Scott McCarthy: You have to accept Knockaert's passion will sometimes get the better of him
There are two types of red cards in the game of football. There are the good, the ones that stick in your memory for years due to their ridiculousness.
We’re talking Colin Hawkins accidentally pulling over a Stockport player in the penalty area just 30 seconds after he’d come on as a substitute in a tactical reshuffle due to Tommy Elphick also being sent off. There’s Ashley Barnes tripping over a referee away at Bolton or Rod Thomas diving full length across the goal to produce a quite brilliant one-handed save despite not being the goalkeeper when Plymouth Argyle visited the Priestfield Stadium in 1998.
And then there are bad ones, which you could pretty much sum up with the phrase “Anthony Knockaert, Everton away.” Some of the seats in the away end at Goodison Park may have been reminiscent of watching a game through a letter box, but even seen from one of the worst of the worst restricted views, there was no defence for Knockaert trying to break Leighton Baines into pieces.
Not only did it ruin any small hope that the Albion had of getting back into the game, but the Frenchman’s recklessness also means he misses two huge home games against Leicester City and Huddersfield Town. Given how we’ve struggled on the road this season, points at home are all the more important and we’ve got to go into our two most winnable remaining games without one of our most potent attacking weapons. Nice one, Anthony.
The reactions to Knockaert’s actions seem to vary from turning a blind eye as he can do anything he want because he was good last season to erecting gallows next to the Clock Tower and carrying out a public hanging. The truth of the situation is somewhere between the two. Everybody knows that Knockaert is an emotional individual who plays with his heart on the sleeve and that is part of his appeal. When you have a player like that, you accept that from time to time emotions will get the better of him, as they did at Goodison. It happens to the best of them – see David Beckham at the 1998 World Cup and Wayne Rooney at the 2006 World Cup.
So you can’t praise Knockaert for his passion and work-rate and then complain when his passion gets the better of him. On the flip side, it’s obvious that he is struggling this season for several reasons. The tragic family events he has gone through over the last few years would play on anyone’s minds, let alone such an emotional man. The other reason is that he has found the step up to the Premier League tough.
Knockaert clearly thrived last season on being not just the main man in the team, but the main man in the division. He loved taking on players with ease, scoring goals, picking up awards and hearing his name sung by 30,000 worshippers. It’s different this season.
Top flight full-backs know how to stop him and all the talk this season is about Glenn Murray’s England hopes, Jose Izquierdo’s spectacular goals, Lewis Dunk’s big money moves and Maty Ryan’s saves. The spotlight isn’t on Knockaert so brightly anymore and he doesn’t seem to like that, as his reactions to being subbed or dropped completely from the squad go to show.
The big question to all those wanting Knockaert to be sold because of this latest misdemeanour and his struggles this season is, do you really bin off one of the most talented and exciting players to play for the Albion because his passion sometimes gets the better of him?
If you think we should, then just remember some of those other red card recipients. Colin Hawkins? Rod Thomas? Exactly.
Keep up with all the top football news and transfer gossip from England, Scotland and beyond with footballwire.co.uk