Why Rooney and co should lay off Mancini's imaginary cards

For the wagering types, you can get 3-1 against ­Roberto Mancini waving an imaginary card at the Etihad Stadium today.

And I hope he obliges. I really do. If only for the comedy value of seeing pundits, players and managers, mostly British, scrambling to get aboard the highest horse.

Do me a favour. Judging from his Twitter feed, it seems Wayne Rooney is one getting hot under the collar over Mancini’s antics. He was joined by Mick McCarthy who claimed there was a ­‘cultural difference’ ­involved in this issue.

This pious, casually xenophobic outrage is pathetic.

After the last Premier League games, Mancini’s card charade provoked more disgust than, say, Shaun Derry’s disgraceful challenge on Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye.

In his long career, Derry has amassed 132 yellows and four reds – all of them very real.

Are we really more concerned when a manager implores a referee to take a particular course of ­action than when a player’s physical health is endangered?

Players and managers have been asking ­referees to book or ­dismiss opponents since football began. That some now accompany a plea with a gesture is ­irrelevant.

And the disapproval from Rooney is rich.

If only it had been an imaginary boot that had descended on Ricardo Carvalho’s groin in 2006. If only it had been an imaginary Nike that had connected with Miodrag Dzudovic in the final Euro 2012 qualifier.

They are genuine crimes. Unlike the hand movements of an excitable Italian coach.

I said last week that Mancini might want to calm down.

It is everyone else who needs to calm down.

There is a suggestion the FA might monitor Mancini’s gesticulations. I sincerely hope they have something infinitely better to do.

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Andre Villas-Boas made a coherent case for the existence of feeder clubs in the lower leagues. Darlington – during their Football League time – might have fulfilled such a role. And the magnificent response from a core of loyal fans to keep the team in business shows why small clubs should always belong to a community… not to a Premier League superpower.

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A belated salute to the Carlisle fans who arrived in Milton Keynes last weekend to find their game off… so trundled along to watch Newport Pagnell beat Irchester Utd 3-0. Not a prawn sandwich in sight.

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williamhill.com

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