Tottenham Hotspur forward Richarlison was brutally taken out when a Nottingham Forest rival demonstrated what he thought about his provocative showboating in their Premier League match on Sunday.
Spurs maintained their unbeaten run and held on to third in the English top flight table with a 2-0 away win at the new boys’ City Ground thanks to a Harry Kane double.
In the dying minutes, Richarlison started to do ‘keepy ups’ on the wing by juggling the ball to jeers from the home fans, whose honor was defended by Brennan Johnson.
As the Brazilian palmed the ball off and then got it back, Johnson came in all guns blazing and decked the former Everton man with a strong slide tackle.
Johnson was understandably booked for the outburst, but won’t have been chided by his manager Steve Cooper who criticized Richarlison for creating a highlight that has already been viewed eight million times online.
“I wouldn’t want my players to do that, what Richarlison did,” Johnson said. “If that is accepted at Spurs that is nothing to do with me, but it wouldn’t be accepted here.”
Suggesting he didn’t clearly see the incident, though, Spurs boss Antonio Conte claimed innocence on the behalf of his charge.
“He juggled with the ball, no?” Conte tried to confirm. “It’s a game and you are under pressure. I think it’s OK. I don’t think he wanted to show disrespect to Nottingham Forest, a really good team with a great history,” the Italian added in reference to the East Midlands outfit’s two European Cups under Brian Clough in 1979 and 1980.
In his role as a Sky Sports pundit, ex-Liverpool legend and ex-Everton fan Jamie Carragher returned to blasting Richarlison as seen in a row last season that had the 25-year-old telling the retired defender to “wash your mouth before you talk about me and Everton” when he was still playing for the club and adding “I don’t respect you”.
“It does wind people up. You can’t do that. But what is he doing?” asked Carragher on Sunday, of the player who switched allegiances for £60 million ($70 million) this summer.
“He just winds people up that lad, Richarlison. He winds me up. What do you expect Johnson to do? You’re not condoning that but…,” Carragher trailed off.
Given that such showboating has sometimes started mass brawls during matches in his homeland, Richarlison should know better and can’t be surprised by the response he received.
On Wednesday, he and his team head east across London to face West Ham in a derby encounter that should also prove feisty.
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