The strongest righteousness can only be summoned by the guilty.
Think of prime Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho, deflecting attention away from a rare defeat with a torrent of expletives and spittle in the poor interviewer’s coupon.
Think of politicians, of left and right, spouting about the just nature of their course while the foundations of our country visibly burn in the background.
Or think about Cristian Romero screaming in the referee’s face about the awarding of a yellow card, seconds after trying to separate Sandro Tonali’s legs from the upper half of his body.
Romero’s commitment, and willingness to stick his feet where Bryan Gil wouldn’t put a fingernail, have made him a cult hero amongst Tottenham supporters.
However, as a consequence of his pre-match meal of red bull and raw steak, the Argentina international tears into attackers with abandon; Romero has received six yellows since the World Cup, including two in the recent win over Manchester City.
And he was lucky to avoid instant dismissal during Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat against AC Milan in their Champions League knockout tie. With Milan looking to stretch their lead, Tonali scampered upfield with the intent to cause harm.
Romero ensured such harm would be physical, rather than metaphorical. Steaming across like a runaway locomotive, the defender ensured his studs will forever adorn Tonali’s ankle like a regretful holiday tattoo.
As the Milan forward writhed in agony, Romero screamed blue murder into the face of referee Sandro Scharer for having the gall to caution him.
Righteous? Certainly. But there was also dark genius to Romero’s indignation, a moment that would’ve seen Severus Snape wipe a proud tear from his eye if he wasn’t a fictional construct.
By protesting against his yellow card, Romero effectively drew Scharer’s attention away from one clear fact; his challenge deserved a red.
After simmering down, the 24-year-old trotted away with a cunning smile on his face having fully gotten away with one.
Was Cristian Romero lucky to only receive a yellow card here? 🤔
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 14, 2023
“I’ve always had that spirit and desire and aggression… and I think if I ever lost that, I’d have a problem,” Romero told The Athletic last year, while also presumably offering observations about the heat of the sun and the dampness of water.
It’s a common defence of youthful players, that removing the aspect of their game that makes them a liability will make them unable to function on the field.
Perhaps Romero needs to learn to rein in his anger as he gets older. Not many managers will choose to field a machete-wielding defender in their 30s after all.
But maybe we would all lose something if Romero became a more reasonable player. From thunderous challenges, to tugging the hair of Marc Cucurella like a man turning on a bathroom light switch in the dark, his commitment to the dark arts undoubtedly serves a purpose.
Romero’s fearless aggression, combined with reading danger and playing on the front foot, is what makes him such a valuable asset for Spurs.
His relentless commitment to shithousery makes him box office. Keep at it, Cristian.
By Michael Lee