Saturday evening’s Match of the Day may not have been a bumper edition of the show but former Republic of Ireland international Kevin Kilbane certainly did his best to boost its viewing figures amongst Palace fans, after unleashing a dangerously inflammatory and utterly unfair tirade against Eagles winger Wilfried Zaha.
Whilst our game against Watford is unlikely to go down in history as a classic top flight encounter, the academy graduate was thrust into the limelight once more after being incorrectly booked for diving by referee Chris Kavanagh.
With Christian Benteke once again left on the bench by Roy Hodgson, we saw Zaha instigating the majority of attacks for Palace throughout the afternoon, leading plenty of Watford’s players and fans to target the 25-year-old for abuse that was quite simply unwarranted.
The opening 45 minutes saw Zaha tumble after having his shirt clearly pulled inside the penalty area, prompting the already booked Abdoulaye Doucoure to sprint 30 yards to shove Wilf, before mimicking a “diving” motion towards the referee and receive no further punishment, much to the surprise of his teammates who quickly pulled him away.
Zaha was the centre of attention twice more shortly after the interval, initially being spoken to by Kavanagh after making an honest attempt to get a toe on the ball as it raced towards Watford stopper Orestis Karnezis, before being cautioned for the aforementioned incident which, the vast majority of pundits have since admitted was in fact a penalty.
Keeping all of that in mind, Kilbane’s conduct on what is the BBC’s flagship football show really should be called into question, with the “analysis” he offered veering way too far into the realms of personal slights rather than an impartial take on the incidents in question.
When speaking about the first-half fall, he lambasted the Palace man for shoving Doucoure, completely ignoring the fact that the Watford midfielder had travelled upwards of 30 yards to get in his face, despite his previous caution. Discussing the toe that Wilf caught Karnezis with, Kilbane suggested that it was a “debatable red” despite no one else feeling that way and Match of the Day’s own commentator saying that Wilf had every right to go for the ball. On a foul which saw Adrian Mariappa booked on the edge of Watford’s penalty area, Kilbane ciriticised Zaha for “falling into the box” despite it being his obvious direction of travel prior to the blatant foul.
All of this came about following a yellow card that the Palace man was wrongly given over an incident which could and probably would have resulted in Luka Milivojevic tucking away the spot kick and giving us an absolutely massive three points in the battle against relegation.
The saddest part of this, is that no neutral will remember the mistake Kavanagh made yesterday by the time next week’s fixtures take place. They will however, fall back on the fact that Zaha has been booked more often than anyone else for “diving” this season. Is it fair? No. Is it likely to stop? No. Is there anything we can do to open people’s eyes? Obviously not.
I could probably rant on for another 1,000 words about this, it’s been a bugbear of mine for years already but clearly, there is no way to stop the likes of Kevin Kilbane from hopping aboard the bandwagon of idiocy that surrounds the Palace star.