Wenger left stunned by Santos request for Van Persie's shirt
Commentators and fans can't believe they saw Arsenal defender's sycophantic approach to RVP
AN APOLOGY to all Sunday morning footballers. It was after Arsenal's limp 2-0 defeat to Schalke in the Champions League last month that we compared Andre Santos's performance to that of a Sunday footballer. It was a cheap shot. Sunday footballers at least try, and they certainly don't ask the opposition centre-forward for his shirt at half-time.
Which is exactly what the sycophantic Santos did on Saturday, sidling up to Robin van Persie as the Arsenal and Manchester United players headed down the tunnel at Old Trafford halfway through the match, to ask if he could have the Dutchman's shirt.
Arsenal fans couldn't believe what they were seeing. The Gunners were 1-0 down thanks to a Van Persie goal in the third minute and the Brazilian left-back had been his usual awful self for the first half and here he was asking for RVP's shirt. Perhaps he thought he'd given away so much possession to United he deserved something in return.
The former Arsenal captain was only too happy to hand it over to Santos; perhaps he felt sorry for Santos and his former team-mates. Judging by their woeful display against United – 2-1 down at full-time and it could have been much worse - the Gunners aren't going to get their hands on anything else of value this season.
Santos's extraordinary antics have drawn sharp criticism from former players. Speaking on BBC's Match of the Day, ex-Liverpool and Scotland defender Alan Hansen said: "I have never seen this in my life before. The guy has left the football club, he has just scored against you, and at half time you walk off the pitch and get his shirt."
Alan Shearer was equally amazed. Writing in The Sun, the former England striker said: "I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing… that must have been on Santos's mind before the game even kicked off."
Shearer also mischievously wondered what the reaction would have been among fans had Santos done something similar playing for his last club, Fenerbahce, against rivals Galatasaray.
The Daily Mirror says there will be a reaction from the Emirates. The paper claims manager Arsene Wenger was "left stunned" over the half-time shirt swap and has "demanded answers" from the Brazilian.
As of Monday morning, eBay has yet to advertise a Manchester United shirt for sale, as worn by Robin van Persie. Nor has Santos taken to Twitter to explain his incredible actions.
One of his last posts was on Saturday, in which he tweeted: "Another battle, we are ready. Im counting on my supporters #Gunners!! On the way to stadium."
Many Arsenal fans will be hoping it won't be too long before Santos is on his way out of the Emirates, taking Van Pershie's shirt with him.