Ben Lyttleton Tuesday October 28 2008 13.42 GMT
Hatem Ben Arfa was not at Marseille last season when coach Eric Gerets threw a half-time wobbly at Karim Ziani during the team's French Cup defeat at the hands of non-league Carquefou. If he had been, he may have thought twice before refusing to warm up following his demotion to the subs' bench for L'OM's 4-2 home defeat by Paris St Germain on Sunday night. Gerets — who last season had reportedly picked up Ziani by his shirt and thrown him across the changing-room, shrugging off the incident by saying "no one ended up with a broken nose" — was not impressed by Ben Arfa's behaviour. "No player has ever done that to me in all my  years as a coach and he will get what's coming to him," was his response after the game.
Coming from a man who, according to former players, used to hang up those he felt had under-performed on coat-pegs and kick in changing-room doors after a defeat, Gerets showed remarkable restraint. After all, he was speaking after Marseille's first league loss of the season, their first at home to PSG for five years and the first time they have ever allowed their biggest rivals to score four at the Vélodrome. And as Lyon had drawn 0-0 with Auxerre on Saturday, L'OM also blew their chance to top the table.
Gerets has since made up with Ben Arfa. "I'm happy with the way I controlled myself during our chat, as at other times it could have been something that ended with injuries to both sides," he said, while Ben Arfa interrupted his coach's Monday press conference to publicly apologise. "I'm a competitor and I admit what I did was wrong, and I have said sorry to the coach." This is the same Ben Arfa who caused dressing-room unrest at Lyon, had a bust-up with team-mate Modeste M'bami during L'OM's warm-up before the European match against Liverpool, and who, when asked to play on the left in a League Cup defeat to Sochaux, told Mathieu Valbuena to move to the left so he could play in the middle. He recently told France Football, "I don't care what people think of me." When William Gallas reportedly revealed that a young player had told him to "f**k off and worry about your own game" after he had offered some advice during a France international training session, Ben Arfa was rumoured to be the culprit.