As we approach the re-match between Arsenal and Manchester City I am guessing we will see more evidence of a worrying trend in our football.
This does not concern diving, or swearing at referees, or bland manager interviews before games, even though I deplore all of those things. This is about the trend for players to cover their mouths as they talk to each other or the referees. It has become rife and I always wonder when they do that: “What have they got to hide?”
This may well stem from the October 2011 incident involving John Terry and Anton Ferdinand in a Premier League game. The incident ended in a court case although Terry was acquitted six months later. This is six years on, and suddenly hand-over-mouth behaviour is rife.
Very often, you can tell from the players’ body language that they are just having a chat. “See you in the dressing room after”, “how are the kids doing?”, “we must get together for dinner soon”. The lip readers would not condemn those kind of conversations anyway. But what if what they are saying is more sinister. What on earth are they saying that requires them to cup hands over mouths? We presume that what they are saying could get them into trouble under TV scrutiny. Even managers have started doing this now.
I would hate for children to be watching this kind of farce and think it’s the way to behave on a football pitch. Open and honest communication is my business and I see no reason for it.. unless these players and managers have something to hide. But if it carries on we WILL think the worst and think they are slagging off the referees, planning their next surreptitious and illegal bets online, telling tales about their colleagues, revealing transfer requests etc etc.
Of course it’s nonsense to think any of that is happening with all these covert conversations. But surely we can stop any doubts and start behaving like adults on the football field, rather than look like kids playing Chinese whispers in the playground.