Monday, 18 October 2010

Weekend Observations 16th - 17th October 2010 - Part Two

Part one here

On Saturday, Arsenal took on Birmingham looking to get back on track after a number of recent poor league results. Predictably, the Gunners made hard work of a game they should have strolled to victory in. They did get the win in the end but the main talking point was once again, a dangerous over the top tackle that potentially could have caused serious injury. Yes, those dirty Brummies... hold on. Wait a sec. It says here that it was an ARSENAL player who was the culprit. That can't be right, surely? Wenger’s precious little lambs wouldn’t say boo to a goose! Turns out in their midst is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Step forward Jack Wilshire who rightly saw red for the exact type of challenge on Big Nic Zigic that Wenger has long been calling for to be essentially outlawed. If I knew the proper definition of irony, I'm sure this would be an example of it.

Both Arsene Wenger and Wilshire have been quick to acknowledge that the red card was deserved rather than trying to defend the indefensible as many other managers more often than not will try and do. Some credit has to go Brum gaffer Alex McLeish who had the decency not to complain and even gave the wholly contrived 'not that kind of player' spiel usually reserved for incidents such as this. However, you can't help feel that his motives were less than sincere when you see how smug he came across by suggesting that people 'draw a line' under the Eduardo incident from way back when. You almost think he wanted his own player's leg to be broken just so he could say "now we're quits".

The subject of tough/reckless/dangerous tackling just won’t go away at the moment it seems. Fulham’s Danny Murphy committed the cardinal sin of expressing an honest opinion by suggesting that managers of certain teams are responsible for sending their teams out with less than honourable intentions on the football pitch. Having seen two of his teammates suffer serious injury against two of the teams he mentioned, you might think his frustration was justified. Not in the eyes of the football community unfortunately as all and sundry have rounded on Murphy like he claimed that the slave trade had its benefits.

English football doesn't know what to do with itself. If this was Johnny Foreigner, people could dismiss it but because an old custodian of the domestic game and experienced former England international has spoken out, the entire country seems about ready to combust and it's just absurdly hilarious. The rebuttals have been brilliant; from Scholarly Sam Allardyce's epistemological views on perception to Tony Pulis' shocking revelation that he can actually read, the whole thing is has been reduced to farce and just gives further credence to the theory that football is full of morons. This was further highlighted on Match of the Day 2 this week when Kevin Day presented a feature on arguably the biggest culprits in the league at the moment, Wolverhampton Wanderers who somehow felt one 'clean' game against West Ham vindicates them for the crimes against football they’ve committed so far this season. I used to like and respect Steve Bull until he came across as a pompous arse while Mick McCarthy’s childish, petty, sarcastic retort amused only himself.

But then, you expect the accused to defend themselves no matter how ridiculous they sound. What was really disappointing were the League Managers Association wading in to have a dig at Murphy showing that they completely miss the point. Saying that managers have a responsibility to make sure their players aren't making dangerous tackles is something that the LMA should be addressing to it's members anyway or maybe they're just pissed because Murphy is doing their job for them.

Without wanting to dwell on this, my final point is that it is borderline idiotic to say that "back in the day tackles were worse" because the game has moved on since then. Rules have been changed to prevent reckless play going unpunished and more poignantly, I'm sure you will find that a darn sight more players were effectively crippled, permanently damaged or failed to fully recover from injuries sustained in their playing days. You'll also find that a lot more players were forced to hang up their boots early because of injury in these fabled golden ages of hard men and tough tackling. Having broken limbs isn't 'all part of the game' as some would have you believe.

Part Three to follow...

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