Monday, 1 March 2010

TEAM IBYSS - Weekend Observations 27th-28th February 2010 pt.1

Lots to talk about this week...

Not that type of player? - They never are.

I'm certain you've read the countless articles and opinions on the shocking incident at the Britannia on Saturday. Indeed, more learned people than myself have eulogised and dedicated countless column inches to 'the tackle' but I feel it would be remiss of me to ignore it without providing some kind of comment so bare with me.

For the record, I genuinely believe that Ryan Shawcross didn't mean to break Aaron Ramsay's leg. It was a heavy touch followed by a reckless swing. Ramsay's touch was too quick and the Stoke man got his timing all wrong. However, Shawcross knew exactly where Ramsey was and knew all the risks of flying in like the proverbial steam train. He may not have deliberately broken his leg but in no way was the challenge an 'accident'. There may not have been intent but there was certainly excessive force.

Whether you mean it of not, if you're making tackles that result in an opposition player's leg hanging in obtuse angles then you cannot deny the dangers involved in your actions and should be punished accordingly. If you break someone's leg with a reckless tackle that fails to win the ball, whether you meant to or not, you deserve a red card. I wont use the example of the careful driver who jumps a red light once and kills someone 'not being that sort of driver' because I'm sure you've read it elsewhere. Wait a second...

Naturally, Arsene Wenger was displeased post-match and his comments have somehow come under more scrutiny that Ramsey's injury. It's a shame that people cant put their petty football rivalries, racism and bias to one side and would rather slate Wenger than focus on the issue at hand. Are Arsenal targeted? You'd be a fool to argue otherwise. There are countless examples of managers and players publicly stating that being over-physical and 'bullying' the frail Gunners is the best way to beat them.

He also has about the countless compound injuries suffered by his players not being a coincidence. Opposition players don't set out to break legs but they are certainly less mindful when they come up against Wenger's team.

This makes a sham of the ridiculous 'he's not that sort of player' rubbish spouted out immediately following incidents such as these. I don't doubt Ryan 'The Angel' Shawcross loves his mum, gave half his earnings to the fund for this weekend's earthquake in Chile and volunteers at the homeless shelter every Tuesday but when he crossed that white line on Saturday and made sure poor Ramsey wont be walking without assistance for the coming year, he became that sort of player. Even if it was just for 30 seconds. Why? Because of the aforementioned belief that he needs to 'get in the faces' of the admittedly more timid Arsenal players. (incidentally, I'll leave to you to judge whether he is that sort of player or not)

Surely if someone who 'isn't that sort of player' causes such horrific damage then that backs up Wenger's point that his team are singled out for 'special treatment'. I don't agree that they play the so-called 'best football' but they are undoubtedly blessed with a number of technically gifted footballers who also happen to be smaller and lacking 'muscle'. As such, a player's psyche is undoubtedly conditioned to go in harder against Arsenal's tricky softies and bully them into submission.

Deliberate or not, I don't believe for a second that Shawcross is making that sort of tackle against other 'good footballing' sides like Man Utd, Chelsea, Spurs or City is he?

Don't get me wrong, I love a good physical game as much as the next man but when these sort of injuries become a regular occurrence, it's not 'part and partial of the game' like some would like you believe, but a major problem. There's a difference between being hard and being downright violent. If we continue to foster this aggressive 'man and ball' mentality to football challenges then more of these injuries will occur and 'The Best League in the World' will see some of it's best stars fleeing these shores for fear of being crippled.

All the best to Ramsey and here's to a swift recovery by the way.

Shake Rattle and Roll (I think all the Bridge related puns have been exhausted haven't they?)

The other main talking point from the weekend that cannot be ignored was the on-going soap opera in West London. I was thinking we could call it 'The Bridge' (Ok, one more).

For those of you who were living under a rock with your eyes shut and fingers in your ears, John Terry did naughty things with the baby-mother of his former team mate and good friend Wayne Bridge. This all came out in the press and Terry was stripped of the England captaincy as a result. Bridge, having moved to Man City before the scandal broke, recently made himself unavailable for future England selection. Quite understandable that he doesn't want to be anywhere around Terry but as luck would have it, Man City were scheduled to face Terry's Chelsea this weekend. The world went crazy, not over how they would fare against each other during the game, but rather whether they would conduct the customary handshake before kick off.

They did not.

Or rather, Bridge refused. Well done lad.

For the record, I think the pre-match handshake is a contrived and pointless ritual.

Team Tevez? Team Bellamy???

One of the most embarrassing facets of the whole saga was the way people felt the need to declare the support for either of the two protagonists in question with the cringe worthy TEAM BRIDGE vs TEAM TERRY t-shirts, banners, facebook groups and whatever else.

For anyone keeping score, or those that actually care about football rather than handshakes, the most exciting game (well, second half) of the season took place as the battle of the chav lottery winners went the way of City thanks to a brace each from Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tevez (I'm firmly in Team Tevez by the way). Lampard also bagged a couple for Chelsea as the score finished 4-2 to the away team. In keeping with the freaky nature of everything coming in 2's, 'the bloos' also had 2 men sent off. As for the two men at the centre of it all, Bridge put in an professional but unspectacular performance while Terry's recent poor form continued as he was partly at fault for at least one of the City goals. Some would say he was guilty of some TERRYble defending. Others might blame the HILARIOus goalkeeping.

After the game, Craig Bellamy hilariously stuck the boot in on Terry.


Yes, the irony was not lost on me either.... nor apparently John Terry.

A word on Chelsea fans, following 'handshake-snub-gate', some of the Stamford Bridge faithful decided to boo Wayne Bridge for the simple crime of having his best mate sleep with his ex-girlfriend. The nerve of the man. One would think he hadn't provided them with one of the greatest moments in the limited history of the club.

Part Two to follow...

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