Tuesday 2 March 2010

Roughing it up, just what is Utopia?

Well, it feels as if the dust is settling somewhat after the weekend's controversy, it's a great shame that the devastating injury to Aaron Ramsey has detracted so much from a very decent team performance. While some people have disagreed with my opinion on the Shawcross tackle I tried to be as objective as possible at a time when I just wanted to take a sledgehammer to Ryan Shawcross' shins.

For some reason some people seemed to think that by stating that Shawcross' tackle wasn't that bad in the grand scheme of things, it must also mean that I think the media covered things perfectly and that Shawcross was the victim in all this, nothing could be further from the truth. Irrelevant of whether Ryan Shawcross cuts the lawn for his mother, it was a bad tackle and it deserved a red card, I was just saying that we see much worse tackles every week that don't break bones, Nani's recent shocker at Villa as being just one example.

The media coverage has been mixed. The portrayal of Shawcross as the poor victim, just as Martin Taylor was with his Eduardo assault, has been nothing but completely partisan, while the talk of 'he's not that kind of player' is complete rot, anyone who has his track record has made himself that kind of player by definition. The media deserve a lot of criticism for their completely inconsistent approach to violence on the football field, just remember their mass over reaction to Gallas on Davies, I can't remember anyone portraying Gallas as the victim or saying 'he's not that kind of mother loving laddie'. This excellent Guardian piece shows how good the coverage can be though.

The media, the referees and the FA do not deal with reckless and violent play on the football field in a consistent manner and this goes a long way to explaining why things are such a mess. Undoubtedly we have been on the end of a fair bit of rouging up in recent years, but we have not been the only ones, there's no doubt that the environment in England still allows for an over aggressive approach to flourish.

Things have definitely got better in some ways in recent years, for example the jump tackle is punished much more severely that it ever used to be, dangerous play is being taken more seriously. Some things have been completely forgotten, whatever happened to punishing the tackle from behind and why is so much shirt tugging allowed to go unpunished? One problem is that referees often lack a real understanding of the game, they have never played it, they have great difficulty in telling the honest from the cynical, thus clamping down on things does not always have the predicted positive effect in stamping out the dangerous and cynical. The likes of Shawcross and Cattermole are allowed to tackle dangerously without appropriate punishment, at the same time cards are given out for tame offences.

We need better refereeing, however they need to be supported by a governing body that actually takes violence seriously. We need to see the FA step in and extend bans for really dangerous play, we need to see retrospective bans for things that referees miss handed out consistently and routinely, we need video technology introduced in a way that can help referees to stamp out the violence in our game, we need the FA to clamp down on any managers who attempt to intimidate officials before matches, we need so much more.

Until this is done then we will continue to see inconsistent law enforcement from our officials, haphazard disciplinary processes from the governing bodies and more needless broken bones. All of this would be catalysed by a more objective and less biased media that didn't treat foreign players differently to domestic idols, everyone should have their bones respected equally, the less shins that get smashed like Aaron's the better and who can argue with that?


Anonymous said...

Look I think you are wrong- it was an over forceful and reckless challenge which was always liable to do serious damage even if it got the ball first. No I don't agree that there are far worse challenges -that go unpunished- many of those are far less likely to cause serious injury than this one was- due to the velocity, positioning of bodies extent to which this was over the ball.

1979gooner said...

I'm not going to get into all this again, read the previous posts and comments and write it there.

It wasn't that bad a tackle in the grand scheme of things in my opinion.

I disagree with you and think you are wrong, still I respect your right to an opinion. You should do the same.

marcus said...

That Guardian piece is mickey mouse stuff, not the one I'd recommend. I'd recommend Martin Samuel in the Mail, Patrick Barclay on the skysports site, and Matt Dickinson from yesterday's Times. Far better. Their arguments are, I think, far better than 1979's as well.

As I said in my one post in response to 1979, I think he is entirely, completely wrong. I know the debate has ended on this site. I just wanted to post the comments from my favorite football pundit, Bobby McMahon, who said it better than I could.

