There has been no shortage of shocking tackles so far this season, we had Faye's two footed shocker a couple of weeks back, and now Cattermole's pair and Guthrie's leg breaker this weekend. This has coincided with the hot air surrounding the FA's rather vacuous 'respect' campaign, of note there was no shortage of players surrounding referees last weekend, Manu and Chelsea players being yet again guilty of this deliberate intimidation of officials.
The lessons from Eduardo's leg break do not appear to have been learnt. There has also been some rather ridiculous talk about Guthrie being banned for as long as the Fagan is out injured, this is not a fair or practical solution; players do break their legs after very innocuous fouls, where would this leave the offender?
Dangerous tackling is rather similar to drunk driving. In this I mean that a drunk driver who crashes into a lamp post should be punished exactly the same as a drunk driver who mows down a child on the pavement, the luck of the offender should not come into play in my opinion. The same should be true for dangerous tackling, unfortunately referees do not consistently enforce the rules of the game and they are not helped by the FA's complete disinterest in this issue.
For example a dangerous two footed straight legged tackle that makes no contact with the opposition player should still be a red card offence, however referees frequently do not even give a free kick if no contact is made, an example of this was Alonso's lunge on Giggs with an out of control straight leg with studs up. Arseblogger also noticed some dangerous tackling going unpunished in the Arsenal Blackburn game. Reckless tackles that do not injure the opponent should be punished the same as reckless tackles that actually injure the opponent, luck should simply not come into the equation.
Cattermole's dangerous lunges were both reckless and only resulted in two yellows, it was merely fortunate that the opponent managed to escape serious harm on both occasions. Cattermole will apparently not change his violent game, while his managed trots out many of the same old lame defences of these thuggish tackles:
"Lee is a competitive player and he just wanted to win the ball. It's in his nature to try to win the ball – he's been doing that since he was a young lad. With the second challenge, he's probably won the ball but also caught the man. There was nothing malicious."
It was malicious by its very make up, it was reckless and out of control, winning the ball doesn't even come into it I'm afraid. Until referees start punishing this thuggery consistently then players will continue to be confused, while violence will randomly escape proper punishment. Referees need to understand what is dangerous and what is not, and they need to be backed up by a governing body that actually shows some genuine desire to stamp violence out of the game.
The FA are all talk and very little action, the 'respect' campaign is a classic example of this. It's about time they started differentiating between 'bad but safe' tackles and unsafe dangerous tackles that have the capacity to maim, the broad spectrum of offences that can now get lumped together in the three game ban bin is beyond a joke. The violent needs to be stamped out of the game, it's about time we came out of the dark ages and into the 21st century.
ps It appears that the FA are set to extend Guthrie's ban, this doesn't seem consistent to me, Taylor's tackle on Eduardo was far more reckless but was not increased, likewise Faye's from a couple weeks back was far worse than Guthrie's. In this context I feel a little sorry for Guthrie as his tackle was certainly no worse than several challenges this season that have only received yellow cards or no punishment at all.