Tuesday 20 March 2018

Comment: Embarrassing Alexis Sanchez needs to take a good, hard look at Seamus Coleman

Seamus Coleman and (inset) Alexis Sanchez
Seamus Coleman and (inset) Alexis Sanchez

Jack O'Toole

Days like Wednesday the 26th of April are the type of days that make the Premier League the all-consuming soap opera that tends to dominate our sports consumption.

The top flight of English football has consistently proven that it does a better job than just about any other sporting league at stealing the headlines, from its over-the-top managers calling out their own players and their lack of 'bravery', to two different sets of Manchester clubs wearing tribute shirts for injured teammates, the Premier League can often be the type of circus theatre that can be innately interesting to watch and very hard to ignore.

But even for the Premier League, Wednesday was quite extraordinary. West Ham United and soon-to-be promoted Newcastle United were both raided by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs for suspected tax fraud. Burnley midfielder Joey Barton was suspended from all football activity for 18 months for admitting to a Football Association misconduct charge related to betting, before eloquently pointing out that the Premier League is engulfed with advertising, sponsorship and marketing from betting companies, with 10 of its 20 teams sponsored by such businesses.

The controversy continued when Sunderland manager David Moyes was charged by the FA for jokingly threatening to slap female reporter Vicki Sparks, for a question she had asked in a post-match interview following the Black Cats' draw with Burnley last month. And all of that chaos was just off the pitch.

On the pitch, Christian Eriksen had kept Tottenham's slender title hopes alive with a stunning strike in Spurs' 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in south London, while on the city's northside, Arsenal's 1-0 win over Leicester City was overshadowed by an utterly horrific ball throwing incident between Leicester left-back Christian Fuchs and Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez.

With Arsenal leading 1-0 in the second minute of stoppage time, Sanchez stood firmly on the sideline before Fuchs launched his throw-in into the shoulder of the Chilean which then rebounded into his lip. Seemingly confused and dazed by what had happened, Sanchez took several steps to his left before throwing his hands to his face and collapsing to the ground in a heap. Down goes Frazier.

Premier League footballers throwing themselves to the ground after being hit by a force that would resemble something slightly greater than a gentle breeze is nothing new for the league, we've seen that type of behaviour for more than a decade now, but what is rather new is taking to social media to display the subsequent 'war wounds' from such heavy collisions.

In a different sporting realm, the before and after images of UFC fighters can often be quite unnerving but generally does a pretty good job at illustrating just how much punishment its combatants can endure on any given night. Alexis Sanchez's Twitter feed doesn't quite have the same effect, especially when juxtaposed with Everton defender Seamus Coleman's comments from the same day.

The Ireland captain was back with his club side Everton on Wednesday after suffering a horrific double leg break during last month's World Cup qualifier with Wales in Dublin. The 28-year-old will likely spend the best part of the next year on the sidelines but he already has the attitude of someone who is preparing for a fight, rather than someone who is portraying an image as if he's just been in one.

"It's great to be back, nice to see everyone again - it's like my first day all over again," the Killybegs native told evertontv.

"Obviously, I'd rather be fit and well but I've had a good month at home in Ireland to get my head around everything and now I'm ready to get back to work.

"I've had tough journeys before in the past. It hasn't been a smooth journey to play for Everton and to captain my country.

"I'm a fighter and there's a part of me that's looking forward to this challenge. It's something to start all over again and fight for."

If anyone has cause to show off his battle scars as some sort of cry for sympathy, it's Coleman, who suffered one of the most genuinely frightening injuries that one can possibly receive in the draw with Wales.

But rather than take to Twitter in an attention seeking move, Coleman sought the comfort of those closest to him in football, with Ireland boss Martin O'Neill, Everton manager Ronald Koeman and teammate Phil Jagielka all coming over to visit him over the course of the last month.

The former Sligo Rovers defender has not taken to Twitter in over five years, so it would have come as quite a bit of a surprise if he broke this abstinence by taking a selfie with his smashed right leg in two.

But nevertheless, Coleman seems to be an increasing rarity in the Premier League where the majority of its players are becoming increasingly more willing to divulge to the world their each and every hardship.

When Manchester United's team bus was attacked last year before their end of season tie with West Ham, United winger Jesse Lingaard filmed and laughed his way through the entire ordeal on his Snapchat.

When on-loan Crystal Palace defender Mamadou Sakho was exiled out of the Liverpool first-team earlier this season, he responded with a late night rant on Snapchat at former manager Jurgen Klopp.

This is the climate in which Coleman finds himself in, and he seemingly has no desire to adapt to its changing nature.

"If I see a footballer with a Louis Vuitton wash bag I wonder what that does to others," Coleman said in an interview with the Daily Mail last year.

"If you are the only young lad in the changing room without one then you feel that pressure that you need to go out and get one. Even if you don't want one or even like one.

"That's what I think is wrong with football. It's completely wrong. Your job is to train well and play well on Saturday and do well week in, week out. That's your job. Your job isn't to be going out and buying the best of everything just because someone else is.

"But they feel they all need to have the best because of the pressure. They think they need to look good on their Instagram pictures. They think they have to follow the leader but they are just kids — boys."

Arsenal will probably wear tribute shirts for Sanchez's cut lip when they take on Tottenham on Sunday, while Coleman will most likely be somewhere quiet with those important to him, behaving like a man in a world increasingly full of boys.

Online Editors

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