Let’s talk about Sunday’s ugly incident with Rob van Persie
You’ll surely hear more about this one, as Swansea captain Ashley Williams took out some frustration in a potentially dangerous way.
Manchester United star striker Robin van Persie had been fouled just outside Swansea’s penalty area during today’s 1-1 draw. With the Manchester United man lying on the turf, from just a few feet away Williams drilled the ball directly into van Persie’s head.
He absolutely knew what he was doing.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, frequently prone to overstatement, although possibly not here, had this to say: “Robin van Persie is lucky to be alive. It was a disgraceful act from their player today and he should be banned by the FA. Robin could have had a broken neck.”
That’s taking it a bit far, although not terribly so. It really was a terrible and potentially harmful response.
What Williams had to say: “I just cleared the ball with frustration and unfortunately it hit him in the head and he got a bit angry about it. Everything got a bit heated but it was all right in the end.”
Well, yes. But what if everything wasn’t all right? Just because van Persie wasn’t seriously hurt, that doesn’t make it OK.
The trick here is that mighty Manchester United is Manchester United. And Swansea isn’t.
That, plus the fact that van Persie is a globally recognized star, the Red Devils’ plum of last summer’s transfer season. By comparison, most fans would barely know Ashley Williams from Robin Williams.
So any punitive measure might be seen cynically as small team-vs.-big team stuff, as another case of Ferguson having his thumb on the scales.
But the FA should not let that be an issue. Players simply cannot treat one another’s safety with such disregard.
So, stay tuned for a potential suspension here.
Here’s the incident: