Lou Macari: Wilkinson and Cleverley bring bright points to controversial weekend
I WANT to give a drum roll to a couple of players for reminding us that football can still be an honest game played by responsible men.
I give you Stoke City's Andy Wilkinson and Manchester United's Tom Cleverley.
Two players shining like beacons amid all this weekend's hoo-haa about diving, fouling, bad decisions and swearing referees.
Stoke fans need no reminding of what happened with Wilkinson after being taken out by Sunderland's Craig Gardner.
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Up he jumped – and then he shook Gardner's hand and got on with the game.
Perhaps Cleverley had seen that, because 24 hours later he was doing exactly the same after Fernando Torres had caught him on the chest with some high studs.
Let's be honest, we could instantly reel off the names of a dozen other players who would have rolled around and clutched various parts of their body in the hope of getting Gardner and Torres sent off.
What Wilkinson and Cleverley showed was something sadly lacking in today's game... respect.
Not so long ago, no professional player would have disrespected an opponent so much that he'd try to get him sent off for next to nothing.
So it's sad in many ways that the reactions of Wilkinson and Cleverley should even stand out.
Some of the antics we see from others these days are an absolute disgrace.
I've always said that any player rolling around after a challenge can't be seriously injured.
Stoke fans saw proof of that on Saturday when Marc Wilson went down early in the second half.
The fact he lay motionless and players nearby quickly called for medical attention told you everything you needed to know.
This was a genuinely serious injury and fingers crossed for a speedy recovery from his broken leg.
The irony of Torres being controversially sent off for a second yellow card at Chelsea on Sunday is that he probably should have walked earlier in the afternoon for that first challenge on Cleverley.
The Stamford Bridge game was full of controversy, most of it surrounding referee Mark Clattenbury, and not just for the decisions he was making for both teams.
We are now being told that he might have said something inappropriate, even racial, to one or more of the Chelsea players.
I find it hard to believe he would say something racist, even in the heat of battle.
My own view is that unless someone has been blatantly racially abused, what is said on a football pitch should stay on a football pitch.
Referees were forever swearing at me, as a player and a manager.
I never went bleating to the authorities, you just got on with the game.
What worries me now is that we are getting into a climate where people are taking offence at almost everything said on the pitch.
We're going to start having witch hunts at this rate.
I certainly don't think too many refs will jump at the chance of going to Chelsea in the near future.
Rightly or wrongly, a cloud of suspicion will certainly hang over Clattenburg now... and for how long?
We had 12 months of John Terry saying he didn't and Anton Ferdinand saying he did, not forgetting nine months of Luis Suarez saying he didn't and Patrice Evra saying he did.
Players are not only lacking respect for others these days, but also lacking responsibility.
It's never their fault. It's always the referee's.
What a contrast to rugby. I was watching a match on TV over the weekend and the ref was making plenty of mistakes.
But I didn't see players moaning and groaning about it, they just got on with the match.
Why? Because they have respect for the officials and respect for authority, something so sorely lacking in football.
Let's be honest here, many of today's highly-paid footballers have little respect for anything.