Lawrie saved the day but not his captain
"I asked Browny what happened at half-time and he said they ran into each other, there was no headbutt. I believe my captain if he says that. He did say they clashed heads but added there was no intent."
That was Fulham caretaker manager Lawrie Sanchez in response to the allegation his captain Michael Brown head-butted Liverpool's Xabi Alonso. Sanchez is known for managing Northern Ireland where his position was looking untenable until a win against England, Spain and then Sweden has propelled him as a good manager. Given the task of keeping Fulham up from relegation, he did exactly that on Saturday in managing the side to a 1-0 win, which was aided by Charlton's defeat last night to Spurs at The Valley that condemned the South East London club to the Championship.
Yet to hear from one of your players one version of an event and then say you believe him is quite frankly sidestepping the issue. Before Sanchez says he will review the moment and take it from there internally if the respective player deserves discipline, he says he believes his captain. Arbitrary? If it were a Fulham player on the receiving end of that which the cameras caught Brown doing, Sanchez would be livid. Rafael Benitez certainly was, because such an incident warranted a sending-off and Fulham may well have had the game very difficult to handle otherwise. Brown has until 6pm today (Wed) to answer guilty or not.
The incident with Michael Ball on Christiano Ronaldo was so clear cut with cameras catching the actual moment and the scar left on Ronaldo's stomach. Ball has pleaded guilty, apparently has apologised, and is set to be banned for three matches. On the Man City official web-site Ball has said:
"My action should not be seen on a football pitch and I know we have a responsibility at Premier League level to set a good example to the whole football community. I am proud of my disciplinary record and have never been sent off in my professional career."
For me, this is all immaterial. To say his action should not be seen on a football pitch was an understatement. It shouldn't be seen anywhere. None of this featured in Ball's mind at all during the match and to mention his disciplinary record and having not been sent off in his career mitigates nothing. There were a number of moments where Ball seeked to niggle at Ronaldo, he was aware of what he was doing with no aforethought for anything else.