Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl) Sun 13 September 2009
Such a carry on, Emmanuel
What to make of Emmanuel Adebayor? From hero to villain and back again twice, the Manchester City striker is deceptively difficult to get any kind of handle on.
The scorer of 62 goals in 114 appearances for Arsenal, Adebayor left the Emirates Stadium for Eastlands in the summer as one of Man City's many high-profile signings. He also left under rather a cloud, some fans saying he was lazy while others cast him as a temperamental and disruptive influence on the team.
Whatever he was (or is), Adebayor's switch to join Mark Hughes' team has reinvigorated his career, and indeed Manchester City's fortunes. In his first four games this season, the Togolese forward has bagged three goals, but just as neutral football fans everywhere were starting to re-evaluate his exciting play and goalscoring genius, Adebayor went and shot himself in the foot.
Yesterday's match between Arsenal and Manchester City saw Adebayor pick up his fourth goal of the season, but it was his post-goal celebration that made all the headlines. A 90-yard run back upfield to where the Arsenal supporters were situated, followed by a slide on his knees in front of them was at best inflammatory and at worst downright irresponsible. Only a matter of weeks after the hooliganism outside Upton Park, Adebayor couldn't have chosen a worse time to incite the fans that once revered him but now hate him over and above anyone wearing a Tottenham Hotspur shirt.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, referee Mark Clattenburg awarded Adebayor a yellow card with the potential for a further lengthy ban by the FA to come. Adebayor claims he got caught up in the emotion of the moment and has since apologised for his overexuberant celebration, but the damage has already been done, one feels.
Yet was this a chance to metaphorically stick two fingers up to the Arsenal fans that Adebayor found too irresistible to miss? Is it justifiable to suggest that the extreme opinions of a minority of Arsenal fans has polluted the minds of many others? Certainly the verbal treatment Adebayor received yesterday was far from pleasant and one could understand his eagerness to lash out at those who have been detrimental to his name. That said of course, there are ways and means to do so and running the entire length of the pitch to parade gleefully in front of them isn't one of them.
Elsewhere in the match, Adebayor caused further controversy with his rash reaction to a 50-50 challenge with Robin Van Persie that left the Dutch international bleeding from a cut near to his left eye. Van Persie's crude challenge won him the ball but Adebayor flicked his boot out at Van Persie in an act of petulance that will give the FA more evidence with which to suspend or fine him.
Even here, one has to note that Adebayor was himself challenged strongly only moments earlier by Van Persie and no doubt felt inclined to exact some revenge on his challenger, but that's all by the by. The 2008 African Player of the Year has much to learn about controlling his emotions and doesn't react well to the many trials and tribulations of the modern game, but unless he addresses those issues, we and Manchester City are likely to see a lot less of him in the future. The FA will soon see to that.