Reina: Robben was deceitful

Pepe Reina was disgusted with the theatrical antics of Arjen Robben at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Speaking to the press last night, Reina said: “I am furious with him for what happened. Robben’s a big actor and he did well enough to win an Oscar. He is an excellent player but he was deceitful with the way he behaved. I would never hit out at another player.”

Liverpool decided not to appeal against the decision and so Reina will now miss the next three matches for the Reds. Alan Wiley will no doubt be embarrassed at how easily he fell for the con from Robben, and Robben has lost all respect from fans of football, not just Liverpool fans. If the referee watches the incident again and sticks to the letter of the law then he still has to send Reina off. This is because the letter of the law now seems to be that a hand next to an opponents face – or anywhere from the neck up – is a sending-off offence. No doubt William Gallas will be told of his own FA charge for the same offence once Wiley looks again at the action. Wiley should already have given Robben a yellow-card prior to the incident after he’d given the actor a telling-off for dissent. Since when has dissent been punished by a telling-off? When referees use common sense I have no problem, as long as it’s used throughout. Maybe if he’d booked Robben for that the little actor with an out of proportion head wouldn’t have bothered getting involved with Reina. If the linesman had actually been watching the action taking place five yards away from him then Gudjohnson would have been pulled up for deliberate handball before Reina had needed to tackle him. A yellow card for Gudjohnson would have meant a different ending to the game.

Liverpool fans aren’t pretending for one minute that they would have
won the game in that last ten minutes had the linesman been paying
attention. It just leaves a bitter taste in the mouth that once again
in football cheats have been seen to get away with it. In other words,
it’s worth taking a chance. If there’s one aspect of video evidence
that should be used after the event then it’s to weed out the cheats.
Liverpool’s Jan Kromkamp had his own theatrical dive recently, but not
on the same scale as his compatriot Robben. In fact I am 100% certain
that Kromkamp, freshly arrived at Anfield, will have been told on the
way home from that game that Liverpool will not tolerate theatrics like
that. Robben was no doubt given a pat on the back for his theatrics,
and asked to do more of the same. It is now time for the FA to punish
offenders after the match for this kind of action, certainly when
there’s no doubt about things like in Robben’s case.

As Reina says, Robben’s actions gave the referee little choice: “He
exaggerated what happened and therefore forced the referee to send me
off. If we had been at Anfield, I would never have got a red card.
There was also a lot of pressure from the crowd. My team-mates feel the
same and are very angry.” If Alan Wiley has any profession pride then
he will put into his report his thoughts on the handball and the dive,
along with a recommendation that perhaps Reina’s red card be reduced to
a yellow. This would still give Reina a red card (for two yellows in
one game) but would instead mean a one-match ban. In turn a
recommendation of a charge for Robben would not go amiss.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez, an honest man, was fuming after the
game. Sarcasm was the only way he could contain his anger, and even
then it was barely contained: “I am in a hurry because I have to go to
the hospital. The injury was so serious that maybe he will be in
hospital for a week. Reina has made a mistake. Robben was talking and
provoking him and he turned and touched his face, but it looked like he
could be even a few weeks in the hospital with a neck broken, I don’t
know. It’s crazy. He has dived, it is so clear. I don’t know how you
can kick everyone during a game and maybe see a yellow card, but you
touch a player, get a red card and not play three games.”

Rafa wouldn’t consider having cheats in his squad – anyone who tried
would soon be put straight. Rafa considered Robben’s actions to be not
just against Liverpool and Reina, but against the game that pays his
wages: “What kind of professional can you be against another
professional if you cost another player three games? I have a clear
idea of what I would liken to see happen, but it’s up to the FA.”

Ex-red Jamie Redknapp joined in with the condemnation of Robben,
speaking after the game for Sky: “For something so silly, I think I’d
have booked Arjen Robben, to be honest. For me that’s nothing – to go
down like that is wrong and I’m sure he’ll be embarrassed when he sees
it. He’ll be embarrassed by his behaviour. At times he illuminates the
match and does some great things, that’s what we want to see from Arjen
Robben because he’s a lovely player to watch. Certainly that isn’t what
I want to see.”

Robben’s actions mean he’s lost any respect he had, and a lack of any
condemnation from his manager ensures he still hasn’t earned anywhere
near as much respect as he’d like. It was well talked about last season
how Liverpool were the team that most of Spain wanted to see do well in
the Champions League, thanks to the Spanish connection at the club. I
think it’s fair to say that a large part of England will be hoping to
see Barcelona do well against Chelsea in the Champions League this