Steve Sidwell hopes his two red cards towards the tail end of last season won’t be considered by referees during this campaign as he tries to help Fulham build on their opening day win at Sunderland.
The tigerish midfielder endured a disappointing end to last season after being dismissed twice having fought his way back into Martin Jol’s first team following an injury lay-off. Sidwell was sent off in the 3-2 win over QPR for a late tackle on Armand Traore and then also saw red on his return from suspension against his old club Arsenal. Arsene Wenger felt Sidwell’s challenge could have ended Mikel Arteta’s career and, although the Fulham man admits that dismissal was justified, he points to a more impressive disciplinary record throughout his career.
The 30-year old says he isn’t about to change his style of play in fear of receiving further red cards.
Hopefully I will not get punished for it in this coming year now. I am going to keep putting my foot in and be as committed as ever and hopefully referees do not see a late tackle and think about last season.
The Arsenal one was a definite red card but I still think the QPR one was a bit harsh. It tarnished a really good season because I thought I played well on a consistent basis and the two red cards ruined it for me. It was hard to watch the last few games but the gaffer knows the way I play.
Sidwell could well be joined in the Fulham midfield on Saturday by Scott Parker, who completed a move from Tottenham earlier this week.
We have had a few [battles] over the years. It has probably been an even match but it is nice to be on the same team now, rather than lining up against him. He has got that tenacity in his play, he closes down players and stops them. He is a box-to-box midfielder who chips in with the odd goal. It is what we have been looking for.
As a player brought through the Arsenal academy under Wenger, Sidwell has an unique perspective on the current position of this weekend’s opponents.
It is a Catch-22 because he has nailed down Champions League football every year, which is vital. When I was there as a youth-team player I saw the Invincibles and the fans want to get back to those days because that is what they feel they deserve. It is just not ticking for them at the moment.Fans pay good money to see them play and they want to get something back for it. They do not feel they are getting that at the moment. What he has done for the club is great. Is it time for Wenger to go? I am not too sure.
Can they get back to their former glories under Wenger? Certainly. He has proved that over the years and I see no reason why it should stop there. Any time you play Arsenal it is always going to be a hard game and we have got to be right on top of our game.