McMahon is a far superior pundit to many in the English football media. Even guys like Samuel and Barclay (who've written good pieces on Shawcross' "tackle") talk about the "intent" issue as if it has any relevance. Bobby McMahon, however, is the only pundit I've yet heard or read who flat out clearly says INTENT IS IRRELEVANT, THE RULES SAY NOTHING ABOUT INTENT! McMahon is an expat Scotsman who's lived in Canada for many years. He's the longtime resident football analyst for North America's Fox Soccer Channel, the most watched football-only TV network on the continent. McMahon routinely disses the UK football media's lazy stereotypes

McMahon and the show's anchor started out by talking about the frequent "that's a harsh yellow card" from some commentators. McMahon: "When dangerous and excessive tackles are not punished, you get things like this." (video of Shawcross on Ramsey). He then says that there's been all this "contaminated" discussion about Wenger and Arsenal did this and that but "the bottom line is this isn't a tackle, this is a scythe. It is not a 50/50 tackle. If it's a 50/50 tackle, they both would arrive at the same time. So inherently it's not a 50/50 tackle. Shawcross does not tackle, he scythes through, Ramsey's leg is planted and it's a tragic double broken leg, 2 bones are fractured, it is excessive, it's reckless. And for commentators to claim it wasn't a bad tackle...well maybe they're right, it wasn't a tackle at all, it was an assault, it was awful. Intent doesn't matter, there's nothing in the rules about intent." He then refers to people in England going on about how nice Shawcross is, he's "not that kind of player," and shakes his head, saying "well maybe he's not but he did it" and there's a young man now lying up in hospital because of it.

I notice too that 1979 never goes into the issue of JUST EXACTLY WHAT SHAWCROSS WAS DOING GOING INTO THAT AREA OF THE PITCH TACKLING LIKE THAT. He had no need to make that type of challenge in that area of the pitch, the ball was going nowhere. His purpose wasn't to win the ball because he could have absolutely no control over where the ball would end up. The tackle was intended to intimidate the player and make him wary of any future challenge. It wasn't a 50/50 challenge, no way that he was making a tackle under control, he just hurled himself at the player and ball in the hope he would make contact. There was no need for it. At best he he was going to stop a player who was in the defensive half of the pitch anyway.

marcus said...

After posting all that, I just realized you can see McMahon's comments on youtube:


marcus said...

Despite my objections to 1979's arguments re Shawcross' tackle, I do want to express my agreement with his latest "Utopia" blog, well written and well said!

I just wonder how much longer this can go on. What if this happens again to us in another 2 yrs? What if Shawcross breaks a 3rd player's leg or ankle? Probably naive of me to think anything will change.

Ted said...

I am bored by this debate on intention.

Even half clever folk, even like Marcus, who occassionaly demonstrate that they have most of their brain cells intact, are saying intention is irrelevent, but then want to discuss what Shawcross thought he was doing making that sort of tackle in that part of the pitch.

That is 'intention' you retards! Its questioning what Shawcross 'thought' he was doing !!

I give up. The world is full of morons.

P.s. Good blog 1979. Keep up the good work.

1979gooner said...

Indeed Ted, it's completely irrelevant.

It's like judging people on how they justify their actions afterwards rather than by what they atcually did.

A lot of the intent banter involves people trying make things fit the way they want it to, ie if you like someone, then you simply use an elaborate argument revolving around their intent not being present etc.

McMahon's comments are about as groundbreaking as Sam Allardyce's management style.

This argument is getting very tired that I am just completely and utterly wrong, well that's their opinion, I just think that's completely wrong, and it all goes around in circles.

If people think McMahon says it better than them, well that's a bit worrying for them as McMahon's argument says absolutely nothing new and he doesn't even say anything particularly eloquently.

It really wasn't that bad a tackle, it was a bad late challenge and deserved a red, that's it for me.

Context please, keep these kind of tackles in context.

Uncle Mike said...

This just in: A new football club has been founded. Roy Keane and Alan Shearer have kissed and made up, and come out of retirement to play for it. They've also signed Craig Bellamy, Lee Bowyer and Martin Taylor.

The team will be known as Champions United for Nasty Tackles.

Rumor has it that Keano has gotten out a Oujia board, in the hopes that they can contact Don Revie to be their manager.

Gotta admit his dogged pursuit.