COMMENTARY | On Sunday, December 23, Manchester United and Swansea played to a 1-1 draw, which ended the Red Devils’ five-game winning streak in league play. Patrice Evra scored Manchester United’s lone goal while Michu evened it up for Swansea in the 29th minute.
However, the true story of the game isn’t the fact that Manchester City cut United’s lead atop the Premier League table to four points. The main story is Swansea captain Ashley Williams’s decision to kick the ball off of a prone Robin van Persie’s head late in the match. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was not amused.
“I think the FA has got to look into it,” Ferguson said. “Irrespective of him having a yellow card, he should be banned for a long, long time. It’s the most dangerous thing I’ve seen on a football field for many, many years.”
“(It was) absolutely deliberate. The whistle’s gone, the game has stopped and he’s done that a foot from the player. He could have killed the lad – it’s a disgraceful act and he should be banned for a long, long time.”
Williams denied that his actions were done on purpose.
“I tried to clear the ball, it hit him on the head,” Williams said. “I was trying to clear the ball. He was obviously a bit angry about that. It was a much ado about nothing.”
Unfortunately, it’s not “much ado about nothing.” While Ferguson is being a bit overdramatic by stating that Williams’s actions could have killed van Persie, it’s certainly possible that the incident could have resulted in a concussion. The footage of the incident clearly shows Williams looking down at van Persie as he kicked the ball. He knew what he was doing, and his actions should have resulted in him being thrown out of the match.
There are many fans out there who will make this incident into a case of the larger, more established club picking on the smaller club. That’s not the truth. This is about Williams’s lack of sportsmanship and a willingness to risk another player’s health. His actions not only put van Persie in danger but put his team at risk of finishing the game with 10-men. Williams deserves a stiff penalty for what he did to van Persie. There’s simply no defense for kicking a ball at someone’s head from point-blank range.
Hopefully, the FA deals with this situation quickly and punishes Williams with a multi-game suspension. Anything less would be an absolute travesty.
Derek Ciapala has been following Manchester United since childhood. He has been published on Yahoo! Sports, GatewayMMA.com and multiple other websites. You can check him out on Facebook or Twitter @dciapala.