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The Imaginary Card Debacle.

Thursday 19th January 2012
Over the past few weeks, Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has been lambasted for his actions in the dugout, in particular, the use of this imaginary card.

It began in the league win over Liverpool when, after Gareth Barry had been sent off for a block on Daniel Agger, Yaya Toure was sent crashing down inside the penalty area. Mancini waved his hand in the direction of the referee, almost asking for the Liverpool man to be sent for an early bath.

Incident number two was against rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup. Now, the real debate stemmed from whether Vincent Kompany's two-footed lunge was worthy of a red card – referee Chris Foy thought so – but the aftermath of it all came from Mancini claiming that Wayne Rooney had some involvement in the decision. Double standards maybe?

So onto match number three, against Liverpool again, this time in the Carling Cup and the Blues boss was at it again, for a nasty looking challenge from Glen Johnson.

The most recent incident came against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium. For reasons only known to Maynor Figueroa, he blatantly raised his hand to meet the ball which was bouncing over his head. He was the last man, so surely a red card? Maybe the fact he was on the halfway line saved him? Mancini was furious, and out came the imaginary card, again.

Some managers, Mick McCarthy for example, reckon it's down to a cultural thing. To an extent, I'd agree.

Yes, Mancini hasn't quite grasped the entire English language yet but he is giving it a good go and speaks better English than I do Italian.

But it is more than just not being able to get your voice heard. Mancini is pointing out refereeing inconsistencies, albeit in a not-so-English way. If Gareth Barry is getting a second yellow for a block, why isn't the Liverpool man being sent off for a similar offence whilst being the last man?

If Vincent Kompany is being dismissed for a two footed lunge – getting the ball or not – then why isn't Glen Johnson receiving the same treatment for the same, if not worse, type of challenge?

And if you're following the letter of the law that saw Kompany sent off, then why not apply the rule that surely would have seen Figueroa off down the tunnel too?

This isn't the type of man who wants to see players sent off, or give his team an advantage of winning. His players can cut teams apart in seconds. It isn't that he wants to tarnish the game with sendings off or turn football into a non-contact sport. And I don't for one minute think he revels in the fact that a team go down to ten men.

He has a completely valid point though; cut out the inconsistencies and the game will be much better. But maybe a quiet word with the referee after the game is a far better option than waving your hand around like a child desperate to answer a question at school.
Nick Broadhurst

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