Is it possible to defend the indefensible? Well even if not, here is a pretty good go.
What may you ask has been indefensible so far during the World Cup? Well the refereeing at times has been pretty poor. As have a couple of the defensive performances. The coverage at times has certainly fallen into this category *cough Adrian Chiles cough*. None of which are the subject of this.
No, we all know the real culprit of the World Cup so far is Portugal’s very own lunatic, Pepe.
The defender saw red after not only touching the face of Germany player Thomas Muller but also subsequently losing his cool at the theatrical reaction of Muller – which undoubtedly could have earned the attacking player an Oscar for best dramatic performance – and attempting to head-butt the player.
Now this is clearly wrong. No one would tell you otherwise. Even Pepe’s parents probably shook their heads in disbelief at the defender’s actions. It was a red card and the ref didn’t really have a choice.
But let’s be honest, there are a couple of things people have chosen to forget – or ignore all together in the wake of this, let’s go with the adjective of ‘incident’ – not as some have described it ‘national disgrace.’
Had that been any other player, it would have probably still been a red card – well unless they were Brazilian and had the referee from their opening game – and they would have been criticised and certainly called stupid, but would they have been vilified in such a way? Possibly not.
Some players may have even evaded a red card altogether. An elbow to the face in the late kick off involving Ghana and the USA that same day was not even punished with a yellow card.
Paul Pogba and Neymar also evaded possible red cards in their opening group games. Had that been Pepe, that most certainly would not have been the case. Sometimes you have to wonder if referees want to have a special purple card they reserve specifically for the defender.
It was pointed out that essentially, Pepe was punished for being Pepe.
Some players are known as being easy to wind up and even easier to get sent off – and Pepe certainly fits that bill.
Thomas Muller was an utter disgrace for hitting the deck clutching his face after the initial contact – or lack thereof – was made by Pepe and the defender, already seeing his team en route to a defeat, lost the plot.
No one would tell you that Pepe was in the right – he clearly was not, and critics of the player will point to the fact that this is not the first time that Pepe has behaved in such a manner.
Actually, for Pepe, that ‘head-butt’ was fairly tame. He has done far worse, including kicking a player repeatedly when he was on the ground. He has even been sent to anger management classes by his club Real Madrid and incurred rather lengthy suspensions for various misdemeanours at best, absolute losses of the plot bordering on assault at worst.
Nowadays he may still be susceptible to the odd red card or kick out, but his behaviour has improved however his reputation has not. Mud sticks as they say.
You cannot be that bad of a defender if you have been a mainstay in the Real Madrid side who in the last four seasons have managed to win two Spanish cups, a record breaking league title and a Champions League, but people forget this.
When he is on form, Pepe is actually a very good defender. Comfortable on the ball, good in the air, positionally sound and can get the odd goal too. He is not a bad player by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, he is quite a good one.
Sadly that is overshadowed by his reputation – which at times is very deserved – and his penchant for doing things that the normal human being struggles to fathom a reason for.
Yes, Pepe deserved to see red. Yes, Pepe was an idiot, but more of a liability than a help? Sometimes perhaps, but more often than not, that is not the case. World class manager after world class manager have picked him in their starting eleven – and there must be a reason for that.
Do you think Pepe has been slightly harshly treated after that red card? Let us know your thoughts below or tweet us @LaFootyettes.