4-2 defeat of his former club.
Adebayor is likely to receive a ban for stamping on his former team-mate Robin Van Persie – an action that provoked Arsenal into the highly unusual step of posting their player's complaints about the incident on the official club website. Somehow this episode was missed by referee Mark Clattenburg, which frees up the FA to take retrospective action. Some commentators have suggested that Adebayor committed a public order offence for his second transgression, which involved running the length of the pitch to taunt Arsenal fans after scoring. But unless criminal proceedings are brought against him, which seems highly unlikely, he may escape further punishment because he was booked at the time.
Mark Hughes's attempt to excuse his player's behaviour implies that Adebayor lost his head for a moment. In fact, the opposite may be true. It seems more likely that the striker had been intent before the match had even begun on making some sort of gesture to Arsenal fans. In the build-up to the game he made a point of telling the press that he had been "scarred for life" by the barracking he had received from sections of the Arsenal crowd after failing to secure a transfer to either AC Milan or Barcelona last summer; he came in for more concerted abuse from travelling fans during the match on Saturday.
Of course spectators who racially abuse players should be identified and banned. But Adebayor's pre-game posturing was ludicrous, a sign of the bubble of self-absorption that envelops some top players. Indeed, another reason for Adebayor's grievance towards Arsenal has been put forward. His former employers swiftly concluded a deal to sell him to Man City when he was away playing in a World Cup qualifier for Togo – instead of being pursued by several interested parties in Europe he was packed off to Eastlands. A huge payrise will have been some consolation but it's not the move he wanted. City fans can expect to hear plenty more about Adebayor's "emotional" state of mind if his old suitors come calling again next summer. Carl Hawkins