Bendtner and Gary Speed: no case to answer

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.

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6 thoughts on “Bendtner and Gary Speed: no case to answer”

  1. What if …

    During a minutes applause and in a moment celebrating the life of GS, NB pondered a memory or thought for GS that simply made him smirk or smile.

    Perhaps it was completely innocent and justified?

  2. If it was a minutes silence then you could question his actions. But it was a minutes celebration of Speeds life.

  3. Jeremy, I do agree that the reaction has been excessive. Difficult to quite understand why. Whether it is some misplaced sense of collective responsibility or what, I dont know. There was something brutally shocking about it,-so abrupt an ending to the life of someone whose success had been built on his seeming flawlessness, both professionally and otherwise. I felt personally very shocked and upset on hearing of his death and the manner of his death, in a way that surprised me . I had admired him as a footballer and had noted his success with Wales, but he wasn’t high on my radar.

    Since Princess Diana the public performance of grief and mourning has become ever more sensational, encouraged by media hysteria. Like Diana he had qualities of relative youth and glamour , which made his death and the manner of his death, incomprehensible on some level.

    However, I do hold to my line on Bendtner. Whatever our thoughts on the response to recent events, if you are a professional and part of a team and you are required to participate in something like this tribute, then you act appropriately.

  4. It appears that it is now compulsary to have an over-hysterical reaction to every ‘high profile’ death.

    This type of hysteria started after the death of Diana where we witnessed some of the most hysterical behaviour and has found it’s way from royaltyand showbiz to the sporting arena. I can fully understand tributes being paid by the fans of the clubs GS played for but there were tributes through the leagues and in Scotland. The media don’t help by stoking the sympathy fire with cameras in the faces of every Tom, Dick and Harry just making sure everyone is grieving properly.

    Bentner didn’t look too clever during the tribute but it was hardly a jailable offence.Maybe an apology would have been helpful.

  5. I didn’t see what Bendtner did during the tribute.

    His body language and display after the whistle blew was offensive enough for me to want to see the back of him. I was one of the few who didn’t want him in the first place.

    I do feel that we live in times of empathy and charity fascism where for whatever reason people are forced to comply with what have become someone else’s social norms. Despite the tribute that I produced about GS, I do feel that the minute’s applause and talk of cancelling fixtures was completely over the top. Naming stands after him equally seems out of line to my mind. There were probably numerous players compelled to observe the applause who thought that GS was not quite the great guy that so many thought he was. Observing the mass “hysteria” must have made them feel uncomfortable at best. I’m not saying that NS was one of them necessarily. There are of course some people taking the view that GS was a coward. Think about it for a moment.
    Were this someone from work who had committed suicide, and you turned up as usual and you were asked to stand applauding him for a minute, you would think it was most bizarre don’t you think?

  6. I take your point, perhaps it was an over reaction on my part, but I think that in this kind of situation players have to be aware of sensitivities and behave with appropriate gravity. It is the school teacher in me. !

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