Salut! Sunderland hopes that when Martin O’Neill presides over his first press conference as Sunderland’s manager this afternoon, he is not drawn into pointless discussion of Nicklas Bendtner’s supposedly disrespectful body language during the pre-match tribute to Gary Speed at Molineux.
With carefully manufactured outrage, the website 101greatgoals.com declares that the on-loan forward was seen “smirking and shrugging as the cameras went past all the players”.
It wheels out a quote from a fellow Dane, “former Liverpool legend Jan Molby”, insisting that Bendtner would need to “explain what he meant”. 101goals.com can offer little more by way of indignation: “Whilst there was limited discussion of Bendtner’s shocking behaviour on Twitter, there has been no media outcry …”
There may, of course, be a perfectly good reason for that lack of outcry. Look at the clip and it shows, at worst, a momentary smile, as if Bendtner’s attention had suddenly been distracted. This site, along with most other parts of the game, responded with sympathy to Speed’s death; there is no justification for leaping from that genuine feeling of sorrow to a witchhunt aimed at someone whose lapse from the highest standards of public behaviour ranks a long way down the scale.
Three readers of 101goals.com agree with me in their posted comments. “Gid”, apparently a Sunderland supporter, says: “For Christ sakes it not like he is doing a song and dance in the middle of the pitch! This story is making out like he’s rolling about laughing on the floor, the lad smiles for a second as he is applauding! Clear this story as been wrote by a pathetic mag, who need to get a grip!”
I am aware that another SAFC fan, and Salut! Sunderland reader, Hilary, also found Bendtner’s conduct insensitive. For once, I have to disagree with her; Gid has it spot-on.
Now if, on the other hand, O’Neill were to be asked about Seb Larsson’s dive, which in one sense cost us the game against Wolves, that would be a different matter.
Adrian Durham is not my broadcaster of choice but was right to call on TalkSport yesterday for retrospective sanctions in such cases. Salut! Sunderland bangs on week after week abut cheating and has no wish to have it both ways: diving, feigning injury and trying to get opponents sent off or booked are bad whoever is the culprit.
Larsson has played as well as most for SAFC this season and is even our top scorer; I value his contribution. But he has come within an ace of replacing Joey Barton, himself a successor to Eduardo and Theo Walcott, in having the “Who are You?” cheating question named after him.