Football is littered with controversial and amusing situations over the years and after all doom and gloom of recent weeks, it’s finally good to laugh again. Let’s be a bit optimistic shall we and head forward with a heart full of hope. Yeah, well, it sounded good for a minute.
So in an effort to make us all smile, I went back to 2009, When Arsenal faced their old rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford and the normally placid Arsene Wenger showed both passion and dissent by kicking an empty bottle.
Not even remotely as interesting as Ferguson’s pizza gate or his boot throwing exploits, nor as outrageous as Jose’s more recent disgraceful and contemptible treatment of a female physiotherapist or as dramatic as the infamous Di Canio push that saw a highly regarded official act like a schoolboy pretending to have been shot by a sniper.
In August 2009, Arsenal were trailing 2-1, suddenly Van Persie netted an equalizer which was ruled offside by Arsenal favourite, referee Mike Dein.
Wenger simply reacted with a nimble outstretched foot and propelled an empty bottle through the air to a height of about ten feet. I thought to myself “he’s still got it", the crowd loved it, but the fourth official Lee Probert was incensed.
The Arsenal manager could have injured someone, like a low flying balloonist who, for obvious reasons, would have been oblivious to the uncontrollable passion of the Frenchman and his poorly behaved right foot.
Probert summoned the ref, they chatted briefly, giving the situation due consideration. The type of heavy consideration given to very serious topics like parking fines and murder. They were like two surgeons discussing where to make an incision whilst the patient was wide awake. Then Dein turned to Wenger and immediately ordered him off.
Wenger sought clarification of his crimes, no doubt saying, “Come again?"
The unmoved ref turned his face away and pointed to nowhere in particular. Wenger remonstrated with the pair but the hand and finger were extended, unyielding and without remorse. So the Manager headed off to the nearby tunnel, only then to be informed by the chasing official that he had to spend the duration of the match in the stands.
At that point, Wenger seemed to say “Ducks off!" Clearly referring to his indifference to the home sides menu. United’s Roy Keane had issues with prawn sandwiches you may recall. The chastised manager then headed to the stands, after being shown where they were and how to get there as his dumbfounded players looked on.
Once he had joined the United Masses, he outstretched more of his anatomy in a Jesus like pose, pleading innocence to the crowd but the United faithful merely rebuked him, mostly for spoiling their unhindered view of the pitch.
Wenger observed the game from his perch and was contemplating the stupidity of the offside rule, the wretched lightweight materials used by drinks manufacturers and the length of his likely ban before revealing his confusion to the press about where to go.
I heard a few United fans telling him where to go but thankfully he stayed inside the ground. Fast forward to 2016 when Jose Mourinho kicked a bottle along the touchline during Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with West Ham.
Mourinho claims to dislike Wenger and his methods but it’s clear that he couldn’t resist emulating his French counterpart even if he didn’t put as much effort in.
Wenger launched the vessel in the air with commitment and theatrical aplomb but Mourinho’s was nothing more than a half-hearted tap of almost accidental proportions but having said that there are those that say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Let the ‘bottle’commence when the two meet again this season when hopefully sanity will prevail in the football kingdom again.