Created on 25-02-2008 at 00:00 AM
An hour or so after Sunday’s match against Hamburg, Mark van Bommel had recovered his normal placid composure. “I’m really sorry it happened,” he told a huge throng of journalists and TV crews in the mixed zone at the Allianz Arena. “The referee had a good game, although I thought he might have let common sense prevail in this one situation. But his decision was OK. I made a mistake.“ More than anyone else, Van Bommel recognised that his yellow card and immediate second bookable offence for dissent had been entirely avoidable.
“It was completely unnecessary,” raged Ottmar Hitzfeld, who will now be without his midfield anchor for the daunting trip to Schalke 04 next weekend. The original yellow card against Van Bommel was debateable, but the player responded with a round of sarcastic applause and a gesture in the direction of referee Lutz Wagner, leaving the match official with no option but to book the Dutchman a second time and send him from the field of play.
Club fine beckons
“You have to expect an experienced player to keep his head, even after an unjustified yellow card. You just have to accept it. It was undisciplined, and I can’t tolerate that,” commented Hitzfeld, announcing a club fine for Van Bommel.
The General retained some sympathy for his midfielder. “It was debateable who fouled whom in that situation, but the yellow card was shown to Mark.“ Van Bommel was well aware the booking – the player’s fifth of the season - would rule him out of the Schalke clash, Hitzfeld argued. “He was totally wound up about it, and then he boiled over.“
Van Bommel confirmed the coach’s analysis. “Picking up a booking from a situation like that and missing out on the match in Schalke, where we might go a long way towards winning the title, is immensely frustrating,” the Dutch ace explained. “You can say it was stupid to applaud, but anyone who’s ever played football will probably understand.“
Van Bommel insisted that the ensuing gesture, unseen by the referee on Sunday but the same bras d'honneur which landed the player in hot water after last season’s Champions League clash in Madrid, was in no sense directed at the match official. “It was 100 percent aimed at myself,” he explained.
Jones banned for Schalke
Van Bommel finally quit the Allianz Arena to work off his remaining frustration at home, knowing that missing out on the Schalke clash would hurt far more than any fine levied by Hitzfeld. The Bayern ace is incidentally not alone in his predicament: Schalke’s Jermaine Jones was also sent off at the weekend and will serve a one-match ban next Saturday.