10 June 2014

Cesc spits in Chelsea's face; they still look to sign him? Tsk.

I wish I was speaking figuratively, as in "Cesc Fàbregas has spit in the face of Chelsea's interest in him, rebuffing them and reaffirming his interest in staying at Barcelona or moving only to Arsenal." After all, such a storyline would only make sense, not to mention reassure Gunners that all is right in the world. We are talking, after all, about a beloved midfielder who once said "if I'm ever going to return to the Premier League, there's only one team I'm going to join, Arsenal." Whether that's the stuff of legend or of fact, it's the stuff dreams are made of. If it were merely spitting in the wind, well, we could write it off and move on. However, the fact that Cesc may have literally spit in a Chelsea-player's face is another tale indeed.

I submit to you a video that is either (a) a damning indictment of a player's hatred for a rival-club or (b) a damning indictment of a rival-club's willingness to troll in order to win. As the story goes, Arsenal were playing Bayern Munich in a 2005 Champions League tie, and Fàbregas tackled Michael Ballack, got up, and promptly leaned in. From there, it's a matter of dispute, but each man's motions suggest that the spit hit the man. The ref runs over and shows Cesc a card whose color I can't quite make out (thanks, futuretrunks87, for the editing. Creative but confusing), but that seems to have been the end of it. He wasn't set off and UEFA investigated but didn't sanction Fàbregas in any way.

Speaking of the incident, Fàbregas said the following:
I have seen this video on the internet many times before and I remember the incident clearly. It was four years ago and I leant over to Michael Ballack, who was playing for Bayern at the time, and I shouted at him because I felt like I did not make a bad tackle and I felt that the contact was minimal.
Case closed.  After all, Ballack played for Bayern at the time, not Chelsea. What am I going on about? Keep watching the video. In a separate match, this one against Chelsea, a kerfuffle erupts. Say what you will against Ballack's bona fidés; Frank Lampard is a bona-fide Chelsea legend. If Fàbregas's apparent spittle didn't provoke outrage among the Chelsea faithful, then surely, seeing him put his hands to Lampard's throat and wrangle him like a roped steer should. Surely, even a club as rapacious and bereft of morals as Chelsea can draw a line and say, "no further." If a rival player puts his hands on a beloved player, if that same player treats one of the club's living legends like livestock, then surely, the club should be able to say, "we don't care how good a player he is. No one treats our squad-members like that, no matter the circumstances. He will never play for us."

Fast-forward almost ten years, however, and here we apparently are. I've long suspected that our friendly neighbors over lack a bit in the manners-'n'-morals department, but should the rumored pursuit of Fàbregas prove true and they do manage to sign him, well, I guess my suspicions would be proven beyond all doubt. If it were confined to the scuffle with Lampard, I could understand their willingness to let bygones be bygones. However, there are more reasons for a Chelsea fan to hate Fàbregas than you can shake a stick at. A celery stick, for example. Apparently, Chelsea fans prefer not to eat their vegetables but toss them instead. During the 2007 Carling Cup final, Fàbregas helpfully drew attention to the celery thrown at him and at other Gunners whenever they took corners. Along with other events against other clubs, this prompted the FA to launch an investigation and Chelsea to ban the practice. Thus endeth one of the few traditions this, um, storied club could claim. And now they want to bring in a player so closely associated with the end of that tradition? Huh.

Look, I'll admit that I'm casting about for as many reasons as I can find to prevent Fàbregas from ending up at Chelsea. I don't really care in the end what it tells us about Chelsea if they're willing to sign a player who's been such an irritating, hated bogeyman to them. We all know the cloth they're cut from. I do care, however, what it might tell us about Fàbregas if he's willing to join them.  Frankly, I don't even want to ponder it. He may not have spit in Ballack's face, but joining Chelsea would be a real kick in the teeth.

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