It began as a question in our Who Are You? series of pre-match interviews with the fans of opposing clubs, about diving and other forms of cheating.
Then it became the Eduardo Question, in honour of the Brazilian-born Croatian player’s monumental contribution to the art, and finally the Walcott Question as a sincere tribute to Theo for his candid admission – coupled with an apology – that he had dived in an unsuccessful attempt to con a referee.
This season, my intention had been to revert to the simple anonymous question along the lines of: “Have diving, feigning injury and trying to get opponents booked or sent off become so commonplace that we should accept the as part of the modern game?”
We certainly did not expect one of the first games of the season to produce an unanswerable case for giving the question a name again.
And nor did we expect one of the game’s hard men, a man so hard in different ways that most Sunderland supporters would cringe if Steve Bruce tried to sign him, should win the accolade with Oscar-winning dramatics in the face of slight or non-existent injury?
History shows, regrettably, that we should not be surprised in the slightest to see another Arsenal diver up there in lights. And I say that as one who generally applauds the way Arsenal try to play.
So step forward Joey Barton and Gervinho, whose antics fully justify Salut! Sunderland‘s decision to call it, until further notice (there will, sadly, be plenty of other candidates as the season progresses) the Barton/Gervinho Question. It takes immediate, even retrospective effect: the interviewee for Sunderland’s next game, at home to Barton’s Newcastle (if Barton’s Newcastle it still is), will be told of the change to the question already put to him.
Gervinho’s dive – if it was one, and there is much doubt now – merited a yellow card, so you could say he qualified for one yellow and one straight red on his debut at St James’ Park.
Barton’s dramatically expressed anguish at being given the lightest of taps on the face was timed at two minutes of writhing on the ground by M Wenger; be that as it may, it was a performance that cried out for enduring recognition. Let us be charitable and say that we do not take into account his ability to rise from a similarly acute bout of pain, after Song’s disgraceful stamp, to leap about while voicing his thoughts to the fourth official; that was merely a display of manly, pain-conquering courage.
And what does Mr Barton, whose new intellectual status probably has him devouring the Salut! Live Song of the Day series and dreaming up suggestions for items to include, think his new favourite author George Orwell would have made of that?
* YouTube clip uploaded by BHLMartLewisHD.
** Please note that M Salut is not always around to moderate replies from supporters who have not posted before and get caught in the anti-spam pending box. Suffice to say, all comments – including those robustly at odds with my views – are welcome subject to the usual rules of decency; they will appear in due course.