Barton's tackle on Nasri yesterday is a perfect little case study. Kevin Keegan thought it was a good tackle and claimed Barton had done nothing wrong:
"Joey came on, got a good tackle in on Nasri...The fact is that Joey has done nothing wrong."
Even Arseblogger described the tackle as 'quite fair', while this Newcastle blog reckons it was a 'tough' tackle'. I disagree with both these stances and will argue that this tackle was certainly not 'fair', it was also more than just 'tough'.
Firstly Barton's studs were up, secondly he was out of control and had thrown himself into the tackle, and thirdly his leg was pretty much straight. These details make it completely irrelevant as to whether he won the ball or not, it was a dangerous and reckless tackle either way. For example Amdy Faye's tackle may have won the ball, however this doesn't change the fact that it was both dangerous and reckless.
It doesn't particularly matter whether tackles are two footed or not, what matters is the studs being up, the player being launched into the tackle out of control and the leg being straight; all these factors contribute to mean that there will be no give in the tackling player's leg, the give will either come from the tackled player's leg moving, or their bones and ligaments breaking. Hence when the tackled player's leg is fixed by the studs in the turf, this kind of tackle will end careers.
Nasri knew this and was consequently incensed by the malice in Barton's tackle, he did petulantly clip Barton's ankles, an act that was a yellow at worse and was never going to result in any serious damage to the ex-con. In the past Keegan has tried to defend nasty tackles, thus making his out of perspective rants on Nasri seem more than a little absurd. Barton's record speaks for itself, Keving Keegan has a long record of opening his mouth before engaging his brain, and he'd do well to remember that Barton has been given chance after chance after chance, it's not as simple as forgive and forget.
It amazes me that so many people, including so many so called expert TV pundits, seem to think that tackles like this are not fouls. I've seen several this season that referees have not even awarded as fouls which have been potentially career ending challenges, Wayne Rooney versus Newcastle is just one example. Luckily most of the victims of these tackles escape by jumping out of the way or with just a nasty bruise, however a few are not so lucky, Mr Eduardo a case in point. The most frustrating thing is that referees do not seem to be able to pick out the dangerous from the genuinely clumsy, meaning that these tackles are not being stamped out.
This leads to a ridiculous situation where the victim is more frequently punished for dissent or retaliation than their aggressor. It's not that long ago since Bolton unfairly dealt our title hopes a crucial blow at the Reebok, they crocked several of our players with dangerous tackles, none of which resulted in red cards. Anyway I digress, the point is that these kind of tackles are in no way fair, they are definite fouls, and it's about time some people realised this, including the referees. Until this happens, teams that tackle overly aggressively and dangerously will benefit from this poor interpretation of the rules, and that can't be good for football.