When Martin Taylor broke Eduardo’s leg two years ago I immediately condemned the press, Martin Taylor, the League, the referees, and what I thought was most important, the managers who fail to teach their players how to play or worse tell their players to rough teams up.
Taylor too could come out and admit that the manager told the team to rough Arsenal up and that his tackle was meant to do that. Of course I don’t think Taylor went in to break Eduardo’s leg, but I do think Taylor was following orders. That tackle, at that time in the match, only has one purpose: send a message to the opposing team that says “if you try to dribble around us, we’re going to tackle you… hard.”
Teams who come out to “put a physical stamp” on matches are a problem. Those teams and their managers should be punished. That’s the whole issue for me: I want to know what Allie McLeish told the Birmingham players in the locker room before the match. Until we have a statement about that, then the rest of this is just handbags.
So shut the fuck up, Gold.
February 24th 2008, in fact, is the first time that I blamed the managers for leg breaking tackles. When Martin Taylor broke Eduardo’s leg I had less than two months blogging under my belt, I am a foreigner, and I am a relative newcomer to football so I like to think that I have fresh eyes.
When I read how many managers were defending Taylor’s tackle, which as a foreigner and a newcomer was indefensible, I realized very quickly that the managers are the ones telling their players to rough up the opponents. Since then Phil Brown and others have admitted that in fact, they kick Arsenal. Incredibly, Phil Brown also admitted that he is incapable of coaching. When asked about a tackle which garnered Bolton’s Davies a yellow card Phil Brown had this to say:
For me, the Kevin Davies tackle, there was nothing wrong with that. If you take that out of the game Hull City might as well not play at the Emirates. If you allow Arsenal to dictate that that tackle goes out of the game, then we are finished.
We have got that tackle on our side – they have got the technical side of the game on their side. (emp. added) If they are allowed to express that technical side without tackling, without physical contact, we might as well not turn up.
But I’m just a small fry blogger. Bigger names than me (Arseblog) have been talking about this issue for as long or longer and there still hasn’t been any traction for over two years. Two years of players like Shawcross breaking legs and referees like Clattenburg allowing Adebayor to stamp on van Persie’s face. Two years of Match of the Day commentators giggling about the brutal treatment that Henry dished out to Joey Barton and managers like Sam Allardyce getting away with sending El Hadji Diouf out to obstruct keepers or stamp on ankles.
But I smell a fresh breeze coming in the window and hopefully a lot of that is about to change.
FIFA’s top medical officer Michel d’Hooghe has reportedly created a compilation video of the worst offenders and plans to show it to FIFA’s heads in order to tighten up the rules on dangerous tackling. D’Hooghe is so tired of the poor tackling, the speed that these players launch themselves in, and the studs up approach that he goes one step further and even accuses some players of deliberately trying to end careers. It’s really not that big of a stretch to watch a player run from 20 yards out and fly in to a tackle studs up, two-footed and say “Some players come on the field simply to provoke injuries in other persons – to break a career.”
As courageous as d’Hooghe is in saying what many of us have been thinking for the last few years it takes a special kind of courage for a current player to risk the wrath of the Football Association, the League Manager’s Association, and his fellow professionals to strip the bride bare for her suitors and lay the blame for this pernicious fouling where it most firmly belongs, at the feet of managers like Allardyce, Pulis, McLeish, and McCarthy. That is exactly what Danny Murphy has done.
Speaking at the Leaders in Football Conference at Stamford Bridge yesterday, Murphy evidently took the title of the conference to heart and decided to take the lead in decrying the tactics of managers in the Premier League.
The pace some of the players are going into tackles at is ridiculous. There are no brains in the players doing that. I don’t believe they are going out to break the legs of their opponents but there’s no logic or intelligence in what they are doing. If you’re going in at a certain pace and don’t get it right you are going to hurt someone. Players need to be more intelligent, especially the ones who are doing it repeatedly. They are culpable in that.
You get managers sending teams out to stop other sides from playing, which is happening more and more. Stoke, Blackburn and Wolves — you can say they’re doing what they can to win the game — but the fact is that the managers are sending the players out so pumped up that inevitably there are going to be problems. The thing I think people miss is that it’s the managers who dictate what the players do and how they behave. If you have a manager in control of his team, who doesn’t allow these things to go on you have a more disciplined team.
Fulham under Roy Hodgson were top of the Fair Play League because he wouldn’t accept talking back to the referee or stupid tackles. You can look at the players and blame them but every team has a captain and a manager who is in charge.
So, on the one side you have Danny Murphy, telling it like it is and on the other side you have Ryan Shawcross and Mark van Bommel “leaping to the defense” of reckless challenges. I can think of no more damning evidence upon which a jury could convict than Murphy’s testimony to the positive, and the damnation by inclusion of Shawcross and van Bommel.
I rest my case, Your Honor.