IT was about doing the right thing.
Newcastle United – and Papiss Demba Cisse – did the right thing.
Can the same be said for Manchester United and Jonny Evans?
Only Evans will know if he deliberately spat at Cisse – who has apologised for spitting back – but the TV footage is damning.
Evans, however, appears to be in denial.
Even if he did only attempt to spit at the turf as he confronted Cisse in Wednesday night’s game at St James’s Park, but if you do that, you risk hitting your opponent.
You accept the consequences. Or at least you should
And you accept the consequences. Or at least you should.
Evans, through his club, issued a bizarre statement the day after the match.
“Having woken up this morning, I am shocked to have seen the media coverage from last night’s match,” said the 27-year-old. “I would like to make it clear that I did not spit at Papiss Cisse.”
A contrite Cisse accepted responsibility for his actions, and the resulting seven-game ban, having been charged by the Football Association, along with Evans, less than 24 hours after the final whistle.
Lee Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director, said: “This kind of behaviour is not acceptable.
“In life, when you do something wrong you have to front up, admit your mistakes and accept the punishment.”
Newcastle – and Charnley – don’t always get things right off the pitch in terms of PR and communication, but the club’s response couldn’t be faulted.
Cisse himself, an active participant in the club’s community programme, was distraught. It’s safe to assume to that after reading Evans’s statement, he was also angry.
Cisse is adamant he reacted to something “very unpleasant” from Evans.
The 29-year-old will presumably also be fined by Newcastle.
He should be, as his indiscipline this season will see him miss a total of 10 games. That’s unacceptable.
If his participation in those games costs Newcastle just one place in the Premier League, then that’s £1.2m in lost revenue for the club.
Had Cisse – banned for three games for elbowing Everton’s Seamus Coleman in December – been available for January’s third-round FA Cup tie against Leicester City, the club might still be in the competition.
Newcastle need Cisse, its leading scorer, fit and available.
But he won’t kick a ball again in anger until May 9.
And it could be two long months ahead.